Thursday, March 26, 2009

Do your daily devo!

This will be short because I still have a lot of sermon to go. But I have to say that today my devotion was awesome! It's amazing how God uses those few minutes so many times to shape, encourage, and make you think throughout the day. This was one of those days that I read this morning and have been encouraged by the good Word of the Lord all day long.

Let me say this, if you don't spend daily time with the Lord in prayer and reading from His word or a daily devotional, you are missing out. How do you survive? Yes, there are days where I'm convicted by that time, but God is rich in mercy and helps me overcome my struggles. Then there are times where I'm encouraged, but regardless, that time each day should be important to every believer. You must know that the time you spend each day is His time. You and your Savior, looking each other in the face and having a relationship. If this is so crucial, why do so many Christians not do it?

Priorities. Make Him your #1.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Long Day & Paul Update

Tuesdays are my longest day of the week. On Tuesday mornings our Men's Group meets at 6AM in the OAC dining room. Then I work all day (got off around 6 yesterday) and I have Men's basketball at 9PM in the gym. I got home about 11:30 last night, showered and crashed.

I don't see how people can keep those types of schedules. I usually only have to do it a couple of days a week, but I know that there are a few that do that type of schedule 5 days a week. After Tuesdays, I'm tired. It sometimes takes me a couple of days to "get my feet back under me". I know that I wouldn't want to work like that everyday.

And what are some of the side effects of such a schedule? Lack of sleep effects your metabolism, attitude, strength and stamina, and just being able to stay awake and not dose off in a meeting or something.

Though we may be driven to long hours sometimes, we must take control of our hours and stay healthy for ourselves, our families, and ultimately for God. God designed us to be healthy people. We may have seasons of our lives where we are busy busy, but we must stay healthy with our time. God will honor it. And we will honor Him better as we have some leisure time with Him.

I just got off the phone with Paul Wilson from the Philippines. He is doing pretty well. He wanted me to thank the church for their prayers. He is unable to lift his right foot (like if you were tapping your toe on the floor). We need to pray for that nerve damage there for him. He said that he's getting along pretty well. He's got 3 graduations this weekend to attend and 2 of them he's supposed to speak at. He's off the walker and the cane and is just moving slow and with a limp. Please continue to pray for Paul and Mary. They will be home around the 1st of May. They will be seeing some Dr.'s when they get back to the states for some 2nd opinions about the nerve damage and getting the bullet out. They will be in the states for several months and will be here for our Vacation Bible School in July. Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Oldies Night

It's okay to laugh...really! (A cheerful heart is good medicine.... Prov. 17:22)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Collapse? Not my Jesus!

I've recently received an article via e-mail from a couple of friends. The article was entitled "The Coming Evangelical Collapse" written by Michael Spencer. I've been wanting to write a response to the article and I got an excellent response from H.B. London. If you want to read all of "The Coming Evangelical Collapse" then click this link: Otherwise, here's is H.B. London's response:
There seems to be a lot of conjecture these days about the shape, size and health of the North American church. For instance, in our recent Focus on the Family 2009 Pastoral Ministries Survey (unscientific), it showed 53 percent of the churches who answered our questions were either plateaued or in decline. Seventy-five percent of those churches had an average weekend attendance of less than 200 participants.
A couple of weeks ago, my son Brad who works in Christian radio, sent me an article by Michael Spencer. It appeared on the Christian Science Monitor site and was titled, "The Coming Evangelical Collapse." I don't know much about Mr. Spencer. He has a blog and calls himself a "post-evangelical reformation Christian," but he does make some interesting, yet debatable, statements.
He believes that, in the next decade, "intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible." As a result, millions of evangelicals will quit. He goes on to tell us why. (The bold statements are mine.)
1. Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. What if the church had remained silent over the past 30 years? Do we, however, need to become more articulate in expressing what we believe rather than what we oppose?
2. We have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can stand the test of secular onslaught. We are often more style than substance. Youth have enthusiasm without basic theological knowledge. It is not too late to reverse that trend.
3. There are three kinds of evangelical churches today: consumer-driven megachurches, dying churches and new churches. Maybe, maybe not — one of the fears I have is that pastors will avoid the challenge to confront the culture, and strong denominational leadership will vanish. We will play the comparison game and become disenchanted and fail to bloom where God has planted us.
4. We will see that all the 'good' evangelicals want to do will be viewed as 'bad' ... much of the work will not be done. This is not news — 20 percent of those in the church have always done 80 percent of the heavy lifting. There will always be a faithful remnant. The church will need to take on Gideon like courage.
Mr. Spencer sees the future full of house churches and says, "We need new evangelicalism that learns from the past and listens more carefully to what God says about being His people in the midst of a powerful, idolatrous culture."
Agree or disagree, we do have our work cut out for us.

I agree with H.B. London on all of those points, though I'm probably much more hopeful. We do, however, have our work cut out for us. My feelings is that Oakwood as a whole is on the right track. With our youth ministry's new focus on discipleship, and our children's ministry on Christian education, I think the future is bright for the next generation at Oakwood. I must admit, there is a disturbing trend that I see in some other ministries across the country that have fluff and no substance. We must take courage though and remember that we are God's people and this is His church. In Matthew 16:18, the Son of God says, "... and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). Let's take the warning to heart, but let's see that God's in control and do our best to serve and please Him.

Thus, keep the faith brothers and sisters!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Leadership & Change

Today was a great day in church. I thoroughly enjoyed assembling with my brothers and sisters in Christ and worshipping our Savior together. My prayer is that through the message today our church will be more in tune with Jesus during communion. Too many times we diminish that moment in our service. May we grow deeper by looking outward, inward, upward, and forward. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I guess you'll just have to listen to the sermon.

Leadership is hard sometimes. I was reading an article this week from Leadership Journal that was talking about "Whitewater Leadership". Many leaders are smooth-water leaders. They are great when the going is easy, but when they hit the rapids they drown or jump ship.

Navigating a church through change can be difficult. People, yes even God's people, don't like to change much. It alters our comfort levels. It makes us move when we are much more comfortable staying put. Change is necessary to be relevant to culture. Change is also necessary to become like Jesus. Change is inevitable. You can embrace it or fight it, but no matter your response, change is a coming. God will sustain you as your change things for His purposes. If you are changing to make a name for yourself or for any selfish motives, God's hand will not be in the change. God's kind of changes seem to always be soul-winning changes.

Leadership is hard when you are navigating change. The resistance factor is heightened. You sometimes feel under attack. But when God says to move, well, you better move. Just ask the Israelites.

And if you are changing anything right now in your life: your family, your job, your location or your church and you are feeling the wear of the change, know that you are not alone. And remember these 2 things: 1)Successful pioneers are the guys with arrows in their backs. 2)The highest reward for making a necessary change is not what you get for it, but what you become by it. The Lord is faithful to His servants who serve all over the world. He will always provide what you need to do His work. And He smiles on those who become like Jesus: world-changers!

Friday, March 13, 2009

What are you listening for?

Got this from a friend via e-mail. Good thought for all of us. With all that is thrown at us in life, what are we looking and listening for? That answer prioritizes your life, whether you'd like to admit it or not.

I remember reading a story once about a wealthy businessman who over the years of his travels had formed a friendship with a Native American. This pair in spite of their differences remained close and after many years the businessman finally convinced his friend to visit him in the city where he lived. As they were walking down the busy streets full of noise, traffic, and people the Native American suddenly stopped, walked into an alley, and bent down over a small plant growing there. His friend followed him and found him listening to a tiny cricket chirping. Amazed, the businessman asked him how he had ever heard that little sound among the deafening noise of the city. The Native American just smiled and said, "What you hear is what you listen for." As they walked back to the street the Native American took a handful of coins out of his pocket and dropped them on the pavement. The businessman smiled as he saw a dozen heads turn towards the sound. He realized what his friend had meant.

What are you listening for in this life? Are you listening for the latest lottery numbers to be announced or are you listening for the sweet songs of the birds in the morning? Are you listening for the newest gossip people are saying or are you listening for the happy sound of your children’s laughter? Are you listening for the shouting voices of anger and hatred in this world that try to fill our ears and hearts with their poison? Or are you listening for the gentle voice of God whispering to you: "I love you My Child. Come work with Me and we will shower the world with love and joy together."?

Either way what you listen for is what you will hear. Open your ears, mind, heart, and soul then. Listen with them for all this world’s joys. Listen with them for the loving voice of God within you. Listen with them and delight in the glorious music that is life, a gift from God.

From Paul Himself

Dear praying friends,

Hello again from our home! Thank you for your prayers. I was going to Samar, a remote and distant island, to check on a church building project when this happened. So glad it was near home and at the beginning of the trip. It was the street right next to us where they tried their robbery. Makes you a little concerned for ones' neighborhood!

I was released last night from the hospital and am using a walker. The bullet is in my left leg deep in the muscle and they are not concerned about it now. I will check on it when I get home in a few months. The nerve damage on the right leg is to the nerve that helps you lift your foot, it was damaged but not severed. Keep me in your prayers and also for Mary as she gets to be nurse!

It is slow using a walker but the pain is well controlled with the medication. I am suppose to check back with the doctor and with the foot therapist on Tuesday. Pray that I will soon be able to walk without a limp and that we do not have any infection problems. There are three bullet holes and one 7 inch incision where they did the surgery on the nerve that has to be cared for daily. Several other missionaries that live in this area are helping us and also the neighbors. God is caring for us wonderfully! The doctor said it was just a few centimeters away from the big leg artery and if had been anymore the other direction it would of severed the nerve or hit the bone. God was watching over me! Thank you for your prayers! Pray for me to be patient when all around me are many things that I want to do.

Hope to see you all this summer when we get home! We are hopefully coming the first of May in time for the Kiamichi Clinic. Pray that we can get our airline tickets this week. We have some bonus airline miles we are trying to use but there are not any open dates when we want to travel.

It is interesting getting released out of the hospital here. They want all bills paid before they release you, even the doctors. When they see that the patient is an American it is higher cost than one expected. (This is why pastors and church workers with medical bills and pharmacy bills always request money. ) The hospitals don't keep medicine for patients. It was a challenge to get out last night..... but glad to be home and that a neighbor has a walker and wheelchair for me!

Please continue to pray for the healing! It is hard to go slow when there is so much we want to accomplish before furlough time!

In His service,

Paul Wilson

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Paul is out of the hospital!

Just received this from Mary:

Good evening! It has been a long chore checking Paul out of the hospital tonight. It is different from the states when you stay in the hospital. All meds are purchased generally for the patient through a pharmacy and given to the staff to dispense. Then when you are ready to check out, you have to go to the cashier and pay your bill. Also, taking care of all the doctor expenses before receiving clearance from the nurses' station to release you.
Our neighbors loaned Paul a walker so he has something to lean on while walking now. So very tired - all of us - but glad to have Paul home.

Paul and Mary Wilson

Praise the Lord for taking care of Paul and Mary! Thanks for your prayers for these missionaries and for your continued support of them through the next several weeks. Pray for Paul's speedy and full recovery!

Update on Paul!

Received this from Mary this morning. Praise the Lord that Paul is on the mend!

Good morning everyone!

THANK YOU for your prayers on our behalf! We definitely feel it! Paul is so grateful for your love and concern for him. He is recovering - but not sure he is the best patient!!!!

The surgery was approximately 2 hours with 1 hour wait in recovery. The doctor reported to us that the surgery went well on the nerve damage in the right leg. The bullet went in about 4 inches below the knee and wounded nerves but didn't slice so that was wonderful! Just continue to pray for the recovery which he said could be 3 weeks to 3 months on full usage. This controls the lifting of his foot. Presently, he has a "wrapped cast" but continues to do some bleeding. The bullet in the left leg could not be removed at this time. It is lodged deep in the calf of the leg and would cause extensive damage if was removed. The wound was closed and hoping in time that it will work out and be removed successfully. I think we will receive a medical paper so we don't set off the alarms in the airport x-ray!!

Bing and I stayed with him last night and will return shortly. We have had several pastors and families visit us in the hospital and keep me company while Paul was in surgery. Our friend Nino, kept Brandon company last night and "guarded" the house. One good thing from this is, we have had an opportunity to meet our neighbors around our house as they have been quite concerned for him too.

We love you and appreciate your standing behind us in prayer now and in the weeks to come!

Paul and Mary Wilson

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Paul has been shot, please pray!

This is a blog for prayer for our missionaries to the Philippines. I'm dog tired (my day started at 5AM and it's now 11:28PM). No part of my tiredness compares to what Paul and Mary Wilson are going through right now, thus the blog.

If you haven't heard by now, Paul was shot in the leg just a few hours ago in the Philippines. It was early in the morning there and he was walking to board a boat to take a missionary journey (sound familiar?). Anyway, I'll let Mary's e-mail tell the rest:

Hello everyone!

I am home to send out an email and then return to the hospital for Paul's surgery. The bullet is in his left leg and entered the right leg going straight threw. I was typing an email to send out about his trip when he called me and told me he was in the hospital and had been shot by robbers. He had just left our home and was walking the short distance to the main road to take a tricee to the ship for Cebu and Samar islands. He was carrying a box with vbs kits, camera bag, and travel bag. Three men on a motorcycle had went by him and then turned around to wait for him at the intersection. He did not know anything like that was happening when he walked around them. They told him it was a robbery and he laughed not thinking it serious. He was kicked and hit and eventually they showed a toy gun and finally a real one and shot him in the leg. He refused to give them anything and they finally quit their abuse after a vehicle went by. This was at 5:30am this morning.

Please be praying for the surgeons at 2pm (l:00 am your time) for the removal of the bullet and the repair of tendons in the right leg. They are concerned on the damage that happened where the bullet entered.

Thank you for your prayers and concerns for us. Bing is with me and I appreciate her helpfulness to me. We are so very thankful that they didn't harm Paul more seriously than this. Not expected but God's in control and we rest in Him through this. I will let you know more after the surgery and doctor report.

Thank you! Mary Wilson

Please be in PRAYER, interceding for these that sacrifice it all for the sake of the gospel. Paul and Mary are so faithful and good to the Lord's mission in the Philippines. Every time they cross your mind, please pray for them.

God, be with Paul and the Doctors as they perform surgery in the next couple of hours. May You be present with them and intervene with Your glorious healing powers on behalf of brother Paul. May Your knowledge be with Paul, the Doctors, Mary, and all who are involved in this intense situation. We are thankful that Paul was not more seriously injured and we thank You for Your protection in that. We love You and trust You to do exceedingly more than we ask or imagine. In the powerful name of Jesus- Amen!

Good news for the Kids!!!

I try to do a funny once a week and I thought with the sudden shift in weather this week, this one might be appropriate!

After the elder's meeting last night, it was a unanimous decision to extend a call to Amanda to be our new Children's Minister. Amanda was here all weekend and indicated to me that she really enjoyed her time here and getting to know the people of Oakwood. Amanda handled every question that we could throw at her with grace and maturity, and I feel blessed if we could have her on our church staff. I'm excited to call her today and share the news. Now our prayers turn toward her acceptance. These are exciting times for our Children's Ministry and for the families at Oakwood. I am looking forward to a bright future with our Children's Ministry.
God is doing so many great things at Oakwood. Every week I hear stories of life change that God is stirring in our people. Be blessed and pray that God does that work in every single member, yes, even in you.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Tulsa Trip

Amy and I went to pick up Amanda Beltz this evening, our candidate for the Children's Pastor position. Amy and I really enjoyed talking to her on the way back from Tulsa. She has a very sincere spirit, a drive and passion for ministry, and a great love for her Savior. So far Amy and I are very impressed.

We've been praying for this position on our staff to be filled since Dan left in December. Please join the leaders of the church in praying for God's leading for this weekend. The leaders will walk away with a feeling this weekend and so will Amanda. May God steer both parties to His will.

We so enjoyed the warm weather today. Makes me ready for spring! We need some rain and some warmer weather. It's about time we had some. That's one of the things I love most about living in Enid, Oklahoma. We get to experience all 4 seasons here every year. Just when you think that you are tired of one season, here comes another. It's great and reflects God's goodness.

I'm looking forward to a great weekend interviewing Amanda. I hope that everyone gets a moment to meet her and get to know her a little bit.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A funny and Men's group

That is too funny. Made me literally laugh out loud.

On a more serious note, I love the men that I meet with every Tuesday. If you don't know, any man in our church is welcomed to join us every Tuesday at 6AM for Men of God Fellowship. We are working through a book together entitled "When God Builds a Church" by Bob Russell. Every week I walk out of there excited and energized as I get to meet with my brothers in the Lord and discuss the ministry of God's church here at Oakwood. I see men growing and being encouraged every week. I thank God that we dedicate ourselves to meeting early and doing that together.
Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no vision, the people parish." In our group we are daring men to dream big dreams and come up with ministries ideas of faith in God. I want so many awesome things to happen in our church that only God can get credit for them. We are constantly being challenged to think outside the box in our methods while honing in on our mission. I'm proud to know these men and I'm excited to see how God uses all of us to lead His church into the future.
I'm praying that all of our church would experience the same real fellowship that we experience every week at our Men's group. I'm proud of the guys who are there every week soaking it up and adding pieces of themselves to ministry in the church. I'm so excited about the future of Oakwood. I'm excited to see how God is going to use each one of us in the days ahead. Praise the Lord for all that He has done and what He IS doing in our church.