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,, 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.