Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wind, Wind Go Away

For the record, I'm hating the wind right now. It's driving my allergies crazy. Wind, wind go away...and stay away.

Who knows about wind? Where does it come from? Where does it go? How does it "blow"? When I've shared Christ with people who have no faith, I often use the illustration of the wind. Can you see wind? No. But you can see its effects. Do you know where it comes from, where it goes, where it starts, and where it ends? Most people answer "no". Then I clarify, "But you believe in it's existence, right?" "Correct," they answer. The door is now open where I can talk about faith in the Lord and His existence and show all the evidence for God. I've left many a conversation knowing that the wheels were turning, thinking about the truth of God, thinking of His realness, working through the decision of faith in God when they have more faith in the existence of wind. My hope is that maybe they are a little closer to accepting the only One with the power to calm the wind with his voice. Jesus!

Maybe the wind is long as I know the one who holds it in His hand!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Deceptive Destruction

This is something I have had many conversations about in recent months with many different people both inside and outside of our church. I've meant to blog it, but have been either super-busy or distracted when it comes time to blog. One of the most sobering passages in the Bible is what Greg Laurie references below. Matthew 7:21-23 says that many, not a few, not even some, but many on that judgement day when they stand before God and share their list of Christian accomplishments, God will say that He doesn't even know them. Let me do my own paraphrase of the scripture below: "Lord, Lord, didn't I teach Sunday School, tithe, attend some Bible studies, memorize some scriptures and attended worship services faithfully in your name?" To which the Lord will reply, "I don't even know you." This is a wake-up call to Christians. How could someone be able to look like a great Christian attender and worker on the outside and not be saved? This is a matter of the heart. God is concerned with the heart. God wants you to be right on the inside. Your heart and faithful commitment to Him is His main concern. I find that most of the time if not all, I can tell when people are just clocking in and clocking out. Some "Christians" just go through the motions of Christianity, but their hearts are far from him. I can usually tell if their heart is in their attendence, study, and service. many on that day Jesus will turn and say that He doesn't even know them. How many of your friends or people in your church will make it on that day with a "well done good and faithful servant"? Only those who know their Master and their Master knows them.

Read Greg's thoughts on this topic. I echo his sentiments.

For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
— Jude 4

Is it possible to preach and not be a true believer, or to even do miracles and not necessarily be saved? Absolutely.

Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' " (Matthew 7:21–22).

Notice that Jesus said, "Many will come in that day" (emphasis mine). This reminds us there will be an abundance of false miracles in the last days. Many will say they have been doing miracles. Many will say they have been casting out demons, allegedly. But Jesus will say, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!" (Matthew 7:23). The worst thing imaginable is to spread wickedness under the veneer of true faith. Tragically, this does happen in the church today.

I wish that we could spot these people more easily. But Jude pointed out that they come in unnoticed (see Jude 4). That is the whole idea. Satan is a deceiver. And that is why on more than one occasion, the Bible compares him to a snake. Having been an avid collector of snakes as a kid, I know how easily they can get out of the tightest little spots and escape. In the same way, Satan sneaks into the church unnoticed.

False teachers come into the church secretly. And their numbers grow by preying on unsuspecting believers. Beware of false teachers. And be careful of those who say they have a message you won't hear anywhere else.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Biblical Literacy

A rising problem amongst Christians and in many churches today is biblical illiteracy. No one knows the Bible. You can't preach today and mention a Bible character for an illustration because at least half of your people have no idea who the Bible character is! You would think that with technology, education, higher education, etc. that this would be a trend that is going away. But from where I'm sitting leading this great church, I see biblical illiteracy on the rise even more.

Hosea 4:6 puts it this way, ""My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge..." This is true on many fronts in life. What do you stand for? What should you stand for? How can you have a biblical worldview? Where do you draw the line? Where does God want you to draw the line? What does God desire for your life? How will you live and please God?

How would anyone know the answers to these questions and numerous others if they don't read the Bible. I'm not even talking about studying it, but just reading it.

Is it any wonder our churches are becoming more and more illiterate in the Word of God? I can't tell you how disheartening it can be to say, "Turn in your Bibles" when speaking and no one moves. They don't even bring the Bible to church.

I had a great upbringing in the church and I was a student of the Word of God from a very young age. I really learned all of the major Bible characters and stories from years of Sunday School. That just progressed through my teenage years and into adulthood and Bible college. We need to encourage one another back to the Word of God. Read it. Know it. Understand it. And watch what happens to your life when you apply it.

Thank God for His Word, living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Funny with a Point

Anyone in ministry can probably relate to this. You are having a divine moment, praying, studying, and you are interrupted with something so trivial. That's why I do two things:
1) Try to teach my staff to be problem solvers and not problem reporters. We operate on a team concept, and we do whatever needs to be done to get the job done. We try to protect each other's preparation and personal time with the Lord.
2) I study and prepare off site many times. It's hard for people to try not to bother me when they know I'm sitting right on the other side of that door. I try to get off site sometimes to study and write. Many churches today have a study for the pastor that's separate from the church office. Just kind of gives him a place to be alone, study, and pray.

We all need time alone with God. If won't just happen though. It doesn't just happen even for a pastor. We have to be strategic and protect that time with the Lord and the study of His Word.

Monday, April 19, 2010

An Absolute Miracle

I could make this entry LONG with details, but I will try to summarize and keep it short. (really hard for a preacher sometimes) Anyway, if you were in Enid America this weekend at all, then you know that it rained from Thursday night till Sunday afternoon. It had some times of letting up and medium downpours, but it was pretty steady.

Our roof in the sanctuary needs to be replaced. It's been leaking since April of last year when we got hit by a wind and hail storm. We've been waiting on the insurance company to decide what they are going to do on our claim. Friday it was leaking in about 5 places all around the sanctuary. We had tarps down and buckets everywhere. It was a sight. I prayed Friday and Saturday that God would help to ease the rain out of here by Sunday morning. As you can imagine, it could be really distracting for a worship service to have the drip, drip, etc.

Now for the miracle. I get up Sunday, and God has not answered my prayers, at least the way I wanted Him to. It was raining steadily Sunday morning, a light to medium rain. I knew that the sanctuary would be leaking and I was coming up with contingency plans in my head on to handle it.

I get here Sunday morning to church, and I walk into the sanctuary. The worship team is already practicing. I'm looking around for tarps and buckets and I see nothing. I'm thinking that it's leaking, but they took them up for the service later because they look so tacky. As I walk around I'm amazed. It's not leaking. It's pouring rain outside and it's not leaking at all like it was before. I was dumbfounded. Truly amazed. It was as if God put His hand over our roof so it wouldn't leak and it wouldn't distract from worship and the Word. I found my vision restored and my faith renewed by this miracle. Praise the Lord!

Now you may think that was not a big deal. If you saw how much it was leaking before and how hard and steady it was raining with no leaks then, you would stand amazed too. I just can't get over it, and I'm so thankful to God for it. He still amazes me!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Let It Change You

Great thoughts from Greg Laurie. We must let this Word change us!

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. -Psalm 119:105

People today are trying to change God's Word to fit their lifestyle or the things they have decided they want to do. But it doesn't work that way. Psalm 19:8 says, "The statutes of the Lord are right . . . " (emphasis added). In the original language, this verse means that God's Word has set out the right path for us to follow. We don't have to lose our bearings in the fog of human opinion or let our fickle emotions lead us astray. Instead, we have a sure guide: the Word of God.

That is why it is important to read through books of the Bible verse by verse, chapter by chapter. And if you come to a verse in the Bible that you don't agree with, then change your opinion. It is that simple. The objective is to conform your thinking to what the Bible teaches and not the other way around. Romans 12:2 tells us that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

So as you read God's Word, ask yourself questions like, "Is there any sin identified here for me to avoid?" "Is there a promise here that I might claim?" "Is there a victory to gain?" "Is there a blessing to enjoy?" Understand the verse contextually, because sometimes people will take verses out of context. Understand the verse in its original language. Make sure the translation you are reading is accurate. Make sure that you have understood what the verse is actually saying.

And having established that, if what you believe is different than what the passage teaches, then you need to change your thinking. The Word of God is right. And if you are not in alignment with it, then you are wrong. So allow God's Word to change you.

With the Passing of Age....

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dealing with Adversity- The Life of Joseph

I'm working on a new sermon series that I'm pretty excited about. I've actually been working toward it for several months now. This series is going to be rich with teaching about the providence of God and how we are to respond as Christians to adversity in our life.

We all face adversity at some point or another. But what about facing constant adversity all of the time? That's exactly what Joseph faced. (Genesis 37-50)

Joseph was a very interesting Bible character. He was a man who spent his lifetime trusting God with what he couldn't see. From his days as a child, living in a family environment that was less than predictable or ideal, Joseph learned to believe that what he couldn't see was more important than what he could. It's called faith, and Joseph had it even in all of the adversity in his life...big time! (Hebrews 11:1)

As a teenager, Joseph was betrayed by his own brothers and sold into slavery. He landed in Egypt where he was purchased by an Egyptian official who ultimately put him in charge of all of his affairs. He was then thrown into prison after being falsely accused of attacking the official's wife. In prison he was betrayed by a man for whose release he was responsible. And then when he was released, he was elevated to the second highest position of authority in all of Egypt, just below Pharoah!

This is just a quick synopsis of his life, but you see that all of his life Joseph was going from mountaintop to valley and back again. Have you ever felt that way? The main difference between Joseph and us is that Joseph never complained or questioned what God was doing. "Why is this happening to me, Lord?" never crossed his lips. He had a unique spiritual ability to believe that God's hand was at work in every event of his life, good or bad. God's providence in Joseph's life was never seen more clearly than when he had the opportunity to provide food and a place to live for his own father's family--even the eleven brothers who had sold him into slavery--as they traveled to Egypt to escape the famine in Canaan.

Genesis 50 verse 20 summarizes Joseph's understanding of his life as he spoke to his brothers and said, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done."

Joseph is a major Old Testament character about whom nothing negative is ever recorded in Scripture. He was a man who submitted to the providential direction of God in his life and, in doing so, preserved the descendants of Jacob through whom the Messiah and Redeemer of mankind would come.

Join me and let's look at the life of Joseph and see how God will use this man to stretch our own faith in Him.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


You look at the title and you wonder. What's 89? Why is it important?

It probably won't be important to you, but it's important to me. It means that there's hope for the future. It means that I'm better than I once was. It means that my driver was working. It could have been lower, but I lipped 3 putts out and missed 3 more by less than an inch. Now that's a game for me!

Yes, the pastor took the day off today and went golfing. I love to golf (I just don't like what it costs)! It was a bit chilly to start out with, but it ended up being pretty nice. There was very little wind, which is always nice in Oklahoma any day. My best drive of the day was around 265 or so. I was really hitting the ball. My wife got me some +1 clubs for Christmas, and this is the 2nd time I've hit them. I love them and the +1 length I think has really helped my game. I'm not as "hunched over" as I used to be a friend told me.

Anyway, I had to share. I hit an 89 today. My best ever is an 87 that I hit in Clinton, OK in 2002. It's been 8 long years since I hit the 80's, but it was exciting for me to see them again. I'm hoping to get out there this spring and summer and play a little more. Four times a year doesn't cut it when you want to get better. It's hard to find the time between family and church stuff, but I'm glad when I get to. It refreshes me! I know that the church is having a dude's golf outing in early May sometime on a Sunday afternoon. This will probably end up being my warm up round. Don't miss the golfing with the guys! It's great fun and fellowship with some dear brothers in the Lord.

89...way cool!

(If you are reading this and you are an avid golfer and you think "how sad" that I'm excited about an 89, then please don't tell me about it. Let me enjoy my 89 like it was your 72! Thanks!)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

We're Live, On YouTube!

I'm so excited as we continue into new endeavors at Oakwood. Now we have our own YouTube channel. Here's the link:
What we are planning on doing with this is putting up all of the videos that we shoot here at the church. Many of you probably know that this past Sunday for Easter we had a special presentation by our "Sticks" group. It was a powerful dramatic presentation with gripping music. We've put that on there already for you to see, so check it out. Some of the videos that we use (like for sermon illustrations and such) are copyrighted and may not be able to be put up on YouTube. But for the most part we'll be putting up about everything that we can. We are hopefully also going to be putting up our services in video format online too! Also, don't forget to check out our Media Center on our church website. The church's website is

Have a blessed week and remember the power of the Savior we serve!