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July 31, 2013

spaghettiRecently I ran into a church that has a thriving Wednesday night service. They are reaching lost teens and having a great impact in their community. They cook them a meal and then study the Word. Do you think the leadership of the church is happy? It doesn’t sound that way. The elders want to know why all of these young people don’t come to church on Sunday.

Why are they worried about Sunday numbers? Could it be because that is what we have established as our barometer of church? Is your church growing, How are your Sunday a.m. numbers? Do we not recognize that we have created false human measuring sticks? So this church has an incredibly important ministry that is having great impact but instead of celebrating what God is doing they are trying to figure out ways to make them come on Sunday.

My fear is the leadership will miss what God is doing and harm this ministry. Please keep this church in your prayers as they love like Jesus. Pray that they continue to see fruit, one young teen put on Christ in baptism at camp last week. Pray that the leaders don’t miss what God is doing because of a desire to see bigger church numbers on Sunday.

How Much Love?

August 12, 2011

When I tell the kids to eat their vegetables they always ask how much. They want to know what size a serving is and often times they try their best to eat as little as possible. Kind of reminds me of the story about the Good Samaritan.

The expert of the law came to Jesus and wanted to know what a follower of God was about. As I mentioned in my previous post, he understood it was love God, love your neighbor. But here is what I find interesting. After the answer that he gives, he isn’t satisfied. He asks one thing more. “Who is my neighbor?”

Like my kids with vegetables, who are you talking about? Can you give me a short list? People on my street? Close friends? Who is my neighbor?

I also love the fact that it is the religious on their way to worship God that simply pass the man by. Religious people wanting to keep the laws of God but to busy to stop and help. They probably had hit their help quota for the month. Helped someone last week. This week is for my family.

People think I get a little obsessed with this love your neighbor thing. They are right, I do. I see injustice and I say what can God’s kingdom do. No I’m not trying to earn my way to heaven by helping others, it is the very fact that I am not asked to that compels me to be a light for the character of God.

How about you, how much is enough? A turkey around Christmas and Thanksgiving? How much neighbor love is enough?

Love God, Love Your Neighbor

August 8, 2011

Pretty straight forward really. Over two thousand years ago it seems that the people of God had no problem distilling what God wanted for his people down to these two basic concepts. Love God and love your neighbor.

Does that still stand? Luke 10 records an exchange between an expert of religious law and Jesus. The question is what do people do who have eternal life.

The man responds with love God and love your neighbor. Jesus says that if you do those two you will live. So what is so wrong with focusing on those two things as a church?

I really don’t know what to do. Love God and love your youth group? Love God and love your children’s ministry? Love God and love the preaching? Love God and love the technology? Love God and love the building? I don’t know.

Jesus says that these two bring life. Is it wrong to focus only on these two commands? If a teacher could distill God’s truth to these two why can’t we? Paul repeats this idea in Romans 13:8-10, and Galatians 5:14. James repeats the refrain in James 2:8 and explains what this love means.

I have been told that people don’t listen because we are a small church in the old part of town in a building that needs repair. I hear all of that but why aren’t Jesus words enough? What do I have to prove? I have actually had people reject our fellowship because they say we don’t focus on the Bible and the Holy Spirit. How is it that this teacher of the law can distill the Bible down to two commands, the ones we focus on, and yet we are not Bible based or Spirit-led?

If you don’t want to be a part of our fellowship that is fine, just please don’t attack what we are trying to accomplish and belittle our efforts because it is actually all about loving God and loving your neighbor.

Summer of Fun: Undercover Angel Returns

June 15, 2011

It is back! A Summer of Fun New Heights style. That means we spend the summer enjoying looking for ways to impact our community in positive ways. I know, always that crazy thinking of others stuff.

One that went very well last year that will have a return engagement is our Undercover Angel. The idea behind this is to look for people who are going above and beyond the call of duty at their workplace. Specifically those who might be working at a low income job who do it with pride. We want to encourage excellence in our culture and believe it is something we have lost.

So we send our members out to find people who are hard working. We ask them to get their name and nominate them. Then at the end of the summer we go out to present an award along with a gift. Nothing big but you should see the faces of the people who receive the award. They receive them like they just won the lottery.

It is something easy to do so keep your eyes open and become an undercover angel.


June 6, 2011

She offered me a cup of cold ice water. I looked at her and then her house. Looked at the house again and declined. Even though it was hot and I was thirsty I told her I didn’t need a drink.

I was working in her yard. She had contacted Owasso Community Resources with a need. The man who usually helped her with her yard was ill and couldn’t help her like he usually did. She needed someone to come mow her lawn and help with some free range trees that were growing up around the yard.

When we arrived I noticed that her bushes were also out of control. I set about trimming bushes and cutting down small trees in her flower beds. We started early in the morning but it was already hot. The woman is a disabled senior and it shows in her yard. She doesn’t have what it takes to keep it up. I trimmed while my son mowed the lawn.

So as she turned to go back into her home I started to think, why did I have such an aversion to her water? Why did something inside me say you want nothing to do with this water? I didn’t know her and had never drank her water before. Her water comes from the same place as mine. So I took a second to try and figure out why I responded so viscerally that you don’t want to drink the water.

It took me a minute but it came to me. When I was a kid growing up during the summer my mother would drag us around to many elderly women’s homes. She would go to visit shut-ins from the community and church. She would take us and we would help them with different projects around the house and yard.

I remembered doing that and I also remember drinking their water. I’m guessing that since they were seniors and didn’t have much company that the ice was a little old. Probably freezer burned because when I thought about taking a glass of this woman’s water my mind reacted. It remembered all those people we helped and their nasty tasting water.

It actually took me back to their homes and as I thought about it I could even see the glass of water. Converted jelly jars. Then it really hit me. Here I was with my son repeating the process. Well repeating the helping part, he had a bottle of water.

It made think about why I am the way I am. Could it be that my mother instilled this in me growing up? That you help people in need? That you visit the widow and help her around the house? Here I was with my son passing this valuable lesson along.

I worry that we are not training our children up today. How do we expect them to become servants if we don’t develop it? How are they going to see the value when they think they are the center of the world? Here I was not wanting a glass of water because when I helped people with my mother you didn’t want to drink the water.

Pass it on people. Don’t think by sending your children to fun youth group activities that they will somehow know to flip a switch some day to become servants. Don’t expect them to enjoy it. I don’t remember ever looking forward to going to these homes as a kid. I dreaded the experience. Start today, just make sure you bring your own water.


May 25, 2011

He needed a ride. Jorge is a part of our English as a Second Language class. He needed to be in Oklahoma City for a court appearance. He asked me if I could drive him. I told him sure and gave him my phone number. That was Sunday and he needed to be there on Tuesday. I told him to give me a call on Monday and let me know what time he needed to leave.

At 4:52 a.m. on Tuesday Jorge called. It seems he had trouble finding my phone number. He told me he needed to be there by 8:30 a.m. and so I told him we would get going. I tried my best to explain that he should meet me at our church building. You see communication with Jorge can be hard. He is working to learn English. He understands it is something he needs to do to be a part of our culture, to get better jobs and make it in the U.S.

We arrived a little after eight in the western part of Oklahoma City just north of the airport. We pulled into the Office of Homeland Security parking lot and lined up with all of the others who were gathered.

As you might have guessed, Jorge was there because he is not legally in our country. He was there because he was arrested and could not verify legal residency. I waited all morning. It was a very interesting experience being in a place where the majority of conversations take place in a language other than English.

Finally Jorge came before the judge and was told the process he needed to follow to live legally in our country. We left and I took Jorge to eat catfish at the Steak & Catfish Ranch in Edmond just off I-35. (Thanks Food Dude for the picture and the information that the place wasn’t open when I was in college at Oklahoma Christian. I was kicking myself for missing it. P.S. I went to school with the Food Dude and was in his wedding, just an FYI.)

We had some miscommunication along the way. I thought for sure he had access to a Pike Pass. Guess not. It took some effort to find the restaurant, I wasn’t exactly sure of the address. Jorge kept pointing to signs that said Tulsa thinking I had lost my way. It was hard to explain that I wasn’t looking for Tulsa. I also learned about what brought him to the U.S. and that the money he makes goes to family back home, or at least I think I did.

You might be trying to figure out what you think about the entire situation. I don’t and I didn’t. Jorge needs to be in our country legally and I am doing what I can to help. He is in the middle of the process and I’m trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus to him.

I think we error when we feel some obligation to decide what our government should or shouldn’t do. As a part of God’s kingdom I know what I need to do. Show him the love of Jesus Christ. Turn a blind eye to law breaking? I’m not doing that either. I am helping. Our church is helping. That for me is all I need to know and do.

What place does God’s Kingdom have in fighting for a wall or more border patrols?
For a kingdom not of this world we seem a little preoccupied. I find it fascinating that in the book of Acts there is a constant theme that the Roman government has nothing to fear when it comes to God’s Kingdom. We are not interested in taking your power. Fast forward 2000 years and it seems all consuming on both sides of the debate.

I am called to love. Does the government need to secure the border for the safety of the people? Yes, but we shouldn’t miss that this has no bearing on love or a trip to Oklahoma City for court.

A Reminder

May 11, 2011

I was invited to the hospital recently. Well, more accurately a specific room at the hospital. I got a call and someone wanted to know if would go visit a family member. I went and after talking the person wanted to know about salvation. They had some questions. They had gone to church as a child but as an adult work schedules and life seemed to just crowd in.

I understood what she wanted to know. Where will I go when I die? We took time to talk about Jesus and what he did on the cross. We talked about our condition, where we are and we ended talking about what she believed.

It was a good reminder of why we do what we do. She needed Jesus.

Why was I invited to her bedside? The connection comes from our Helping Hands Volunteer Tutoring ministry. You never know what will happen with the seeds you plant and you never know when someone will want to know, “what do I need to do to be saved?”

I appreciated the reminder because it is why we do what we do.

Let’s Get Practical: Patience

May 2, 2011

You will need a lot of patience if you are going to be practical. I remember how long it took me to find my beautiful brown Chevette. It took a lot of searching. This was long before the internet. I went to several car dealerships and found few cars that fit the bill. Finally after several months we ran across the Chevette at a dealership in Great Bend, Kansas.

Yes, technology has shortened the search but it still takes effort. My latest car took several searches on the internet followed by several trips to the dealership followed by more searches to insure that everything the dealer said was true and that I was getting the best price. Today you can get a Carfax after you have searched Kelly Bluebook on the internet. Those sites have done a lot of work so that your search seems shorter but trust but it was still a lot of work.

We gravitate towards quick and easy but to be practical you need to be patient. It may seem like you are getting nowhere but in the end you are getting exactly where you need to be.

Let’s Get Practical: Broken

April 27, 2011

Things are all messed up. The story in Genesis 3 isn’t simply there so you know why Jesus had to die. It is there to help you understand everything about your current situation. The feelings that it should be better. The fact that no matter how hard you try something always goes wrong. God’s creation is broken.

There is no such thing as the good ol’ days. They never existed. Even when our country was being founded on Christian principles the world was broken. You need to remember that when you seek to minister to the world you live in.

The early church was broken too. How can you read the New Testament and not understand that fact? If you are going to realistically deal with today and what you can do you have to remember the world is broken by sin. That is why you are trying to be the hands and feet of Jesus. If the world wasn’t broken the kingdom wouldn’t need you.

So get busy but remember, the world is broken. Sin corrupts everything, even your ministry, your church, and the work you are doing to impact the world for Christ. I’m just saying, this will help keep things practical.

Let’s Get Practical

April 26, 2011

My first car was a Chevy Chevette. It was a little brown four-door beast that I purchased to drive to college. I was able to get the car at a good price. The insurance was low and it got great gas mileage.

It was a practical choice. Nothing fancy. It certainly wasn’t going to be a car that turned heads driving around campus. Up until I had a bed I could fit everything I owned in my Chevette.

I continue to carry a very practical streak into everything I do. I bring this up because at times it seems like Christians are more interested in theories and ideas and what is wrong with Christianity instead of just being practical and doing what needs to be done.

It seems to me that we get wrapped up into trying to get everyone to agree 100% on some idea that we have and unless we have full agreement, well we just can’t move forward.

Am I wrong on this? Think what would have happened to Jesus ministry if he waited for everyone to get on board. Up until the very end those following him are confused. The religious leaders of the time are plotting his death and the Romans just needed any type of uprising to step in.

All this was happening and yet Jesus was able to prepare for His coming kingdom. He didn’t need everyone on the same page. He just needed people willing to follow Him. People willing to take up their cross. Jesus didn’t ask them to get everyone else to take up their cross too. In fact Jesus told his people that if people won’t receive you at some point you will have to move on.

I’m practical. If all who are dissatisfied with the state of the church would begin to be what they believe the kingdom is wouldn’t that be a good starting point? How about inviting like minded people to join you no matter the number? Why not plan out what you can do to be the hands and feet of Jesus instead of waiting for approval or getting certain people to agree? We would be better off if we stopped wishing that our church would do this or that and instead started doing what we feel called to do.

We would be better off if we would stop looking for the perfect church and once we find it then we will do what we are called to do. This might eventually lead to a new church or people at your current fellowship may catch the excitement and jump on board. That could happen but should it matter if we are doing what God called us to do?

What if I just invited people to join and didn’t’ worry about all of the rest? Am I being too practical?