Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Great Start!

What a great start to our outreach for Engage Bartlesville.  Our first of six outreach events leading up to our kickoff is complete. Thank you to everyone who took the leap of faith and went out for door to door outreach.  You exceeded my expectations in every respect.  Twenty-one adults and a few children went and knocked on over 200 homes and had several great conversations.  We had a few of those dreaded homes that did not want us there but for the most part we found people willing to hear about the Pumpkin Patch and the Engage Bartlesville worship service.   Several shared prayer requests and we even had some who asked for a reminder to be sent to them before the events.  The only negative on the night was that I did not assign big enough areas to cover so we were done pretty quick.  That is easily fixed.  But overall it was a great start.  I know God will bless our efforts.

This Sunday evening will be our first block party.  We will meet at the church at 5:00 and head to Rolling Hills Apartments on Nowata Rd. We will have a bounce house, yard games, and give away popcorn, cotton candy and water.  This is more than just an opportunity to let people have fun.  It is an opportunity for us to visit with the people of the apartment complex and get to know them.  It is through relationship that the Gospel is heard the clearest.  It is my prayer that through these relationships we will see people comfortable enough to attend and have their lives changed by the Gospel of Jesus.  Come be a part of this great outreach event.  Your presence is important.

Not only will it be of help for you to join in these outreach opportunities, but we need people to start stepping up to volunteer for our Sunday evening Engage Bartlesville worship services which begin September 29.  Our push right now is for people to take a rotation on cooking the meal which will be provided following our service starting around 5:00.  If you would like to take a week please talk with my wife, Tara.  We also need greeters and security people every evening.  It is our desire to have enough greeters that we have people helping in the parking lots and even standing at the street with signs welcoming people as they arrive.  We will be using an electronic check-in system for children and preschool children. We will need people helping that process.  Talk to Chantel Gray if those areas interest you.  Ryan Forrest is working on building the worship team including musicians and A/V people.  If that is something that interests, you please let him know.

Most importantly we need people praying.  The enemy does not like us getting outside the walls of our building and engaging the people within our community.  He is attacking us on many fronts.  These issues are not physical, they are spiritual.  Spiritual battles must be fought spiritually.  Please pray earnestly to our God for his protection on us as we run toward the gates of hell with the Gospel.  We had a great start but let us press on and run the race with endurance.  It surely is a marathon and not a sprint.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

A Prayer for Back-to-School

Our Father,

I humbly come before you our Creator and source of Truth.  You alone give wisdom and understanding so we submit ourselves and our children before you and are asking for your wisdom to be upon us.  You have placed the desire to learn inside us as we strive to live in the world around us.  We ask for understanding of your Word so we can build upon your Truth.

As we send our children back to school, we pray for your hand to be upon them.  Place them in situations with great Christian influencers around them who will point them to you.  Help them find good Christian friends, as you gave Daniel, in whom they can stand firm together in the faith.  Help them be positive influences upon those who do not know you and not allow the negative pressures to cause them to make poor choices.  Help them to become strong readers so they can understand your Word. Give them great understanding of math and science so they can see your hand around us.  Protect them from the teachings of secular humanism that take you out of the equation.  May our children find you and your truth in all they learn.

Protect our children from the evils around them.  Our world continues to spin out of control with violence finding its way into the schools of our nation.  Give our schools your supernatural protection.  May any malicious plans be seen before they are enacted.  Protect the hearts of our children from the growing effects of the sexual revolution.  

We also lift up the Christian educators who have influence on our children.  Give them boldness to stand for you.  Let them shine as a bright light in the midst of darkness.  Give them wisdom that can be passed to our children. Give them discernment to see the needs of our children and to know when they need to provide encouragement or discipline.  Raise up Christian school board members and administrators who will protect the rights of the educators and allow the influence of the Church to be upon our children.  May your presence be manifested through the lives of the adults who have an important hand in raising our children.

Thank you for the grace that was demonstrated on the cross for us.  Thank you for your Spirit who empowers us. 

It is in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord that we pray these things.

AMEN!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Engage Bartlesville is Coming!

As we talked around the table Sunday evening planning the final stages of Engage Bartlesville someone said, “it is finally going to happen.”  It has been a difficult journey over the last several months, but our first Engage Bartlesville worship service is coming.  We have twisted and turned around so many curves, detours and road blocks but the time is finally here.  The next six weeks are imperative to the success of the launch so let me explain Engage Bartlesville and our plan to kick off strong.

Engage Bartlesville is a worship service designed specifically to reach the unchurched.  It will be Sundays at 4:00 with a free meal following.  Our first service will be September 29, the day following the Pumpkin Patch. We will provide childcare for birth through 4-year-olds and have a special class for K-5thgraders taught by our youth (with Lucas’ oversight).  We will meet in the chapel around the tables for both the worship time and meal. There will be a 15-minute small group time following the 45-minute service for questions and discussion concerning the evangelistic message.  The meal will be served following the small group time.

In order to invite people to Engage Bartlesville, we will spend the six Sunday nights before the first service (starting August 18) engaging the people in the neighborhoods around our church.  On August 18, September 1, and September 8 at 6:00 we will be going door-to-door meeting people in some specific targeted neighborhoods.  On August 25, September 8, and September 22 we will be doing block parties at three area apartment complexes.  We will meet at the church at 5:00 on these nights.  We will take a bounce house and provide popcorn and cotton candy.  It will be a great opportunity to meet people living in those apartments and invite them to Engage Bartlesville. One of these apartment complexes has over 200 family units.

The time is finally here. These last six weeks are very important if we are going to see people come and be a part of this special worship service.  Please be praying daily as the enemy wants to keep shutting doors in our path.  The more people we have going door-to-door the more people we can meet and invite to be a part of Engage Bartlesville.  Let’s work together in a strong, unified way as the body of Christ and watch God work miracles in the lives of those who hear the Gospel.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Bye, Bye, Summer!

It’s been fun, but summer is quickly coming to a close.  Camps are now behind us and school starts in three weeks.  I am excited about some big things that are happening in the fall.  I believe that we are in store for one of the best times of our church in the nine years I have been your pastor.  We ended AWANA last year with great growth and a big turn out for awards night.  We had some of our best attendance in awhile for worship during June. Our new deacons are going through training and will add a level of foundation for our church that we have been missing in recent years.  Finances have kept up through the summer in what traditionally is a lean time.  The chapel has been remodeled and looks amazing while providing more space for us to fellowship together as a church.  The stage is set for us to have a fruitful fall.

Adding to these things is Engage Bartlesville.  The church voted to make our Sunday nights evangelistic in focus by providing a worship service on Sunday evenings called Engage Bartlesville that is focused on reaching the unchurched in our neighborhood.  A free meal will be served as we strive to reach those that have been difficult for us to reach in the past.  We will provide many opportunities for evangelism on Sunday evenings by having people volunteer to help with this service or go into our neighborhood and share the gospel. I’m excited to see how God is going to use this time.

There is one thing that is keeping us from being successful in any of these ministries, volunteers. We must have volunteers in order to be the church God wants us to be.  We are in desperate need of volunteers on Sunday morning in our preschool and children’s areas.  As of Sunday we were still 10 volunteers short in our rotation for the preschool area alone.  We need help for Worship Kid and AWANA as well.  If you can give 30 minutes on a Wednesday evening in AWANA to help children learn memory verses, let us know.  If you can give us one Sunday every month or even every other month, please let us know. 

If you would like to volunteer to help with Engage Bartlesville,  we have a place for you.  We need people willing to canvass the neighborhoods starting in August.  We need greeters, security, children teachers, small group leaders, band members, technology gurus, and many others to make these services the best they can be.  Please talk to our ministry leaders about these needs or sign up on the table in the hallway.  We are going to have a great year.  Be a part of it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

QMC

Sunday night is our Quarterly Ministry Celebration.  It is a great time to get reports from all our team leaders and learn about the exciting things God is doing in our church.  We will continue our Christmas in July theme with the meal which is sure to cool us off (at least in our imagination) during this summer heat.  The fellowship with our church family is a great reason for us to get together.  It will be a fun evening.

One of the items we will discuss during our business session is turning our Sunday evening time into a weekly outreach event.  If you did not hear my message on this a few weeks ago you can hear it at https://youtu.be/dhLmbFunYTI.  We would offer a late afternoon or early evening worship service that is preceded by a free meal.  The worship service would take place in the chapel around the tables and provide a relaxed environment for us to communicate the Gospel.  We will be targeting those living in poverty on the east side of Bartlesville but will also use it as a way to reach all unchurched in our community. If you have any questions concerning this before Sunday evening please email me, soonerpastor@me.com, or give me a call,  918-333-2181.  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Choose a Side

Elijah found himself in a complete cultural revolution.  The people of God preferred to worship Baal but still hung on to some of the traditions of worshiping Yahweh.  Elijah was seen as a troublemaker by the people, even by Ahab, King of Israel.  The people ignored Elijah’s calls of repentance and his warnings of judgment.  So, Elijah called for a great demonstration of God’s power at Mount Carmel.  450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah gathered to take on the lonely troublemaker, Elijah.  As they gathered Elijah addressed the great crowd who came to witness this momentous event.  He said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions?  If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” (1 Kings 18:21).  Elijah then challenges the Baal religious leaders to call on Baal to consume the altar with fire.  They could not.  Elijah then had them pour water on the altar and he called to God and fire consumed the altar.

We find ourselves in a similar cultural dilemma.  As our culture increasingly becomes secular, many in the church try to hold on to both their Christian traditions and the new secular world-view that has little room for God and no room for God’s Word.  When Elijah confronted God’s people all he received was silent stares. In the same way those within the church remain silent to the calls from faithful pastors to return to God’s Word and stand on his truth.  What America needs is repentance that begins in the church pews.  We must choose which side of the line we will stand.  You cannot serve two masters.  Who is your Lord?  Who do you choose to follow?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Anticipate Jesus!

We have learned through the years that the anticipation of children can drive you absolutely crazy. It is good for them to have things they are looking forward to but if you tell them too many months out of something really exciting, they will ask questions about it every day.  Sometimes it is just better for the sanity of all to keep those things a secret until closer to the event.  However, don’t forget, anticipation is part of the fun.  We shouldn’t take all the anticipation away. They will miss some of the magic if they find out where you are going when you walk through the gates at Disney World.

One of the ways the church has changed today compared to my childhood has to do with the anticipation of the coming of Jesus Christ.  It was announced immediately after Jesus ascended into heaven, “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11).  Three times at the end of Revelation Jesus declares “I am coming soon.”  He makes it clear that we will not know the time but that we are to always to be ready and not to allow it to be a surprise.  I believe that for many in the church today if Jesus was to return today it would be a surprise.

The problem with the lack of anticipation is that with it comes apathy.  We become apathetic to living holy lives.  We become apathetic to sharing the Gospel (we have plenty of time). We get apathetic with our church attendance.  It affects every area of our life.  Jesus said, “Behold, I am coming like a thief!  Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!” (Revelation 16:15).  I think all of us could use a little more anticipation in our life.  Jesus is coming!  Be alert!

Great Start!

What a great start to our outreach for Engage Bartlesville.  Our first of six outreach events leading up to our kickoff is complete. Thank ...