Wednesday, October 16, 2019

God Provides

God provides in many different ways. I have been reading Ezra as part of my daily devotional time.  Ezra leads the people of Israel out of Babylonian captivity back to Israel.  A big piece of this transition is the rebuilding of the temple and the reinstituting of the religious ceremonies including sacrifices.  Cyrus King of Persia gave a significant gift to Ezra for this purpose.  In fact, he gives them 25 tons of silver and almost four tons of Gold.  In today’s value that is over $250 million.  God provided the resources necessary to reestablish His covenant with His people.  

In Ezra 8 we find that the next problem was finding the right people to take the money and temple utensils (the same ones that led to the handwriting on the wall) to Jerusalem.  Because of the holy utensils being part of the cargo, Ezra found priests to be in charge of the shipment.  Ezra weighed out for them all the silver and gold and gave them responsibility over it.  Now that it was in the hands of the right people, the journey could begin.

Put yourself back to a time before the Romans built roads.  They journeyed 900 miles down dirt roads and across rivers with extremely heavy cargo and that was not the most difficult part.  The journey took them through unsafe territories.  There were enemies of the Jews as well as thieves.  It took them four months to reach Jerusalem.  They recounted everything and placed it in the hands of Meremoth the priest in charge of the rebuilding of the temple.  God provided.  They made it to Jerusalem without incident.  “The hand of our God was on us, and he delivered us from the hand of the enemy and from ambushes by the way.” (Ezra 8:31)

When God uses us to work His plan he always provides.  He will provide the resources.  He will provide the right people to go on the journey with you.  And he will provide the safety needed to accomplish His purpose. When God calls, he always provides.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The Reward of Serving

It is rewarding to see the outcome of hard work.  Last Saturday and Sunday were amazing.  The Body of Christ worked together through each person’s giftedness and served our community in the name of Jesus.  The Pumpkin Patch has become a well-oiled machine that flawlessly came together after months of planning and preparation.  Over a thousand guests got to experience the love of Christ through your hands and feet.  I want to give a big “Thank You” to each one who played a role in making the event first-class.  Several people came up to me throughout the event and thanked us for providing such a high-quality free event.  Some even mentioned that it has become a tradition for their family that they look forward to every year.

Sunday evening, we also kicked-off the Engage Bartlesville service.  There has been 10-12 people working for close to two years on providing such an opportunity to reach our community with the Gospel.  There have been a lot of changes to that vision during that time but to finally have our first service was a joy and a great victory.  Dozens of you took place in door to door outreach and the block parties leading up to this start.  It was not a large crowd, but six people walked into our facility where they were loved and provided spiritual and physical food. A fifth-grade boy and his mother were there because of relationships they had made at one of our block parties.  As the fifth grader was making his way to class, he told one of our members that it was the first time he had ever been to a church. He had a great time and left excited to come back next week.

We had around 30 volunteers and their children that were in the building serving.  Each person added so much to the service.  Having several church members sitting around the tables with our guest was one of the reasons that every guest left having a positive experience.  Having our own church children here made the atmosphere so much more fun for that fifth grader who had a positive first experience in a church.  The many volunteers who helped set up, greet and cook helped spread the load around so that it was not overwhelming on any individual. Did we need 30 volunteers?  Yes!  Each one played an important part.  If you came to help, thank you!  If you would like to help in the future, we need you.  Come and experience the joy of serving our community in the name of Jesus.  Serving others in the name of Jesus is always rewarding.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Look to Past or Future?

Is it better to look to the past or the future?  The future is always
uncertain.  It requires faith and a little imagination.  The past is certain
but cannot be changed or duplicated.  The past is important.  It has shaped
us into who we are today.  The future is important.  It is coming. We can
pretend it is not coming or do what we can to be prepared for whatever may
come our way.  We cannot change the past and we cannot guarantee the future,
but we can live today with purpose that is grounded in the past and is
impacting the future.

We live in a difficult time in the life of the church in America.  The
church of the recent past was a time of growth, revival and cultural impact.
The church of the future looks segmented, rejected and culturally
irrelevant.  It can leave us scared, confused and pessimistic.  However, we
cannot return to the past.  We cannot stop the future.  What we can control
is how we live right now.  The question for us is "are we faithful?"  What
are we doing today that honors the great cloud of witnesses that came before
us and impacts our future in a way that brings glory to God.

It is my desire to lead us into the future with confidence.  We may not be
able to measure success in the same way that it was measured in previous
decades, but we can be found faithful.  Engage Bartlesville is an attempt
for us to impact the lostness that exists around us.  We cannot hide in our
facilities while our neighbors walk in darkness.  We will continually find
ways to intentionally impact our world with the Gospel.  It is the same
calling of our past and it will continue to be the same calling in our
future.  Until Jesus returns, we must engage those around us with the Gospel
of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Pray for Malawi Team

On Monday, six team members will embark on a mission trip to Malawi.  Please pray for us on our journey.  Lonnie Hoelscher will be leading four of the team members to minister in Kalulu.  Eight years ago, we walked into the Kalulu area of villages and presented the Gospel to those who had never heard.  When we left the country, they went through a gas shortage and no one was able to check on the church for almost a year.  When we returned, we found around 200 people continuing to meet for worship and Bible study. Since then we have started many churches in that village.  The church leaders will be taught and encouraged.  The team will also be witnessing in areas that still need to hear the Gospel.

Artie Hudson and I will spend our time in Dwambazi and Dwangwa the first villages Bro. Paul ministered to on his first Malawi trip over 20 years ago.  Charles asked us to come and encourage these churches and let them know that we still care about them.  We will be teaching church members in these churches.

Please pray for:
            Team Members:
·     Michael Vallandingham
·     Lonnie Hoelscher
·     Artie Hudson
·     Jonathan Long
·     Daryl Thomas
·     Rosemanne Park
Local Leaders:
·     Charles Malekano
·     Godfrey Frackson
Our Flights:  Safety, On Time, Ability to Rest
Entering and exiting Malawi and South Africa without delays.
Churches we are ministering to.
The lost we are witnessing to.
Health of team members.
Manna Feeding Centers
Safety traveling around the country.

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Thank you for your prayers!

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

4 More Weeks

We are just four weeks away from our launch of Engage Bartlesville.  The time is flying by and before we know it, we will be greeting guests coming into our building for a casual worship service followed by a free meal. We had our second outreach event Sunday night where 32 adults and 12 children engaged Rolling Hills Apartment with a block party.  We served popcorn, cotton candy, and bottled water to several of the residents while they played yard games and jumped in the bounce house.  It was not a large turnout but almost all who came out and joined us were very interested in the new worship service.  We met some great new people and made some new friends. Pray those seeds continue to grow.

It has been our plan all along to go knock on doors this Sunday night with those who can make it, despite it being Labor Day weekend.  However, after some discussion we have decided to take the week off. Despite the probability of there being many people not home and those that are not appreciating an interruption in the middle of the Sooners season opener, it is our last Sunday night to get a break before we are serving others every week.  Enjoy the night off and let’s get ready for three weeks of pushing hard preparing for The Pumpkin Patch and Engage Bartlesville.

On September 8 we will do another block party at The Willows on Madison.  We will meet at the church at 5:00, load up and head that way.  We expect this to have a large turnout.  After we get set up, we will do as we did this last week and send out those who are willing to go knock on doors around the complex.  We need others making popcorn and cotton candy while the rest work on building relationships with those who come to have fun. 

September 15- Door-to-door
September 22- Block Party at The Village (East of Town on Nowata Rd.) (270 units)

God Provides

God provides in many different ways. I have been reading Ezra as part of my daily devotional time.     Ezra leads the people of Israel out o...