Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pray For Tim Tebow

Tim Tebow, quarterback for the Denver Broncos, has taken the NFL by storm. He was raised by parents serving in foreign missions and became a Heisman winning quarterback for the University of Florida. Many critics said he would never make it as a NFL quarterback. It has been evident that the critique of Tebow has a lot more to do with his outward expression of his faith in Jesus Christ than his ability to play football. Berry Tramel, sports columnist for The Daily Oklahoman, claimed in his editorial that Tebow must have been getting supernatural help from God in order to keep winning football games. All this attention has caused me to ask the question, “Why Tim Tebow?”

Tebow is not the only Christian in professional sports. He is not even the only Christian at his position. Sam Bradford was never scared to tell about his faith in Christ. He was featured on www.iamsecond.com giving his testimony at the same time as Tebow. Aaron Rodgers who quarterbacks for the undefeated Green Bay Packers is a strong Christian as well. Rodgers, it seems, is just as open about his faith as Tebow but somehow Tebow has received all the publicity. In fact, one of the ESPN programs said that Tebow has almost 70 articles written in major news publications about his faith, compared to only one about Aaron Rodgers.

Tim Tebow somehow has been able to attract a lot of attention. He is a polarizing figure in American culture. It may seem odd that he has a stage that other Christians in the NFL have not received. Maybe, as Christians, we should be less concerned about “why Tebow?” and be more concerned about praying for him and other Christians in professional sports. They have a big stage in order to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Pray that they stay humble and holy in the midst of a sport that is everything else. Moreover, pray that God will use their testimony to be a light that will penetrate the darkness of our dark world.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Christmas Curse

Christmas is in the air! You see the lights, hear the music, smell the aroma, sense the excitement, and it all leads to one conclusion, it is the Christmas season. With the excitement of Christmas comes the curse of Christmas. That curse is the busyness that goes with the season. I want to challenge you to slow down and enjoy the true meaning of Christmas. Do not get too busy for God. We have many things planned as a church. Come to all you can but do not let our activities distract from worshiping God this holiday season. I encourage you to make Sunday mornings a priority over the next several weeks and be ready to say no to the bombardment of activities that keep you from experiencing the true meaning of Christmas.

We have two great opportunities this week. The first is Open House at the Parsonage. This is mine and Tara’s gift to you. We will be serving lots of food from soups to fudge. It is on Sunday from 2:00 to 5:00. It is come and go. If you just have a couple of minutes to drop by and say hi or if you want to come and hang out and fellowship for a while, you are welcome. This is a tradition for my family and a day we look forward to year round. Sunday evening we will be celebrating Hanging of the Green. The choir will be performing as well as other special times of music. We will be singing Christmas carols and will conclude with a candle lighting service. This is something new for Eastern Heights and we hope it to be an unforgettable evening of worship as we kick off the Christmas season.

Salvation For the Worst

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sacrifice for Missions

Sunday evening we kicked off our World Missions Offering. It has been the tradition of Southern Baptists for over 100 years to give to missions during the Christmas season. Kaylene Westbrook did a great job introducing the women whom our SBC offerings are named after. The International Mission Board offering is named after Lottie Moon. Kaylene shared with us that Lottie refused to marry the one she loved because it would not help her to fulfill God’s call upon her life. She made many sacrifices to share Christ’s love with the Chinese. Did you know that she actually died of starvation? As we think about giving to missions this Christmas season let us not forget the great sacrifice that our missionaries are making every single day. Think about honoring Lottie Moon in this way. Skip a meal each week and give that money to our World Mission Offering. Every dollar you give goes directly to the mission field.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fear What?

It was over thirty minutes after the earthquake on Saturday night that we realized that we had not seen our dog since the event. It is very unusual to not know where she is because she wants to always be where we are. She does not just want to be where we are but for us to be holding her. We began walking through the house calling her and walking around the backyard because we had propped the door open. After coming back in and taking a closer search of our house she came walking up behind me. We think she may have been hiding under the bed. When I went down to pick her up she cowered from me. She stayed at least arms length from me so I could not touch her. When I finally was able to pick her up she was trembling in fear. Obviously the earthquake frightened her greatly and the only thing she knew to blame it on was us.

Fear, when directed toward anything but God, comes from the absence of faith. When we live in fear of the things of this world we are living like we do not trust God. Christians are called to live bold lives, fearing God more than man. When we cower to the things of this world we are showing our lack of wisdom about God. The world is powerless against the things of God. The only person to fear is God. He is a just God who brings judgment. C.S. Lewis gave a great picture of how to balance the fear of God with his grace. Thomnas and Lucy had a conversation about the lion who represented Christ. Thomnas says, “He is not a tame lion.” Lucy replied, “No, but he’s good”.

Psalm 111:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!”

1 Thessalonians 5:12-15

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Beautiful Fellowship

The Fall FamFest at the Hoelscher Farm was an outstanding evening. We got to experience some great music from some of our very own musicians. The children played games, ran through the hay maze, and absolutely enjoyed being around each other. The adults visited, judged chili, and ate while sitting around the fire enjoying the beautiful fall weather. We had long time members, new members and guests all experiencing the joy that comes from the fellowship of the body of Christ.

When we read about the early church in Acts we learn that they participated in much more together than just worship. They ate together daily. They worked together. They even played together. This is an example that was set by Jesus. Jesus enjoyed being with his disciples and his disciples enjoyed being with each other. They were all very different. There were zealots for the nation of Israel and tax collectors for Rome. Yet, through the miracle that came with Christ, they became as close as brothers and shared a bond that could not be broken through persecution or even death.

I hope that as Eastern Heights goes through life together we learn to live with the same type of love for each other.

“walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Stealing From Family

Suppose there was a young man by the name of John who was born the son of very wealthy parents. John had every need met his entire life. Not only was his needs met but there was seldom a time in his life where he was told no. He had every luxury in life from the biggest televisions to the latest video games. When he turned sixteen, he had the choice of any vehicle he wanted. He settled for the black Hummer because they could not find the yellow one he wanted with the right option package. The credit card he carried had little restrictions. It would not be unusual to find John at the mall buying designer jeans or at the ATV store buying expensive upgrades for his 4-wheeler. John had tons of friends and was seldom alone. He did not have a girl friend because he enjoyed the freedom to date a different girl on the weekend depending on the circumstance of his elaborate plans. John’s parents tried to bring discipline into his life, but he always found a way around it and constantly pushed them aside.

John left home after graduation to attend the state university. Freedom was not anything new but having friends with similar freedom was. He was instantly as popular on the large campus as he ever had been in high school. The fraternity he chose was the grand party house of campus and he loved every minute of the lifestyle. The alcohol and women of the frat parties eventually turned to an experiment and eventual dependence on illegal drugs.

John’s parents soon realized the lifestyle that their son found himself. They begged him to return home. They begged him to find help. They eventually cancelled his credit cards and took away his vehicle. It was not long before John found himself hopeless. Lying on the table in his room was his keys, absent from a car key. It then hit him; I still have a house key. He waited for his parents to take one of their long vacations. He entered their home and took everything he could find of value. He took guns, jewelry and cash. He took precious family heirlooms. He began to sale them one at a time to finance an addiction that controlled his body.

What drives a person to steal from their family? What drives Christians to steal from their heavenly father? He has taken care of every need that we have. He has blessed us beyond measure. Yet we steal that which he requires from us.

Malachi 3:8-10
8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. 10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Love of Action

I have been reading a book that Tara recommended to me called The Fred Factor. It is a short leadership book about a mail carrier who goes above and beyond to not only deliver mail, but to serve the people on his route. This man truly cared about the people and made several sacrifices, even on his day off, to help them. Jesus told a similar story. He told of a Samaritan man who came across a Jewish man left on the side of the road beaten and robbed. The religious leaders who had come down the path before him did not stop and did everything they could to avoid him. The Samaritan did just the opposite. He stopped and helped the man. He then found him a place to stay and paid for it himself. He did all of it without expecting anything in return.

Jesus told this story while he was teaching on what it meant to love. He was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” This illustrates that we should love everyone we encounter every day. It does not matter if they are our race or religion. It does not matter if they like us or not. It does not matter if it is an inconvenience or gets in the way of our busy schedule. We are told that we are to love them through our action. Keep your eyes open this week to those around you that need to experience love. When you see them, make the sacrifices that are necessary to serve them completely. In addition, do not expect anything in return.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Worship Out of Loss

Last week a handful of us from the church traveled to Frisco Texas to the D6 Conference. D6 comes from Deuteronomy 6 and is a conference to strengthen family ministry in the church. There were many great speakers and the worship was outstanding. However, Thursday evening was one of those experiences we will never forget. Steven Curtis Chapman was given an hour to speak and sing. The request the organizers gave him, in fact, was for him to talk more than he sang. He spent a lot of time talking about his family and then singing songs that he wrote out of family experiences. We learned about his family and what led them to adopt several children from China. Steven then took the painful step of sharing what happened three years ago when his son drove up the driveway as one of his daughters ran out in front of the car and was killed.

During this time, you could feel his pain as he and his family searched for answers and struggled to understand why. There was not a dry eye in the conference room as each person either empathized or struggled to understand how they would react in such a difficult situation. After he poured out the pain deep inside his life, he gently pointed us to Jesus. When he began a time of worship and we sang the words “you give and take away, blessed be the name of the Lord”, you knew that the one leading in worship knew as well as anyone what Job was feeling when he wrote, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:21). The openness and vulnerability of the worship leader took each of us before the throne in worship. May our openness and vulnerability with those around us help them understand why we love our Savior so dearly and draw them to experience the God who gives us strength in the good times and the bad.

1 Thessalonians 2:13-16

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pull Them Out!

I received a very disturbing email this week. It was pictures of two men hunting for the people of their village. One man crawled down into a hole with one-armed wrapped in leather and he was carrying some grass they caught on fire. At the end of the hole was a giant python curled up around its eggs. The man let the python bite his arm wrapped in leather and the other man pulled him out with the snake attached to his arm. They then killed the snake and took it back to the village to eat. It sure brings a new appreciation for Wal-Mart.

As I urgently tried to erase the horrid image from my memory, the picture became a reminder of our job as Christians. There are people all around us who are experiencing life down in a hole. The great serpent of old is trying to bring destruction upon their life. The problem is they are hunting alone. They need someone to come along and pull them out of the hole.

As a church, we are striving to find ways to help you rescue your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. The Mighty Men of God Conference was one of those ways to help men in our church. We have Bible Studies, discipleship classes and church fellowships that draw us together to encourage each other on our journey in Christ. It is dangerous to live the Christian life on your own. We are stronger together.

There are two events we have coming up that will strengthen us. The church picnic on Sunday is a great way for us to draw closer together. We do not play together enough. We need an informal time to love on each other and to get to know each other. The other event is the movie Courageous. Satan is winning the battle of the family. This movie will challenge men to be the person God desires them to be. It will show the world what it means to be a family. Use this movie as a tool to help the people in your life who need encouragement and hope.

Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

A Bold Truth in a Fallen World

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Overachieving: Part 2

We Remember

We all remember where we were on that dreadful day. I was at home with Jonathan that morning. I watched live as the second jet flew into the World Trade Center. I shed tears with the rest of our nation wondering how such a thing could ever occur. About the time, I began to get numb from the shock of the nightmare, the first tower collapsed and the pain broke free in my soul once again. It is hard to believe that it has been ten years. The memory of that day still pierces like a knife in the soul.

I guess the hard part of the memory is not what happened on September 11, 2001, but what life was like before the horrible disaster. Do you remember when the Oklahoma City bombing was the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil? Do you remember when catching an airplane meant walking to the gate with your family, kissing them goodbye and them getting to watch you taxi to the runway? Do you remember when the only friction for our military was to enforce a no-fly zone over Iraq? What about the time we allowed our kids to experience freedom without our watchful eye? Yes, the world has changed since that day and we have changed with it.

Sunday we will remember. Like every natural and man-made disaster, it is a reminder that we are living in a fallen world. Sin is ugly. Sin hurts. Nevertheless, we have a Savior who came to defeat sin. One day he will return to put an end to all this pain. Just remember, the reason he tarries is so more people can be added to His Kingdom. There will continue to be pain and sorrow until the trumpet of the Lord sounds. However, in Jesus, we live in hope.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Beautiful Unity

In 1 Corinthians, Paul told the church that the Spirit that lives in them should unify them. He explained that the Spirit gives different gifts to all but he expects all to work together as the body of Christ. When I visualize what that means for the church, I envision what I saw take place on Saturday. It would have been impossible for the Back 2 School Bash to have been successful without everyone working together to make sure their area of responsibility was completed with excellence.

From those who were inside working security and nursery, to those who staffed every game, all were essential to the success of the event. It was also encouraging to see people from all ages take important roles. The youth worked diligently to set up all the tents and carnival games. The young men shuffled around the giant inflatables to get them where they needed to go. We had adults in the kitchen and outside around the grill working to make sure those who came received food and drinks. It was a beautiful sight.

This kind of cooperation is necessary if we are to continue to fulfill God’s vision. In Philippians 2:2 Paul said it this way, “then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” We must continue to unite for our common cause. When we unite for God’s Kingdom and not our own kingdom, God is going to bless our efforts. It is exciting to be part of a church that is not only humbly working for God’s Kingdom, but also united by the Spirit to be the body of Christ. God has blessed us tremendously this summer and I am assured that it continues as long as we labor in the unity, which is exemplified and empowered by Jesus Christ.

The Power of the Church

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

July 31, 2011 Morning Worship

Time for CONTACT!

Ready! Set! Contact! We are just a couple weeks away from school starting and the fall activities starting at Eastern Heights. I am extremely excited as we start our first fall with our new purpose and vision statements. Our many ministries will engage our world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. CONTACT Sunday is August 21. This is promotion Sunday and we will be setting goals for attendance and the number of contacts each Sunday School class will make.

Summer has been amazing as God has touched numerous lives and brought many new families to Eastern Heights. I believe fall will be even greater as we fulfill our God-given mission. Are you ready to make contact?

Vancouver Report

Monday, July 18, 2011

What a Great Summer!

After over five months of hard work, we have adopted a new Biblical Purpose Statement and Vision. It would be easy to think we are finished. We have finished the task and adopted a new statement. However, those five months were just birth pains. Now it is time for the real work to begin. It is time to live up to our purpose and accomplish our vision. In the fall, you will begin to notice several changes, including the use of the new church logo and slogan on publications coming from the church. This is more than just an update of letterhead. The logo and slogan should be a reminder to us of our purpose. I pray these reminders will encourage us to live out our calling as well as motivate us to get involved in the mission of the church. We have a lot to accomplish for the glory of God and we need everyone to participate to make our vision a reality.
It is truly an exciting time to be at Eastern Heights. I do not remember another summer in my ministry where there has been so many decisions happening on Sunday mornings. I have come to expect God to bless us through camps, mission trips, and Vacation Bible School. However, Sundays are usually a time many are gone enjoying summer vacation. However, this summer at Eastern Heights our attendance has been amazing and the moving of the Spirit has been overwhelming. God continues to change lives and call families to be part of Eastern Heights. Let us continue to pray diligently for God to continue to bless us. Let us pray for God to bind Satan from attacking. In addition, let us pray as we move into the many new things coming in the fall, that God will use these times to fulfill his kingdom through us. Thank you for allowing me to be your pastor. Let us engage the world together!

1 Peter 3:8-12

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

July 10, 2011 Morning Sermon

The Destination of Summer

My parents own a house in Northwest Arkansas in which they plan to retire. My kids know it as “The Vacation House.” For years, it has been the place we go to get away and relax. The tranquil mountains of the Ozarks with the unique culture that goes with it provide a great getaway. One of the drawbacks is the difficulty of driving in the area. What appears to be a short jaunt to Branson is in reality a two-hour rollercoaster ride with sharp turns and steep hills. It is usually best for everyone in the vehicle to be asleep or someone is sure to get carsick. However, the destination of entertainment and fun is worth the trip.

If your summer schedule is like ours, it is this type of trip. We run from one place to another. We go from a mission trip to camp to sending kids to grandparents and then we seem to repeat it just for fun. The journey of summer is a great rollercoaster. You wonder how you are going to endure it and then when it is over you cannot wait to experience it again. We are right in the middle of summer with all its heat and summer fun. However, we know at the end there are going to many lives changed. Those who go on mission trips gained a new perspective on life. Those who attend camp received new experiences with God. Vacation Bible School taught many children about having a relationship with Jesus Christ. For some, the events of the summer changed their life forever and even their eternal destiny. Keep hanging on. The end of summer is coming and I know we will be able to look back and see that God did great things.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

June 13, 2011 AM Message from Romans 1 and Romans 10

Why Haven't They Heard?

It was over two thousand years ago that Jesus Christ ascended into heaven, leaving the Church with the commission of taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth. We live in a world today that is increasingly smaller with easily accessed information and transportation at our disposal, yet there are still people groups in our world that have yet to hear the message of Jesus Christ. I rationalized that the over six thousand people groups we classify as “unreached” must be from places that do not want to hear. I thought they must be places not open to Christianity like Iran or Turkey. These places must be places closed to us like China. I know they need to hear the gospel but I assumed those left to hear would be very difficult to reach. God dramatically changed my understanding on my recent mission trip to Malawi, Africa.

Malawi is a country that Southern Baptists have had an active presence in for over fifty years. I knew that there were still people who needed to hear the gospel, but I was not prepared to experience what we found. In an effort to give the high school and college students the experience of sharing the Gospel in an unreached part of Malawi, we made the long drive to an area called Kalulu. This network of thirty-two villages was a forty-five minute drive down an unmaintained dirt road on which we were the only motorized vehicle. We found a series of one-room huts made out of mud brick and covered with grass roofs. The people were modestly dressed and only a small handful of them had shoes. They were in the middle of harvest in which the women would tie their babies to their backs and carry in the corn a basket at a time, balancing it on their head. They carried water from a muddy well or walked a long distance to get water from a running creek. These people were living the same life as those who lived here thousands of years ago.

We were welcomed in this area of villages as kings. The chiefs had told the people of the villages to expect us and be ready to hear what we had to say. As we went hut to hut sharing the gospel, we found people eagerly waiting in their home instead of in the field harvesting. They were starving to hear the message we brought them. We had the privilege to witness to hundreds, if not thousands, of people in Kalulu. They quickly responded to the gospel. Many of the chiefs accepted Christ to be their Lord and Savior and even accompanied us to some of the huts encouraging them to listen to the message. Hundreds showed up for the Bible studies in the afternoons. They would bring with them family and friends who had not heard the gospel. The children flocked to us and loved singing new songs about Jesus.

After a few days of ministry, many who had accepted Christ began coming back to us saying they wanted to be baptized and asked for Bibles. We took the long journey down to the creek where forty-two were baptized. A woman, whom we witnessed to the day before, who was too sick to leave her hut, made the long journey to be baptized. Another woman who claimed to be a Muslim led her family to Christ and they were all baptized. That day the chiefs of the two villages we had ministered in, showed us land in their villages where they wanted us to start a church. The Sunday after we left Malawi one of these villages had their first worship service where 170 people attended. Many of us on our team had left our clothes and other items and they were distributed to those who attended. Bibles in their language were handed out as well.

I realize that many of the unreached people in our world are in areas where it is difficult and that it is going to take specially trained missionaries with specific skills in order to break through the darkness. However, I believe today that there are many places in the world like Kalulu, Malawi, that are open to hear the message of Jesus. I will be haunted for the rest of my life by the question we heard on several occasions, “Why have we never heard this before?” I will never read Romans 10 the same. “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14, ESV) I also know that there are thirty villages in the Kalulu area of Malawi that are begging for someone to come and share with them the story of Jesus.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It's Been a Year!

What a year it has been! My official start date as pastor was May 18, 2010. It is hard to believe that the first year has passed. It is amazing to see what God has done in the lives of so many people during this time. My kids have done wonderful through their first year in Bartlesville schools and are excited about their second summer packed with church activities. God answered our prayer for Tara to get to stay home for a year and she is looking for employment for the fall. Thank you for making our first year so memorable. I greatly appreciate all your prayers and encouragement. I am convinced God wants to use us to accomplish great things for His kingdom.

This Sunday will be our last Dynamic Ministry class. It marks the end of a journey that started in early January. We will soon present to the church a new biblical purpose and vision that will guide us for the next few years. We learned so much about ourselves on this journey and are excited about where God is leading us. Remember, this new biblical purpose and vision did not come from any one individual, but it came from all those who made the sacrifice to come together every week and join in the process. It is encouraging to see that God was working similarly in all of our hearts. I am excited to see the result of all the hard work.

Next week at this time, I will be on my way to Malawi Africa with Kelsey Hoelscher, Rachel Watters, and Paul Koonce. We covet your prayers as we quickly adjust to a new culture and begin to share the Gospel with those who have never heard. One of the villages we are going has never seen white people and as far as we know never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. May God have their hearts ready to hear and may we be ready to reap the harvest.

1 Peter 2:1-10

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rejoice in Judgment?

I was shocked Sunday night when I turned on the news to learn that Osama Bin Laden had been shot and killed. There were all kinds of emotions that went through my mind. I wanted to cry tears of joy but also tears of hurt. Because of this it did not surprise me to see the different reactions of people throughout the United States. Some were even driven to go into the streets shouting “U.S.A.”. The question I was asking myself was, “How should Christians respond to this event?” I have read a lot of Christian blogs over the last couple of days relating to that question. Let me give you some of the things I learned.

It is the responsibility of government to provide justice and rid the world of those who commit atrocities against humanity. Romans 13:4, “For he [governing authorities] is God’s servant for our good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” Though the killing Bin Laden is accepted and required by God our reaction to it should be reserved. Ezekiel 33:11 states, “Say to them, ‘As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Judgment, even when just, should not be celebrated because God’s desire is for their salvation. We are to rejoice with those who repent, not celebrate the judgment of the wicked. We can, however, be glad that Bin Laden is no longer doing evil.

I like the way Todd Fisher, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Shawnee, stated it:

  • I am GRATEFUL the evil caused by OBL is gone (Prov. 11:10- “When the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness”).  I am GRIEVED he has entered hell (Luke 13:5- “But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish”).  I am HUMBLED that without Christ, my destination would be the same (John 3:16- “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”).

  • We should be thankful that one horrific source of the scourge of terrorism and religious abuse is no longer among us.  However, Jesus warned us in Luke 13:1-5 that the demise of others is always an opportunity for us to reflect on our own spiritual condition.  Instead of raucous celebration, perhaps we should think on Bin Laden and how we can make sure that evil and murderous thoughts, words, and deeds can be confessed to the Father and removed from our lives.  “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Let our response as Christians be different than those who do not know the Lord.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Message: 1 Peter 1:3-5

Great Day!

What a great day of worship we had on Sunday as we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ! Easter Sunday is a day you go home from worship with joy in your heart. We had numerous guests with us and young lady gave her life to Christ. The worship service consisting of participants from Laleo, AWANA, and the adult choir did a great job of communicating the message of the death and resurrection of Christ. William Harrison, as always, took us to the throne of grace in worship. Thank you to all who made our Easter celebration a great success.

With Easter now behind us, we can continue to move forward as we seek God’s vision for us our church. This Sunday will be the third and final church summit. At this summit, you will receive the proposed mission and vision statements as the Re-visioning Team has compiled them. We will discuss the proposal as well as figure out how we will accomplish the vision. As great as a vision statement is in helping us to accomplish God’s will for our church, it is useless if we do not have a plan to accomplish it. The format will be very similar to the last two summits, as we discover the values we need to accomplish the vision as well as the best way to organize to get us to the end result. I look forward to having you with us this Sunday afternoon.

On a different note, I want to thank you. It was a year ago, April 25, that you called me to be your pastor. It is my joy to serve you and as I look back at the last year, I know God has used our union to do great things for his Kingdom. I look forward to the future and what God will accomplish through Eastern Heights for His glory. “To God be the glory, great things He has done!”

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Journey

Several years ago, Tara and I received a GPS as a Christmas gift from my parents. We quickly grew to love the benefit of always finding what we were looking for. We would type in an address and it was sure to get us where we needed to go and it even gave the time of when we would arrive at the destination. However, through the years things changed. Roads were moved and bridges replaced. A road that was two-way one day becomes a one-way road the next. Despite all the change, our GPS remained the same. We never updated the maps so when we hit the new areas many times the directions were wrong. We could usually find our way eventually but it made the journey more difficult. After a few years of this battle, we finally bought a new GPS that has all the up to date maps.

The journey in the life of a church is much the same way. Every few years we need to rethink our destination and check to see if the route we are taking needs to be updated. This last Sunday we continued this journey with Church Summit #2. We re-dreamed the dream. It was amazing to see how God has been speaking to us in similar ways. We had a great start in understanding the destination for the next 3-5 years. The Sunday evening after Easter, we will have Church Summit #3. This summit will help us understand how God wants us to get to that destination. When we update our destination and our journey we will be able to arrive at the exact place God desires for us. I pray that you join us in this journey of obedience.

He Had a Plan

Text is Matthew 4:23 - 5:2.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Church Summit #2

Church Summit #2

Through visiting with many who were here for Church Summit #1, I believe it was a great success. We learned so much invaluable information looking at where we have been as a church. We looked at the positive and negative significant events of our forty-year history. We had a great prayer time together praising God for what He has done through our church and we repented where we failed to live up to God’s standards. I can personally say I understand Eastern Heights better today than I did before the summit.

It is now time to move beyond the past and see how God wants to use us in the future. This Sunday, April 17 at 4:00, we will have Church Summit #2. God is not through with us yet! We will begin the journey of understanding what God is calling us to do and be. I hope that you will be here for this exciting journey. The end of this summit should provide us with a five-year vision and the values necessary to accomplish the vision. I truly believe that greater things are yet to come for us at Eastern Heights. God has placed us here for such a time as this. Let us make sure we do not miss what God is accomplishing in Bartlesville and the WORLD. See you Sunday at 4:00 in the chapel!

Daniel 12

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Destination of Surrender

The first year Tara and I went to Durango Mexico on a mission trip was quit an adventure. We took our brand new minivan that year as part of the caravan of church vehicles that made the twenty four hour drive. Driving in Mexico was an adrenaline rush all to its self. When we arrived in Durango, however, the real adventure began. We pulled up in front of a church where several church members greeted us. There were fifty or so of us from America and at least that many meeting us at the church with only one real interpreter present. It was getting dark and we were all exhausted and so ready for a good night’s sleep. The process of pairing us up with our host family became chaos. In the midst of the chaos our host was introduced to us and we were asked to give him the keys to our van since he could not communicate to us in English how to get to his home. My stress level was in the stratosphere as I handed over my keys. I knew this man was going to wreck my new van and I was certain that if we made it to his shack I would be sleeping in horrible conditions with roaches and mice.
Little did I know through all of this that God was teaching me a lesson of trust and surrender. I gave the man my keys and held on tight for the ride. After several minutes of driving he pulled up in front of a gate and honked the horn. All I could see was the old wall and gate in front of us when the lights came on. The instant the lights came on I felt like a fool. We were in front of a large, two story home, nicer than what I lived in back in Oklahoma. We were treated like royalty as we pointed to the corn flakes and milk to eat for supper.

Sunday afternoon we talked about the need for us as a church to surrender. There is something about our church that each one of us do not want to surrender to God. We must realize that when we surrender everything to God he may or may not take it from us. However, we must be willing for God to change it if He desires. Eastern Heights is about God, not us. When we trust God and surrender it all to Him the end destination will be much better than we ever dreamed.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Time to Remember

God called the people of Israel to remember. It was important for them to remember the good and the bad. He wanted them to remember their slavery in Egypt. He wanted them to remember defeats in battle. He wanted them to remember God’s deliverance. He wanted them to remember receiving the Law. Remembering the past was important for the people of Israel as well as for us today. They did not always learn their lesson but they always knew why they failed. When we forget our past, we are destined to repeat its mistakes.

Psalm 43:5 says, “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands.” Sunday afternoon we had our first church-wide summit. It was an afternoon spent remembering our past and meditating on what it means for us. Some of the memories were exciting. However, there were also those memories that hurt. Eastern Heights has had its great days and its regrettable days. I was greatly encouraged by the way we embraced the good and the bad and gave them to God. Until we embrace the past, we cannot go to the future. I believe that God has great things in store for Eastern Heights. Sunday was a great first step in understanding what God wants to do through us.

If you did not make it to the summit make a point to walk through the chapel. You will find a journey wall telling of the positive and negative events that have shaped our church. As you look at the journey wall, ponder in your heart what these things mean for us. Spend time in prayer asking God to use the wall to speak to you about what He is doing in our church. God has brought us through the past in order to prepare us for the future. May God continue to do great and awesome things through us as we serve him with all our heart.

Monday, March 21, 2011

It is Time!

Oklahomans say there are three sport seasons; Football season, Pre-season football and spring football. It is even truer when the state basketball teams had such dismal years. The OKC Thunder is trying hard to change this attitude in Oklahoma but I have a feeling it will take a few years. Because of Oklahoma’s love for football we live in constant anticipation for fall to begin and your favorite team to kickoff its season. When the season begins we can say, “It is time.”

It is time. There is an event happening on Sunday that I have anticipated since the day God told me it was time to begin a re-visioning process at Eastern Heights Baptist Church. This Sunday at 4:00 “it is time” to kickoff our first church summit. This summit is open to everyone in the church. In fact, I encourage every church member to be here. We will learn a lot from each other. The two main accomplishments from this summit will be building a journey wall of the most significant events of our past and discovering our actual values. Until we understand where we have been and where we are, we cannot understand where God wants us to go in the future.

It is time for us all to come together and discover who God wants us to be in Christ.

Daniel 8, "Identifying the Enemy"

2 Corinthians 1:21-24

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Turn Your Eyes

I will never forget that moment when the doors in the back of the sanctuary at First Baptist Church in McAlester opened and there stood my beautiful bride dressed in all white with her eyes fixed on me standing at the altar. Tara had cried every day for the previous six months. That day was my turn. It started when I saw my mother seated; however, the sight of my bride coming down the aisle was something completely different. I could not take my eyes off her the whole service. Looking at my wife on that day was a look that was different from the way I have looked at anyone before or since. My eyes were fixed on her in a special way.

Years before, I had received my first speeding ticket and had to appear before the judge. My aunt was the judge’s secretary so I got a private appearance. I was nervous as the giant door opened to see him seated behind the enormous wooden desk. My eyes looked upon him in a completely different way. The eyes I used that day were eyes of humility and fear.

The eyes we look to God with are truly determined by our circumstance. He is our Savior who we love more than life itself, but He is also Judge. King David had the later in mind when he wrote Psalm 123.

To you I lift up my eyes,
     O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
Behold, as the eyes of servants
     look to the hand of the master,
As the eyes of a maidservant
     to the hand of her mistress,
So our eyes look to the Lord our God,
     till he has mercy upon us.
Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
     for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than enough
     of the scorn of those who are ease,
     of the contempt of the proud.

Sunday Mornging: Checkmate! Daniel 7

Sunday Evening: 2 Corinthians 1:12-20

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Old Faithful (Daniel 6)

Sunday morning series on the book of Daniel. Text is Daniel 6.

2 Corinthians 1:1-11

Sunday evening series on the book of 2 Corinthians. Text is chapter 1.

Prepared to be Tested

No matter what sport you play, practice is different from the game. Practice is repetitive. The reason you practice is to prepare your fundamentals so when it is time to compete it will come natural. It has been said “practice makes perfect” but in reality “perfect practice makes perfect.” Through practice, we prepare for the competition ahead. When the test comes, we will be ready.

 Spiritual disciples are how we as Christians practice. We are preparing for the tests of life. When temptation or affliction comes our way, we can be prepared. Studying God’s Word is one of the disciplines of our faith that prepares us for the tests of our life. God’s Word keeps us on track. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Proverbs 6:23-24 say, “For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, to preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress.” Studying God’s Word prepares us for the test.

 On March 6, we start our Bible conference with Mike Taylor. We will be studying Jesus’ teaching on discipleship in the Gospels. From 12-1 each day we will be having a meal together and he will be teaching through Ruth. Do not miss this opportunity to prepare for the tests of life.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tragic End, Daniel 5

Lifestyle Evangelism, Colossians 4:2-6

They Want to Hear

While we Christians live our life of peace, there are people we walk pass every day who are hurting on the inside. Satan has done a great job convincing us that they do not want to hear the message of Jesus Christ. The truth is that all those who are without Christ have an emptiness inside of them that can only be satisfied by Jesus. We must keep our eyes open to see those around us who are searching and in desperate need of Jesus. I am always amazed at how God can take the broken and restore them. He takes the desperate and uses them to accomplish great things for His kingdom.

When I was just a young child attending church in Wetumka Oklahoma a young youth aged kid moved in with his grandmother who was a member of our church. His mother died tragically. He was moved from California to the little town of Wetumka. I remember pestering him continuously as only a young elementary kid could. Little did I know then the hurt that was inside him. A couple years later his grandmother died and he was moved to the Baptist Boys Home in Oklahoma City. However, God got a hold of his life and changed him forever. This kid was Joel Engle. He is a nationally known Christian song writer and performer. He has led worship at Falls Creek several times. He currently pastors a rapidly growing church in Texas. Can you imagine what would have been lost if he had not been surrounded by people who offered to replace the emptiness inside of him with Jesus? Through his experience he wrote the following song entitled “The Father I Never Had”.

Verse 1
There's a little child inside this man, who still does not understand
Why momma had to die, she didn't say goodbye
Daddy left without a trace, I never even saw his face
Was I to blame, I still feel the pain of heart shattered like glass that cut my soul to pieces
I never thought I would love again, until I met you Jesus

You're the Father I never had
And Your love never changes, through the good times and the bad
You're the Father I never had
Just hold me in Your arms and heal me of the past and be the Father I never had

Verse 2
I was a teenage boy in a small town, standing outside the crowd
Unwanted and unclaimed, a face without a name, almost every night I'd cry and cry
Asking the questions why, mom and dad would leave this lonely son to grieve
The deserts of my years, they were watered with my tears,
But when I met you face to Face, You wiped away my fears.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Daniel 4

02.06.2011 AM: Cycle of Redemption from Eastern Heights Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Not Again!

It is amazing what the weather has been like in February. The snow has crippled the things that we take for granted. Wal-Mart went days without having full shelves, not from people buying them out as much as the inability to receive the shipments that they needed to replenish their stock. Gas stations ran out of gas for the same reasons. Schools have been closed and Tulsa has yet to recover. With all that said, another snow storm is coming. We have cancelled church for Wednesday night again. Another evening stuck at home may not be very pleasant for most of us. However, we are faced with it again.

So, what does that mean for us as a church. Do we get a vacation? I say no. With every tragic event comes great opportunity. A door is open to us, as Christians, to minister to those around us in ways we ordinarily would not be able to. Jesus told the church at Philadelphia in Revelation that he gave them an open door. When the door of opportunity opens to us we need to take advantage of it. I want to encourage you to not go inside your cocoon over the next couple of days. Do not become a bear in hibernation. Do what you can to minister to those around you. Call the elderly. Help the helpless. Visit the lonely. Love the unlovable. Play with the unsupervised. Use your telephone and check on everyone that God puts on your heart. We have an opportunity to show people the love of Jesus Christ. Do not let this opportunity pass without taking advantage of the great need for ministry. Stay safe over the next few days and may God give you great opportunity to shine His light.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Storm is Coming!

As I write this article a winter storm approaches. As of this moment it is yet to be seen what this storm will bring. Last night on television one channel said we could have 15-20 inches of snow. Another channel said we would have 5-10 inches and possibly 12 in very isolated areas. The national weather service according to my iPhone App is claiming 4-8 inches. Another App says we will have 2-4 inches. It is obvious that the extent of this coming event will only be known after it passes. However, the grocery stores are packed with people preparing to be stuck in the house for months. Many are in the process of preparing for the worst while others are not worried at all. There will also be others who wait for the snow to start falling and then they will rush to the stores.

The disciples were stuck in a boat in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. The storm struck without warning and they were fighting for their life. The boat was filling with water and they were certain they were going to drown. The interesting part of this story was where Jesus was. They were fighting for their life and Jesus was asleep. How was Jesus able to sleep while the boat was tossed in the storm? Jesus had faith. The disciples had fear. The disciples woke Jesus and he immediately calmed the storm.

When we understand who holds the world in His hands, then we will live in faith and not fear. Our world is in chaos. Not only is the winter storm coming, the world is in turmoil as Egypt protests and attempts to overthrow the existing government. Protests have erupted all over the world. This is not time for us to panic and think the worst. It is time for us to live with the same peace that allowed Jesus to sleep through the storm. Our God is on His throne.

“In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isaiah 6:1-3, ESV)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Loving What God Says

Love of God’s Word is essential in loving God. It is impossible to truly love someone whom you do not love what they say. God has initiated a loving relationship with us that is given to us through His Word. It is through His Word that we are told how we can be part of the relationship God desires with us. Sin is what keeps us from this relationship, but it is God’s Word that helps us to overcome that separation. In Psalm 119:9-11 it says, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” In the New Testament we learn that the Word of God is our offensive weapon to defend off temptation and to help others to overcome temptation. It is the sharp two-edged sword that pierces the heart of men. It is always leading us back to an intimate, loving relationship with God.
Because of these things we must be careful in our study and use of God’s Word. Paul told Timothy, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved …who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:16). When we are faithful in our use of God’s Word we are promised in Isaiah 55:11, “so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

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...