Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Greatest Gift Giver

The Greatest Gift Giver- Presentation

It's That Time of Year Again!

It was a great joy to get away for a few days and celebrate Thanksgiving with family. My family and I have much to be thankful for and we celebrated accordingly. With the leaving behind of Thanksgiving means that the busiest time of year is upon us. I am reminded this time of year the song “Silver Bells”,

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks
Dressed in holiday style
In the air there's a feeling of Christmas
Children laughing, people passing
Meeting smile after smile
And on every street corner you'll hear
Silver bells.

I hope for you and your family this Christmas you will allow the “busy sidewalks” and “people passing” put a smile on your face and not the stern look of stress. Keep Jesus as the center of Christmas and you will find joy in the midst of the rush around you.

With the Christmas season comes a time that me and my family look forward to every year. Our Christmas Open House is December 8 from 1-4. This is our Christmas present to you. We will have lots of Christmas candies, fudge and other favorites. Come fellowship with us. It is come and go, so if you can only make it for a few short minutes we would still love for you to come. May God bless you and your family this holiday season as we celebrate the Greatest Gift from the Greatest Gift Giver.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Awaken: 2 Chronicles 7:14

Presentation for AWAKEN

Introduced to Jesus

A couple of John the Baptist’s disciples, as Jesus walked past, heard John say, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” Those two immediately began to follow Jesus and were invited by Jesus to stay with him. One of these disciples was Andrew. After Andrew heard Jesus teach he ran to his brother, Simon and told him that he had found the Messiah. When Simon came to Jesus, Jesus said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).” (John 1:35-42)

Andrew was responsible for bringing Peter to a relationship with Jesus Christ. There is nothing more exciting that being responsible for introducing someone to Jesus. I remember inviting a friend from school to church one night of a revival at First Baptist Church of McAlester. At the end of that service she took my hand and asked if I would walk with her. She went forward and accepted Christ to be her Lord and Savior. Through the years I’ve seen this happen numerous times. However, it never gets old or loses its joy.

As pastor I want to provide as many of those opportunities as possible. I want to provide times for you to invite your lost friends and know that they will be introduced to Jesus. Awaken is one of these great opportunities. Mike Keahbone is a gifted communicator of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe that God is going to speak to each of us in a very powerful way. And I also know that the Gospel will be presented in such a way that the lost will be introduced to the Messiah. I look forward to seeing you on Sunday and meeting the friends that you brought with you.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Presentation for Hebrews 13:7-25

Hebrews 13:7-25

Praying for Revival

Revival is not something that you can calendar. It is the result of humbled hearts repenting of their sin and running toward an omnipotent, loving God. It has far less to do with the quality of the speaker and the date on a calendar and much more to do with a church returning to a proper relationship with God. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is a call from God for revival. It says, “if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” For us to have more than just a scheduled event we must be approaching our God in repentance and prayer now.

Gregory Frizzell says there are seven elements of revival praying:

1. Revival praying is driven by love for God and desire for his Name to be glorified. (Matthew 6:6-9; 22:37)

2. Revival praying is accompanied by deep confession and renewed obedience. (2 Chronicles 7:14; Joel 2:12-18; Psalms 66:18; 139:23-24)

3. Revival praying centers on the advancement of Christ’s kingdom, not earthly comforts and temporal success. (Matthew 6:33; 28:19-20)

4. Revival praying is specific, Bible-based and centered in God’s will. (John 15:7; 1 John 5:14-15)

5. Revival praying is effectual, fervent and faith-filled. (Mark 11:22-24; James 5:16)

6. Revival praying is corporate and united in biblical agreement. (Matthew 18:19; 21:13; Acts 2:1)

7. Revival praying is God-centered, Spirit empowered and prevailing. (Acts 1:8; Ephesians 6:18; James 5:16-18) In short, revival praying is nation-changing and God-glorifying!

I challenge you to be praying earnestly for our revival services. Pray for God to speak through Mike Keahbone in a clear and powerful way. Pray for who you are to bring with you each night. Let revival begin in your heart even before our scheduled event. We are having special prayer services next week leading up to our revival. Join together with other believers in agreement that we desire for our hearts to be revived by the Spirit of God. I am excited about what God is going to do in each of our lives.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Wake Up From Your Good Reputation

The Church of Sardis, mentioned in Revelation 3, had a great reputation. When people thought of the model church this church was on the list. I have a feeling that if this church existed today they would have great conferences where thousands of church leaders around the country would come to find out how they do ministry. Their pastor would be popular in the convention and have several bestselling books. However, Jesus said they were dead. Twice in Revelation 3 he tells the church to “wake up”. They had a reputation of being alive, but they were dead. What a great picture of the church in America. All over the world we have a reputation of being the greatest Christians on earth. However, many of churches are failing. They are dead and void of all power.

November 4-7 we will have a revival. The theme of our revival is “Awaken”. Let us pray that God pours his spirit out onto us in such a way that we wake up. Let us get beyond our comfortable and powerless religious rituals and get back to a powerful relationship with Jesus Christ that drives us into the world.

Romans 13:11 “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.”

"Keep on Loving" Presentation

Keep on Loving

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

More Valuable Than Money

There is one thing in our society that is more important and valuable than money; time. Time is the most valuable resource in our society. Because of our busy society we make decisions based on how we use our time. If you want to see what the most important thing in your life is, just make a list of how much time you spend at different activities during the day. Because of the value of our time we are becoming a society that fails to make commitments. Time gets in the way of us keeping commitments; therefore we have stopped making commitments all together. When we are asked to do something our most common answer is “we will see” or “maybe”. That means we are never tied down and if something we value more comes along we are free to change our plans and do not carry the guilt of failing to keep a commitment.

Eastern Heights has a tremendous opportunity coming up in a few weeks. I am praying earnestly that this will become a priority for our people. We begin revival on November 4. Please do not let it be something we put on the calendar until we have something more important to take its place. Make it a priority in your calendaring. If God is going to awaken our souls as we pray, we must be here to hear God’s Word. I know Mike Keahbone will be prepared to deliver powerful messages that are relevant and Holy Spirit filled. Do your part by making being here to hear God’s Word a priority of your time.

Romans 13:11, “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.”

Proof of the Power- Sermon

Proof of the Power- Presentation

Monday, September 17, 2012

Awaken Our Soul!

During the Great Awakening revival services were held out in a pasture and thousands would flock there for weeks to hear great preaching and experience the power of God. Even fifty years ago churches would hold revival services for two weeks and if God was moving would continue it even longer. I remember five day revivals when I was a kid. It was seen as a test of faith to schedule on a Friday night in the fall and compete with high school football. In today’s world, most churches have gotten away from holding such services. It has been years since Eastern Heights has held a revival service.

I believe that in our world we need more than ever to experience another Great Awakening. Our land is grieving from sin. Our people are weary from battle. The church is hopelessly lost in tradition and a loss of power. The evidence of a failing spiritual battle is all around us. It is time for us to awaken our soul (Psalm 57:8). It is time for us to take the call of 2 Chronicles 7:14, “ if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

November 4-7 we will be having a revival service with Mike Keahbone. Mike is blessed with an evangelistic zeal and an outpouring of God’s Spirit that makes his message exactly what we need to hear. It is your responsibility to pray, now. Awaken your soul. And it is also your responsibility to make it a priority on your calendar. Please put this service on your calendar and not allow it to be interrupted. If God is going to awaken our souls we must “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Process of Regeneration

One of the many fascinating organs of our body is the skin. Skin is the largest organ of the body. Without it we would die instantly. The skin is able to survive in a wide variety of conditions. It survives in the sun, in the water, in hot weather and in cold weather. It not only survives these elements, it can provide amazing protection for over a 100 years. How is it able to survive? It is constantly regenerating itself. The epidermal layer of the skin is in a state of constant regeneration. It can regenerate itself every two to three weeks. Skin that stops regenerating itself is diseased and is in danger of killing the whole body.

Paul calls the church the body of Christ. The body of Christ has survived over 2000 years. How has it survived all the turmoil over that expanse of time? It has constantly regenerated itself. One generation of Christian leaders has risen up a new generation of Christian leaders. Jesus left eleven disciples ready to lead where he left off. Those eleven trained hundreds more to continue after their time. Christianity is only one generation away from extinction. It is our turn to take the torch that has been passed to us and give it to the next generation. When the church stops regenerating itself the disease greatly hinders the life and growth of the body of Christ.

2 Timothy 2:2, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Power Up Week 2 Presentation

Using Every Platform

The eyes of America have been on two events the last couple of days; the Republican National Convention and Hurricane Isaac. I am sure that what organizers thought was going to be a disaster has become a blessing. The two events, though hardly even related at this point, have been talked about as one. The hurricane has given Republicans a platform that is larger than what is found at a regular convention. The news agency cannot talk about one without mentioning the other.

These events have me thinking about my own Christian life. Do I always take advantage of the platforms God gives me? Paul, while he was in prison in Rome, saw the whole situation as a platform to tell others about the cross of Christ. That is why in Philippians 1:12 Paul says, “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” It is this understanding of his suffering that caused him to say, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4). When we learn to see every situation in our life as a platform to advance the gospel, then we will also learn to be content in every situation we find our self in.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sunday Night

Presentation for Hebrews 11:23-40

Hebrews 11:23-40

It’s Time to Power Up

Now is the time! School starts back this week and all of our fall activities begin on Sunday. There is not a better time to be part of our Sunday morning Bible study time than now. We have two new adult classes starting on Sunday. We have a new young adult co-ed class starting taught by Gene and Jennifer Hines. We have a new men’s class starting taught by Eric Morrison. We also have new classes in our children‘s area preparing for our new Sunday morning bus ministry. I cannot wait to see how God uses our new classes to engage Bartlesville with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

This Sunday is Round Up Sunday and is the kick-off for our Power Up Sunday School promotion which will take place over the next eight weeks. We are striving to get everyone who is on our Sunday School roles to be in Sunday School on Sunday morning. We will conclude our eight week campaign with high attendance Sunday on October 7. Our classes will be participating in several special emphasis activities during those eight weeks. Now is the time. Let’s get started right by all showing up on Sunday excited about what God has in store for us.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Think Fall!

On a day when the temperature is suppose to approach 110; I can’t believe I am saying this. My summer is over! What a busy couple of months but it is now time for our Fall schedule to begin. This Sunday evening from 4-7 we are having Sunday School training. This is for all teachers, leaders and attendees. We will be introducing our fall attendance campaign called Power Up. Sunday School is a powerful outreach tool if it is used correctly. We are starting five new classes on Round Up Sunday, August 19. With the implementation of Power Up, our new bus ministry and these new classes we expect that this growth will see us averaging 50 more in Sunday School by Christmas. I am excited to see how God uses this step of faith. I believe that we will see new believers in Christ as we reach out to our community and draw them to our small groups. If you are not attending one of our classes, there is not a better time to start.

Not only will you see a difference in our Sunday School classes but our worship services for the eight weeks of Power Up will center around this theme. We will be honoring a different group in our church every week. We will honor preschool, children, youth, men, women, and senior adults on various weeks. I will be preaching a new series centered around the promotion as well. The temperature outside may not show it. Fall is so close; do not miss what is happening at Eastern Heights! See you Sunday.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hebrews 10:32-39

It's Time to Serve the Lord!

What a blessing it is to serve the Lord! I want to thank the many of you who serve the Lord through Eastern Heights Baptist Church. If not for your faithful service we would not be able to participate in the many activities and ministries we use to engage Bartlesville and beyond with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We have seen tremendous blessing over the last several months because of your faithfulness. We have seen many come to know the Lord. We have seen many surrender their life to Christian service. Our Sunday School and worship service has seen great growth. Our youth and children’s ministries have multiplied. None of these great things could have happened without your faithfulness. Thank you.

With the new school year quickly approaching, many of our ministries are gearing up for another great year. In just a few short weeks we start a new Sunday School year. Our Wednesday night activities of AWANA and TUPOS will get back to full swing. In order for us to be primed for the growth in store for us we need everyone to get involved. We need you to volunteer to help in these many ministries. We will have opportunities for you to volunteer for these ministries over the next few weeks. You can fill out the section in the bulletin or call the church office and let us know your willingness to serve the Lord. As we all step out in faithful service, God is going to do great things through Eastern Heights Baptist Church.

Psalm 100:2, “Serve the Lord with gladness!”

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hebrews 9:11-28

Is Summer Over Yet?

For children, summer break is a time to relax and have fun. No more homework. No more early alarms. No more lectures about grades. But for us parents, summer is chaos. No more routine. No more quiet lunches. No more peace knowing the kids are safe at school. In fact, summer is twice as busy. We have to get the same amount accomplished everyday while worrying about what they are getting into. Back in the day summer break meant the kids were home to help with the chores. Now days it means that you are always preparing for a camp, vacation or some other way to entertain our hard to amuse mini adults who cannot entertain themselves with the thousands of dollars worth of entertainment options at their fingertips. Is it time for school to start back yet?

Though I may be exaggerating slightly, summer can be more hectic than fun if we allow it. Though I will not be missing a Sunday, I will be out of the office the next three weeks. Many of you are experiencing the same type of schedule. God has reminded me today to “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16). As well as, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). Do not let the hectic schedule of summer keep you from growing in your walk with Christ.

Monday, June 4, 2012

A New Chapter

Two years ago I came to Eastern Heights as pastor with the privilege to work alongside Jaymi in ministry. It is amazing to think back over the last two years and see where God has taken us. We have seen many come to salvation in Jesus Christ. We have seen God bring many great Christian people into our fellowship. The students in our church have grown numerically and spiritually, leaving a strong legacy for those who follow. Jaymi is leaving a vacancy that will be difficult to replace but also a foundation in which we can grow the future. One thing is sure; if God has a plan for Jaymi and Kara in Texas he has a plan for us at Eastern Heights.

I am reminded about life for the people of Israel in the beginning of Joshua. Moses was gone and Joshua was chosen to be the next leader. Several times in the first chapter of Joshua God says, “Be strong and courageous.” There are only two choices when leadership changes. The first is to retreat and find that which is safe and comfortable. The second is to walk forward in faith, understanding that if God is for us no one can stand against us. Retreat is the result of fear stemming from the absence of faith. We are called to press forward in faith. There are still thousands in our city and billions in the world without Christ. We may be going through a new chapter in leadership, but God is not close to being finished with us. As one chapter ends a new one begins. Thank you Jaymi for a ministry that has prepared our students for the next chapter.

Hebrews 9:1-10 Presentation

Hebrews 9:1-10

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Presentation for Hebrews 8

A Hidden Plan, Hebrews 8

Modern Orphans of Oklahoma

Last week I had lunch with a group of church leaders around Tulsa to talk about how the church can help take care of the orphans that find themselves in foster care. For years the church has allowed the state to take care of this responsibility. Yes, we have had our children’s home, but it just met the needs of those children who fall through the cracks of the state program. The most common response from Christians is to adopt children internationally and to send money to help orphans in poor countries of the world. Those are great things but why are we closing our eyes to the need in our own backyard?

Not only has the church failed to help the state, the state has failed to reach out to the church for support. The state has struggled for years to have enough foster homes. It has struggled to have enough employees. It has struggled to have volunteers in shelters. Because of these struggles the children who find themselves in foster care, seldom because of any fault of their own, are the ones who suffer. Last Wednesday night there were 58 children in the shelter in Tulsa because they did not have enough families to place them. Finally, the state is asking the church for help.

The State of Oklahoma is partnering with communities of faith through the 111 project (www.111project.org). The needs are endless. There is a need for foster families, respite care providers, volunteers to help with paperwork in the DHS office, and for those who can support those who commit to be foster families. I believe there is a place for all of us. Will you pray about how God can use you to help with this serious problem?

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Rent or Own?


Dan T. Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-a, posted on his blog this week about the importance of taking ownership and pride in the things in your life. He mentioned he heard someone say, “You know, no one washes a rental car. You have to own it to care that much…” What a true statement. I always thought that was the best part of renting a car. Someone else is responsible to clean it up and make sure that the maintenance is taken care of. I never check the sticker to see if the rental needs an oil change. I use it and then take it back.

What an interesting thought as it pertains to the church. Do you see the church as someone else’s or your own? I was visiting with a pastor friend of mine recently about training new church members. He said that he calls his class “Ownership Class”. He does not want just members but owners. Membership is what you have at a country club. Those types of people come into the church wanting to be served. They make a mess and expect someone else to clean it up. They are more concerned about being comfortable than helping others to feel comfortable. He is after owners. It is the owner who invests in the organization. It is the owner who cleans up after themselves and everyone else. The owner is invested in the overall success of the organization. May God bless us at Eastern Heights as we develop our membership to take ownership in the ministry of our church.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

An Inwardly Obsessed Church

It is easy for a church to forget its purpose and begin to believe that everything is about them. An inwardly focused church is a place that is comfortable for its members. Every decision that is made focuses on ways to make the church better suited for those who have already been reached. It is concerned about what happens on the inside of its walls and not concerned about what is going on outside the walls. Becoming inwardly focused is a trap laid out by Satan and swallowed by many churches. The goals of a church that falls in this trap have to do with budget, facilities and programs. Anything that happens that takes away from the comfort of the membership is pushed aside and rejected. More money is spent on flowers and fellowship than on taking the gospel to the lost world. More time is invested in internal programs that knocking on the doors of the community.

Thom Rainer, President of Lifeway, says that an inwardly obsessed church no longer is a Great Commission Congregation. He began a few years ago keeping a list of what he found in churches that are inwardly focused. He compiled a list of the top ten warning signs that a congregation is falling into this dangerous trap. He claims that if two or more of these are found in the church it is in danger. May we continually be on guard not to focus more on our self than on the task of taking the Gospel to the ends of the world (Matthew 28:18-20).

Top 10 Warning Signs of an Inwardly Obsessed Church

1. Worship wars
2. Prolonged minutia meetings
3. Facility focus
4. Program driven
5. Inwardly focused budget
6. Inordinate demands for pastoral care
7. Attitudes of entitlement
8. Greater concern about change than the gospel
9. Anger and hostility
10. Evangelistic apathy

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hebrews 5:11-6:20 Presentation

Hebrews 5:11-6:20

Guest Post by Frank Hulse

Claim the High Ground

I volunteer in a local prison and teach various classes to men who have made a commitment to change, to improve their chances of success when they are paroled or discharged. I drove an hour today to reach the prison. Then I went through the security procedures only to find that my classroom was dark and my students were locked down. It was an unfortunate glitch. The men were getting TB tests and the staff had thought that they would be finished before I arrived. Bad timing, delays, etc. I walked back to the exit and left prison a free man. I could have been frustrated at the waste of time (an hour down and an hour back), the waste of gas, etc. But I was in no way frustrated or irritated.

God had given me a little extra time in my week to see His creation. On the drive over, I took a cross-country expedition, using a combination of county and ranch roads instead of the state highway. At one point I came around a curve and off to my right was a huge floral arrangement. There were tens of thousands of roses, all the same beautiful pink. The roses had been planted to decorate the fence line around a plain, tiny house. The house was long past its prime, but the roses were just hitting their stride. At some point they had taken on a life of their own; you could say they’d gone feral if they’d been a dog or a cat but I guess they just went wild. Amazing. My eyes were not capable of taking it all in but I had to keep going rather than be late at the prison gate. Now that class was cancelled I went back to Roselawn and stopped to let God lead…and He did. I could see where the roses had found purchase in a 12-15 foot tree and now were at the top of the tree. They were everywhere and had almost ‘become’ the tree. It was God’s Christmas tree in May.

At the low water bridge, I stopped, rolled down the window on my little red truck and turned off the ignition, so I could hear God’s orchestra, the little waterfall on the south side of the bridge. Bravo! This is Oklahoma. At every opportunity I waved a friendly hello to the other trucks coming my way. And when I passed the wild horse sanctuary, I saw that the entire herd had congregated on the tallest mound in the pasture. They claimed the high ground, just like the roses. God has always wanted the very best for us. He has made it clear that His plans are for good. So, when we have those little setbacks that leave us tense or frustrated, that’s an avenue for Satan to steal our joy and bring us down. I’m willing to paraphrase the Creator from time to time. For me, God says, “No way. Shake it off and step up. Claim the high ground.”

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. Philippians 4:8

God be with you; grace be with you.

Frank

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Blind by the Best of Times

Despite the difficulties of the economic downturn, the United States of America is still the wealthiest country in the history of the world. In the midst of every trip I’ve taken internationally I have come to realize the great blessing of living in our great land. We are spoiled with simple luxuries like indoor plumbing. We are spoiled with not so simple luxuries like electricity, cable TV, and air-conditioning. God has truly blessed our land that is free to choose him and free to worship the one true God. Could it be that our blessed land, with all its wealth, has caused us to be blind to the lostness that exists around us? Have we gotten so comfortable with our surroundings that we fail to see the horrific tragedy of those around us dying without having their sins forgiven through Jesus Christ?

The nation of Israel was experiencing its best days since Solomon just before they were taken into captivity by the Assyrians. The prophet Amos gave them this warning, “Woe to those who lie on beds of ivory and stretch themselves out on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall, who sing idle songs to the sounds of the harp and like David invent for themselves instruments of music, who drink wine in bowls and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!” (Amos 6:4-6, ESV). I believe that the message God wants to warn us with today is that in the midst of wealth we do not fail to grieve “over the ruin of the lost.” Do not let the luxury of living in the greatest Kingdom in the history of the world keep you from grieving the sins that separate this world from God.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Growing Pains

At my previous church I was able to look out at the congregation on a Sunday morning and estimate with pretty good accuracy how many people we had in attendance. I have found that estimating our Sunday morning attendance here at Eastern Heights is much more challenging. In fact I am usually so far off I no longer attempt it. Before someone tries to draw the conclusion of the superiority of pews over chairs let me explain. The problem is that we continually have to add chairs to the sanctuary. As our average attendance increases, the more chairs we need in the sanctuary. Last Sunday I had many people comment on the number of empty seats in the sanctuary. I also noticed and assumed we had many people missing. However, we had an average Sunday for us. The difference being we once again added seats to the sanctuary as well as the fact that we now have a choir that stays in the choir loft for the entire service.

God continues to bless Eastern Heights. As we are faithful to reach out to our community, He is faithful to draw people to us who are searching for Him. With this growth comes continued change. We continue to start new Sunday School classes. On May 6 my wife, Tara, will be starting a new ladies Sunday School class. That will be the third class started since January and the fifth class started this Sunday School year. On May 20 we will be starting Worship Kids. This Sunday morning worship experience is for Kindergarten-3rd grade students and takes place during our worship service. It will not be a babysitting service, but a time to train our children how to worship.

I am very excited about all these new things going on at Eastern Heights. We have several more new experiences in store for the fall. Let us continue to reach out to the people of Bartlesville in the name of Jesus Christ.

Michael

Enter Rest: Hebrew 3:16-4:13

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Victory Through Small Sacrifices

What a great Easter Sunday! I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to make it successful. Stephen and the choir worked extremely hard in a short amount of time. They did an amazing job. Thank you to everyone who parked a little farther away to accommodate visitors. We had just about every parking space filled. Moreover, we had two adults give their life to Christ. That is what it is all about. Everyone’s hard work made an eternal difference. The small sacrifices we made were worth it all.

The small sacrifices we make are nothing compared to the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Paul, after talking about all the things that made him a great Jewish leader, said “ But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:7-8). It is sad that so many times we let the inconvenience of corporate worship keep us from having the relationship that we long for with Christ. I pray that we continue to be a church that counts everything in this world as loss. Let us make every sacrifice necessary to increase our relationship with Jesus Christ. There is nothing greater than knowing Jesus Christ our Lord. When we make knowing him a priority, we will continue to see lives changed through our ministries here at Eastern Heights.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Education and the Bible

As Mike Taylor was talking about Nicodemis on Monday night, it got me thinking. Nicodemis was a highly educated man much like Paul. We know that other believers in the New Testament were as well like Luke and Apollos. There are many who believe that the Gospel is not rational and only for those who are uneducated fools. However, that is just not what the New Testament or history shows us. In fact, the church is always the strongest when it has both educated teachers and educated laity. It is through education that we learn to read the Scriptures for our self. It is through education we learn how to reason. It is through education that the darkness of the Middle Ages, with all the corruption within the church, was replaced with a great revival that came in the form of the Reformation.

Education is obviously important to the health of the church. We need to continue to collaborate with our local school district to make sure that our children are getting the best that education has to offer. We also must be prepared to answer the questions that arise as they learn to think on their own. If we are not collaborating, we will allow a secular education to give our children a secular worldview. Yes, education is dangerous. Nevertheless, if we as parents and grandparents participate in the education of our children, we will raise children that love God and as leaders in the church, make the church of tomorrow a strong force in taking the Gospel to a lost world.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Equipping the Saints

Ephesians 4:11-12 says, “ And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” This is a reference to the importance of those God calls for special service. There is one common goal of all those God places this call. They are called to equip the saints for ministry. God is not trying to distinguish between clergy and laity. God does not call some to sit in the pew and others to work. God calls some to be responsible to equip and everyone he calls to minister.

God has blessed Eastern Heights with godly men who have surrendered their lives to equip the saints. It is my privilege to sacrifice my preaching time on Sunday nights in order for us to hear what God has placed on these men’s hearts. This last Sunday Lonnie Hoelscher did an outstanding job of preaching God’s Word. If you missed it, you can find the link to his message on the church website. I want to encourage you to come and support these faithful men on Sunday night. Not only will you help them gain valuable experience, God will speak to your heart through them. You will leave better equipped to minister.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Giving to the Hopeless

The Example of Children

Children were not mentioned often in the Bible. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, children were not valued in those days. They were property of the father much as women were property of their husband. Second, very few went to school so they were always in the way. They were tolerated but not respected. That is why the disciples did not want the children to bother Jesus. In Mark 10:13-16 it says, “And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.” Jesus did more than just tolerate children. He made them an example to all of us of what true faith really is.

I praise God for what he is doing in the lives of our children at Eastern Heights. Thanks to the faithfulness of parents, Sunday School teachers, AWANA workers and other volunteers we have seen many come forward the last few weeks to make public their decisions to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We always want to be careful that children understand what they are doing. However, I am very aware that the faith of children is strong. They not only have enough faith to believe, they are the example of the faith we need to believe. May God continue to use children as an example of faith at Eastern Heights and may we be faithful to be a blessing on their life.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

People of the Book

It is amazing to see what one book has done to shape the history of the world. The early church unified around the writings of the Apostles. The teachings found in The Book caused a shift in the most powerful kingdom the world had ever known. The Roman Empire, marked by Greek influence of worshiping many gods, completely transformed into the Holy Roman Empire as the teachings of the Bible swept through the kingdom. What arguably started as a world revival soon morphed into a tradition of ignorance. The Middle Ages brought high illiteracy and the reading of the Bible was left to a small number of educated monks. People no longer searched for truth on their own but accepted the teachings of a corrupt clergy greedy for money and power.

The Enlightenment gave way to the Reformation as more people learned to read and have access to the Bible. People began to question the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church as they read the Bible for themselves and realized they were not accurate. This was the case in England in the early 1600’s where we find our Baptist roots. It is hard to look past tradition even if the truth is staring you in the faith. A small group of Separatists (who separated from the Church of England) recognized in Scripture that baptism was for believers, not infants. They had English translations of the Bible since 1300’s; however, it was 1609 before believer’s baptism was practiced. It was the 1640’s before this group began to practice immersion as the means for baptism. These early Baptists continued to examine their beliefs, not by tradition, but by the Word of God.

No wonder J. H. Shakespeare said, “the great discovery, therefore, of the age was not the New World, but a book.” The Bible led one Separatists group called the Puritans to settle in the New World and the Bible that led another Separatists group to become what we know today as Baptists. I am proud to be a Baptist today, not only because of our tradition, but because we are a people who look at the Bible and not tradition for our understanding of truth. This is what led J.H Shakespeare to conclude that you could wipe out all the religious groups of the seventeenth century, leave an open Bible, and “there would be Baptists” tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Start Right Here!

When Jesus gave us the Great Commission in Acts 1:8 he called us to start with our “Jerusalem.” It is easy for us to say that our Jerusalem is Bartlesville. However, I like to think our Jerusalem is a little more personal than thinking of our entire city. When you think about proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, think about the people you encounter every day. Think about your family and close friends. Also, think about the very people you work with. The truth is you spend more time with the people in your place of employment than you do your family. How can you proclaim salvation through Jesus Christ to those you spend at least forty hours of every week?

I had this in mind while I was reading Jeremiah chapter 1. The first chapter is Jeremiah’s call to ministry. He was called by God to proclaim His Word as we are today. He was to go about his life and be the voice for God in the good times and bad times. In verse 17, it says, “But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them.” What God was telling Jeremiah was that he needed to be dressed and ready to share the Word of God when God gave him opportunity. Paul told us to put on the whole armor of God including the Sword of the Spirit. When we get up and prepare for work, let us be dressed not only for our career, but also be dressed ready to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ with those God puts in our path.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Big Weekend for Eastern Heights!

This is going to be a big weekend for us. How exciting it is to bring in a new staff member! I want to encourage everyone to participate in the events leading up to Sunday where you can get to know Stephen Kelley and his family. Besides being a man with great talent, Stephen is very personable and has a heart for ministry. Calling an Associate Pastor of Worship and Education is a big part of our current strategy in accomplishing the church’s vision and living according to our biblical purpose. I truly believe that this act of obedience and step of faith will propel us to be more effective as we engage Bartlesville and beyond with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When you see members of the search committee, be sure and let them know how much you appreciate their hard work. The committee consisted of Kathy Beard (chairperson), Chuck Bennett, Kaylene Westbrook, Alice Bowman, and Kara Blankenship. They worked diligently to make sure we found God’s man for our church. They met almost every Wednesday night for the last year. They spent numerous hours in prayer, searching through resumes and listening to worship services. Some of the meetings were exciting and some were discouraging. However, without exception, they came ready to work and took the task to heart with all they had. They set the standard high for serving God’s Kingdom.

Multiplying the Kingdom

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

His Purpose in 2012

I am excited about what God has in store for us in 2012. I cannot think of a better way to start the year than to add a new staff member to the church. I am excited for everyone to meet Stephen Kelley and his wonderful wife and children. I believe that Stephen is going to be a great fit for our church and help lead us in our journey of faith. The search committee has worked diligently over the last year to find God’s man for Eastern Heights. Please pray for Stephen and his family as they prepare to come and share with us in a couple of weeks.

2012 is going to provide us with many more opportunities to fulfill the purpose God has given Eastern Heights. It is our goal to bring glory to God as we engage the world. It is our goal to develop people who engage God in worship, who engage in obedience, who engage the lost world with the gospel, who engage each other in love, and who engage in intentional discipleship. In which of these areas do you need to improve during this New Year? In what areas do you need to be more active in our church? God has a place for each of us in His mission. I encourage you to find your place and be diligent in your obedience. May God use you to do extraordinary things in 2012!

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 the...