Thursday, December 19, 2013

God of Every Generation

2013-12-15-AM: God of Every Generation from Eastern Heights Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Slow Down and Enjoy

The rushing of the Christmas season can make it hard to enjoy the beauty of the holiday.  Christmas is my favorite time of year and yet it always flies past me as I reach out to hopefully touch a small piece of why it is so special.  It seems that just sitting down to enjoy a Christmas movie or to drive around town to view the display of lights is far too much to ask for.  Many years the events at church can be just one more line on a list that is already too long to complete.

The Ministry Leadership Team worked to try to make things a little less hectic this year.  The scheduling of a Sunday night for adult Sunday School parties and using Sunday morning for the children was an attempt to unclutter an already over cluttered holiday.  We are interested in knowing if this was a help to you and your family.  Did you like the change or do you prefer something different?  Please let us know what you think.

Jesus only had three years of ministry.  The foundation he laid in those three years has shaped world history for the last 2000 years.  Jesus knew from the moment he began his ministry that his time was short.  He knew that he had to work hard to prepare his disciples to be ready to lead without him.  The eternal fate of the world was being put in their hands and they needed to be ready.  It seems that with such an enormous task Jesus must have spent every waking moment holding seminars and helping them organize for that which was to come.  However, Jesus never fell into that trap.  He spent time daily retreating from the crowds to spend time with his Father.  He went to parties.  He dined in people’s homes.  It appears in Scripture that he enjoyed the time as he fulfilled the calling of his life.  He did not allow the overwhelming weight of the task overshadow the little things in his life.  I want to encourage you to slow down this week and experience the joy of Christmas without being overwhelmed by the busyness of Christmas.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sermon Notes: Witness- Your Friends

I told you Sunday morning I would post this since I went through things so fast...  Not sure why it doesn't like to indent the outline but I think you can make sense of it.

Witness: Your Friends
Matthew 28:18-20
How do we take what we have learned from all these witnessing encounters and turn it into an encounter with our friends and family and help them receive Christ.
Going = to go with purpose.  Living with the purpose of witnessing.
Why I'm preaching different today.  Not expositionally through one passage.  I want to give a practical way to use all we have learned the last several weeks.
Earning the right to witness.
Obstacles in our way while presenting the Gospel

5 Obstacles we must overcome in order to witness to our friends.

I.                 Overcome Image Problem

A.             I have learned a good lesson about image.

1.              Driving a Hummer in OK

2.              Hummer has done a great job promoting its image.

B.             The church has done a lousy job with its image.  Our culture is running from the church, not Jesus.

C.              Jesus answers the question of how to earn the right to witness.

1.              Luke 10:29-37 29 But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 36 Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 37 He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”

D.             Too many times the church is walking around those in need.

E.              We are no longer relevant to many in our society.  They don't need us.

5 Obstacles we must overcome in order to witness to our friends.

II.             Overcome Social Problem (McDowell)

A.             Sons of Issachar (1 Chronicles 12:32) "Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do"

B.             3 Storms in our culture that affect the church- Josh McDowell - OWU Conference

1.              Origin of Truth

a)            Most of history truth was found in God.

b)            Enlightenment-- We don't need God because look how great man is.

c)              Industrial Revolution-- Look how good man can create.

d)            Evolution-- There is no God.  God is dead.

(1)       #1 Virtue of our culture= tolerance= Just because it's right for you doesn't mean it is for me.

e)             2 Distinct cultures in America today.

(1)       Those over 40-- Believe Truth is Discovered
(2)       Those under 40- Truth is created.
(a)       It's true because they believe it.  Truth is found within.

2.              Internet

a)            Internet is ethically neutral-- It's how it is used.

b)            2012 adolescence spent 18 hours a week.  2013 it is 40 hours a week.

c)              YouTube has 100 hours per second of video uploaded.

d)            We have unlimited knowledge at our fingertips.

(1)       Questions now by Middle School kids use to be what was asked by Juniors in College.

3.              Pornography

a)            35% of internet searches are porn.

b)            25% of downloads are porn.

c)              90% of 8-16 year olds have seen porn.

(1)       91% saw it the first time by accident.
(2)       Avg age of first time to see= 8 yrs old.

d)            38% are addicted.

(1)       Harder addiction to break than drugs and alcohol.
(2)       Drugs and Alcohol it takes more to sustain the addiction.
(3)       Pornography it takes different.
(4)       Eventually the different turns into reality.

5 Obstacles we must overcome in order to witness to our friends.

III.         Overcome Complexity Problem

A.             We make it too hard!

B.             Parable of Seed and Sower-- The seed is the Gospel.

1.                Luke 8:4-7, 11-15, …he said in a parable, “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew and yielded a hundredfold..." "...Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. 14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. 15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.

2.              Sower is sharing the Gospel

3.              Result had everything to do with preparedness of soil-- not the sower or Gospel.

C.              FAITH evangelism- CWT- EE

1.              Abiliy to quote verses is good but only to those whose soil is prepared.

2.              Knowing that is good but that is not all of evangelism.

D.             Prepare the soil=Help people in the process of realizing their need.

1.              ILL-- The bottomless pit illustration with the cross as the bridge to God.

2.              Live in a generation that don't even see the pit yet.

E.              Alex Himaya at Josh McDowell Institute Conf.-- 8 Steps of Process of someone being saved.

1.              They become aware of messenger

2.              They like the messenger

3.              They realize messenger is a Christian

4.              They relate to the person and realize Bible's relevance

5.              They get positive attitude toward Bible.

6.              They hear and begin to understand Gospel.

7.              They recognize a personal need. (now they are ready for diagram)

8.              They put hope in Christ.

F.               Figure out where those around you are in the process-- then help them get to the next step.

G.             This is evangelism- it's not just the person who witnesses to them the last time.

H.             You are part of the process everywhere you go.

5 Obstacles we must overcome in order to witness to our friends.

IV.          Overcome Ignorance Problem

A.             Ignorance of the church.

B.             What is the Gospel?

C.              Why do we believe to know truth?

D.             We must stop being scared of science.  Science just finds data.  Someone has to interpret data through their own lens.

E.              The data of science does not point away from God.  It points directly to God.

5 Obstacles we must overcome in order to witness to our friends.

V.              Overcome Desire Problem

A.             The desire of Christians to tell their friends.

B.             Apathy. We say we believe Jesus is only way and say we believe in hell but our actions prove otherwise.

C.              We must go with purpose of making disciples.

D.             Time for urgency on part of the church.  We are losing the battle.  War will be one but who will be left out because we lose this battle.

-Are you ready for your own witnessing encounter?


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

1 John 2:3-11: Bold Claims

Witness: Stephen

Presentation for Witness: Stephen

Government Insecurity

I have learned some valuable lessons from the government shutdown.  First of all I have learned that a government shutdown does not mean that it actually shuts down.  Second, I have learned that it doesn’t mean we are going to spend less money.  Third, I have learned that it is great to live in a country where we can have radical disagreements and the military is not used to force the issue, nor is a civil war seen as the answer.  And last, I have learned that relying on the government to be the answer for our world is folly.

I believe that final lesson is what Isaiah was taught in Isaiah chapter 6.  Isaiah writes, “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.”  It is difficult for us in America to fathom what it would have been like politically for a king to die.  Not only was the succession of a new king problematic, Uzziah had been a good king who was loved by the people.  This event brought insecurity to the whole kingdom.  It was felt in every home.  It made the country vulnerable to the attacks of outside interests.  The Kingdom was at stake.  In the midst of this turmoil Isaiah has this vision.  Though the earthly security seemed to be shaken, God was still sitting on his throne.

No matter what you are going through in this world you can stand confident knowing that God is still on his throne.  When you are fighting a sickness or deadly disease, God is still on his throne.  When your children are in the middle of rebellion, God is still on his throne.  When your finances seems to be in an impossible circumstance, God is still on his throne.  When your marriage appears to be falling apart, God is still on his throne.  When a loved one is approaching death, God is still on his throne.  And when your government decides to have a “pretend” shutdown, God is still on his throne.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Science and Faith

I enjoyed last week studying and preaching on Noah.  I tried to stay focused on the person and only quickly spoke of the flood and the struggle modern scientists have with its authenticity.  I believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God.  I believe that science exists to help us understand God’s amazing work of creation.  This is a starting point that many scientists believe is wrong.  If we already have truth, I do not see any logical way to interpret data than through that truth.  The flood helps explain so much of the inexplicable in science.  The atmosphere before the flood explains how large animals were able to survive.  It explains how a large number of species could live on the earth at the same time.  It also explains why animals have slowly come to the point of extinction ever since.  It explains geological formations like the Grand Canyon and the fossil record that shows millions of species exploding on the scene at the same time (and then dying together to form billions of fossils). 

Science and religion can exist together and not contradict.  I greatly appreciate what the ministry “Answers in Genesis” brings to this discussion.  They are determined to show us how scientific data, not necessarily scientific conclusions, fit with the truth of God’s Word.  David Menton, a speaker for their ministry says, “I spent nearly 40 years doing science and teaching science at the postgraduate level. I found no incompatibility between empirical science and the Bible. It is the philosophy of scientism not science that is incompatible with Scripture. Evolutionism is based on scientism. But evolutionism is often equated with science so that anyone who dares to disagree with macroevolution is accused of being opposed to all science. Sadly, some atheists have a better grasp of the incompatibility of evolutionism with the Gospel of Jesus Christ than many Christians do,”

Do not be fooled into thinking that you have to choose between God and science.  God created this world and His Word is not incompatible with the data of this world.  Colossians 1:17 says, “And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”  It is through science that we can see the working of God.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Sermon Presentation

Well Pleasing

Call for Prayer

Peter found himself in a desperate situation.  He was in a Roman prison.  The same authorities had killed other believers and even his Lord, Jesus.  He was chained, uncomfortable and yet remarkably able to sleep.  Since the resurrection, Peter and the church found new confidence.  Unlike what the disciples did when Jesus was crucified, the church was together.  What could be done in such a difficult situation?  Were they planning an escape?  No.  They were doing the one thing they knew to do.  They were together praying.  They understood that the issue with Peter was not a physical problem but a spiritual problem.

We find ourselves in difficult days in America.  The church is continually being attacked in the name of tolerance.  Doors are open all around the world waiting for believers to step out in faith.  Eastern Heights is in the battle.  We feel the difficulty coming in America.  However, we also see doors open and we are ready to go through them.  This summer we will be ministering in Bartlesville, Tulsa, Mexico and Africa.  We also find finances in a crunch and the valuable resource of time slipping away.  What are we to do?  We are to pray!

We are only going to be successful in our ministries this summer if we are a church in prayer.  On Wednesdays this summer we are putting together home prayer meetings.  As the early church prayed with earnestly for Peter ,we want to pray earnestly for our various ministries.  I need host homes in which we can gather and pray.  Inconvenient?  You bet it is.  Important?  Extremely!  Please call me or the church office and let us know that you are willing to host a group.  I do not care when you meet, where you meet, or how long you meet.  As host you make those decisions.  I just ask that you pray earnestly.  When we find prayer, we will find renewed confidence and the ability to rest, even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

John 17:13-19 Presentation

John 17:13-19

The Question Matters

What…? Why…? These two questions have brought a lot of discussion in staff meetings.  So many times we get so caught up in the “what” that we never stop and ask “why”.  It is easy to ask “what are we going to do this summer.”  That question usually has easy answers as well.  However, “why” is a lot more important.  When all we do is look at what we do and not why we do it we are endanger of being like the Pharisees.  The Church does not exist for us to stay busy.  The Church exists for us to accomplish the vision given to us by God.

A great example in Scripture is the story Jesus tells about giving.  The Pharisees gave lots of money and did it in public for everyone to see their generosity.  The widow gave just a mite.  She gave all she had in secret in obedience to God.  The Pharisees did a good thing in giving but the reason they gave was condemned by Jesus.  They had the same problem in their prayer life as they would stand in the streets and yell their prayers so everyone could hear.

I do not want Eastern Heights to be guilty of doing good things for the wrong reasons.  As we go through the summer and next fall the leadership of our church is asking the question “why”.  We want everything we do to be something that helps us accomplish the vision given to us by God.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

John 16:25-33

The Power of Empty

As parents we do whatever is necessary to get our kids to choose what is healthy for them.  The last couple of mornings the only cereal Ruby and Abel wanted to eat was mine.  My cereal is probably healthier for them anyway so I happily filled their bowls and poured the milk.  They immediately began to eat and of course, drink the milk from the bowl.  After Tara took them to daycare I returned to my box of cereal to discover it empty.  The empty box of cereal did not keep me from having a great breakfast.  I reached into the cabinet and grabbed a couple packages of granola bars and left for the office.  An empty box of cereal sure did not change my life.  It just caused me to do something different.

2000 years ago there was something found empty that did more than just cause people to change breakfast plans.  The morning the tomb where Jesus was laid was found empty people’s lives were radically put on a different course.  Because of the empty grave our eternal destination has changed.  We can live life with confidence in our Savior’s salvation because we know He lives.

There is not an easier day of the year to invite people to come to church.  Many who do not attend church on a regular basis look for a place to go and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The choir has worked hard preparing a musical drama of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.  I will be preaching on the eternal life that came from the cross and the glory of Christ that came from the resurrection.  Those whom you invite will be fed the Gospel through two powerful mediums.  Make sure your friends and family have the opportunity to experience the eternal change that is possible because of the empty grave.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

God Can Use You!

Herbert Cooper is a friend of mine I grew up with in Wewoka.  He was a year younger than me but we played on a couple of soccer teams together and we considered ourselves friends but we were not real close.  He was a very nice and smart guy but he was not someone I would pick out of his class as someone who would become an influential leader and pastor of a mega church.  When Herbert was in high school, God took hold of his heart and he surrendered his life to Christian service.   He became an Assembly of God evangelist and eventually started a church in Oklahoma City.  That church he started, People’s Church, has grown rapidly over the last few years.  It was recently recognized as one of the top ten fastest growing churches in America. 

Is he not the exact type of person we see God using throughout the Bible?  He used people like David, who was the youngest son in an insignificant family of an insignificant tribe.  There was Mary and Joseph, ordinary Jews learning to be a good Jewish couple.  Abraham did not have much when he left what he had behind and began a journey without a named destination.  Few of the 12 disciples were educated and they all were seen as poor choices for a rabbi to ask to be his disciples. 

It is an encouragement to me that if God chooses to use these types of people, then he can use me as well.  It is time we stop making excuses for why God would not use us and step out in faith, obeying His call for our life.  This applies to our church as well.  God can use a small church like ours to do great things.  We just have to stop making excuses and obey the call God has given us.  We must be careful not to be satisfied where we are and radically buy into the vision he has given us of taking the gospel to Bartlesville and beyond.  Herbert Cooper challenges us this way, “A church is in trouble when its memories are more powerful than its dreams.”

John 16:4-15

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Modern American Persecution

Persecution of the followers of Jesus Christ has existed for the last 2000 years.  Paul was in prison in Rome when a fire broke out that destroyed much of the city.  Nero blamed the Christians and it is possible that Paul was executed for this very reason.  Many Christian leaders were executed at that time.  Persecution in our world can be just as unjust and just as violent.  Persecution in America however has a different twist.  A great example of persecution in modern America is the controversy around Tim Tebow’s (NFL quarterback) speaking engagement at FBC Dallas.

When word got out that Tebow had agreed to speak at a dedication service for FBC Dallas, a columnist called him out for being on stage with the pastor, Robert Jeffress, who he claimed was an anti-Semitic and homophobic pastor.  The controversy spread like crazy and Tebow was called out by many people throughout the country.  Because he held to the traditional beliefs of our faith that have been around for the last 2000 years, Pastor Jeffress was ridiculed nationally and his reputation was smeared.  And probably the worst part of the story is Tim Tebow, who has made millions because of his public stand of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (and a member of FBC Jacksonville, a very strong conservative church), cancelled the engagement and said, “I will continue to use the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope and Love to all those needing a brighter day.”  A gospel that comes without persecution is no gospel at all.

I mentioned from the pulpit a few weeks ago that the persecution in America would come from the homosexual community.  That is exactly the source of this attack on Pastor Jeffress and FBC Dallas.  I stand with this church in proclaiming the truth of the Word of God.  It is not about hating homosexuals.  It is about loving them enough to share with them the Truth.  God’s way is the best way.  It is not our place to fight back.  Persecution in America may be different but the solution is the same.  Vengeance belongs to God.  We are called to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… and to love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37, 39)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Power of Small

Jesus was able to attract large crowds.  Some of the crowds probably reached 10,000 plus.  People would come from miles around just to hear his message.  I've been reading about some of the great influencers in the Christian faith.  Charles Finney, Dwight L Moody, Billy Sunday, and Billy Graham are some of the greatest evangelists the world has ever seen.  They attracted thousands and even millions to come and hear their message of the saving power of Jesus Christ.  What they accomplished for the Kingdom of God is staggering.  However, throughout the last 2000 years of Church history, it is the small group that has shown the greatest power.

Jesus spent his most intimate and powerful teaching times with a small group of disciples.  We learn in the Gospels that as he taught his disciples he gave them opportunities to live what he taught them.  He sent out the twelve and later the 72 in order to prepare the way for his teaching.  When the small group applies the teachings of their leader powerful things occur and more people are touched with the gospel than when one person does all the preaching.  Exponential things only happen when those being taught are obedient to teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2).

We will soon be offering a way for our Sunday School classes to live what they have been learning.  It is time that we send our learners out to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.  S4 Outreach is built upon the call of 2 Timothy 2:2 and the power of the exponent.  It stands for Super-Size Sunday School.  You will be learning a lot more concerning this over the next couple of weeks.  We are working on our schedule so that this is a priority and at a time that is convenient for our people and a time when we will find people home.  Be in prayer and remember “how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14, ESV)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Your Welcome!

Barnabus was the greatest example in the New Testament of trying to make a guest feel welcome. He did not judge, he only loved. When Saul showed up and tried to participate in the local body of believers everyone ran in fear except Barnabus. Barnabus believed that God could change anyone through Jesus Christ and Saul was no different. Not only did he take him under his wing and help him gain the trust of other believers, he discipled him into a fully dedicated and equipped follower of Jesus Christ. They soon became partners and they changed the history of the world as they went and planted churches in strategic cities throughout the Roman Empire. I wonder what would have happened with Paul if he did find the open arms of a fellow believer in Christ?

One of the greatest responsibility of ministries we have as a church is to welcome those who come to Eastern Heights searching for the will of God. Whether a guest comes in search of a Savior or just in search of a loving body of Christ in which to participate in the Kingdom, we must be those who welcome them with open arms. It is the responsibility of every member of our church to help guests feel welcome. In many cases one negative exchange with a church member can alter the journey of faith in that guest.

Sunday we had a guest come in and found the open arms of a church member who had a Barnabus spirit. He showed him around and introduced him to me and many church members. He walked with him into the sanctuary and even sat with him through worship. This guest could not wait to see me after church and inform me that he would be back with his family. I believe that his positive experience Sunday morning was because one member went out of his way to make him feel welcome. What can you do this Sunday to help our guests feel welcome?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Growing the Hard Way

Keep on Running

The game of chase got very difficult at my house a few days ago. I got really good at using the Christmas tree while being chased as a way to lose Abel and Ruby. They would think that I was just on the other side of the tree so they would keep running in circles while I had ducked and hid in another room. Now I must learn a new strategy or I may never have an opportunity to stop running. A good hiding place means a chance to catch my breath.

Many Christians do the same thing with Jesus. They run with him for awhile and then try to lose him so they can stop and take a break. The start of the New Year brings many new commitments. It is a great time to not only be more disciplined in areas of health, but to be more disciplined in the things of God. Be careful not to start the race and fail to finish. Paul called us to run with endurance. He also told us not to just finish the race but to run as to win.

Let us make sure that we do not find ourselves hiding from God like Jonah. When God’s calling was too hard and did not fit with his desires he tried to lose God. God, however, loved Jonah enough to chase him down and give him the opportunity to repent. When we run from God there is never an opportunity to catch our breath and you are definitely not going to lose Him. There is not a tree big enough to allow us to slip away unnoticed.

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...