Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December 14, 2014 - Peace is Possible

Special Stockings

“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.”  This familiar line from the poem The Night Before Christmas, by Henry Livingston, is a tradition found in many of our homes.  My earliest memories of Christmas involved dumping out the Christmas stocking on Christmas morning (usually way before dawn) to see what Santa Clause had placed inside.  Seeing the stockings hung by the fireplace weeks before Christmas added to the expectation for that special day.  What great memories these were!  This same tradition holds true in the Vallandingham household this year.  All nine stockings are lined up across the mantle of our fireplace as a reminder of Christ’s blessings.  I no longer find myself concerned about what will be in the stockings on Christmas morning.  My joy is found in the person each of those stockings represent.  Those stockings represent family.  My family has grown considerably over the last two years. The memories made this year will continue to bring joy, not because of the gifts, but because of the people with whom I am privileged to spend the season.

May God bless each of you during this Christmas season.  May you remember that Jesus is the reason for the season.  May God surround you with family and friends.  And may the memories of the past and the happenings of the present bring you great joy.

“And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fearing the Wrong Thing

This morning I was running my normal route down Bison Road.  I think the city widened that road just for me.  The shoulders are great and the fresh asphalt is free from obstacles. The weather was absolutely perfect and the sunrise was as gorgeous as usual.  As I was enjoying my run I heard something next to me and as I looked over something was coming quickly out of the culvert.  As my pace quickened and my heart raced a small, well-groomed dog comes shooting out of the culvert running for his life.  He barks at me and quickly puts his tail between his legs and runs to the front of a nearby home.  I am not sure who was scared more, me or the dog.

There are times in life that we fear the wrong things.  We fear death.  We fear disease.  We fear loss.  We fear financial problems.  We fear for our kids’ future.  We fear heights.  We fear falling.  To fear those things is like fearing a little dog that is more scared of you than you are of him.  Psalm 27:1 says, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

We need to learn to only fear God.  Not in such a way that we coward from him but in such a way that we fall at his feet in submission.  Jesus said, “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.  Yes, I tell you, Fear him!” (Luke 12:5).  We learn in Proverbs that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10).  When we have the proper fear of God we will be wise in our decisions.  We will understand what and who should be feared.  When we submit to God as our omnipotent ruler we will learn to not live in fear of things that are temporal.  We will have the confidence of Paul when he asked, “What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Monday, September 22, 2014

Engaged in Discipleship

Get Smaller

Dr. Robert Coleman, in The Master Plan of Evangelism, said Jesus was not concerned “with programs to reach the multitudes, but with men whom the multitudes would follow.” Jesus understood that in order to get larger you must get smaller.  The discipleship in the small group will produce the leaders to reach the multitudes.  Jesus invested everything in the small group of men that would one day lead the church.  In fact, as the time got closer for him to leave them, he spent more time not less time with them.  It is very easy for the church to get caught up in what attracts the multitudes and fail in the area that Jesus felt was most important.  It is in the small, concentrated group where effective instruction can be given. 

The most obvious application for this understanding is in our small group ministry on Sunday morning.  The potential for training up leaders in the church is much greater in these small groups than in our group worship time.  The worship service is important and something God asks us to do but it is not as essential to the future of the church as is the small group time.

Another place of application is during one-on-one discipleship.  Kathy Beard did a great job the last two weeks presenting a case for investing in the life of new believers and those searching for answers.  Through studying God’s Word with another person we will see them grow in ways that never could happen from a sermon series.

I challenge you in two areas.  First, become an active part of a small group where you can learn and help others to live that which God calls us to.  Second, find someone to study the Bible with.  If you are a new believer find someone who has been a believer for a while.  If you are a seasoned believer find someone who you can help.  This was the strategy of Jesus and should continue to be our strategy as we engage Bartlesville and beyond with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Staying Connected

A sobering fact is hitting the churches of America today.  People are attending church less often than they did in the past.  Those that use to never miss are missing at least one service a month.  Those that use to attend every other week are attending once a month.  Those we use to see once a month are attending once or twice a year.  In fact, the average active church attender in America today can only be expected to be seen once every three weeks.  This has huge consequences for the church today.  I would love to think that Eastern Heights is an exception but I’m afraid we follow this trend as well.  I could spend time scolding but the sad reality is we are a culture that has too much money to sit still.  We are always on the go.

We have to find ways for those who cannot be in worship to still connect with what is happening at church.  If we do not we will see them completely disappear from the accountability of a local church.  One of the ways to help people stay connected is by providing ways on-line for them to take part in what is going on in the church.  I realize that there is no substitute for being together in worship, but for those who are not able to be here it helps for them to connect through social media, up-to-date websites, and access to the worship service. 

For this reason we have made some important upgrades to our church website (  You will find a new tab called “live worship” which provides the video player to be able to watch our worship services live on Sunday morning and Sunday night.  I believe that our shut-ins will love this feature as well as those who are out of town or have other reasons they cannot be in the service personally.  You will also be able to access previous services there as well.  Adding this option to an already active Facebook presence we believe will help keep people connected to what God is doing through Eastern Heights, right here in Bartlesville and all around the world.  If you have any ideas to improve our ability to connect outside the walls of our facilities please let us know.

Velocity Requires God's Ownership

Velocity Requires God's Blessing

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Velocity Requires Our Faithfulness, Malachi 2:10-16

2014-05-25-AM: Velocity Requires Our Faithfulness from Eastern Heights Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Call to Prayer

School is out and summer activities have begun.  Summer is always fun for our children who get a break from their education for a couple of months.  It is the time we looked forward to when we were children.  For church, summer is a time God uses to draw people to himself.  Whether it be Vacation Bible School, mission trips, or camps, summer is a time our young people and adults can grow in their relationship with God.  We have an enemy who understands this as well.  If we are going to see great and awesome things in the life of our adults, children and youth participating in these activities this summer we must be in active prayer.  Participation in the spiritual warfare through prayer is important for our summer to be as powerful and life changing as God expects it to be.

Wednesday night we are having a special night of prayer we are calling Reflect.  It is a call to Reflect on God, Reflect on Self, and Reflect on Mission.  We will be using Isaiah 6 as an outline for our prayer.  Whether you are able to be here Wednesday night or not I want to challenge you to use this outline this summer as you pray for our summer activities.

I.                    Reflect on God’s Holiness (Isaiah 6:1-4)
II.                  Reflect on Self (Isaiah 6:5
a.       Sins of Attitude and Thought
b.      Sins of Speech
c.       Sins of Relationships
d.      Sins of Commission (What are you supposed to be doing but are not?)
e.      Sins of Omission (What are you not supposed to be doing but are?)
III.                Reflect on God’s Forgiveness (Isaiah 6:6-7)
IV.                Reflect on Christ’s Sacrifice (Isaiah 6:7b)
V.                  Reflect on God’s Commission (Isaiah 6:8-13)
a.       Sunfest Outreach
b.      Vacation Bible School
c.       Super Summer
d.      Southern Baptist Convention in Baltimore
e.      World Changers
f.        Leon Mexico Mission Trip
g.       Malawi Africa Mission Trip
h.      Children’s Camp
i.         Falls Creek
j.        Youth Evangelism Conference
k.       Adult Wednesday night Bible Study at Pastor’s home
l.         Kids Fun and Son (preschool, children and families) Wednesday nights
m.    Ignite- Youth Wednesday night activities

Monday, May 12, 2014

Men's Town Hall: May 2014

here is the link for the men's small group discussion

Click here! Or copy and paste the following link into your browser.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

1 John 3:19-24

2014-04-13-PM: No Need To Doubt from Eastern Heights Baptist Church on Vimeo.

An Unapologetically Christian Holiday

It seems every year we have a cold spell right around Easter. Monday, while our Jewish friends were celebrating the Passover, it was snowing. Easter falls late this year and yet the snow came and reminded us that spring is not yet in control. Looking at the extended forecast shows a beautiful day on Sunday with a chance of a few thunderstorms. It will be a great day to get out and enjoy the beautiful spring weather. This means for many families the hunting for Easter eggs and eating Peeps.

In a society that is increasingly becoming secular we should not be surprised to see the commercialization of Easter to continue to grow. It is harder every year to help our children look through Easter bunnies and eggs and see Christ. I am not saying we cannot participate in these events. I just want to encourage you as parents and grandparents to not let the secular experience of Easter to diminish what Easter is meant to celebrate; the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Easter is the most authentic of Christian holidays. What I mean by that statement is, unlike some of our other holidays like Christmas, Easter is not a Christian redefining of a pagan holiday. When the Roman Empire became a Christian empire it replaced many of the pagan holidays with Christian holidays. That is not the case with Easter. Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was crucified on the Passover. The day of Passover is a lunar holiday in which the people of Israel remembered the passing over of the death angel which led to their deliverance from bondage in Egypt. Being a lunar holiday means that it changes every year based on the stage of the moon, not the sun like our standard calendar. That is why every year Easter falls on a different day. Jesus Christ died on Passover as the perfect sacrificial lamb. He was buried in a tomb. One the third day (Sunday) he arose. We always celebrate Easter on the Sunday following Passover. It is a day for Christians to get together and celebrate that Jesus is alive. God raised him from the dead. There is victory over death. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

We Are the Church - Week 7

2014-03-23-AM: The Spirit Gifts Believers from Eastern Heights Baptist Church on Vimeo.

Praying for Hobby Lobby

As I type this article there is an historic case being brought before the Supreme Court.  The Green family, owners of Hobby Lobby and Mardel Christian Book Stores, is fighting the new health care mandate that requires them to pay for procedures that go against their religious convictions.  It is easy to think that this case is about healthcare or women’s reproductive rights.  However, it is much more significant, especially for Christians, than whether a company has to pay for the abortions of their employees.  This case is about religious freedom.  There are exceptions in the healthcare law for churches but not for other religious institutions and especially companies owned by Christians.  So the question is, can the government force someone to participate in a program that they find is contrary to their religious beliefs?  The conclusion of the Supreme Court will have affects that go well beyond the healthcare law. 

I pray that the Supreme Court upholds our right to religious freedom.  It is a basic right found in the constitution.  But what we must realize, religious freedom is not something God has guaranteed us.  Religious freedom is greatly beneficial to the church, but God’s Word tells us that we should expect persecution, not religious freedom.  We know that in the end times persecution of the church will be more common than religious freedom.  The reason I pray the court upholds religious freedom is because I want the door of evangelism in America to stay wide open.  I do not believe the church in America has taken full advantage of the freedom we have been given.  I pray that God gives us more opportunity to benefit from living in a country with religious freedom.  May we never take our freedoms for granted and may we never stop evangelizing as the door of opportunity is wide open.  (Revelation 3:7-13)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Team Synergy

Synergy is a trendy word in the business world.  Every organization wants to develop synergy.  It seems every leadership book at some level points people in the best way to gain synergy within their organization.  Synergy is the difference between acceptable and exceptional results.  Synergy exists when the team accomplishes more together than they would as individuals.  As I think about that definition, I see a picture of the church.  As the Body of Christ we produce more as a group than we could as individuals.  I also see a picture of how we organize as Southern Baptists through the Cooperative Program.  We accomplish more through cooperation than we would as individual churches doing missions on our own.  I truly believe that when you give a team a significant goal and the power to accomplish that goal, then synergy will soon be the result.  Synergy can only exist within a team.  “A team is a group of interdependent people committed to a common purpose who choose to cooperate in order to achieve exceptional results.” 

As we consider the need to reorganize the structure of our church we must consider not only if something works but if it is the best way for us to live as the Body of Christ.  I have first hand experience in the efficiency and effectiveness of the team structure.  I know it works.  There are also thousands of churches, both large and small, that have testimonies of how it works.  But beyond whether a team structure works is whether it serves as a catalyst in living as the Body of Christ.  When we think about a human body we see a picture of the most powerful team in existence.  It is amazing how the different parts of our body work together to accomplish the same goal.  The body is the greatest example of team synergy.  Remove one part of the body and it affects the efficiency of the whole.  There is also not a single part of the body that can function in its designed purpose disconnected from the whole.  This is the example Paul gave us in 1 Corinthians 12.  I believe that the most efficient and effective model for us to live out our purpose and accomplish our vision is through a team structure.

Sunday night at 4:00 we will meet for another opportunity to inform and answer any questions you may have concerning a team structure.  In next Sunday’s business meeting I will make a motion that we commission a Restructuring Team, nominated by the Nominating Committee and approved by the church, with the task of presenting to the church a team structure that is built around our purpose statement.  They will also be tasked with rewriting the Policy and Procedure Manuel in the areas it relates to the church structure.  It will be the goal of the Restructuring Team to present a plan in the September business meeting to be voted on in the October business meeting so that if passed it could be implemented in January of 2015 as part of our 45 year anniversary.  I am excited to see how God uses this to build synergy within Eastern Heights Baptist Church.

We Are the Church - Week 4

2014-02-16-AM: The Holy Spirit Enables Calling from Eastern Heights Baptist Church on Vimeo.

We Are the Church - Week 3

2014-02-09-AM: Jesus Called the Church from Eastern Heights Baptist Church on Vimeo.

We Are the Church - Week 2

2014-02-02-AM: Jesus Established Community from Eastern Heights Baptist Church on Vimeo.

We Are the Church- Week 1

2014-01-26-AM: We Are The Church from Eastern Heights Baptist Church on Vimeo.

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...