Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Christmas Joy

I love Christmas.  For me, Christmas brings back the joy of being a child.  A time when I was with my family and playing with my cousins.  My grandfather loved Christmas and made sure it was a great celebration.  I remember the last Christmas we were all together.  It was 20 years ago.  Jordan was a baby.  My mom and my two aunts had made plans to not be together that year.  I wasn’t going to be with everyone for the first time in my memory.  We ended up having one more Christmas together because my grandfather had a stroke and died a couple of days before that Christmas.  We always thought it was his way of getting us together for Christmas one last time.  As hard as that Christmas was, I look back on it with joy of one last Christmas together.

I realize that for some Christmas is not a time of joy.  The memories are not all sweet.  For some the season is a reminder of some of the darkest days of their life.  For others, the stress and high expectations of the holiday make it far from fun.  Let me encourage you.  The story of Christmas is a story of a Savior who was born to bring peace to the earth.  This peace can begin in your heart.  It’s a story of a new beginning for man.  A new beginning that can begin in your heart as well.

In A Charlie Brown Christmas, Linus narrates the birth of Jesus from Scripture.  When he gets to the part about where the angel says, “fear not” he drops his blanket and finishes the rest of the narration without it.  This was a big deal for Linus.  He was in front of a crowd and let go of that which gave him security.  Schultz obviously did this on purpose.  Our security is in Christ.  Let us allow the birth of Jesus be the hope that replaces the insecurities in our life.


Join me and my family Sunday night at our home for a time of fellowship.  Our theme is A Charlie Brown Christmas. Let us come together with the joy of Christ.  A Savior has been born.  He is Christ the Lord!  Let us celebrate together the true meaning of Christmas.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Manifest Presence of God

Through our study in Colossians we learned about the power of Jesus.  He is the Creator and it is through him that all things are held together.  Jesus was with God and was God and through him all things were made.  We learn through God’s Word that God is omnipresent, meaning he is in all places at all times.  Though he is in all places at all times, there are times we find in Scripture that God’s presence is made known in miraculous ways.  This is known as the manifest presence of God.  It is seen when God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden.  When the people of Israel were leaving Egypt, God appeared as a fire at night and smoke during the day. God also appeared to Moses on Mt. Sinai.  At times in history God makes his presence known in remarkable ways.

This week we begin a study in Isaiah entitled “Rend the Heavens”.  The question I want us asking ourselves every week is, “Why do we settle for the omnipresence of God when God wants us to experience the manifest presence of God?”  The greatest example of the manifest presence of God is found in the birth of Jesus.  John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  Jesus is called Immanuel, which means God with us.  Through Jesus we can experience the manifest presence of the almighty God. When Jesus was born and placed in a manger it was more than just a miraculous birth of an important man.  It was the presence of God stepping out of heaven to be with us.  Let us not miss the manifest presence of God during the busy Christmas season.


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

God’s Heart for the Orphan

God cares for those who have lost it all.  The prophets of the Old Testament continually chastised God’s people for failing to take care of the poor, widows and orphans.  I am blessed to lead a church that strives to have the heart of God.  We continue to take seriously our role in helping those who have lost it all.  Our Grace Ministry helps those who need repairs or general maintenance to their homes.  We have a ministry to shut-ins that makes sure their basic needs are being addressed.  And we also love the orphan.

Sunday is Orphan Sunday.  It is a day for us to remember the real need of those who need parents to love them.  There are 9600 children in Oklahoma who find themselves in foster care.  On any given day 350 of these children are eligible for adoption but have yet to find a forever home.  That is just the reality in Oklahoma.  UNICEF estimates that around 140 million orphans exist world-wide.  Many of these vulnerable children will end up begging in the streets, sold as slaves or sold into the sex trade.  It is the call of God for all of us to do something to help these hurting children.

Eastern Heights has been great to me and my family as we do our part in addressing the foster crisis in Oklahoma.  Each person who encourages us, babysits our wild crew and shows them the love of Christ is just as much helping these children as we are.  You have shown that same love to many of the families in our church who have opened their homes up for foster children.  One behalf of all the foster families in our church, thank you!

Another way we care for the orphan is through Manna Ministries.  Manna Ministries provides daily meals to hundreds of widows and orphans in Malawi, Africa.  Two of the three feeding centers have been started in memory of former church members.  Many of you have given sacrificially to provide for these vulnerable people.  Thank you for your continued support.

There is a place for all of us in helping orphans.  We all have different roles.  If you would like to discuss how you can help in a more significant way with the foster crisis in Oklahoma or with feeding orphans in Malawi, please let me.  It is the heart of God.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Intimate Groups

The most intimate small group time in all of Scripture is Jesus with his disciples in the upper room the night before he was crucified.  He began the important time by washing his disciples’ feet as an example of service.  Jesus was very honest with them that night.  He called them out for their failed priorities of worrying about who would be first in His Kingdom.  He let Judas know that he was aware of his plan to betray him.  He prepared Peter for the coming hours by prophesying his three denials.  During this meal, he instituted a new ordinance that will serve as a reminder of his death until he returns.  It was a time of teaching, encouraging, modeling, correcting and praying.  The lessons learned by the disciples during these few hours together made them stronger and prepared them for the dramatic events that would soon unfold.

The most important hour in the life of our church begins at 9:30 every Sunday morning as we come together for LIfeGroups.  Jesus taught multitudes but the most important lessons for his disciples came during the intimate gatherings with them alone.  Corporate worship is important in the life of our church but can never have the impact that will be found during LifeGroups.  It is during these intimate times together that we can share our struggles and victories.  We can encourage each other and help hold each other accountable.  We pray for each other as we open up concerning the struggles of our life.  Our strength as a church is found not in sitting in rows but when we sit in circles helping each other grow in their personal walk with Christ.


If you are not actively attending a LifeGroup we can help you find one that is a great fit for you.  We have groups for all ages and life experiences.  You can talk with me or Brian Buford and we can help point you in the right direction.  I am confident that your walk with Christ will grow as you experience the intimacy that is found in a LifeGroup. 

Great Start!

What a great start to our outreach for Engage Bartlesville.  Our first of six outreach events leading up to our kickoff is complete. Thank ...