Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Dressed and Ready

Mornings are fun in a house with four children eight and under.  It doesn’t help that Tara and I are not morning people.  We hit snooze way too many times and then jump out of bed to quickly dress and feed the kids to get them to their places on time.  Dressing a two-year-old who is still half asleep and wanting you to leave them alone is a skill set we are not born with. I think putting clothes on an octopus would be easier.  Some mornings I think it would be easier to just pick him up with what he has on and throw him in the car.  This, however, is not a socially acceptable answer to our problems.  We expect to have people dressed appropriately before leaving the house. (Well, unless you are heading to Wal-Mart.  That’s a different story.)

There is one aspect of dressing that many miss every morning.  That is the need for us to prepare ourselves spiritually for the day that lies ahead.  Unless we are prepared spiritually we will find ourselves in situations in which we are not prepared.  This will lead to poor choices or inappropriate responses.  Paul tells us that every day we must put on the full armor of God.  We are not fully dressed for the day until we have taken the time to be spiritually dressed, ready to take on the spiritual warfare that wages on around us.

Paul says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Dream, Obstacles, Success

Paul saw a very common trend as he started churches across the Roman Empire.  He would start with the dream of a church in a given city. He would engage that city with the Gospel, starting with the Jews, yet quickly spreading to the Gentiles willing to hear.  There would be great excitement and a movement would arise.  Obstacles, usually in the way of influential Jewish leaders, would surface that would lead to revolt and in many cases the removal of Paul from the city.  However, a remnant would remain in that city sharing the Gospel with others and a strong church would begin to take shape.  Many of these churches like the ones in Ephesus and Corinth became strong churches that lasted for generations.

Most churches start under similar situations.  Eastern Heights was no different.  Money was given, and a dream established in the 1950’s for First Baptist to start a church on the east side of Bartlesville.  However, it took over ten years before,  in 1968 a mission was established that became Eastern Heights Baptist Church.  It took the persistence of key leaders like Bro. Ibach to keep the dream alive and start the movement to get the church started.

Though our dream of ministering to the west side is different in some ways, we can expect that starting Engage Church will find many challenges before we see a movement begin to take hold.  Ministering to those in poverty has many challenges in its own right.  Our partnership with Hope Clinic is key and will help legitimize our heart for them.  Being in a place that is easily accessed by them is also fundamental.  We have yet to find a good lead on a location to start the church.  Another important part of the process is finding people who want to be part of the startup who fit the demographics we are trying to reach. I am encouraged by the number of church members ready to engage the west side, but we need to begin identifying those we can target more like those we want to reach. I have yet to even mention the funding necessary to have a location and outreach resources.

Pray for our leadership team as we continue to face these challenges.  We know that the process is not going to be easy.  We know that discouragement will come more often than victory.  I am confident that God gave this dream and is guiding the process.  May we go through the slow grind, so we can experience the movement that is sure to come.  Paul has set for us a great example.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Training is Hard!

As I have kicked off my training for the half marathon, I have heard lots of crazy responses.  My favorite is the quote from Proverbs 28, “Only the wicked run when no one is chasing them.”  I remind myself often what Paul says, “Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:7b-8).  Training for a marathon is hard work and requires crazy discipline like waking up early and running when the weather is not perfect.  You do not accidently wake up one day ready to run 13.1 miles.  Training in godliness is the same.  It requires hard work and discipline.  You will not wake up one day and accidently find yourself living in godliness.

This week we are offering some new ways to help you train in godliness.  LifeGroups Is a great way to train with a team.  You will study the Word of God and learn ways to apply it to your life while you are in community with a small group of other believers going through a similar stage of life with you.  Wednesday nights we provide verse by verse Bible study as well as OASIS which is a support group for parents.  

I am very excited to kick off an eight-week discipleship class called Multiplication 101 starting Sunday night. In this study we will learn how to share the Gospel, the seven basic commands of Christ, and how to teach these commands to others.  I have had many requests for such a class after the sermon I preached a few weeks ago on the importance of multiplication through discipleship.  If you have not watched that message you can find it in the archived messages on our website or YouTube channel.  Look for Multiplication Through Discipleship- July 15, 2018.  

Being a disciple of Jesus is not easy but rewarding.  Let us get this training started together.  Make it a priority for you and your family this Fall.  Be intentional.  It will not happen by accident. Together we can train for godliness “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” (Ephesians 4:13).

Multiplication Through Discipleship

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

First Day of School

I lived in the same small town from the time I was one until I was sixteen.  That means I went to the same school with the same small-town friends from Kindergarten through 10thGrade.  I really do not remember much about my first day of Kindergarten, but I will never forget the first day of my 11thGrade year in a new school in a new town.  We had been in McAlester since June and I got to know several youth from the church through the numerous summer activities.  I even made some good friends who I loved being around.  I was pretty confident, though a little nervous, on my first day in the large 5A high school.  I survived getting to the right classes with the correct text books for my morning classes.  Then came lunch.  I knew that the guys I knew the best had an earlier lunch time than me but surely I would find some other church friends in the cafeteria somewhere.

In Wewoka we had open campus for lunch.  I had not eaten in a cafeteria since my 8thgrade year.  In Wewoka there was one line where everyone received the same meal. As I walked into the new cafeteria I found several lines serving different options.  Everyone in the room seemed to know exactly what they needed to do. I picked a line blindly and got my food. I had not spotted anyone in the room I knew.  I walked over to a table and sat down to eat.  I ate by myself that day.  It was not the way I planned on spending my first day in a new school.

As I was putting up my tray I had several people walk up to me and invite me to sit with them the next day. I also found some people from church that told me where they sit.  It was the only day I ate alone but that half hour lunch will never be forgotten.  I guarantee you I have seen people eating alone differently since that day.

School starts back in a few days.  Parents are usually thrilled to get their kids back into a routine.  Many of our students are excited to see their friends and find out who their new teacher will be.  However, there are many students who find the first day of school terrifying.  Many of our students are starting new schools and some may not know anyone where they will be attending.  Let us be sure to pray for our students as they walk into their new classrooms. Pray for them to find friends. Pray for them to find an environment where they are comfortable to learn.  And pray that they will be a Christian witness to the students around them. May each of them have a positive first day of school they will never forget. 

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...