Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Watching   Oklahoma State  Vs. Oregon in Holiday Bowl.... This creates tension in my life....It is a great game.. (4th  qtr   31-28  Cowboys...but the ducks are driving )  Can Ducks drive? 

THE DUCKS DROVE.... BOYS LOST-= but a good game...

I vote for games to be played on fields where they have quality turf that has not been mauled by the NFL two days before....  Both teams have injuries because of the lousy grass.

Lots of bowl games to watch... Kind of fun....

On another super spiritual note..... Several of my fans gathered in the new gym today for the first shot .... It was a free throw.... The tight rims were a problem....but the ball bounced around and WENT IN !  The crowd erupted... and then we went back to work


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas 2008 ( Catching up from a month long blogging break)

Its been a while since the last post... nearly a month.  Why?  Several have asked (my mom included).  Thank you to all who care. A few have wondered if I was sick. Nope.  Others have wondered if I was worn down and tired.  Maybe.  Others even wondered if I had given up on blogging... no.

I have been in a major effort with writing study guides for next year, articles, bulletin greetings and a some other things. So the first thing to go is blogging for a while.  Its really nothing more than that. 

So what's up? Well, here is my own personal Christmas  Letter for 2008. 

CHRISTMAS HAS BEEN  GREAT.  Our church tried something different this year.  The Christian group AVALON came to the church for two Christmas concerts. They were incredible.  What made it even more special was the participation of our own worship choir.  It was alot of fun, well attended, and a significant investment in our church family and community. 

On Sunday, we had our annual Christmas Services which were excellent.  I really felt like we worshipped Christ.  Our Worship teams were so engaged and full of joy. 

Our Christmas Eve Services were also very good. Interestingly we combined communion, candle-lighting, Charlie Brown Peanuts, Grandpa Tom reading the Christmas story to dozens and dozens of children, and the singing of Christmas Carols. 

These events were our first  Christmas events in our new building. Simply decorated, the building reflected the joy of our congregation as we celebrate the birth of Christ.  The preaching series concentrated on the three word phrase, " God with us."

What else is going on?  Well, Christmas continued today with our family here in Owasso.  Baby Grace is so beautiful.  Having James, Lydia, Elizabeth, Nathaniel, Abigail and Grace here was so good for Pam and me.   We did miss having Joel here ( He is in Portland).  But It sounds like was going to have a good day too. 

At the church, we are just a few days from opening our Phase II. It contains a great gymnasium, Kitchen, gathering area and a state of the art Youth and children's worship area. 

As I reflect on the opening, I am amazed that it is done. Just 9 months ago we were pushing hard to get into Phase I.  I am grateful to those who have worked so hard to get this phase done.  It will add so much to our ability to expand our ministry to youth and children, the development of sports ministries and give us much needed space for other activities in the church. 

When I consider 2008, it has been a year of tremendous challenge and change for our church. ( I will probably write more about this later).  But as we have come through the year and all of these changes, I notice that one thing has not changed.  Christ is the head of our Church. May it always stay that way!

2009 brings a new emphasis for our church. The theme for 2009 is "DEEPER".  For the coming year we will be looking specifically at foundations of our faith. The teaching and preaching will focus on the Bible and its trustworthiness, Jesus, God , Salvation and much more.  Some years we spend more time looking at what the Bible says about specific life situations. This year, it is much more about the foundations.  Along the way we will provide study guides for each message, which will include some more passages to study and read, group questions and Bible reading plans. I have the first 8 of the new year written, and am working on March.  Our hope is that people in the congregation will take these and make it their own personal responsibility to study the Word and apply it to their lives.   We have many many people who do, but we want to increase the numbers of people doing this on a regular basis. 

Some are asking about my health. Right now I am doing pretty well. I can tell when I have had along and intense season of preaching, leadership etc.  This fall has been pretty hectic. So in January , February and March, I will be doing a little less of the preaching and taking advantage of some vacation time, conference time and just some down time. 

Since I had the two strokes, I have gotten better at recognizing when I need to "dial it down." However, many years  of working too much and too long, with too much intensity has created unhealthy life patterns that I constantly have to fight against.  Sometimes I have to just shut it down... My body , mind and soul  tells me when that is... and that is definitely is now. So in the coming weeks, I will read alot  more, write more, preach a little less, and spend some time reflecting on God's work and call in my life. 

I am blessed beyond imagination. The church I serve has been so considerate in understanding my limitations and still encouraging me to press on, lead on, and serve on.  I know many who do not serve such a congregation.  On days I wake up and feel crummy, foggy and empty, I do not fear that someone will be on my doorstep, or at my desk wondering what I am doing or not doing.  Some of those days have become more numerous in last few weeks. When it happens, I retreat to rest and re-charge. And if I don't  then I have people around me who remind me of what I should be doing... and then tell me, "Get out of here." My family and our church want me around for the long haul.  In order to do this, you have to have a great staff. I have a great team that serves with me. 

At the top of the list is my wonderful wife.  This last week I was standing with one my friends at church, along with our wives.  I said, "We both have married way over our heads."  He agreed. 
So did our wives.  :-)   But we all know the score.  How could I even begin to say what the last 27 years, 9 months has meant to me?  These last 2 and 1/2 years have been a challenge for her, but she continues to work at the mid-high, be a great mom, be a "great"  grandmother, pastor's wife, and so much more. ( That is quite a job description isn't it.) She is awesome!

God is so good to me.  

 Well, that is my Christmas letter for 2008.  I would have sent it to you, except that "sending" stuff is not something I am really great at. So for those of you who read the blog...

 Merry Christmas! 



Sunday, November 30, 2008

More Pictures

Each of our children are a blessing to Pam and me.  
Grandparenting is cool...
It is really something to see what a blessing Grace has been for Lizzie and Nathaniel... and the rest of us.
Both of our Son in laws are tremendous people...Our girls are blessed.  It is so good to see men in both of our girls lives that complete them in many ways. 

We had a great Thanksgiving! Everyone was home. Lots of turkey, sports, fun, and laughter.  

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Baby Grace's First Thanksgiving

Not so happy....
That's better. 

What a blessing to have Grace in our lives... We are thankful. 

Friday, November 28, 2008

Rapping at Thanksgiving Banquet 08

The staff convinced me to pursue another career  at the Thanksgiving banquet!  LL COOL CHARLIE is my name... and rap is my game.

Rapping with Tim... He is cooler than me. But I am still his boss.

Groovin and movin'.... The crowd went crazy

More Pictures






Family pictures

This is our happy family....  Nathaniel, Lizzie, Gracie, Joel, Me, Pam, Abigail, Lydia and James. 

We are very blessed!  

Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Opinion on Playoffs

I live in Oklahoma.

I have a son that graduated from Oklahoma State

My closest friend graduated from Oklahoma

The church I serve is full of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State fans.... many of them serious...far too serious.

With all that said.... here are some observations about College football. ( I know you did not ask for them, but it is my blog and I can decide what I want to write about.)

#1- A playoff is the only thing that makes sense. And in the days leading up the election, it was about the only thing either
one of that candidates said that made sense- WE NEED A PLAYOFF. If the President of the United States wants to get
started on the right foot, he should use his executive order power on something that counts.... Ordering the College
Presidents to get the dollar signs out of their eyeballs and create a PLAYOFF.

#2- This year, the Oregon/Oregon State game means something. Both are 8-3. OSU ( Not cowboys), is playing for a chance to
go to the Rose Bowl. That is due to the fact that they smashed USC early in the year.

#3- This year the OU/OSU game means something. OU wins and they go to Big 12 championship ( if tiebreakers break right).
If OSU wins, they get to say all year long, "na, na, na, na! We won! We Won!" Prediction? One of the two teams will win.

#4- It is tough to see teams like Michigan, Notre Dame, Auburn, Tennesee, Texas A&M, go through tough seasons ( Not
really- remember coaches, Adversity makes us better. You may not get to keep your jobs for long, but you will be better
for it)

#5- There are several "one loss teams" screaming for a playoff. ( OU, Florida, Texas, Texas Tech, USC). To them I say,
"WAAAAAAAAAHHHHH." What about Boise State, Utah, Ball State and Alabama? They are undefeated at this point of the
season. Maybe the playoff should be the 4 undefeated teams meeting in a warm weather site...Now there is a playoff.

AND BEST OF ALL... It is feast week on ESPN... which means there is basketball galore! Now there is a real sport.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Commitment Sunday

This month we have been talking about "the offering." The study is from II Cor 8-9. Its been a good study. As is usually the case, our congregation welcomes Bible teaching that challenges us to a deeper walk with Christ.

I used to dislike this month every year. But more and more I enjoy the challenge of teaching this subject, and the encouraging response of the people. I don't get alot of negative for talking about resources/money/stewardship. The practical nature of the Bible and its simple approach to how we manage what God lets us use, helps with this. But our people have such good hearts. Most of them are givers, not just consumers. The vast majority of people coming are grateful for what God has done in their lives. Even those going through tough times know that God is providing for them.

Today was Commitment Sunday. We take cards given to us and make a commitment for the coming year. It is between each individual and the Lord. It is as the Lord leads and blesses. In the past we have had a large cross at the front of the stage and people would pass by and lay their cards at the cross.

This year, new building and all, we had to do it different. Tim and his creative team came up with a very good idea, having stations across the front which would include the cross, communion and a basket for the cross. It worked very well. Connecting the commitment that Christ made with us, to the commitment we make to support the work of God across the world made sense.

It was a good day. I was encouraged as I saw hundreds and hundreds of people come to the front.

I love our church.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Barak Obama has been President-Elect for eight days. In those eight days, He has met with President Bush, been criticized heavily by Iran and their crazy president, seen the economy get significantly worse, and had his national security briefings (there is no doubt that he learned alot there), and had his first press conference.

The press conference was interesting in the fact that somehow he managed to work Nancy Reagan into the conversation. Even being the great communicator that he is, he has a lot to learn about not saying exactly what he is thinking to the whole world, being very careful about his words and all that. With no tele-prompter and speech writer at his side, things can get a little dicy.

The press conference actually encouraged me. Everyone talks about Him being "on message." He is known to be incredibly disciplined in many areas of life. When it comes to words, that is very useful, especially when every one of them is scrutinized by the entire world. So these small gaffe's that he made in a fifteen minute press conference actually made him seem a bit more human, less robotic, and a little more like me. You could be sure that when he said "Nancy Reagn and seance" in the same sentence that there were "handlers" that were cringing behind the curtain.

When I am preaching, many thoughts "scoot" across my mind . They are not in my notes. I don't preach from a manuscript any more, so I am a little bit more free to "catch" one of those thoughts and use it. But in a split second I have decisions to make. Does it fit? Is it really something that God would want me to say? Is it something that "someone else" wants me to say? Even if it is the right thing to say, is it the right time to say it? All of that comes at once, and then it is gone. I have made the decision. Either I say it, or I let it go.

Most weeks I have a list of those things in my mind at the end of the morning. And I play the game. "Oh, I should have said that!" Or, "Did I really say that?" It is a challenge to turn off my mind and move on. What was said is said. If I need to clean up something, I am usually pretty good at that. I have trusted friends who tell me, "Hey Charlie, that did not come out they way you intended." What is not said, is not said. I can't call all 1100 people back and say, "By the way I forgot to say something very important...so would you meet me at the church at 2PM?

The difference between the President Elect and me is that I have help. I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide my words. And when I play the "what if " game at the end of the day, I rest in the fact that I have prayed and believe that God is guiding my words. I also rest in the fact that many people pray for me every day, asking God to guide me as work to prepare messages from His Word each week. That is so reassuring. I am not saying that God guides the President Elects words, or that he doesn't. I just know that I and others ask Him to give me the words to say. And somehow, each week, there is something to say.

The President Elect Obama made a big deal about "change you can believe in." I think he was very wise to tap into the restlessness of our country. He knew that the "change" was going to be the big deal. And now, instead of campaigning, he has to deliver. And that is a totally different deal. He is no longer playing on the sandlots of Chicago illinois... he is the big leagues now. The White House is a long way from the Illinois State House or even the Senate Chambers in Washington D.C. Which means that for the next four or eight years, there is not a word that will be forgotten. There is not a word that will not be examined. Every single word he says and writes will be under scrutiny.

So he needs to watch what he says.... and in that way he is just like the rest of us. Words convey powerful messages. They have many unintended consequences.

I see that in the church . We go through seasons where people, myself included get a little "chatty." And most of the time it is not a big deal, but sometimes it is. But I also see that when things get out of sorts, most people are willing to clean it up.

That is one thing that I will give Obama credit for. . He called Nancy Reagan that night and apologized. I thought that was a pretty good deal. You see, whether you are a preacher, a parent, a principal, physician, President, or President-elect, our words do hurt people. Written, spoken, even thought, words can hurt people. So along with the joy of getting to speak them, sometimes you get the joy of cleaning up the mess too.

As long as you are willing to do that, you get the privilege of speaking some more words...and probably making a mistake or two along the way.

So some advice from Proverbs for all of us... "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise." ( Prov. 10:19) .

I think I have said enough for now.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Economy hits

One week ago, we got the news that Joel had gone into work and was laid off, along with 25% of the company. It was a shock for him. He had just moved up to Portland 6 weeks ago. Almost immediately he started networking and has two meetings scheduled with people who make be able to hook him up with potential careers.

His spirits are high. He is a very confident person, He loves Portland and has every intention of staying there.

I on the other hand, did not have high spirits after that call. I told him it would be okay... God would take care of Him. I loved him. All of those things I believed and still do. But after I hung up the phone, I had a tear or two. And I struggled to understand the decision of the higher-ups... and the plan God has for him. This economy is tough. And it has hit us. ''

I found myself thinking, "I wish it had been me." I would rather have to go through it, than him. I have never been without a job since 1981. But I would have taken it rather than him.

I guess that is what a parent does.

I am proud of all my kids. they have high character, good work ethic and a love for family and God. But they are not immune to hard times... layoffs, and other things. That is why parenting never stops. For those of you think , "Man, they are out of the house, and out of my hair." Surprise, they really dont go away... and you dont want them to. the last thing I said to Joel tonight was, "Let me know if you need anything." It is really code for, "if you need to come home, there is a place here for you."

My gut is that he will land on his feet...

I am glad I get to his Father... a father for all of them.

What we do as parents is just a touch of what God does as our Heavenly Father. I am amazed at what He does for us..

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Real Life

I am watching election results. Crazy stuff. I love politics , so it is interesting to see the reactions as the numbers come in. Lots of change in the air.

But along the way... real life is happening to:

- the couple that I visited today who lost their little baby at birth.

- the lady I talked to today whose husband said, "I don't love you any more."

- the friend who called me last night because he has a family member who has lost the will to live.

There was more.

All in the last 24 hours.

That is real life. Its where people live.

I said to a friend, "I am constantly reminded that so many people have so much to deal with in life."

I am thankful that God is a personal God who love people where they are, comforting, strengthening, and moving in their lives.

I believe that.

I also believe that tomorrow will be a better day.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rambling Thoughts....

- No matter who wins the election Tuesday, God reigns.

- I am reading a good book. FAITH AND DOUBT by John Ortberg is an honest approach to the questions about faith that we all have. Yes, we all have doubts.It is not an easy read like some of his other books. it takes some brain power...but I think it will be worth it. i will let you know more as I finish the book. I like the fact that Ortberg has written about Faith and Doubt in light of all the press that Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins have accumulated with their atheistic writings in the past couple years.

- I came across this passage in some reading. It spoke to me.

" You've kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, Each tear entered in your legder, each ache written in your book." Psalm 56:8 ( The Message)

Lots of tears in people's lives around me. Lots of tossing and turning. Financial woes, election concerns, parenting issues, marriage struggles,health problems, job layoffs, retirement accounts taking a hit.... I am sure there are alot more than I know. I find comfort and strength in the fact that there is not a tear that comes from our eyes that is unnoticed by God. Not one!

- I have been writing study guides for 2009 Sermons. I finished January's today. I am finding this to be very exciting and am hopeful that the guides will challenge our congregation to "go deep." it will be available on Sundays and on the website after the first of the year.

- We get to see Baby Grace, Elizabeth and Nathaniel this weekend. There is a rumor that she will be a ladybug for Halloween. Maybe I will get a picture next week.

- I am very proud of all four of our kids. They have all turned out to be fantastic adults.

- Last night we had our second FIGHT NIGHT at the church. It was great to see families of all ages worshipping and then playing games. Our staff and their teams were awesome. It was a great night.

- I start a series on Stewardship this Sunday. "THE OFFERING." May seem like a bad time to talk money..but God's ways of handling money are recession proof. The problem is not what He says. The problem is what we do.

VOTE ON NOV. 4th. Its your privilege and responsibility.

Friday, October 24, 2008


The church is a body... a living, breathing body. It is full of people, people who love God, love the mission, love the purpose and love its people.

The church has a head. The bible says, "...Christ is the head of the church." ( Eph. 5:22) It is good for everyone who attends a church to remind themselves of this one simple fact. Christ is the Head of the church. It is HIS Church.

The Church has leaders that the Bible calls "Elders". They are men. Men who seek God, shepherd the flock, guard the doctrine of the church, work to guide christians through tough times, disputes, and difficulty. They are not perfect men by an stretch. But they are godly.

I will put our 9 Elders up against any group of leaders anywhere. I trust them completely. We do not always agree. Sometimes our conversations are spirited and passionate. But they respect and love me. They love my family. And I respect and love them. and their families.

Last night we had one of "those meetings." One friend who has served on the Eldership would often say, "It was a bag of cheetos" meeting. I did not eat any cheetos, last night but I stayed up late, thinking through the evenings discussions. The more I thought, the more I was encouraged. They made some good decisions. I felt heard... respected... and I felt like we covered some things that needed to get out on the table.

If you are a member of our church, you should know that these men are great leaders who need our prayers. I need your prayers. Our staff needs your prayers. Why? Its pretty simple really. We are in a war with the Spirit of Darkness for the souls of so many who are lost. We are living in a time where people are feeling the crunch of bad economics, debt, loosing jobs and houses. We live in a community where marriages are under attack... even in the church.

What do we have to fight this battle with. Prayer. The Word of God. Good Godly leadership. And our own unity. Life is better together... and our unity is essential as we tackle the issues of our day.

I am proud to say that as I talked with a member today, I saw the love for God come out. It was a difficult conversation, but one comment caught my attention. "I will serve the Lord at this Church... that is what I will do." It was said with humility.. It was said with a commitment to our leaders. And I believe this person, because they are alot like you... is a person who just wants to obey Christ by helping others know, love, serve and share Him." That is who we are.



Thursday, October 23, 2008

Whatever you do....

I am on a blogging roll!!!

Today I had the pleasure of eating lunch with 2 other leaders from our church along with a banker who has helped us with our relocation. We talked about life, business, and church. He took a tour of our building and was very impressed. But as we talked I think I was drawn to his heart for God and how God could use his influence to build the kingdom.

Along the way, he shared some "God-moments" in his business, Later I reflected on how there are so many Christians who are in business, being used by God to help people, to lift people up , and to give God glory.

You know, the power of the gospel extends far beyond what happens in church buildings on Sunday Mornings or Wednesday nights. That is just a fraction of what it means to extend the Kingdom of God here on earth. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, because of your faith, you are a conduit for God's blessing. In business, in your community, in your neighborhood, you have such an opportunity for influence. So go for it! Let people know that you are a child of God... that you have been blessed by God and see where it goes. Remember, we do not go to church...we are the church! Wherever we are, whatever we are doing!

I am reminded of what Paul said in I Corinthians- "So whatever you do, whether you eat or you drink, do it all for the glory of God." You don't need a Bible College education to do that. Awesome opportunities await you!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Crisis? There is still a mission.....

Stock Market tanked again today. Bad news everywhere....

Today i started work on the series "The Offering". Every November I talk stewardship. I have looked forward to this series for a while because we have so many new people coming to church. I have no idea where they are stewardship wise, but I imagine for some the talk about money, possessions, offerings, and related matters may be challenging.

I was doing some reading about this and came across this simple statement. In light of the current financial crisis, as a church we should respond, but not retreat. I thought that was good.

We should respond by reminding people that we will be good stewards of the money they give to the Lord's work. We should be careful all the time, but especially vigilant in spending $ in these times. We should also respond by being ready to help hurting people. There will be more people this winter who are hungry, more people who are cold. There may be people we know who are homeless. We should be ready to respond to them.

But along side of that, we should remember that we have a mission. Our mission is to help others know,love, serve and share Him. It is a mission that reaches out, reaches in and reaches up. It is a life-saving mission. It is a mission that has weathered tough financial times in the past, and it is a mission that will weather tough times in the future.

We should never give an inch when it comes to the mission, no matter what is happening on Wall street, main street, or anywhere in between. No matter who is president, no matter who wins the senatorial race in Oklahoma, no matter if the bailout works or not, there will always be a mission. Jesus came to "seek and save the lost." Nothing got him off his mission.

My prayer is that all of us will remember that no matter what comes next, our mission has not changed, and will not change. People need Christ. People need a church. People need help...and God has called us to respond,

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Plowing new ground

People count. People are important to God. They are important to me. God has blessed First Christian Church with lots of people, more people than ever before.

Our church has been building buildings since May 2006. Phase I took about 8 months longer than it was supposed to, but we moved in last march. When we moved in, Phase II ( Youth Worship Center and Gym) had begun. God has paved the way for this to happen in many different ways. From the use of Bailey Hospital to the selling of 86th street to Rejoice, to God providing the funding for Phase I, and the debt-free building of Phase II, to the growth we have seen in our church since we moved, there is so much to be thankful for.

This afternoon I walked through Phase II. It is coming along quite fast. The construction crews are working hard. What struck me was that we have been so blessed. Each step of the way, we have seen God provide. Soon ( very soon), we will have the additional space we need to continue to grow in our Youth and Children's Ministries. Phase II will also open up other opportunities for the use of Phase I, which is needed.

I am most impressed with our congregation. There is no doubt that the relocation has stressed a lot of people. ( me included). There have been alot of hard moments. There have been doubts, some criticism, amazement at what God has been doing, and some wondering along the way. However, the vast majority of our church has been so accomadating, so flexible and so committed to making this about more than buildings. Our church family is excited about the future like never before.

There will always be people who see the negative. There will always be people who get really weary and struggle with changes, whatever they are. Our job is to hear their concerns, be reassuring, but confident in the way God is leading us. There are times when we do not handle the demands of change very well. We all are human. We all have alot to learn.

The truth is that plowing new ground is hard work. It always is. But our people have been so gracious. For example, We have had a number of funerals in the past 6 weeks. Some have the result of sudden death, some the result of long illnesses. Each one of them have required that we provide a funeral dinner. And each time, a group of members ( sometimes classes, sometimes, groups, sometimes ministries), have brought food in, ice in, dealt with no real kitchen facilities , set up, cleaned up, and through the whole thing never complained one bit. Each time, I have seen people rise to the occasion to care for people who were in need. Always with a cheerful disposition, knowing full well that our facilities were not quite optimal... they just have made do with what they have... because people count.

Phase II will bring some facilities that can help us with meals, fellowship and other needs that we have. All along the way, people have seen what we have, and been flexible to make things happen... because people count.

We have along way to go. Some areas of our leadership and ministries are not as strong as they need to be. But I feel like we are making a strong effort to "help others know, love, serve and share Christ." We do that because people count.

FCC people rock! There is no one I would rather plow new ground with.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Lord' Supper

Today, we led a worship service that is one of my favorites each year. At least once and sometimes twice a year we plan an entire worship service around Communion.

"The Breaking of Bread" ( Acts 20:7) is one of elements of worship that we include in every Sunday worship service. All three of our services participate in this each week, because of our conviction that it was something done by the early church on the first day of the week.

When we do a service like this, We usually divide the 65 or so minutes into sections, do worship along with explanation and teaching. Today, I thought was one of our best. Tim did a great job of building a service that used special music ( Jesus Messiah and My Redeemer Lives ) along with both contemporary songs and hymns. We had a great video to the song "Jesus Paid it all" which was effective and engaging. The Production Team had a table with chalice and loaf of bread, which provided the visual.

Ultimately this was a hour long communion service which gave us the chance to remember that Jesus willingly gave his life for us, and that the blood of Christ provides us with forgiveness, purifies us from sin ( I John 1:7), and unites all believers like nothing else. It is an opportunity to teach about Grace. It is an opportunity for us to "examine ourselves". It is an opportunity to declare that Jesus died, was buried and rose again. It is an opportunity to declare that ONLY Jesus has done this and therefore He is the only way to God ( John 14:6)

It is easy to get on the kick about felt needs, how to's and never take the time to study such foundational truth. So I am glad when we can do these kinds of services. We take communion each week, and every week it is meaningful to me. Some say, "Take it every week and it becomes commonplace and mundane." I don't get that. How could the sacrifice of Jesus be mundane? If it is, that is our problem...a problem with our heart.

It is important to do this as a reminder to those who come to church services all the time. But it is also so important for the newer people who attend to know why we take communion each week ( most of them coming from churches where it is done monthy, quarterly or semi-annually,) and what is really behind this Passover meal that Jesus instituted in the upper room.

It's good stuff....and from my perspective, it is great to work with creative people who can put together a service that engages people on so many different levels.

Friday, October 17, 2008

2nd greatest comeback

Last night the Red Sox got pummeled (through 7 innings). I was disgusted and went to bed. I have followed the Red Sox since the late 60's. I don't exactly know why since I lived in the Pacific Northwest. Through the 70's, 80's and 90's their futility could only be matched by the Cubs. But things got better.

So last night, when I realized that they were on the verge of losing 3 straight at home, and looking bad doing it, I turned my back on them. I walked away. The TV was on, and then I saw the "crawl" at the bottom of the screen. I immediately turned it back to the game, just in time to see the game winning hit. 8 to 7- Red Sox.

I am glad that there will be another game, hopefully two games resulting in Red Sox wins. But, I also have to face the fact that I turned away from them.

There is a lesson in this for all of us. We disappoint God. We lose and lose and lose.... We make mistakes, commit sins over and over... each of which really do hurt the one who created us and who sent His Son to die for us. And yet, God does not turn his back on us. He stays with us, always ready to forgive when we are repentant. He stays with us, always ready to help us pick up the pieces of our broken lives. He stays with us, reminding us that there is a tomorrow, and it will be better. He stays with us, telling us that "the best is yet to come."

I love that about God. Do you? If so, turn over that part of your life that is hindering you from a complete relationship with Him.

Fights and quarrels

Over the summer I preached through the book of Proverbs. Even though I am done preaching from Proverbs, I still am drawn to the book each day.

Proverbs 17:27-28 says, " A man of knowledge uses words with restraint and a man of understanding is even-tempered. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue."

Those words are pretty strong. When we reject the notion that we can just throw words at a subject and somehow be thought of as wise, knowledgeable, or "in control", we really do become more like Christ.

Holding our tongue, keeping silent, using words with restraint, being even-tempered are all effective ways of being a better listener, a better communicator, a better friend, and in some cases a better opponent.

I know people who just love to get into arguments. They go around looking for verbal fights. It feels good to them. It makes them feel like they are in control. But Proverbs says something different.

" He who loves a quarrel loves sin, he who builds a high gate invites destruction" Prov. 17:19

" Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam, so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out." Prov. 17:14

I can recall several times where I failed to "drop a matter before a dispute breaks out." . In the end , I may have felt vindicated, even victorious. But there were usually some wounds as a result. Was it worth it? Most of the time the answer is no.

I think that this counsel from Proverbs also helps when we are being drawn into a fight or dispute. Recently this has happened to me. People with strong feelings about a particular subject have not gotten the response they wanted in a dispute with others. So they come to me. In one case, I engaged and regretted it. I should have just stayed out of it, and let the parties work it out between themselves. In another case, I said, " I am not going to get involved in this." I just decided that this was something that the two or three needed to work out themselves... I did not need to ride in on a white horse and save the day. I have not regretted that decision.

I think the writer of Proverbs could be talking about alot of different things here. But one thing that speaks to me is that it really does take two people to argue. Nothing is more frustrating to someone who is looking for a fight to go around looking for someone to "put up their verbal dukes" and find no one.

This does not mean that there are not times that we need to stand up and defend truth, defend ourselves, and even defend others. But maybe the old saying is true...."You are wise to pick your fights carefully."

Proverbs 17 counsels us to look at our hearts. Do you love a quarrel? Are you the one starting quarrels? Can you be the person who steps away from a quarrel and remains silent?

One more word from Proverbs 17. Verse 3 says, "the crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,but the Lord tests the heart. ( vs. 3)

Good stuff to remember in the heat of the battle.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Did you watch the debate?

I did- certainly not inspiring on either front.

We have an economy that is bleeding... confidence is down.... the Fed and Treasury are trying to stop it all.... Congress wants to go home... and we are electing a president in 30 days.

What did I get out of it? They say the same things in a Town Hall format as they do in a stump speech. They don't like each other. National Security has gone to the back burner. On the Economy, neither of them really want to say much because they don't know what the economy really looks like.

And one other thought- McCain better do something... or he loses. And it has to be more than smearing his opponent.

Be an interesting 30 days.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


The problem with a "blogcation" is that it is really hard to get back into the flow of writing regularly. I have read that the whole phenomenon of "blogging" has peaked. I don't know if that is true, but I do know it takes time and discipline to write regularly. Certainly gives me more respect for authors who write alot. Guys like Chuck Swindoll and Max Lucado have churned out books at an amazing rate. It takes alot of brain power to do that- not to mention spiritual depth.

Soooooo.... what's been going on with Charlie? I find myself on the cusp of October, one of my favorite months. I knew that fall is almost here when I stepped out of the house this morning to walk. It was 49 degrees! Crisp, cool, no breeze... it was perfect.

I have been taking some extra time off lately... trying to take advantage of the great weather (playing some golf, doing yard work etc.) and to recharge for the stretch run in 2008. October will bring about the conclusion of 40 Days of Community. It has been a great success, and promises to be the structure with which we disciple people in the future. Matt and his teams have done a great job. It is a huge undertaking to organize, promote, and track several hundred additional people in small groups and classes. Matt preached the last two sundays. We did the "Cardboard Testimonies " this past Sunday. It was a very powerful example of how God is working in so many lives.

Today, we signed the papers on the sale of our property to Rejoice. i was reflecting about this on the way home and celebrating God's faithfulness. I recall many times when I would walk through the 86th property praying that God would bring someone to buy the entire thing. We tried to keep it. We tried to sell it. We tried to keep again. It was up and down. It was on the market for a long time. One well known realtor told us that there was no way we would sell it, and if we did someone would just bulldoze it to the ground. The building in his estimation was worth nothing. I recall being kind of discouraged, but believing that if God wanted it sold, he would find the buyer at the right time, with the right price and it would happen.

Well it did. Rejoice Church has a great Christian School and they bought it for the Middle School and Senior High School. They have been leasing it back from us for about 16 months. It has been a great relationship. I have been so impressed with their heart. They have worked with us in so many ways.

I have also been so impressed with "our" people. They have been so flexible. They have seen the big picture. Many were inconvenienced by the sale. It was an emotional decision because so many had been baptized there. So many have been married there. So many people have had funerals for their loved ones there. The gospel message has been preached there. VBS grew and impacted so many there. Our Little Saints Preschool began there and flourished there for over 25 years. Young people have been ordained to the ministry there.

As God led us to North Garnett, there were emotional moments. I know it was hard for many. I know that there were tears and struggles for many. But ultimately those great people proved what we knew was true all along. They followed God's leading. It is awesome to see your church family do that in such a personal way.

Today, we were able to sign the papers and take the money to the bank and turn the page on a new chapter for the church. Its a new day. Lots of new people, new ideas, and a new hope for so many people. More than the money, more than the building, the space, the new toys and technology... people did it because they knew that God was in it, and He wanted to touch many new people.

4 years ago we said, "We did not want to focus on building a building, but building Christ in the lives of people." I look around now and I see small groups everywhere. I hear of many men's and women's bible studies. I see friends and church family helping others through really tough times. I see faithfulness every where.

Someone told me recently...." It just doesn't feel like my church anymore." I know that feeling. But it is not "our" church. It never was. It is Christ's Church. And it always will be.

But with all the new comes someone who does not change. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. "Jesus is the way , the truth and the life... No one comes to the Father except through him." John 14:6 Thanks to God for that.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Grow up Charlie

Some thoughts rolling around in my head...

* On Wednesday of each week, I start paying attention to the weather for Sunday. Last week, it was apparent that our entire weekend would be windy and wet...all because of Ike. This creates issues for me...( maybe it is just me)

Issue#1- Bad weather on Sunday, usually means lower attendance. Tropical Storm force wind and rain has real potential to "dampen" the worshp services. ( pun intended)

Issue #2- Our new building has leaks. Some are pretty major, some are not. So once again, Tropical Storm force winds and rain present potential issues.

Issue #3- We do not have a covered canopy. So, you figured it out, Tropical Storm Force winds and rain present some uncomfortable issues for our Senior Adults, and families, who have to make a run for it.

I could go on... and then I am reminded that there are 4 million people with no electricity, thousands of people in shelters ( probably for weeks), and some families who are grieving the loss of loved ones... all of that in Texas.

My issues do not seem so bad. I am a baby in some respects.... as a friend says to me, "WHAAAAAAAA...."

Sunday, I got up, and the clouds were gone. The wind was lighter than expected, The sun shined. The water did not flood the worship center. And the SON shined at Church too. It was a great day. Our groups are off and running. The congregation was responsive in all phases of our worship time. There were stories of impact being passed around .

And I was worried about some dude named, "IKE"

Later in the afternoon, I got the call that the brother of a very close friend had been killed in a Motorcycle accident. The two brothers and a friend were out on a leisurely ride ( It was a beautiful afternoon), when a car , going way too fast, lost control and slide into the path of Mark's brother Rick.

I was heart sick for Mark. And for Rick's sons. Their mother had died in the last year of cancer. So they have had alot. I spent the evening with them. Lots of questions...the only answers come from our FAITH in Christ. We just believe that it all will shake out. We believe that this Christian man is in heaven, reunited with his wife and other family, and certainly most of us, in the presence of Christ.

And I was worried about some dude named, "Ike" .

I need some re-direction by the Holy Spirit about what is really important. Weather forecasts are not. God is in control where Hurricanes go. In stead of me being worried about a disruption in my plans for Worship on a particular Sunday, I should pray for those who truly find themselves disrupted. And in some way , try to figure out a way to give in a tangible way to help people who have little right now.

I have alot of spiritual growing to do.

Sunday, September 07, 2008


While on the way back from Israel this spring, I watched movies. Flying on a big jumbo jet, in business class gives you that opportunity. And besides sleep and reading, it is about the best option to past the time on a 14 hour trip.

So, one of the movies I watched was" The Bucket List". The movie, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman is about two men who are brought together by the dark diagnosis of cancer. They have lived vastly different lives, but find themselves together rounding the corner toward a finish line that we all must cross some day.

The premise builds around the idea of a list... a list of activities and things that one would want to do before their time ends here on earth.

I suppose that most of us do not bother to think about this alot, until we are given the bad news. ( don't worry, no bad news here for me.) But in our minds, all of us have a list of things that we would like to do before we die. Some are relationship driven... a person we want to see, a relationship we want to repair, or someone that we want to thank, forgive, or just see and recall old times. Some are activity driven... a place we want to go to, a challenge we want to attempt to rise up to, or an event that we want to attend.

I don't have a specific list on paper, or in a computer somewhere. But in my mind, I have some relationship things I want to experience, if God allows. There are some places I want to go and see, again if God allows.

And there are some events. This weekend , one of those things on the list , was crossed off. I am a big Eagles fan. I love their music, harmonies, and creativity. These guys are old... older than me by a long shot. Glen Fry, Joe Walsh and Don Henley have been around forever, both as part of the Eagles, and on their own. Thier work with guitars of all kinds is really something to behold.

The Eagles came to Tulsa to open the new BOK Arena. Tickets were very pricey, and the concert was sold out in a matter of minutes on the internet. So there was no real way that Pam and I could attend. I came to grips with that pretty early, and just thought, "Well I have them on my Iphone, and that is pretty cool."

A friend had tickets and could not use them. So, he gave them to us. All I can say is "WOW." What a concert. It was everything I had hoped for. It was fun, a great crowd of 14,000, new arena, fantastic music for the 70's, 80's, 90's, and whatever you call the present decade. It is not often that an event meets or even supersedes your expectations. This one did!

One of the great things about it is that the concert was 3 1/2 hours long, with about a 20 minute break. These guys, who said, "Welcome to the Eagles Assisted Living Tour," played their hearts out. I knew that late would not be good for me , so we left after 2 1/2 hours... It was incredible.

It was one of those fun things that you want to do, but don't figure you will ever get to do. Thanks to a generous friend, at least one of those things is crossed off the list.

There will be more... but I can't imagine many other things being that fun. Going to Fenway Park was close...but this was better.

All this has me thinking more about my list...both in the arena of relationships and events... Maybe that is one of the good things about turning 50. The kids are gone now, and you can spend some time thinking about that kind of stuff...and maybe even plan to accomplish some of it.

But honestly, one of the best things about the whole deal with the Eagles was that it was a surprise. That made it even more special. THANKS!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Six weeks catchup

FINALLY.. a few moments to post. One thing about a month long "blogcation" , it is hard to get back into it.

The last six weeks have been eventful...
- Trip to Oregon to see my parents - they are doing okay. I love seeing them, and going to Oregon... Got to see my sister too.
- Turned 50- I am doing okay. Doesn't feel alot different to me...but they tell me I have more gray hair.. Some say it is all
down hill. Others say, "50 is the new 30." I have been waiting for 50 for 50 years... still have alot of life to live.
- Joel is moving to Portland Oregon. He is doing okay...on the road in Wyoming as I write. I will miss Him alot. Want to know
more??? Go to www.vidoop.com and click on blog. When you get there, click on anything that says "Oregon Trail." There are
video's, pics, and comments. Its a bunch of "technodudes" who are relocating to Portland to take over the wold.
- The church is launching a new small group emphasis- that is going great. Lots of cool stories...
- Pam and I shared our Israel pictures with people from the Church- I will write and share more about it as the month carries on.
- Pam started back to school- that has been good
- Abigail went back to college- Ozark Christian College- This is probably the last summer she will be home. She is great .
-Elizabeth , Nathaniel and GRACE visited a couple times. She is awesome! ( They all are). Visit www.elizabeth-
nathaniel.blogspot.com to see lots of pictures
- Lydia started back to school at NSU-Broken Arrow- James is doing great on our staff.
- I had a surprise birthday party- Pam you are amazing. Girls and Joel- nice! Friends- thanks . Lets do it again in 10 years.
-The staff had a party for me too- great fun with everyone, including the undertaker.
- The church finished the summer in great position for the fall. Attendance is right around 1100 each week, offerings are
strong, and there are a ton of new people.
- I finished 3 months in Proverbs this summer. I am not bragging, but I think it may have been some of the best preaching I
have done in a long time. As much as anything, the study really fed my soul...
-The Fall is almost here. I look so forward to September 15th, because that seems to be when the weather changes. Its
changed early this year.
- I have hurricane damage to my mailbox. Yup, Hurricane Gustav blew over my mailbox. In Oklahoma....Hmmmmmmnnn.
- I got a MacBook... Infuriating, frustrating.... all those "ating" things. The "Techies" in my office keep telling me that I will
get used to is and love it. I left my office one day saying outloud for everyone to hear, "Whoever talked me in to a Mac is
dead." They all smiled and then buried their heads back into their Macs. I felt better, until I had to log on.
- Fantasy football is off and running. I think Romo and LT are a strong combination. But we will see....
- I changed the look of the blog... I hate it... so it will change again

On the whole, that is six weeks worth of news from my life. God has been good to me.


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Almost back...

I've been out of the blogging world for over a month. I will start writing again this week. Stay tuned


Monday, July 28, 2008

Break Time

I am taking a "blogcation." I am officially on a break from blogging until September 1st.

I plan to travel, read, do some preaching and get ready for the fall.

When I get back, I will resume some writing about Israel ( complete with pictures), along with various updates about my wonderful family, granddaughter, and church.

See you in September


Monday, July 21, 2008

A quiet week...I hope

Most of the staff is gone this week... toughing it out in Colorado. High Temps around 65-70, cool at night...

Here- 98 today...Humidity... hottttt.

What is wrong with picture?

Aaron, James, Mike, Ben and I deserve an award. Not sure I know what it should be...

Actually, spending a week camping with 100 teenagers, sleeping in a tent, trying to focus the kids on God is ALOT harder than it looks.

So, Jim, Jared, Joe, Tim, and Matt- work hard...and come home...

How many lives have been truly changed at Youthquake over the past 25 plus years? More than we know... it is a great opportunity... Think about it... No radio, no computer, no cellphones, no text messaging...( at least it is supposed to be that way.) I am sure some first timers don't believe that there is anywhere on earth where you don't get service... SUPRISE!!!!

Its good for all of us to disconnect and hide. When I go to Oregon and head to the coast, I will do that for a few days...

Not a bad deal at all.

Friday, July 18, 2008


The other night I was leaving church and caught this view...I like the elements of the front... stained glass, lit at night... the Cross lifted high over the building...I think it sends a great message that we are a an alive church with a story which revolves around the cross of Jesus. ( See picture at right)

We are seeing stories of life change everywhere. One father talked to me last week about how God was really working in his life. He and his wife had "found" FCC a while back, after not being in church for decades. They began to talk to one of our guys...came to our Discovery 101 Seminar and then were baptized into Christ. Following that, their son went to camp, and he too was baptized into Christ.

This father told me that he senses God really working in their lives... they are reading a chapter of Proverbs each night as a family and then discussing it. There has been visible evidence of life change in their family. God is good.

Beyond the growth of these past few months, beyond the excitement of building, moving, and building some more ( yes I said "excitement", although at times it has been stressful.), are the stories...just like the gospels. They are a collection of stories...stories of encounters with Christ, life change, challenge, hope, faith and love. There are stories as well of disappointment, sorrow, and rejection.

We are called to tell the story of Christ. We are not called to be responsible for the results. That is God's department, because it is God's work. We just plant seeds, water where God wants us to and then we wait and see what happens.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Baby Grace

Lizzie just sent me a couple pictures of Grace... She is beautiful.


A year ago we finished up one of our usual VBS programs. Hundreds of kids, hundreds of workers... lots of publicity in the community. It was really great. I love VBS at First Christian Church. I love its potential to reach children. I love its potential to give people a chance to serve. I love the fact that it is Bible based. It is a 17 1/2 hour summer camp for kids ( 5 days for 3 plus hours each day.)

Afterwards our Children's Minister came to me and said that his team had been working on some ideas to change VBS. That is no problem I thought. It is one of our signature events each year...but it probably needs a little sprucing up.

Well, as the details came out, we were not talking about some changes. We were talking about a complete overhaul, in every sense of the word. What the Children's Ministry team wanted to do was to kill the old style VBS and replace it with something totally different. I was less than enthusiastic. But I listened, I prayed, I asked lots of questions and I watched as the details starting coming together.

Last night we began. A big change was the fact that we were doing it in July, rather than our designated spot in June. We had that week in June reserved for years. Community people and churches stayed away from that week for their events, because they knew that the kids would be at FCC. So moving it to July was huge.

Moving it to night time was even bigger. Ours had always been a morning VBS. It had worked so well. Would evenings work? I was skeptical...but I watched and listened, prayed. I felt like it had potential.

Changing the format was even a bigger task. No longer would we have a daily craft, a music time where we taught the kids the songs for the closing program, recreation, and Bible rooms. Instead, it would take the format of a family production with lots of music, skits, a Bible story, and a challenge around the virtue of honesty.

It would take alot of technology. Alot of musical talent, alot of acting, and a huge team behind the scenes that would make things happen.

One of the aspects of the old VBS was that we had homeroom guides who spent the entire week with a group of kids... teaching them, helping them with memory work, and guiding them through the busy week. To me, it was one of the most effective parts of our VBS.

So, where were the homeroom guides this year? Here is the kicker... The homeroom guides were the PARENTS. Families came together to worship, to hear the Bible taught, and to experience the virtue first hand. And then they got to go home and talk about it.

That was the vision of Aaron and his team. He has a heart to see families worship together, and for the teaching of the Bible to be done by example and by word in the context of the family.

WELL, IT WORKED! I knew it would work when I stood outside the Worship Center and watched some families come in to FIGHT NIGHT ( FIGHT stands for Families In God Hanging Together). They were excited to be together. Moms and Dads were anticipating what was going to be done on the stage. The kids from 3 years old and up loved it.

And then to top it all off the families went into our Gathering area and did a "Craft" TOGETHER... Again, it was an awesome sight.

After the first night, the reviews are very positive. I know we will have some tweaks that need to be made... but for the first one, it was pretty great. I will let you know how the rest of the week goes...but it seems to me that we are on our way to an unqualified success. God gets the credit and glory.

But so does Aaron and His Team. His team believed in this and put the flesh to the bones as far as the plan was concerned.

But I have to say, Aaron did something pretty special. He took the vision and sold it. He sold it to me...to our staff...to our leaders... and to our church. He led me through the change, and convinced me that it was worth the risk. He also took the risk personally, because alot of this was on him.

Last night I did not hear, "Well I wish we had the old VBS back." I think for us... that day is done. We can't turn back now.

Around here, change has been pretty monumental for us for the last couple years. . We have started saying in our meetings, "This isn't Mayberry any more." Boy that is true. But the changes have been really cool. They have been effective in us helping others know, love, serve and share him. And they have helped us identify and raise up a new generation of leaders.

Best of all, they have shown us that we can change for the Gospel's sake. I can't wait to see what's next.

Good Job Aaron and James and the Children's Ministry Team...You guys are awesome.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


It just keeps getting better...

This week, news outlets reported that Bradley Fowler sued Zondervan, a Christian Publishing house. Why? He is suing because their versions of the Bible characterize homosexuality as a sin. He says that these characterizations violate his constitutional rights, and have caused him emotional pain and emotional instability. He says that Zondervan's Bibles have caused him to be an outcast in his own family and have contributed to periods of physical discomfort, and periods of demoralization, chaos, and bewilderment.

It's a 60 million dollar lawsuit.

Bradley Fowler does not concern me. His lawsuit really doesn't either. It is nothing new to see someone decide the Bible is wrong. It is no surprise that someone would file this suit...maybe its more of a surprise that someone other than Bradley Fowler didn't do this a long time ago, and make it about what it really is...$.

I am slightly more concerned that this argument will be played in the courts (someone somewhere will listen to this lawsuit).

So, if a judge says, "Bradley, you are right. That company that wrote that mean stuff about you ought to be punished, and you ought to be rich and be able to do whatever you want...( after all this is the "land of the free"), what does that really mean?

I guess we could rewrite the Bible. ( People have been trying to do that for ages.)

I guess we could throw out chunks of the Old Testament, and chunks of I Corinthians along with the Sermon on the Mount.

I guess we would have to get used to lawsuits about adultery, stealing, anger, selfishness, coarse language, ignoring the needs of the poor and on the list goes.

We could truly become the society where no one tells us what to do, where no one says, "I think you are wrong". I think we could become a place where we are truly free to harm one another, debase our own bodies, and in general live lives that are anything but honorable and moral. ( I know, who is to say that Homosexuality is immoral?)

The best thing about the lawsuit, is that Fowler went after the wrong person. I was watching some videos recently where the phrase was used, "Don't shoot the messenger." I think this is true here. If Fowler was really ticked off about this, and if Fowler really beleives he has a case, he should take it up with the author.

GOD.... He should sue God. God has deeper pockets than Zondervan. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. God is the one who wrote the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16). God is the one who set this whole thing on earth up. God is the one who looked at Adam and said "It is not good for Man to be alone." He is the one who dreamed up the physical and emotional marvel called woman and said, "You two ought to be together." He is the one who set this order in place. So if Fowler really wants to get it "right", he should go after God.

Zondervan is small potatoes here... this is too easy. Bradley, Set up an appointment with God and sit down with him and state your case. He is easy to get ahold of.

There is another way to solve his problem. Change your lifestyle. Take the Bible at face value and look at the behavior which has caused you so much grief and change. Its a decision of the will, a decision that we all have to make everyday about everything. Homosexuals do not get a free pass here. Everyone , because of sin, has things they have to work on. We,(ME TOO), have things that are not right about our behaviors. When held up in the LIGHT of God's word, they stink. God says, "make a decision to change this." God says that he will help. God says he will forgive.

That is a pretty strong offer. God's way sounds good... but maybe it is just easier to sue the publishers of the Bible.

Remember...don't shoot the messenger. Take it up with the author.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


I love living in Oklahoma! We have four seasons. They can be extreme...ice storms in the winter.... long dry, hot spells in the summer. Fall is the best. Cool nights, warm days...occassional thunderstorms. Spring is okay, except that the wind blows and blows. It is not my favorite.

Today, It has rained all morning. I love these days in the middle of July. Cool, wet, no wind... just a needed reprieve from 80% humidity and 95 degree temps.

I am glad I am not a weatherman. The people hate you when you get it wrong. They hate you when the forecast does not fit their activity or schedule. And they hate you when you have to break into a golf tournament or NBA Finals game to tell you that there is a tornado out in some pasture in Osage county.

I am not saying I don't have those feeling about weathermen. I probably do. I am just glad that I am not one of them.

Rather than forecasting, I think I will enjoy the weather.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Life and Death, Newborns and Born Again

Yesterday was one of those days... 4th of July weekend..attendance down a bit...I labored through the sermon in both services. (Some days are like that). Maybe it was the combination of the 4th and a sermon on $. I was kind of tired and worn down.

There was bad news about a 21 year old member of the church being killed in a boating accident on the 4th. The news was sketchy, so I said nothing...just a prayer for his mom, who had lost her husband 6 years ago to cancer. Later in the day I went to see her. Her first words were so raw. Its tough to lose a husband. It is double tough to lose a son. Wow...Funeral is Wednesday. What do you say? I am not sure, but it is on my mind alot right now. God will give me something.

Mix that with the story of a woman who has recently accepted Christ. She , her husband and I had a lengthy conversation after church. She needed a church. She was invited to a different church, but her husband asked his small group of friends about a church. The interesting thing is that he was in Bagdad Iraq, and one of the guys is an elder of our church. David got on the phone, contacted his wife who talked to this lady... Well.. what a cool thing it was Sunday. He is on leave for two weeks... He said, "The most important thing in my life is seeing her make this decision." This Sunday she will be baptized.

Mix all that with the fact that Grace, Lizzie and Nathaniel were here. Great times having a baby in the house. She is so sweet... Liz and Nathaniel are so good with her.

It all gets me to thinking... Life and Death...New-borns and born-again...there is a cycle, a process...all of which leads to the same thing...a day when we decide to look beyond this life into the next. We have to decide. And we don't know when that last day will come.

It's called "paying attention" to the really important things. Life and Death, New-borns and born again.

more later

Friday, July 04, 2008

Birthday thoughts...

4th of July.... What does it mean to you?

Today at lunch I attended a "indoor" picnic at church. About 50 Senior Adults, and some that were not so "senior" gathered together to each picnic food and to hear from Chris Benge, who is the Speaker of the House in Oklahoma. He did a good job of talking about his responsibilities, and then giving some thoughts about "What is right with America." It was nice to hear someone talk positively about our country.

After being in Israel last spring, I have come to appreciate the freedom of our country even more. While driving through the central part of Israel, we crossed into Jordan. That was not a huge deal, because we were just driving through, but it is a little unnerving to drive through a check point and see millitary personell with machine guns standing there.

After this weeks terrorist attach on Jaffa Street in Jersualem, ( a Palestinian got ahold of a front end loader and ran into cars and busses, killing 3, before he was shot to death by Israeli millitary), I thought about how safe we really are in America. It is amazing how we can come and go with little fear.

The rescue of the hostages (including 2 Americans) in Columbia brought this home even more. Some of those people had been hostages for 10 years! They were held in deplorable and inhuman condiitons. The woman in the groups said that the treatment they recieved was not fit for an animal or even a plant!

Again, we have very little fear of that happening to us here.

These and other examples demonstrate what an amazing country we live in. Speaker of the House Benge said that the establishment of this "representative republic" is the greatest experiment in human history. I think politically this is true.

However, we have to acknowledge that this "experiment" is only 232 years old. That is not all that old as countries go. We would do well to learn more from the mistakes of nations gone by to see what it is that led to their downfall. When you think that humankind is no more than 6,000 yeers old , 232 years is not that long.

This morning, as I sat in my nice home, in the middle of the USA , I looked into the eyes of baby Grace. I wondered what kind of world she would live in 18 years. What would be the headlines? What will the price of a gallon of gasoline cost? Who will be the President of the United States be? What will be the influence of Hollywood, media, and technology?

I can't answer those questions with any certainty. But I look at her and I know one thing. There is a God... He loves that little girl more than any of us could. He sent Jesus to save her from her sins...and she lives in the greatest land in the world. How can anyone look at a little baby like this and not see God?

All of that is a pretty good start on a pretty good life. And with how things are changing around us... God is the one she can hang on to, no matter how rough the ride gets.

Good thoughts for all of us.

Happy Birthday America!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Some things about this-n-that...

This summer our church has been reading a chapter a day of the book of Proverbs. For the last 5 weeks we have looked at different topics, such as words, anger, and wisdom. The response from the church has been extremely positive. I know these messages hit me where I am at right now... and it seems like the same can be said of many who attend the church. Today, we began our second round through the book. I think this is a great exercise...a chapter a day is a good start toward a life long habit. So, this month the topics from Proverbs are ......(drum roll please)..... Money, Generosity, Laziness and Lust. Quite a line up huh? We are taking this journey through Proverbs till the end of August.

This weekend is a holiday weekend.. 4th of July. AAA says people are staying home more, not going on the long trips because of Gas prices. So I was wondering... does that improve church attendance in the summer? Hard to say I suppose. Our attendance is up, but that may be more due to our "spurt" this spring. We are maintaining our constant flow of visitors each week, which is encouraging.

I just finished another article for a Christian magazine. I enjoy writing. Its the editing that wears me out. I have lots of help. Jeanna Harris, Helen and Jerry Whited and Pam have taken a look at it. It's a challenge to write, re-write, submit to friends, then re-write again....but when you feel good about it and put it in the envelope, there is good sense of accomplishment. I think writing a whole book would be amazing.I have an idea for a book, and a couple chapters along with an introduction written. But there is no telling how long that will take.

Adding to my list of new experiences... I had an interesting experience in the hospital a few weeks ago...It was a funny deal, and after getting permission from the person involved, I submitted it to "All in a Day's Work" in Reader's Digest. I did it on-line, and then got this note back. It said, "Thanks for your submission. We will let you know if we decide to use it." Not exactly personal, but it fullfilled my need to know if they really got it or if it was floating around there in cyber-space somewhere. Want to know what it was.... Well, you will have to wait to see if they use it. I don't want to spoil the surprise.

Speaking of long holiday weekend, Grace makes her road trip debut this weekend with a jaunt to Owasso. I can't wait to see her (and Nathaniel and Lizzie). I haven't seen her since she was born! So she is nearly 3 weeks old now... Should be a fun weekend for all of us.

Hope to pick up a couple pictures of Grace, which I will post next week.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Be careful what you ask for...

I have been spending the last few weeks reading through some OT books. I am loving the process of reading through Proverbs every day.

I also am spending some time in I Samuel. I Samuel is really the story of Saul, the first king of Israel. As you read through the first few chapters of the book, you see a people who were bent on worshiping God when it was convienent. But as soon as things were good, they were on their own and God was in the corner. They spent decades under the thumb of the Phillistines and when they finally repented (chapter 7), God rescued them. He defeated the Phillistines and the Ark of the Covenant was returned to Israel.

Then Israel reverts to thier old ways. Instead of trusting God and believing that God would protect and bless them they decided they wanted to be like all the other nations and have their own king.(I Sam 8:6).

Why did they want this? Well, on the surface it looks like it was because Samuel's successors (his sons), were perveted and dishonest (vs. 3). But in reality it was deeper than that. They wanted to be like everyone else. I Sam 8:20 says, "Then we will be like all the other nations.. with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles."

God warned them... He told them that the King would draft their boys and girls, he would tax them to the gills, and eventually the people would cry out to God for relief (vs. 18). But they still wanted a king. They wanted something different than what they had. They wanted what everyone else had.

Sometimes what you have is exactly what you need. Not all the time, but sometimes. I don't think that "more of the same" is neccesarily best. But I am not sure that all this trumpeting about "change" is healthy either. We are in the middle of the longest and most costly poltical season in our nations history. Candidates for President are over working the "change" theme. Everything is about change. They come in with new programs, new ideas, new ways of getting to the same place. Candidates and their wives are on news shows, variety shows, late night TV shows,and even afternoon talk shows. All of them are trumpeting change.

I think also country would do very well to "be careful what we ask for." We just might get it.... change. But change to what? "Change agents" throw around how they want to change things, but do not say exactly what it is, or how much it will cost, or how we will pay for it. I fear that in 4 or 8 years we will be looking for a new candidate of "change". The difference will be that he/she will have to clean up the mess from the this last round of change.

It is a critical time in our country. I wish we could have educated debate on where we need to go. And if I could ask for one thing, it would be that we would have candidates and campaigns that would sincerely look to God for wisdom. Maybe the place to star would be with Proverbs...( full circle there).

Read through 1st Samuel... You will notice that the predictions and warnings of God came true. Its the same today for all of us... God knows...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thinking Fathers...

When I think about this Father's Day....

I will think about my son-in-law Nathaniel. Two days before Father's Day 08, he became a father to little Grace.

I will think about a conversation I had with Joel last night. It was cool to hear the excitement in his voice as he talked about some positive developments at work. He's a man now...making his way in the world..I am proud of him.

I will think about the memorial service for Tim Russert. I watched part of it today and marveled at how his 22 year old son Luke, could play such a large part in eulogizing his father. You don't get that in the four days after your dad dies suddenly. You get that by being mentored by a great father.

I will think about a moment on Monday after Tiger won the US Open in a playoff, when he took his little girl in his arms and kissed her. When mom took her back, little Sam protested, and in an instant she was back in Dad's arms.

I will think about my three girls and how they have turned out to be wonderful, responsible and caring young ladies.

I will think how there's now way I get to be the father of all four, without their mother...who is the best thing to happen to me everyday.

I will think about my father who worked so hard for so many years, and who has managed to make retirement look good for anyone who works too much.

I will think about a father from the Bible named Jarius, who would stop at nothing to help his dying daughter. ( Mark 5)

I will think about the blessing my heavenly Father is to me. After all, the most difficult thing a Father could ever do is to "give up" His Son for me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Our summer series this year is "Wise Words for not so wise people." I think we all need a heavy dose of wisdom... and Proverbs certainly is a great book to learn from.
So far,I have recieved alot of very positive comments. This book and the messages seem to resonate with people...

Planning preaching takes alot of time, prayer, thought and conversation. The fact is that I am not one of those guys that can wake up every Monday and say, "I wonder what I should preach about this week?" If I did that, I would not last 3 weeks. Some guys can do that... Other guys take chunks of time off in the summer, go away for 3-4 weeks and work up a full years sermon titles and texts. For me, things slow down enough around here that I can give more time in my daily schedule to this. I have found it is better for me to bite it off in chunks , rather than trying to plan for a full year all at once.

So I plan 6-8 months in advance. That way I have a good idea of where I need to go. I am reading for messages that are in Nov. and Dec. right now. And I read for stories and illustrations in newspapers and the net with an eye toward what I am preaching about in the coming weeks and months.

Right now I am planned through about Feb. of 09. That doesn't mean that I can't change. And certainly it is all really up to God and His leading. There are times I plan, and it does get changed. I am good with that...

Sooooo... I was thinking... If you go to FCC what things or topics would you like to hear about? Do you have a particular subject, or passage that you would like to hear more about and learn from? Is there a concern or a need that you would to hear more about what the Word of God says?

I have some ideas for next spring and summer, but I welcome the input.

By the way, if you don't attend FCC, send some ideas of what you would like your preacher to address. It may not fit for us, but you never know, it might spark something in my spirit... which I can pray about and see how God leads.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Life and Death....It's real

Tim Russert's death hit alot of people hard. It seems (at least from a distance), that he was a really great guy. I didn't watch "Meet the Press" much, because I am usually pretty busy on Sunday Mornings. But his political anaylsis, especially during the election years was always brilliant... and easy to understand. He was truly an "everyman" kind of guy.

I have been interested in hearing alot of the comments about Him. I am listening to his doctor right now. The statement, "We all struggle with the limits of what we can do." He is right.Great doctors are still limited. The fact is that God is the one who is the giver of life. Great doctors, medicine and lifestyle adjustments are all good. But the reality is that we all will die.

Soooooo.... we need to look beyond this life. We need to be ready for eternity. There is only one way to do that, and that is through a relationship with Jesus Christ. No one else offers what Christ offers. He offers life eternal. He offers a way to have our sins washed away through his blood.

I did DVR "Meet the Press" from yesterday. Tom Brokaw and Russert's collegues all talked extensively about one characteristic that he had. He was prepared. He was offended when politcal figures came into Meet the Press unprepared. ( David Dukes for instance.) Over and over they talked about how prepared Russert was for any one that came in and sat across from him.

My hope is that he was just as prepared to stand before God. Last Friday was his day. That is how it works some times. It is a surprise. Statistical information says that 400,000 Americans die of sudden cardiac arrests. We have to be ready.

On another note, Baby Grace is now 4 days old! Lizzie and Grace came home Sunday... everything is good. Pam is staying there with them. That has got to be great fun for her too... I think this must be one of the sweet payoff's for having girls ( for a mom). Thanks for your prayers for them both.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


Grace Capri Smith was born at 5:54 PM on Jul 13, 2008. Her vital statistics are 8lbs, 9 oz. 20.5 in long. Everything is great for her, Mom and dad are great too. So are the grandparents...

Psalm 139:13-18

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
am still with you.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Ramdom thoughts about modern Jewish History ( Holocaust)

One of the strongest impressions that Jews try to make when a person comes to thier country is the history of persecution and hatred that they have had to endure over the generations. It was said that the walls of Jerusalem were built and rebuilt over some 17 times over the years. Invading armies would come in and destroy the walls, then rebuild the walls to their liking , and the cycle would start over again. Whether it was the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Turks, the Greeks, or the Romans, it seems like there was great pride and millitary strategy in destroying the walls around the city.

For the better part of one day on our tour we spent time at what is called YAD VASHIM, which is the National Musuem of Holocaust History in Jersualem. I am ashamed to say that I have not given this alot of thought...in part because I was born in 1958, decades after this terrible time for Jews. (That is an understatement.)

But going through the museum was a very emotional thing to do. To look at the depth of pain that the Jews throughout the world experienced as a result of Hitler and his atrocities was almost too much at times.

The new musuem was recently completed. Beyond the other memorials at the site, this museum included history of how the world stood by for years while Hitler strategized to destroy the Jews. We were given 2 hours to walk through it. We could have used 12-14 hours easily to read all the exhibits,view the films and to reflect on how our world got to the place where it could allow some 6 million people to be interned in death camps and then murdered. Men, women and children murdered. To look into their faces as they were herded into cattle cars was almost too much. Too know that they were told that they were being taken to work camps, when in fact they were being taken to camps with gas chambers, firing squads or to places where they would be left to freeze to death, was almost too much.

To learn more about how the world had ample warning that Hitler was up to something and did nothing was frightening. Are we that wrapped up in ourselves that we would just not pay attention

This has given me pause when I think about some of the things going on in the world. AIDS, starvation, ethnic cleansing, civil strife in countries around the world, all of those things are a result of the sinfulness of man and the product of a world that God did not intend to be.

I don't pretend to understand the World political situation. But it was Winston Churchill said, " Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

I can only imagine how hard it is to think about that time in Jewish history. Every school child is taken to the memorial. Millitary recruits are taken there. By the way millitary service is compulsory in Israel. (Two year committment in either the millitary or in some sort of national community service.)

German essayist Kurt Tucholsky said, "A country is not what it does, but what it tolerates." Can you see the application to our culture and world today?

Since "toleration" is the virture of the new millenium, we have alot to consider. To me, major concern should be given to world leaders who refuse to acknowledge the right of the Jewish state to exist. God told Abraham in Gensis 12 that he would "bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you." From that day on, there was a promise to the descendants of Abraham which God has said he would keep.

History has proved this to be true. Go through the list of conquerors of Israel. Short-lived victories were replaced by the renewal and rebirth of the nation of Israel. The Eygptians,the Canaanites, the Philistines, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Turks, all of them are gone. Israel is still here.

Iran says they will attempt to do the same...they will lose too. They would do well to learn from history.

Bottom line, the history of the Holocaust was not something I had thought about as I contemplated this trip. But I am very thankful that we went there. And I look forward
to doing more reading about this.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Temple Mount

Observations about Jews and Christians... per lizzie's request... I think it is hard for Jewish people to distinguish the difference between Christians and Americans. This is not alot unlike our own culture where so many people think, "Well I must be Christian, because I was born in American." Of course we know that is not true.

But in Israel, the same is true. While people may claim to be Jewish by "race," they seem to have some sort of thought that because they are living in Israel then they are part of God's chosen people

Our study in Romans pointed out that a Jew is a Jew because he one inwardly in God's sight. Same thing with Christians. Its a heart thing, not a location deal.

For the Jewish people we encountered along the way, they view Christians as well meaning people who love God. And they expect that we would afford them the same thought. I heard many times, "We are all part of the same family." Or "We believe in the same God." But try to take the conversation to Jesus and there is a decided difference in tone and receptivity.

Part of my view of Jewish people is a bit colored because they are so dependent on the USA for their protection. The fact is that if we do not stand up for them, no one will. It is an awesome responsibility. So when we bought things from them, they were grateful. They thanked us over and over for coming to their country, and reminded us how much they depend on America.

Back to the tour... One hot afternoon, we gathered together on the Southern Steps of the Temple Mount. 300 of us make quite a spectacle. We found some shade and had our teaching time from Kay Arthur. But what struck me was that we sat there, being taught from the Word of God, being taught about Jesus Christ, right under the dome of the El-Asqua Mosque. We are told that what we were doing was under the watchful eye of the Muslims. But we sang some great worship songs, and studied anyway. I really liked that.

Later in the week, we went up on the Temple Mount. The Dome of the Rock ( the golden one in all the pictures) is amazing. But what really caught my attention was the fact that Muslims watched your every move. They demanded that you not express any physical affection with a person of the opposite sex, and that you do not engage in laughter or any other "frivolity". Just to get on the Temple Mount is a hassle. You have to go through security, including metal detectors, they check your bags, etc. The security is all under Jewish control, because part of the agreement with the Jordanians (after the 6 day war in 1967) was that the Temple Mount would remain Muslim, but the Israelis would maintain control and security. Another example of "peacful co-existence." Lots of guns and security there.

Then you have to go up this long "boardwalk" kind of thing which is very rickety. Kind of creepy really...not safe and the City inspectors are all over the Muslims to get it together and get a safe ramp up the Temple Mount. Once you cross into the Temple Mount area, you are under the scrutiny of the Muslims... They are looking you over top to bottom. Do not hold hands, do not touch a woman, wear "holy clothes" ( men wear slacks and women must have their shoulders covered...no cleavage or anything like that.)

Interstingly enough , our guide, Kenny, was a bit nervous on the Mount. He is a Jewish man, and said that on more than one occassion he had been escorted off the Temple Mount by Muslim authorities. So we kept moving, he told stories without his usuall dramatic flair... Our Bus guide, Bob, was even more uncomfortable and kept things moving too... You just got the feeling that you were being watched.

One last thing about this. When we got up on the Temple Mount , we were besieged by young boys "selling" postcards which contained interior pictures of the Mosque athe Dome of the Rock. They were pretty agressive. Eventually, after most of us had bought a pack of postcards for $1, they were shooed away.

Captitalism still reigns, even on a Muslim Holy Site.