Saturday, June 28, 2008

Intimidation and Encouragement

"Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10, NIV).

Followers of Christ face some intimidating factors within our society. We are tempted to become timid and shrink back from our allegiance to our Savior. We see opinion polls which suggest that most of our neighbors who claim Christ as Lord do not believe him when he says that no one comes to his Father except through him. We are tempted to deny Jesus along with them so as to be non-offensive. We read books telling us that people see us as unChristian when we say that homosexuality and unnecessary abortions are sins against God. In an attempt to be popular, we are tempted to become silent about such issues, or worse yet, deny the biblical truth about them. Rather than kindly offering helpful teaching and opportunities for forgiveness and positive change, we are tempted to succumb to the social intimidation of our age.

When I am tempted to remain silent or to deny Christ, I think of some of my Christian heroes. I think of a couple of Christians who have spent their lives as missionaries in a hostile environment. They work in a country in which Christianity is illegal. They face the possibility of death as they work to get the good news of Jesus Christ to the people around them. Occasionally, members of their small network of house churches disappear in the middle of the night, never to be heard from again. They do not seem to worry about building emergent, seeker-friendly, or trendy churches. They are concerned about building up strong and faithful disciples of our Savior. Their faithfulness encourages me to follow Jesus despite my relatively small obstacles. They give me the courage to seek faithfulness instead of popularity.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Key to Courage

"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love" (1 Corinthians 16:13-14, NIV).

In May, a massive earthquake struck China, causing the deaths of nearly 70,000 people. While many heroic actions took place among the brave Chinese people to rescue the victims, one man's cowardice has gained international attention.

Mr. Fan was teaching in a secondary school when the earthquake started. He advised his students, "Stay calm. It's an earthquake." Then, he ran out of the building as quickly as possible with no regard for the welfare of his students. He did not look back. Explaining his actions, Mr. Fan said, "I have a very strong sense of self-preservation...I have never been a brave man and I'm only really concerned about myself."

Mr. Fan's explanation penetrated to the heart of cowardice and courage. His self-centeredness led to cowardice. He would not take a risk on behalf of others because he did not care about them. His love did not extend beyond himself.

On the other hand, a man of courage is motivated by love for others. He will take risks to protect them or to save them. He will push past his fears for the benefit of the people who need him and depend on him. He cares about the welfare of others.

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13, NIV).

(More insight about this story may be found at

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Would You Like to Help the Teen Girls of the Contact Church?

We received the following e-mail from Sarah Logsdon this morning:

Dear Friends and Supporters of Contact Church of Christ,
For the past three months our teen girls have been working to raise money for a trip to Houston. The purpose of the trip is to provide an opportunity for the girls to have new experiences, learn something of the world outside of Tulsa, and open their eyes to new possibilities. The girls, along with their chaperones (Darlene Lawrence, Cathy Gotcher, and Devin Dupree) hope to visit NASA's Houston Space Center and the Holocaust Museum, as well as journey to Galveston to see the ocean, something none of our girls have ever seen before.
We have had our car washes, bake sales, and a big thrift sale to raise money. The girls have worked hard to earn their way to Houston, and God has definitely blessed their efforts.
However, we are still several hundred dollars short of what we need to make this trip. This is where you can step in and help! We are having a "No Bake, Bake Sale." Instead of donating baked goods for us to sell, we are asking you to take the amount of money you would spend on sugar, eggs, butter, etc...and donate that to us. We are grateful for any amount you feel you can give.
Please mail all donations to:
Contact Church of Christ
ATTN: Teen Girls Ministry
1529 W. 49th Street
Tulsa, OK 74107
The girls leave on July 10th, so we need to wrap up our fundraising as soon as possible. Please mail all donations by this Friday, June 27th; however, we will continue accepting donations throughout the rest of the summer. Thank you for caring about these girls and helping to make this trip happen for them. We also ask that you offer up prayers for this trip and these special girls. We especially ask for prayers that this trip will provide them with a new vision of how God can work in their lives.
In Christ,
Sarah Logsdon
P.S. Attached is a picture of the girls who are going to Houston: Jeneva, Porsche, Brittany, Jimisha, and Breanna.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

I'm Going to Miss the Contact Church Again, But for a Good Reason!

"Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life" (Romans 6:3-4, NIV).

For members of the Contact Church who may be missing us, we will not be with you again tomorrow. We had planned to return to our normal schedule after vacation, but we need to miss one more Sunday with you. (And we are definitely missing you!)

I received a call from my sister Tina a few minutes ago. Her son Aaron just let her know that he wants to be baptized tomorrow morning at the Southside Church of Christ in Rogers, Arkansas. He has asked that I baptize him, since I baptized his mother (my sister) 20 years ago. How could I say "no" to such a request? So, we will be traveling to Arkansas tomorrow for the celebration of my nephew's new life in Christ!

Hopefully, we will be back with the Contact Church of Christ soon, but I can't think of a better reason to miss you guys!

Childish Criticism

"To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:

'We played the flute for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.'

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon'. The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners."' But wisdom is proved right by her actions" (Matthew 11:16-19, NIV).

Jesus knew that some people could not be pleased. They criticized John the Baptist for his reclusivity and Jesus for his friendliness. How petty could they get? Even Jesus became frustrated with their silly criticisms.

Nobody can please everybody.

I could be criticized for a number of legitimate reasons; but if I am criticized for many illegitimate reasons, I may build up an immunity to legitimate criticism. I could stop listening.

Christians should be careful to eliminate childish and petty criticism from our conversations, so that when it is needed, it will not be ignored.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Vacation Memories 2008 Part 2

Above: We are visiting the Oklahoma City Zoo.
Above: Christopher and Janet

Above: All of us


"And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness" (Romans 6:18, NKJV).

In honor of Juneteenth, Marvin Williams has written a good devotional for Our Daily Bread at

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Vacation Memories 2008

We spent the past week on vacation in Oklahoma City and Dallas.

On Sunday morning, we headed to Oklahoma City for the annual Oklahoma Rural Letter Carriers Association convention. I served as a delegate from the state's northeastern district. While I learned a little during the informational sessions, I found myself in the minority during every vote on substantial issues that would make a positive impact on my job or reform my union. I'm accustomed to being in the minority, though.

Before arriving at the convention, we met Bobby Ross ( and his family for worship with the Edmond Church of Christ. Unfortunately, Tamie was feeling sick. However, we were able to enjoy a nice lunch with Bobby, Brady, and Keaton.

On Monday, I skipped the convention and took the family to the Science Museum. Christopher loved all of the hands-on activities and the Storm Chasers movie in the Omnidome.

On Tuesday, the convention wrapped up. Jason and Tara Hicks ( invited us to dinner at their house. Tara is the former children's minister for the Contact Church of Christ. Time flew as we ate a great meal and talked for hours. Christopher enjoyed playing with their son Liam.

On Wednesday, we visited the Frontier City amusement park. (Thanks, Bobby, for letting us know about the coupons!) In some ways, we were reminded of Silver Dollar City. Then we went to see the latest Indiana Jones movie. (Is it just me, or is the latest movie much more ridiculous than those made in the 1980s?)

On Thursday, we spent the day at the Oklahoma City Zoo. We enjoyed watching the sea lions perform tricks in their new show, feeding the ducks and geese at the lake, and seeing the new lion cubs.

On Friday, we traveled south to Dallas so that we could spend the weekend with Janet's brother Ken. Since he was home on vacation from his job in Iraq for the first time in about 16 months, we joined most of the family in visiting him and his wife in Dallas.

Before returning home on Sunday, we visited Stonebriar Community Church to hear Chuck Swindoll speak.

In the next day or so, I will try to post a few photographs of our vacation. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Barton W. Stone: Family Man

With Father's Day approaching, I would like to share John Rogers' description of Barton W. Stone as a devoted family man. Two hundred years ago, Mr. Stone was a leader among the early American Christian Churches and Churches of Christ. Mr. Rogers' description of his family life helps explain why so many disciples of Christ respected his leadership during his lifetime.

I have retained the original spelling in this excerpt:

"B.W. Stone possessed all the elements of a truly great and good man. In the domestic and private walks of life, where men act under least restraint--where they develope their true principles, there he shone with peculiar lustre, as the imbodiment of every private and domestic virtue. As a husband, he was kind, devoted, tender, obliging, faithful; as a father, he was fond and attentive; he lived to promote the happiness of his family. Never man loved the domestic circle more than he. He carefully brought up his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; night and morning asking the divine blessing upon his family, and committing and commending himself and them to the care and protection of the Heavenly Father. His was truly a house of prayer--his a Joshua's resolution: 'As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.' The writer of this sketch was much about the house of the venerated Stone, for many, many years; and it affords him peculiar pleasure to say, he never heard him speak a harsh or unkind word to any member of his family; nor does he remember to have seen him angry, during an acquaintance of a quarter of a century. In patience he possessed his soul" (The Biography of Barton Warren Stone by B.W. Stone and John Rogers, p. 248).

The Importance of Fathers

"A house without a father is a challenge. A neighborhood without fathers is a catastrophe."~Bill Cosby

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Recommended Blog Posts

I appreciate the thoughts of Mike at the Upper Room Blog. I don't know much about him, but I like the way he thinks and writes. In fact, I often say to myself, I wish I had written that post, after reading his blog. He has some good thoughts about "Rethinking Church" at

John Piper has listed "20 Reasons I Don't Take Potshots at Fundamentalists" at I agree with almost all of his list (except my father is not a fundamentalist), but I especially echo the sentiments of Reason #20. People to my left also believe I'm a fundamentalist, and there are a lot of people to my left.

Offensive Kindness

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Colossians 3:12, NIV).

I'm working on moving beyond passive and defensive kindness, the type of kindness expressed when I'm interrupted by someone in need. Such kindness is good, but I often feel awkward because I am caught off guard. I prefer to be prepared to help people.

I want to take the offensive in being kind. I want to be prepared, to take initiative, and to be intentional in expressing kindness. I want to wake up every morning thinking, How can I show kindness to someone today? Who needs an encouraging word? Could someone use a phone call? Could I send an e-mail, a message, or a comment to help someone or to brighten someone's day? Does someone need money, food, or a ride to work? Could I help a co-worker struggling with an injury, an illness, or a loss in the family? How can I let my wife know that I love her? What would my son like for me to do with him or for him? Could I come to the defense of someone being falsely maligned or abused?

How would my world change if I consistently prepared myself to take the offensive in showing kindness?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Global Food Crisis Part 2

This is from the most recent newsletter of the Christian Relief Fund (

"Spiralling food costs--called a 'silent tsunami' by the World Food Program--have sparked protests and food riots in 34 countries. The head of the UN World Food Program, Josette Sheeran, described the current food price crisis as a 'global hunger emergency.' The increase in food prices is costing the lives of 250,000 people every 10 days. Up to 100 million people are being pushed back into poverty. Rice prices have gone up as much as 250 percent in the past year.

"The world's poorest are the most vulnerable...

"Rising fuel prices have made transportation of foodstuffs increasingly expensive...

"Another factor creating the food crisis is that several African nations who used to produce enough food to feed their own populations are no longer able to do so. Zimbabwe used to export food to other southern African nations. Now because of civil unrest and internal wars, Zimbabwe's people are starving. Other African nations suffering food shortages are: South Africa, Malawi (annual, chronic shortages), Kenya (recent political instability saw food stores of certain tribes burned while others missed the planting season), and southern Sudan.

"The deputy of the UNCHR recently cited the huge number of refugees around the world. Wars and unrest have caused many to leave their homes and not plant during this spring season. The most vulnerable in this spiraling cost of basic foods are: refugees, internally displaced people groups, urban poor not living on farms, and orphans."

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Sin, the Heart, and the Holy Spirit

Sometimes I sin in ways I don't understand. I say something or do something selfish without any regard to how it may affect God or others.

I confess those specific sins and ask for forgiveness, but I know something more is needed. I know that underneath the overt sin lies another sin. Whatever that sin is, it has led me to commit the sin I am confessing. The problem is: I can't quite figure out what it is. As much as I want to, I can't dig deep enough to get it out in the open. I can't find the words to articulate it.

I want to repent; I want to confess; but how can I, when I can't put my finger on my sin?

I could pray, "Forgive me of all the sins I don't know about", but it feels so inadequate.

I could pray, "Listen to my heart", but I think that's the problem. My heart isn't right, and I don't know what is wrong with it.

During such times of frustrating prayer, I take some comfort in Romans 8:26-27...

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will" (NIV).

God knows I want to be right in my heart. He knows I want to repent and confess the sins I can't even articulate. When I am in a place where I cannot do it, his Spirit helps by going to the Father on my behalf to express the words I cannot find within my limited vocabulary. At that point, I can only thank God for the Holy Spirit and his help.