Thursday, October 29, 2009

An Adoption Story

On the radio program FamilyLife Today, Georgia Bulldogs coach Mark Richt and his wife Katharyn tell the story of the adoption of their two children from Ukraine. You can hear the interview (or read the transcript) by clicking on the link below. (I recommend listening to it.)

FamilyLife Today -

Tomorrow, you should be able to access the second part of the interview by following a link from part one of the interview.

Posted using ShareThis

Friday, October 23, 2009

Beauty for Ashes

Last night, we attended the Contact Church's appreciation dinner for the urban ministry's supporters and volunteers.

After dinner, one of our members gave her testimony.

D.J. came to the Contact Church as a broken woman.

A short time before knocking on the church's door to ask for help, D.J. knew that she needed to make major changes in her life. As an addict to crack cocaine, her life was falling apart. She realized how low she had sunk when she was on her hands and knees desperately searching her house for a crumb of crack to smoke. Her 3-year old daughter joined her in the search, but she poured out her heart to her mother as she crawled alongside her. "Mommy, I'm tired of you and Daddy drinking, smoking, cussing, and fighting. And I'm tired of looking for little white rocks on the floor, too...Is this one, Mommy?"

Soon, D.J. and her then-husband were homeless. They could not keep up financially with a $700 a day drug addiction. As they were walking the streets, wondering what they were going to do, they spotted the Contact Church building and decided to ask for help.

Of course, they found help in the church. D.J.'s husband stayed at our recovery house for a while. However, he kept failing the urine analysis tests and had to leave the program.

D.J. was able to move in with our recovery minister's family until the church helped her to find and furnish an efficiency apartment.

She learned about Christ, confessed faith in him, and was baptized in his name. At one point in the past, she had been baptized; but according to D.J., "This time, it was different. I had changed."

She was making progress in her new life of following Jesus Christ when a major setback occurred. She found out that her daughter had been sexually abused by her then-husband in much the same way that D.J. herself had been abused as a child.

D.J. could not handle it. She left her husband and abandoned her children. The state took the children.

With the help of members of the Contact Church, D.J. slowly got back on track. She returned to the church and started the recovery process again. Eventually, she was able to get her children back.

Last night, D.J. testified to the grace of God in her life. She reported that she had been sober for more than a year, and had abstained from sexual immorality for 5 months. Because of some of the Contact Church's men, her attitude toward men in general had changed. She had seen that some men would not use and abuse her; some would treat her with respect and understanding; some could be trusted.

D.J.'s life has changed in dramatic ways because Christ has made a difference. Just imagine what her life may look like in 5 or 10 more years.

"The Spirit of the sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted...
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve...
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor" (Isaiah 61:1-3).

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Halloween Hell

This is my planned communion meditation for this coming Sunday at the Contact Church.

When I was a teenager, I would go to the latest scary movies with my friends during this time of year. You could always count on being scared by movies like Friday the 13th or The Nightmare on Elm Street during the Halloween season.

In recent years, Guts Church in east Tulsa has sponsored a Hell House in the weeks leading up to Halloween. When people visit their haunted house, they see a depiction of the horrible consequences of living and dying without Christ in their lives. They get a glimpse of hell.

When you think about it, nothing is more frightening than the prospect of facing an all-powerful, all-knowing, and completely holy God with unforgiven sin in our lives. The Bible warns us, "It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:31). Jesus warns us, "I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after killing the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him" (Luke 12:5). God warns us that sinners face "the fiery lake of burning sulfur" (Revelation 21:8).

As we remember Christ's sacrifice on our behalf when we take the Lord's Supper today, we remember that we were heading toward hell at one time in our lives. As Paul wrote to Titus, "At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:3-7).

Since Jesus died and rose again for us, those of us who have believed the message of the cross and have been changed by it do not need to dread hell. We can now look forward to the day Christ returns to usher in "a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13), a time and a place in which we can live forever in a state of peace with God and each other.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Little Things Count

I'll admit that my timing is awkward. Oklahomans are not supposed to write positive words about the quarterback of the Texas Longhorns on the eve of the University of Oklahoma- University of Texas football game.
However, I can't help myself. I appreciate Christian athletes who live their faith in Christ with class and dignity.

When I read about Texas quarterback Colt McCoy's friendship with Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford in today's edition of USA Today ("A brotherly bond links archrival QBs," October 16, 2009, section C, page 7), I knew I had to make a few comments.
Following the injury to Bradford's shoulder last month, the article reported,
"McCoy texted Bradford the night of his injury, saying he was praying for him. 'I know that it's tough. Anytime you're in a situation like that, you're disappointed, you're upset, because you want to be out there with your team and competing with your team,' McCoy says.
"Bradford says, 'For him to do something like that and keep encouraging me, it says a lot about who he is.'"
Sam Bradford has seen something uncommon and good in his Red River rival. He has seen a glimpse of genuine Christian faith in action.
In an interview published in the October edition of the Christian Chronicle ("A conversation with Colt McCoy", page 22), McCoy explained that he was raised in a Christian home and came to share his parents' faith in Jesus Christ.
"Most of all, my family (is the key spiritual influence in my life). Both sets of my grandparents were believers, and it was shown in all ways in their everyday lives.
"My mom and dad were my first examples of what a Christian life should look like.
"We didn't have much choice, though, when we were young. We were at church every time the doors were open--and sometimes when they weren't. It was not an option to miss church for anything...Those priorities made a big impression on me and my brothers. It wasn't always easy on my parents, but being in worship...and encouraging others was always a priority.
"...I was taught at an early age the way I was supposed to act and treat others, and there was never really any acceptance of anything less.
"My parents set high standards for me and my brothers...So I learned that people were watching and that doing things right was important--and that being helpful to others was important, too.
"So I guess you might say that I was raised with those expectations, and nothing has changed."
I like the character displayed by Colt McCoy. His kindness to a rival has made a positive impact for Christ. And all those unseen years of training by dedicated Christian parents has paid off.
The little things in life count and make big impressions.
"...always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else" (1 Thessalonians 5:15).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Couple of Recommended Links

I liked Mark Driscoll's straightforward case for Christ at

Also, I found out about a conference on child sex trafficking to be held in Tulsa next week. Area ministers and ministry leaders may be interested in attending and finding out how to help victims of modern slavery in our area. More information may be found at

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Silence of the Orphans

This is my planned communion meditation for this coming Sunday at the Contact Church.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard a radio interview of a man who traveled with his wife to Russia in order to adopt a couple of young boys in an orphanage.

When the couple arrived, they were shocked at what they saw: a rundown and windowless building needing numerous repairs and fresh paint, packed with young children and a sparse staff. They were most surprised by the sounds of the orphanage...actually, by the lack of sounds in the institution. Despite the large number of children, there were no cries.

You see, the orphanage was so understaffed that the employees did not have time to pay attention to crying infants. Eventually, the babies had learned that no one would pay attention to their needs. So they stopped crying. They suffered in silence, growing accustomed to feeling ignored and unloved.

After spending a few days at the orphanage with the two boys they were working to adopt, the couple noticed something both surprising and refreshing as they prepared to leave. The boys started reaching out for them and crying. "At that point," the father said, "we knew that we had connected with the boys. They had felt our love. They had become our boys."

The Bible describes Christians as adopted children of God who have learned to cry out to our Father in heaven. We have learned that our Father hears our cries and meets our needs, just like those Russian orphans had learned that their new parents cared about them. As the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:15, "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!'" (English Standard Version).

How do we know that God loves us, his adopted children? Because a few sentences later, Paul wrote, "He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" (Romans 8:32, English Standard Version).

He saw our greatest need, our need for salvation, and he met it. As we take the Lord's Supper today, we remember how Christ heard our silent cries and met our greatest need.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Importance of Fathers

Being a father is important. The following information is from It's Better to Build Boys Than Mend Men by S. Truett Cathy (pages 14-15):

"The Results of Fatherlessness

The United States is the world's leader in fatherless homes. The results of our actions, according to the Father's Manifesto:

63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes.
90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes.
71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes.
85% of youth in prison grew up in fatherless homes.
75% of all adolescent patients in drug treatment centers come from fatherless homes.

Children from Fatherless Homes Are:

5 times more likely to commit suicide.
32 times more likely to run away.
20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders.
14 times more likely to commit rape.
9 times more likely to drop out of school.
10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances.
9 times more likely to end up in a state-operated institution.
20 times more likely to end up in prison."

As the apostle Paul wrote, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).

Friday, October 09, 2009

Cookson Hills Christian Ministries

Each year during this time, Federal employees (including both civilian and military personnel) are given an opportunity to participate in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), a program in which participants may send a portion of their paychecks to up to 5 approved charities. Thousands of charities are listed in the brochure that is given to each employee.

In the past few years, I have become aware of the need for Christian ministries that seek to help children who have gotten into trouble. I have had 3 co-workers who have had to place their sons in residential programs because of the problems faced by each family. Each of my co-workers was a single mother whose son had fallen into destructive behavior patterns. The boys were out of control and in great danger of ruining their lives. The mothers were determined to help their children, but they could not do it alone. One sent her son to a military school. The other two sent their sons to Christian-based children's homes. Those programs made a tremendous difference in the lives of each family.

While I hope we never need such a program, I have seen how they help families in crisis situations. I've been impressed.

While browsing through the CFC brochure last week, I found a local ministry that helps such families: Cookson Hills Christian Ministries ( My wife Janet knew about the ministry (which includes a children's home and a Christian school), because the church in which she grew up has been involved with it for decades.

We have decided to allocate a portion of my paycheck to Cookson Hills Christian Ministries. If you are a Federal Employee in the Tulsa area, you may want to check out Cookson Hills, too. If you choose to donate, the CFC number is 39211. If you are not a Federal employee, you may donate by checking out their Web site.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A Church of Heroes

This is my planned communion meditation for this coming Sunday.

I'm not sure that I've ever mentioned it to you, but I consider the Contact Church to be a church full of heroes. Over the years, I've noticed you make heroic choices.

I have noticed when have moved from homeless to homeowner. have opened your homes to others who were homeless. have provided rides for those who did not have vehicles. have given up drugs and alcohol. have not given up after a failure or a sin. have moved from living in isolation to living in friendship. have moved from living in the county jail to bringing spiritual freedom to others. have gone from never opening a Bible to teaching the Bible.

You have become heroes because you have become followers of the ultimate hero, Jesus Christ. You have allowed yourselves to be led by the Spirit of Christ.

As we prepare to take the Lord's Supper, we remember the most heroic act in human history. We remember that "when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6). He saved us by dying in our place. He overcame death in his resurrection. He changed us and gave us the hope we needed.

Let's remember Jesus' heroism as we take the bread and the cup in his memory.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Legalism, Grace, Holiness, and Service

This is an excerpt from Bob Lepine's blog on September 30:

"I'm afraid that in our desire to steer clear of legalism today, we have tuned out the call of Christ to holy, set apart living. We can and should celebrate our freedom in Christ. But we must remember, as Paul says in Galatians 5:13: 'do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.'

"Your friends, your co-workers, your children, and everyone with whom you come in contact today will be observing your conduct, your aim in life, your faith, your patience, your love, and your steadfastness. They will be looking carefully to see if your holiness and your willingness to serve others authenticates what you say you believe is true about Jesus and the gospel."

You may read the rest of Bob Lepine's post from September 30, 2009 on his blog. Please click on his name on my Blog Roll at the right to find his blog.

His thoughts reminded me of the apostle Paul's words to his friend and co-worker Titus: "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good" (Titus 2:11-14).

Saturday, October 03, 2009

How Do You Want to be Remembered?

This is my planned communion meditation for tomorrow.

Have you ever thought about what you would like your funeral to look like? Would you like a slide show? What photographs would you want people to see? What kind of music would best represent your life as people watch the slide show?

Have you thought about your obituary or eulogy? What do you want people to remember about you? Do you want us to remember your personality? Your sense of humor? Your accomplishments? Your faith? Your kindness? Your character?

As Jesus faced his death, he was eating a meal with his closest friends.

The Bible describes the scene in Luke 22:

"And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.'

"In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.'"

Christ wanted to be remembered for his sacrifice on behalf of his followers. He wanted them to know how much he loved them. He wanted them to remember that he was taking on their punishment in his death. He wanted them to know that in his death, he was making a new covenant between them and God, a covenant in blood that would not be broken, a covenant that would bind them to their God forever. He wanted them to remember that he was going through a process of saving them from their sins and the eternal consequences of their sins.

Today, nearly 2000 years after Jesus' death and resurrection, we gather as a group of Jesus' friends in the Contact Church to remember our Savior as he wanted to be remembered until he returns for us.