Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Eucharist

This is my devotional presentation for tomorrow's communion service at the Contact Church.

Since we observe communion every week at the Contact Church, sometimes Easter does not seem like a big deal to some of us. A few years ago, Bob Logsdon was on the stage asking the children, "What's special about Easter?" Our son Christopher responded, "It's when the Easter Bunny comes!" Our son had no idea that people associated Easter with a special Sunday each year on which we remember the resurrection of Jesus. After all, we make a point of remembering the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ during Sunday morning assemblies each week. Easter Sunday did not seem any different to him, except for hunting Easter eggs after lunch.

A few days ago, Americans observed Thanksgiving Day. We devoted some time on that day to thanking God for our blessings.

In some ways, the communion service is as much like Easter Sunday as Thanksgiving Day. In fact by the second century of the church, many Greek-speaking Christians were referring to the Lord's Supper as the Eucharist (a Greek word meaning thanksgiving). During the communion (or Eucharist), believers take the time to thank God for his goodness and his grace toward us. He has been good and gracious toward us in what he has done through his Son, Jesus Christ. Our Savior has experienced our humanity and our temptations. He has suffered for our sins. He has died in our place. He has felt the wrath of God for us. He has been raised from the dead, has ascended into heaven to rejoin his Father, and has promised to return for us so that we can enjoy eternal life with him, free from our sins and their consequences.

When we remember what Christ has done for us, the Lord's Supper truly becomes the Eucharist, an occasion for thanksgiving. As the angels proclaimed in Revelation 7:12, "Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen" (English Standard Version).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Blind Side

I have seen some good movies this year. Star Trek, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Up were enjoyable; but last night, we saw the best movie of the year. The Blind Side tells the true story of Michael Oher from his days as a homeless teenager to his adoption to the beginning of his career in the National Football League. This was one movie definitely worth seeing.

Monday, November 23, 2009

If We Had Lived in the Days of Our Forefathers

My life overlapped the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by a few months. The famous civil rights activist was murdered before I learned to walk.

At times, I have wondered: Would I have joined with Dr. King in calling for an end to legal racism?

It's easy to believe that I would have taken the unpopular, but just, position. It's easy to think that I would have had the sense of justice and the courage to do the right thing. I could easily see myself marching with Dr. King in the early 1960s, hiding the Jewish people from the Nazis with Corrie ten Boom's family during World War II, or rescuing escaped slaves with the Underground Railroad in the years leading up to the Civil War. But would I have done such noble things?

Jesus had some harsh words for some of his contemporaries who held similar thoughts. He warned, "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!" (Matthew 23:29-32).

Jesus' words challenge my pride in what I imagine I would have done. He is not interested in how I would have responded to injustices of the past and the needs of people in a previous generation. Christ is interested in what I am doing today. How do I respond when people are mistreated today? What am I doing today to help those who are in need? Am I willing to take risks? Am I willing to be unpopular for the sake of following Jesus Christ? Do I care about people? Or am I content to condemn a previous generation while taking pride in the fact that I did not participate in their sins?

How am I living today? Am I acting with justice, loving kindness and mercy, and walking humbly with my God?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I Found a Savior (Part Four)

This is the conclusion of a Contact Church member's testimony. Previous posts may be read at:

(Part One)
(Part Two)
(Part Three)

"I began saying thank you Jesus for giving my children back and I prayed to God about a place to live. I went to Tulsa Housing and I had been approved a year prior for an apartment. I had spent all that time homeless and didn't know I didn't need to be. The day I showed up to sign my lease the apartment had not been released in the computer, so the lady said she could not do anything until they released it from downtown. While I waited for about an hour I talked to her about needed furniture. She said they had a church that was sometimes able to help with beds and stuff. After a while this white truck pulled up and she said, 'Hey that's the guy you want to talk to, he's from Contact Church.' I said, 'What? Really? I know him!' I ran out to the truck and it was Ron Babbit. I told him how I had been here, how God had helped me, how I was getting my children back, how Bill was out of the picture and how God had convicted me for not teaching my children--all the struggles and victories. He said he was glad for me and that I should come to see them down at the church. I was glad to do that anyway. Contact helped me move furniture into my empty apartment. I am so thankful to my Father in heaven and for Contact Church of Christ. I attended church whenever the doors were open. Praise God they were always there. I've been blessed with opportunities to share what Christ has done for me, those things I could not do for myself. Through this relationship with Christ, God has provided for very specific, unmet needs from my childhood. Through Ron Babbit, God has provided a father figure here on earth for me. Today I desire to know Him more, to enjoy the people he has created. I am so thankful to have friendships today with both men and women. Some relationships at this point in my life have completely changed the way I view men. Men like Joel Osborn and Randy Milam who have listened even when it wasn't easy, men who refuse to see me the way I thought every man saw me. Those men have helped me to see and experience Jesus in a way I had never experienced him.

"I celebrated 2 years on July 31, 2009 clean from crack cocaine. I now celebrate 6 months from alcohol, 6 months from sexual immorality, 1 year 4 months from co-dependency, and I surrendered nicotine 90 days ago today. I am blessed with so many opportunities to give back and to share with others by sponsoring, mothering 4 children, meeting a need for someone, and getting to pray. Some days I can't find a single reason why God chose a sinner like me but I am so glad that he chose to give me life. I found that I am far more valuable to God than many sparrows. I found peace in my inner most being. I found my prince of peace to rescue me. I found healing and restoration. I found God when I sought him with my whole heart. I found a Savior."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I Found a Savior (Part Three)

This is the continuation of a Contact Church member's testimony. You may read the previous posts at:

(Part One)
(Part Two)

"Bill and I found ourselves with nowhere to go. Wandering the streets trying to figure out a plan, I saw this church and said that we should go there and ask if they could help us. Reluctantly Bill followed and the church was Contact Church of Christ. When I contacted the church, Sarge told me the man I needed to talk to was Todd Box. When this man walked in he said, 'Hey I know you, you were my boss over at Sonic." This was amazing. I thought, 'Wow God placed this man in my path.' Just prior to going to rehab I confessed Jesus as my Lord and Todd Box re-baptized me. This time it was different. I knew without a doubt that things were going to change despite what I could see. I left my program convinced that I could keep Bill clean. But I began to self destruct and violated a court order and disappeared with my soon to be ex-husband for 4 months. Within 2 weeks I was strung out on crack cocaine again! A $500 a week job for both Bill and I, a $300 a week motel room, and $700 a night for crack. One Saturday morning there I sat broke, wondering why I was there, realizing he did not love me and that I deserved to be loved. With a motion to terminate parental rights in the proceedings, I stayed 30 more days cleaning up, then I packed my clothes. I went to work, gave my boss a change of address and asked him to mail me my check, and I finally left Bill. Basically it was just me and God and I talked to him everyday. I discovered the next court date was 1 week away before they would terminate all parental rights. I showed up, prayed and asked for my children's voices to be heard. I initiated counseling services again and attended outpatient therapy 3 days a week. I completed nurturing parenting classes, responsibility parenting, and parent education group to teach us about sexual abuse recognizing/reporting. I attended AA meetings, worked a full-time job and paid for random UAs and hair follicle tests. I did all this walking and riding the bus. I had this overwhelming fear every time I walked to court alone. I knew that this could be the moment when the courts would confirm what I had already believed--that I was not good enough."

To be continued.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I Found a Savior (Part Two)

This is the continuation of a Contact Church member's testimony. Part One may be read at

"Our family moved to Texas. On September 16, 1996 I was taken from the complex laundry mat to a storage room on the back side and sexually assaulted. I remember laying there crying and begging God to save me. Men had continued to do whatever to my body and I never had a say. Not even the all-powerful God would save me. Part of me wished he had killed me and put me out of my misery. When he took my wedding ring and my husband's class rings off my fingers that night it hurt me more than anything else. Waking Russell up to tell him what happened was hard as I had already cheated and hadn't even gotten through the pregnancy; I was eight months pregnant. Russell eventually left for another woman which only reinforced all the lies--that I was unlovable, worthless, and not good enough. I was left with myself, 2 kids, and a bunch of drug addicts and alcoholics who I sure fought hard to not be like, but I resigned and figured that's exactly what I deserved. I would spend the next 10 years with a man who did every drug known to man. He was an IV drug user and an alcoholic who very much did not value women. He introduced me to a behind the scenes look at the drug world. I was at a place where I really welcomed death, in fact half the time I prayed for death. Well when that plan failed I began provoking anger in Bill___--maybe he would put me out of my misery. Bill and I would spend a lot of time arguing, fist fighting, drinking, drugging up until I got busted in February 2000. Then I would clean up, however, he would not. I began to realize that God was with me the night I was raped and that I was alive and God was working in my heart. After I cleaned up I became pregnant with my first girl. This spoke to me in awesome ways because I believed God would not give me little girls because I wouldn't be good enough, after 3 boys that was very easy for me to believe. There was this calm inner voice that kept saying leave this man and a much louder one saying no he might die without you. I wanted to leave all the time but I was terrified of being alone. I needed him to protect me. I would not cook, wouldn't clean, wouldn't try, just argue, scream, fight, and rage. Then I began rocking, abusing crack cocaine and neglecting my children. I was completely bankrupt. Imagine this, there I am on the floor searching for a crumb of crack to smoke and my 5 year old daughter bends down and says, 'Is this one momma?' I began to cry and she said, 'Momma I want you and daddy to stop fighting, stop cussing, stop smoking cigarettes and stop searching for white rocks.' I would soon discover the thing I feared the most--those precious girls that I just knew God would not give me had been molested. I was very calm and made a phone call to DHS. The judge ordered the children to remain in custody. I begged for Family Drug Court which required rehab, counseling, accountability, and responsibility. You would think that the reality of children being gone, what happened to them, and the court stuff pending would have been enough for me to get clean but it was not. Bill, myself, and my sister all shared an efficiency apartment where I helped my little sister off of her program through DUI school and strung her out on crack too! I later beat up my sister and she called the cops and the landlord."

To be continued.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I Found a Savior (Part One)

I wrote a very condensed version of a Contact Church member's story on my blog last month. This time, I will let her tell her story in her own words. She wrote this for Ron and Judy Babbit's newsletter to supporters of their ministry with the Contact Church.

"I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, incest, rape, physical and emotional abuse. I am overcoming chemical addiction, alcoholism, co-dependency, and sexual immorality. I still struggle with control, anger, un-forgiveness, fear, and feelings of inadequacy. It is a blessing for me to be a light of God's grace, glory, forgiveness, and unfailing love, and how it has been demonstrated in my life.

"I was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. My childhood was chaotic at best. Very little consistency ever, well actually there was some. I knew there would be drinking, fighting, drugs, and yelling. Around age 8 or 9, myself and other family members were molested by a live-in babysitter who was a 28 year old male. After all the fighting and everything else in our home, it changed a lot of things. I began withdrawing and isolating myself. I went from a straight A student to a straight F student. I felt so dirty, angry, ugly, unlovable, and ignored. Couldn't my mom see, didn't she know, did she even care, and how selfish was it of me to feel that way when she was the one being beat up everyday. How could I even tell her? Nevertheless, these feelings went on for a while until one day my mom demanded to know the truth. With a lot of resistance I finally told her.

"Shortly after that my dad showed up. I needed my dad to love, approve, and protect me. When my dad began putting me in his bed I began having what I call emotional blackouts. It stopped with me and began with my sister. When she told me I called the police and had us removed. My sister and I were taken to a Tulsa shelter for children and then to DHS where my mom and dad would both exit the elevator and dad walked out of our lives. I began lying to myself about what my dad did to me. You see when I called the police I told my sister's truth not mine. I wanted my dad to be anything other than what he was or actually what his sin had made him. I still love him very much and accept all the things that have brought me right here today and made me into the woman God called me to be.

"My mom kept me for a little while longer and then gave me a choice to go live with my grandparents or she would separate all 5 of us into foster homes. Now my own mom was giving up on me. I was delivered to my grandparents. My grandpa began touching me in ways that made my skin crawl and I remember the alcohol on his breath. I began to despise the smell of alcohol especially after a 3 day drunk.

"I began seeking attention by kissing and touching, after all I could control that part or so I thought. I began trying to find love in sexual relationships. I tried to build a marriage on sexual relationship, in fact 2 marriages on sexual relationships. My first marriage took a turn for the worst when he joined the army. I felt abandoned and I didn't know how to be alone and unprotected. I cheated, got pregnant and was faced with what I had done almost immediately. I believe God had convicted me. Consumed with guilt and the fact that I couldn't hide what I had done, I called Russell and told him. While Marvin Phillips had baptized me 7 or 8 years earlier at Garnett Church of Christ, I still had doubts about his love for me. But God was working out my salvation and still is."

To be continued.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Some Secrets Can't Be Kept

Matt Hurley is one of our ministers in the Contact Church. Among his duties, he coordinates activities for youth groups from other congregations that come to help us in the urban ministry. Last night, he told us about the efforts of one youth group from a small town.

The group had been coming to Tulsa for a few years, and Matt felt that the members were ready for something new and challenging. He approached the leader and told him that he felt the group was ready to minister in one of the apartment complexes with a fairly bad reputation. He assured the leader that it would be safe. In response, the leader said, "Okay, but don't let the other parents know about its reputation. They will freak out." Matt agreed to keep it silent.

The next day, Matt addressed the youth group. Several of the Contact Church's kids were intermingled with the other church's youth group. Matt announced, "Today, we're going to Mohawk." Suddenly the Contact kids erupted with: "WE'RE GOING TO GET SHOT! WE'RE GOING TO DIE!"

So much for keeping secrets.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

One Way to Support Adoption

You may not be in a position to adopt, but you would like to help Christian families who are preparing to adopt a child. One way to help would be to send a little (or a lot of) money to a Christian adoption agency. If that option appeals to you, please consider Christian Services of Oklahoma. You may find out more about this ministry by going to You may call the ministry at 1-888-397-7202. You may contact them by writing to:
Christian Services of Oklahoma
501 E. 15th St. Suite 500A
Edmond, OK 73013
Thanks for considering this opportunity to help Christian families through the adoption process.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Family Man and Me

Last week, I was involved in a conversation with a few co-workers concerning our favorite movies. After mentioning The Family Man, one of my friends said, "You've mentioned that movie before. You must really identify with it."
I don't want to get carried away with her analysis. After all, I'm afraid that she may realize that I identify with Dumb and Dumber, too.
However, I think my co-worker may have been right about why I like the movie.
In the movie, Jack Campbell is a very successful businessman who believes that he has everything he could possibly want in the world. However, an encounter with an angel reveals to Jack that he may not be living the best life possible. Instead of a powerful businessman-playboy, Jack wakes up one Christmas morning as a confused family man with a modest job. Over a period of a few months, he learns that wealth and power cannot replace a loving wife and children (and a few good friends). Success cannot be defined by accomplishments alone; relationships are an essential ingredient to a satisfying life. When he wakes up from his fantasy, he pursues a renewed relationship with his old college girlfriend whom he dumped in order to gain his enviable position in society.
Like Jack in his fantasy world, I am not in a position of great wealth and influence. However, I have a loving wife and son. I have some really good friends. And they make a huge difference in the way I view life. I am a rich man.
"He who finds a wife finds what is good
and receives favor from the LORD" (Proverbs 18:22).
"Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
children a reward from him" (Psalm 127:3).

Saturday, November 07, 2009

An Adoption Story

World Magazine contains a great story about the adoption of Michael Oher of the Baltimore Ravens (

Because of his adoption, Michael Oher moved from begging for food on the streets of Memphis as a teenager to a potential rookie of the year in the National Football League. His story challenges conventional wisdom about the potential of inner-city kids, the willingness of wealthy people to get involved personally in the lives of the poor, and the potential of adopting older children.

It's an inspiring true story of love and kindness.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Ministry of a Lifetime

Some ministries last a short time. Some ministries last a long time. The ministry of adoption lasts a lifetime.

Actually, more than one ministry may be involved in adoption.

Adoption may be an international ministry. If you adopt a child from another country, you are engaged in an international ministry.

Adoption may be a pro-life ministry. By adopting a child, you are challenging the cavalier attitude toward the value of a child's life.

Adoption may be a ministry to the disabled. If you adopt a child with disabilities, you are engaged in a ministry to someone with special needs.

Adoption may be a family ministry. By adopting a child, you create a family ministry.

Adoption may be a preaching ministry. When you adopt a child, you will have many opportunities to preach to him or her. (Trust me.)

Adoption may be a ministry to the poor. In many cases, an adopted child will be saved from a life of poverty. In Tulsa, one-third of children in foster care will be homeless when they leave the system (unless they are adopted).

Adoption may be an evangelistic ministry. When you adopt a child, you will be able to share the good news of Christ with him or her (possibly for the first time in the child's life).

Of course, adoption is much more than a ministry. But it is not less. In some manner, you will serve the child that you love for a lifetime.

November is National Adoption Month in the USA. If you are a Christian, please consider adopting a child. In doing so, you will be doing something close to God's heart. "Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation" (Psalm 68:5, English Standard Version).