Favorite Memories of 2020 in Pictures

Starting a new year and I have been reviewing some of my photos that I have taken over the past year. While it has been a difficult year for everyone, I have intentionally focused on the good things that have happened and the memories that have been made!

Looking back at some of the pictures that I have taken have reminded me of some of the good times that we have had during the year. I wanted to share some of these photos if for nothing else, to keep a reminder of these good times. Additionally, I hope that sharing the pictures will be an encouragement that there are good things to enjoy!

As you will notice, many of my favorite pictures and memories have to do with the outdoors. It is one of my favorite places to be and explore. There are few things in life that I find more enjoyable and refreshing than spending time in nature!

Meeting Monte Coleman

Monte Coleman-Washington Redskins Linebacker 1979-1994
Super Bowl Champion!

Early in the year I attended a leadership conference for our denomination and had the opportunity to meet, visit, and take a picture with Monte Coleman. It was great to hear his testimony of how God is using him today to encourage athletes and men in general to have a relationship with God. Living a life of endurance regardless of what the world throws at them.

Oklahoma Governor’s Prayer Breakfast

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt Prayer Breakfast

Attending the Oklahoma Governor’s Prayer Breakfast was a real treat. Governor Stitt came and visited with us for a few minutes, taking time to pose for a picture with us. It was great to be able to hear his heart for the state and how God was leading him in his personal and public life.

Oklahoma Storm Clouds

Storm Clouds in Oklahoma

This picture is not uncommon in Oklahoma as we typically have a lot of strong storms that come through during the spring. But the colors in the clouds this evening was so gorgeous. The sun was setting at the same time these clouds were passing to the south of us. I love watching the clouds!

Western Nebraska Plains

Western Nebraska Plains

This picture was taken at the first stop of our trip to Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, and then on to Mt. Rushmore and Custer State Park. It was taken while we boondocked in our Travel Trailer at my sister’s house. Spending the weekend hanging out with them was fantastic and the views, especially at sunset was beautiful!

Grand Tetons/Yellowstone

This has been one of my favorite places that we have had the privilege of visiting and camping in. We have especially loved hanging out in the Grand Tetons as one of the most beautiful mountains and lakes that we have seen. This was our second trip there and I look forward to going back again someday!

Vacationing with Nyree and Miriam

Miriam joined us on this trip which was a lot of fun! This was the first time that she has been to this part of the country. It was great to spend some time together exploring the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Mt Rushmore, and Custer State Park.

Breaking Down and Meeting Generous People

On the way home from our trip, we broke down and had to wait on a part to be overnighted to us. A couple invited us to their farm where they provided food and transportation as well as hookups for the night. It was such a blessing to us! It reminded us that there are still good people who are generous with what they have. They told us that they were doing it because of Jesus!

Oklahoma Ice Storm-A Frozen Rose Bush

The last picture I loved for the year is this one of a frozen rose bush. A freak ice storm came through and covered everything with a layer of ice. This picture came out as one of my favorites during the storm!

Conclusion

2020 had a lot of challenges but it also had some bright spots. I am so thankful for the experiences and look forward to creating more in 2021. With all that is going on in the world, find ways to explore and take in nature. It is a great encourager and refreshment to the body and soul!

Blessings on your 2021.

What about you?

Do you have any plans that involve the outdoors in 2021?

 

 

Finding Joy in the Work of Ministry During Difficult Times

I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much bolder to speak the word without fear. Philippians 1:12–14 (ESV)

Over the past year, I have been in a position to have an overview of what is happening in the church. Specifically, I have been burdened with the Pastors and Ministry Leaders who have had to navigate some difficult decisions in light of the pandemic.

Difficult Decisions Had To Be Made

These leaders have had to make decisions on when to open the doors of the church and when to close. Often they have been bombarded by people with a variety of opinions as to what they should or should not be doing.

They have felt the weight of responsibility in fulfilling the mission and purpose of the church while at the same time caring for the health and safety of the congregation. It has been an overwhelming task, to say the least.

While there are great reasons for both sides of the argument, pastors and ministry leaders have felt the emotional toll that this year has taken. Additionally, it has been a difficult decision for some to throw in the towel and move on to other churches or has taken a break completely from ministry. I get it!

One of the first leadership positions with the District I was asked to serve, was that of Presbyter. When I asked one of the other members of the presbytery board about the things I could expect in dealing with various churches, they simply said, “Wait by the phone and a church’s problems will find you!”

How do you find joy in the work of ministry during difficult times?

Maintaining our joy is not determined by the circumstances around us, but is often deepened during difficult times. When I think about where joy comes from and how we develop it, I am reminded of Paul.

Paul faced many difficult circumstances as he traveled, preaching the gospel and planting churches. His missionary journeys led him into hostile environments all the time, yet he can write to the Philippians how joyful he was while imprisoned!

Often when I begin to think about all the difficulties that I have weighing on my life, I remind myself of some of my missions journeys. Traveling to third world countries and seeing the living conditions people face every single day tends to remind me how good I have it.

Additionally, when I think about the churches that have been threatened with prison or even death for preaching the gospel, I realize how privileged I am to freely share the Gospel!

How could Paul stand by his joy in ministry while being imprisoned?

Paul Focused on the Progress of the Gospel Outside the Church

Look at the passage of scripture again: I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has served to advance the gospel so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ. Philippians 1:12–13 (ESV)

Even though Paul was greatly hindered from ministering the way that he was used to, he still found a way. Paul recognized that his ministry was not determined by his location or freedom, but rather in his willingness to preach.

He had a captive audience. As a prisoner, he found an audience among the whole imperial guard along with anyone else he came in contact with. The Gospel was not held captive. Those around Paul were held captive to Paul’s presentation of the Gospel!

Even though Paul is imprisoned in Rome, he doesn’t view himself as being at the mercy of human authority. He has the assurance that as he continues to minister on Christ’s behalf, that God will use the difficult circumstance to advance the Gospel!

Paul Focused on the Progress of the Gospel Inside the Church

Look at the second part of our passage: And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much bolder to speak the word without fear. Philippians 1:14 (ESV)

Not only was Paul focused on the progress of the gospel in Rome, but he was also getting reports of people preaching the gospel with boldness. Because Paul had continued to minister through his imprisonment, people began to fulfill their role in ministry with confidence!

Paul’s limitations inspired others to fulfill their role in ministry! This can only serve to multiply the efforts of the church and see many more people hear the good news of the gospel! Which is what the church is all about!

Conclusion

Today, as ministry leaders have struggled with the heavy decisions surrounding the pandemic, joy is possible. How? Paul understood and lived out joy despite his circumstances. Here are a few reminders about your joy.

1. Joy is a gift of the Holy Spirit—But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law. Galatians 5:22–23 (ESV)

This incredible gift of joy is something that you simply receive, just like you did salvation! When you pray for joy in your life, God freely and abundantly grants it every single time! Don’t allow anything to stand in the way of receiving an abundant amount of joy in your life!

2. Joy is not determined by our circumstances—I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance, and need. Philippians 4:10–12 (ESV)

While many troubling things are happening around us, our source of joy comes from God. He alone can fill our hearts and minds with joy regardless of the difficulties that come our way. Having joy helps us look past the negative aspects of life and find what God is doing in advance of the kingdom!

3. Joy must be actively maintained—Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Philippians 4:4 (ESV)

With all that bombards us in life, it is easy for us to let our focus on joy begin to slip. I believe that is why Paul was so adamant about commanding us to rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS! It is so important, he said it twice! Rejoice Always!

4. Joy is a decision every day—Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 (ESV)

Paul taught that what we focus our thoughts on is determined by us. Focusing our minds on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise, changes our perspective. We must decide every day what will dominate our minds and ultimately our perspective on this life.

My prayer for the church in 2021 is that ministry leaders will find joy in the work that God has called them to. I believe that God will use 2020 as an opportunity to deepen the work of the church to make the foundation stronger. May we see God do amazing things through the church to reach a world around it with the most amazing news of all…Jesus Saves!

What are some things you do to remind you to reset your joy?

What are some practical things you do to maintain your joy?

Let me know in the comments below!

Previous Post: The Joy of Healthy Relationships Through Christ

Things I have found useful 👇 on Amazon!!

 

Amazon links: You do not need to buy one of the specific highlighted products on my page for it to “credit” my account. After first clicking one of the links, any purchases you search for or make anywhere on Amazon will credit this blog and help support this blog ministry. I am truly so grateful and appreciative to those of you wanting to do so! So thank you! Again, it is a free and easy way for you to help keep this blog going!

 

The Joy of Healthy Relationships Through Christ

Over the past several weeks, we have had several prayer requests at the church that have testified to the reality we live in today. It’s a reality that has been brought on by the circumstances of the world that have caused separation from other believers. Fears centered around the pandemic has made it easy to get disconnected from fellow believers.

At the same time, Gallup put out a poll this week that stated that those who went to church every week reported being stronger emotionally in 2020 than in 2019. Despite the circumstances we find ourselves in, those who stayed connected through church actually felt better! Why is this?

How do you foster joy through the relationships you have in the body of Christ? Why is it so important to stay connected to the body of Christ?

Scripture: Philippians 1.3-8 (ESV)

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.

Koinonia

Koinonia can be defined as a close association with others and participation centered around common interests, spending time together, and sharing resources. This is a description that is often used to describe a group of a healthy body of believers. Through a common relationship with have with God through Jesus Christ, we have a spiritual kinship!

Paul often used this term to describe his relationship with the churches that he wrote to. In Philippians 1, he used the idea of Koinonia to describe the elements of the joy that these believers brought to him. It is what sustained him during a difficult time in his life. Additionally, it will be the same elements we can develop in our own relationships.

The Joy of Remembering One Another

Over the years, I have thought of so many in the church that I have had the privilege of building relationships with people who impacted me greatly and believed in me. Individuals who stood by me during difficult seasons always did what they could to provide encouragement and strength. Read More

A Letter of Joy in the Midst of Anxiety, Fear, and Sadness.

Let’s face it; life is tough! Even without the numerous challenges that we are facing today, the pains and sorrows of life can be overwhelming. Adding on the increasing onset of political, social, and spiritual conflict has impacted every person worldwide. Not only have there been economic and social stresses, but dealing with these conflicts every day has negatively impacted people’s emotions.

I know that I am not the only one that has often felt overwhelmed with the troubles of this world. Every day, we are bombarded with the challenge of discerning the right response to difficult topics and societal viewpoints.

While we face many challenges, we have also had the privilege of experiencing opportunities to recognize God‘s faithfulness, love, grace, and provision. How do we become better at recognizing the good things that God is doing in our lives? Where do we find joy amid anxiety, fear, and sadness?

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:1–2 (ESV)

What is true joy?

Many people would define happiness as a natural response to favorable circumstances in their lives, which are typically out of their control. Their happiness is generally based upon whether or not the events of life lean in their favor. Therefore when it comes to satisfaction, they believe that it is uncertain and elusive to pursue.

For the believer, happiness is not dependent upon the circumstances that we face, but on the confidence that all is well in our relationship with the Lord. That despite the difficulty, pain, failure, and disappointments of life, these pale in comparison to the blessings of this heavenly relationship.

I plan to write several blog posts based upon the book of Philippians and cover some of the headings that I am listing below. For now, I want to give a brief description and scriptural reference to define where real joy comes from.

Real joy is a gift from God!

You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace, I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalms 4:7-8 (ESV)

A believer must recognize that God is the real source of all that is good in our lives. This includes the blessing of joy. While the world may be in turmoil and chaos, a believer can rest in the relationship they have with God! All we must do is accept joy as a gift!

Real joy comes from believing the gospel!

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10–11 (ESV)

The fact that Jesus came as a gift from God is excellent news to everyone who believes! When the angels declared the good news, they described it concerning great joy! It is comforting to know that the payment for our sin has already been provided for. Peace and joy belong to those who believe.

The Holy Spirit produces real joy!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law. Galatians 5:22–23 (ESV)

While every characteristic of the fruit described in Galatians can bring joy to a believer’s life, the source is crucial. It is not something that we can develop solely on our power and strength but relies on following the Spirit’s leadership in our lives.

Real joy is experienced as we walk in obedience to God‘s Word!

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts. Jeremiah 15:16 (ESV)

Consistently staying in the Word through reading, studying, and meditation is only the starting point. We must walk in obedience to what the Word of God says. As we commit ourselves to follow the principles of scripture, we find that the turmoil of living life our way melts into a rest that we are doing things God’s way. Obedience produces joy!

Real joy grows deeper through difficult trials!

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. James 1:2–3 (ESV)

While this is easier said than done, difficult times in a person’s life can also deepen their joy. It is during the difficult times that we learn to lean into our relationship with the Lord and increase our trust in him. In so doing, we become increasingly convinced of His ability to care for our lives. Trust him during trials and find lasting joy!

Real joy has a foundation of hope in eternal realities!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 24–25 (ESV)

Knowing that this life on earth is limited in comparison to eternity is comforting for the believer. There are few things that can bring greater joy than knowing that when we pass from this life to the next, we will spend eternity in heaven with God. To look beyond this world creates anticipation for what is yet to come!

How did Paul express joy in the midst of anxiety, fear, and sadness?

1. Paul was joyful because of his calling.

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, Philippians 1:1a (ESV)

Paul was confident that he was operating every day in the calling that God had placed on his life. He knew that being a servant of Jesus first and foremost would be the foundation he needed in order to rest during difficult times.

Regardless of the circumstance that Paul was facing, he continued to move forward in reaching people with the Gospel. He never wavered in his calling which became a source of joy. Seeing people’s lives impacted with the Gospel through our lives will birth the same kind of joy!

2. Paul was joyful because he valued others.

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Philippians 1:1b (ESV)

Paul recognized after his conversion that his life was not his own. He was not only bought with a price but that his purpose was to pour himself out every day in serving God and others. His desire to plant what God had done in his life, into the lives of others, was all-consuming.

Anytime that we can look beyond ourselves and value people around us, we put our minds at ease. Joy is the natural reflection of not focusing on self, but valuing others.

3. Paul was joyful because he lived to be a blessing to others.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:2 (ESV)

Paul begins this important letter by pronouncing a blessing of grace and peace through God the Father and Jesus. This is an important element of joy in our own lives, being and pronouncing a blessing on others. Not only does it encourage the people whom we bless, but it also becomes a great source of joy.

Conclusion

In times that I have felt overwhelmed with feelings of discouragement, depression, anxiety, or turmoil because of the challenges of this world, I remind myself that there is a source of joy that I need to return to. Too often I find myself consumed with personal and world matters that only steal my joy and peace. I have to remind myself that this world is not permanent and my relationship with the Father is my source.

God has a great plan for your life, trust Him to walk with you today in preparation for your home in eternity!

Resource links below are affiliate.  When you click on the links, it supports this blog but doesn’t cost you extra! Blessings!!

Why Your Church Needs a Health Check Up!

Pastors and church leaders often question how to make their churches more effective in their communities. Generally, they will add programs, outreaches, and other activities in order to try to meet the needs of the community. However, is this a sign of a healthy church? Does the size of a church make it healthy? Does the location of a church make it healthy?

It is always during uncertain times that the foundations of the church are tested to see whether or not they stand. These foundations are often determined by what we believe, what we do, and how we respond to the world around us. It is important for the church to biblically evaluate the health of the church in order for it to be effective and in alignment with God‘s will in fulfilling its mission.

What is a healthy church?

This past year I started a personal physical health journey. The journey began with a physical check-up with my doctor to find out exactly where I was in specific health indicators. While I could monitor my weight, I knew there were additional tests that needed to be done in order to determine what actions I needed to take. A change in diet, activity, and the development of healthy habits in other areas of my life, has produced tremendous results.

Transformation is not a destination. For congregations it is not a place of arrival where the transformation journey can be declared is over. It is an ongoing journey. Congregations do not transform once. They are continually transforming.

George W. Bullard Junior., Seven Enduring Principles for Transforming Your Congregation

When I first began in pastoral ministry, I often equated activity with health. I determined the strength of our church based upon how many activities that we had going on, programs we were managing, and volunteers we were able to get motivated to be a part of the ministry. Over a period of time, I’ll begin to realize that we were filling a calendar while utilizing the 20% of the congregation that would volunteer. Eventually, I begin to lose volunteers and ministries began to suffer because of burnout.

After spending some time in prayer, study, and research, I began to change my perspective on what constitutes a healthy church. Asking the Holy Spirit to give me guidance concerning the early church and the priorities it operated by, we began to refocus on what we believe and do. We begin to focus upon the health indicators which described the church in the book of Acts.

So what is a healthy church? A healthy church will be passionate about engaging and strengthening loving relationships with God and others. A healthy church will strategically develop and mobilize people for ministry. A healthy church will maintain an outward focus and clear direction in fulfilling its mission. A healthy church is consistently reproducing and multiplying ministry in the community. Finally, a healthy church is prayerfully pursuing and walking in obedience to God’s leadership.

You shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the grade and first commandment. And a second is like it: you should love your neighbor as yourself. On these two Commandments depend all the law and the prophets.

Matthew 22:37-40 (ESV)

What is the primary purpose of a healthy church?

I am sure that if you were to ask this question to your local church, you would get a wide variety of answers. These questions will often range somewhere between an inward and outward focus for the church. I came up against this very early on in my ministry years.

As a youth pastor, I was asked to come and meet with the board of the church that I was serving in. The topic of discussion was whether or not the youth ministry should focus its efforts on church kids who came to every service, and whether or not to continue busing kids in just for Wednesday nights. One board member who led the charge, believe that my priority as a youth minister was to meet the spiritual needs of his children. (Which happened to be the only ones who came on Sundays and Wednesdays.)

I, of course, respectfully disagreed with the reprioritization of the youth ministry and ended up not staying much longer at the church. While this was a learning experience for me, it made me realize how inwardly focused the church can be at times. What we disagreed on was whether or not the purpose of the church is designed solely for the believer or for reaching the unbeliever?

Today, I see it as a healthy balance of both. Strategic development of the believer in their spiritual growth and maturity in order to lead them toward a bigger mission. At the same time mobilizing the church to accomplish the most important mission that Jesus Christ commanded us to fulfill.

And Jesus came and said to them, I’ll authority in heaven and on earth has been give it to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)

What is the primary mission of a healthy church?

Understanding the primary mission of the church requires us to lay aside our own personal preferences and ask the question, what did the early church believe and do? What dominated their focus and time as they understood their place in the work of the kingdom?

Prior to the experience with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, Jesus had already given them the details of their mission. They were to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that he had commanded them.

Additionally, we are told that the Holy Spirit would be given to the church in order for them to be witnesses. They would not only have the message of the gospel but the empowerment in order to know what to say and to open the hearts of unbelievers to the message.

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit is come up on you, and you will be my witness is in Jerusalem and then I’ll Judea and Samaria, and the end of the earth.

Acts 1:8 (ESV)

This mission would give the New Testament church the direction that is needed in order for it to stay healthy. It would also help it to be stable in difficult times, especially during intense persecution. The mission would guide their beliefs and actions through biblical instruction and prayer.

Conclusion

As we face the challenges of an uncertain world, we need healthy churches that have a sound foundation. A foundation that is not based upon trends, but has a healthy perspective of the direction that God is leading them.

With so many churches that are suffering a plateau or decline in attendance, we must ask some important health questions to determine the actions we need to take in order to restore effectiveness moving forward. The church must ask if we are fulfilling the purpose and mission of the church in key areas: fellowship, discipleship, gift-oriented ministry, evangelism, and worship.

As an Acts 2 Journey facilitator, I’ve had the privilege of working with several churches on their own strategic health journey here in Oklahoma. In fact, we begin a new cohort in January 2021. It is my hope, to walk alongside these churches in discovering their mission, vision, and their strategic plan for growing disciples to affect the world around the vision.

For more information about the Acts 2 Journey: http://www.acts2journey.com

For more information on the Oklahoma Healthy Church Initiative: http://www.OKAG.org/acts2

Recommended Reads: Click links For more info 

 

 

Making Tough Leadership Decisions in Difficult Times

Over the past several weeks, I have been anticipating some of the decisions that would potentially impact our Oklahoma Church Ministries Department events and the small church that Nyree and I are leading through transition. We have wrestled with many of the same questions that our pastors and leaders are also facing in their own personal ministries and local churches. I have had to ask some very important questions when faced with the decisions surrounding the virus.

Let me offer some insight to how I am approaching the decisions that are imperative for me to make as a leader and minister.

#1 What Biblical Principle Can I Root My Decision In?

Decisions regarding ministry and the church should always be rooted in scripture. After all, the church is designed by God which makes him the ultimate authority concerning the plans He has for it. Leaders who are seeking direction for the church must be prayerfully and scripturally informed.

God’s Word has an abundance of wisdom and direction concerning how the church is to operate as well as it’s leadership. When faced with important decisions that affect the church and it’s membership, we should never base our decisions on one passage of scripture, but look at the whole of God’s Word.

“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.” Proverbs 2:6 (ESV)

We can trust that the Lord knows precisely the questions that we are asking and has an answer that we can base our decisions upon. Our reliance upon the revealed will of God must give us the direction we need to make wise and informed decisions. This reliance on scripture also provides the peace in our hearts and minds, that we are making decisions based on his wisdom and not our own. The Word instructs us to:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5–6 (ESV)

Questions I am asking:

  • What does the whole of scripture say about my decision?
  • What patterns of the New Testament church can we emulate?
  • What are my spiritual authorities that God has placed in my life saying about this decision?
  • Am I the only one who holds to this interpretation of a principle?
  • Who can help me better understand what God’s Word says about our decision?

Every decision that we have to make in this life must be approached with prayerful consideration of scripture. At the same time, we must make sure and guard our hearts and minds especially when a decision is unpopular. That is why scripture challenges us to put our mind on:

“whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8 (ESV)

Challenge:

  • Pray for God to speak into your heart
  • Study the scripture for insight concerning your decision
  • Counsel with your spiritual mentor/leader
  • Focus on the big picture of the Kingdom
  • Make the mission of the church the priority of the church

Nyree and I am praying for you! Remember that God has a plan for your life, ministry and church! We trust that He will help us be a light in a darkened world! We cannot wait to hear the testimonies of what God is doing during this crucial time in the history of the church!

2019 Light for the Lost Tour—Weather, Full House, and Faith Extended

What an incredible night at Miami First Assembly of God for our new Light for the Lost Banquet Tour! We had a full house in spite of the weather and watched people extend their faith for 2020!

Light for the lost mission statement: Light for the Lost provides evangelistic resources for missionaries and missionary partners through five platforms: print, audio, video, Internet, and technologies.

Weather

Weather was undoubtedly uncooperative as temperatures were in the mid-30s with either a light mist or a heavy rain coming down. Standing under the awning at the doors, I was amazed at the commitment of so many in section 1 who made the journey for the evening’s event. It was powerful to watch as cars, trucks, and church vans began to fill the parking lot, people made their way inside the doors.

Our steak team, led by Mike Cooper from Woodlake Assembly battled the weather to cook some great steaks! I always appreciate their hard work in any weather conditions to make sure that our banquet is made possible. They are certainly a blessing!

Full house

Watching the cook team and the many people who were coming through the doors, I was so grateful! Occasionally, I would sneak inside through the foyer to look through the doors to see how we were doing on seating. I must admit that as we were getting closer, and closer to time to start, I was a little concerned as to whether or not we would have the room! Yet, by the time they were seated, my fears subsided.

I am thankful for Pastor Raymond Frizzelle and Daryl Lee for all of their work in encouraging the section to be at the banquet. Their hard work paid off with over 200 people in attendance! Not only that, but we raised around $50,000 for light for the lost in this rural section!



This time I do have pictures!

Faith Extended

It’s always interesting to me to watch small churches have big dreams when it comes to missions. These missions-minded pastors and churches make incredible efforts and extend their faith in surprising ways. They believe that God can do big things if they will have faith and trust. I was greatly encouraged as we are just over halfway done with our tour. With five more tour stops left to go, I’m excited about what God is doing across our state. The best is undoubtedly yet to come!

Prayer points revisited:

Would you make it a point to put us on your prayer list–that God would place in our hearts a vision and plan moving forward?

Also, would you pray that God would place upon the hearts of pastors and churches the vision of providing our Oklahoma missionaries with the tools that they need to be effective on the field?

We appreciate your prayer partnership with us. It is our privilege and honor to serve the churches in the state of Oklahoma and our mission efforts around the world. God is up to big things!

May God bless pastors and churches who have extended their faith to believe that God could use them to make an impact around the world!

Partnership

If you are interested in partnering together with Light for the Lost to provide evangelistic materials and tools for our missionaries, click the link: Light for the Lost

For more updates from the 2019 Oklahoma Light for the Lost tour:

Check out all my blog posts at: Chad’s Blog

For more information on the 2019 Oklahoma Light for the Lost tour: Oklahoma Light for the Lost

Special Thanks:

  • Raymond Frizzelle (Host, Presbyter)
  • Daryl Lee (Men’s Director)

Stay Connected on my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube accounts!

2019 Light for the Lost Tour—WWII Vet, Next Generation, and Planning the Future

  • Weatherford October 21, 2019
  • Chickasha October 22, 2019
  • Oklahoma City October 24, 2019

OK so I have combined three of our Light for the Lost banquets into one blog post. Why? Well, life happens! 😉

Light for the Lost Tour

Light for the Lost provides evangelistic resources for missionaries and missionary partners through five platforms: print, audio, video, internet, and technologies.

During this week, it has been a privilege to watch as pastors and churches have extended their faith to believe that God could use them to make an impact around the world. I have also had the privilege of seeing what God is doing through those who attend. It’s been an incredible privilege to see who God brings to each one of these banquets.

Next Generation

On Monday and Tuesday we partnered together with local Chi Alpha Students who have college campus ministries. These incredible students came to serve each one of our guests who attended our banquets. Both groups did an incredible job of serving! What a blessing! 

This also gave a great opportunity to introduce them to the vision of Oklahoma Light for the Lost. It is my hope that a seed will be planted in their hearts that will come to fruition in the years to come. I am so thankful for their heart for missions and are looking for opportunities for God to use them in a great way. 

When we were in  Weatherford, we also had a great group of kids who joined us for the banquet. While the kids have a great opportunity to give to Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge, I was thankful that they were a part of our LFTL banquet. Why? To see that God wants to use them even into their adulthood.

World War II veteran

During this tour, I have been sharing the vision of partnering together with The Warrior’s Journey.  It is our desire to provide for the spiritual needs of our military service members around the world. What an incredible privilege to not only share this vision, but to meet members of our military at each stop. I have had the privilege of giving them a Bible called The Warriors Bible that is specifically designed for service members to utilize.

We cannot ignore a person’s spiritual life and expect them to function as a whole warrior.

This week I had the honor of giving one of those Bibles to a World War II veteran. At 92 years old he attended our banquet with his church. As you can imagine, these veterans are a rarity and it is not often that you get to meet one. He was so grateful for the Bible, and I pray that it blesses him and his family in the days to come. Service members rock!

Planning for the future

As I make this annual journey, I have been looking to the future for Oklahoma Light for the Lost. I know that moving forward, we will have to look at additional and new strategies that will help pastors, leaders, and congregations see the vision of what God could use them to do worldwide. It is my prayer that God would give us wisdom, guidance and direction to effectively share the message of missions.  He will do it if we pray!

Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. John 4:35 (ESV)

Prayer Point

Would you make it a point to put us on your prayer list–that God would place in our hearts a vision and plan moving forward?

Also, would you pray that God would place upon the hearts of pastors and churches the vision of providing our Oklahoma missionaries with the tools that they need to be effective on the field?

We appreciate your prayer partnership with us. It is our privilege and honor to serve the churches in the state of Oklahoma and our mission efforts around the world. God is up to big things!

May God bless pastors and churches who have extended their faith to believe that God could use them to make an impact around the world!

If you are interested in partnering together with Light for the Lost to provide evangelistic materials and tools for our missionaries, click the link: Light for the Lost

For more updates from the 2019 Oklahoma Light for the Lost tour:

Check out all my blog posts at: Chad’s Blog

Special Thanks:

  • Section 11: Thank you Ric Freeman (Host, Presbyter, Men’s Rep)
  • Section 10: Thank you Chad Allred (Host), Gary Pratt (Men’s Rep), and Don Barnes (Presbyter)
  • Section 9: Thank you Eddy Brewer (Host), Duane Elmore (Presbyter), David Brooks (Presbyter), and Josh Seabolt (Men’s Rep)

Stay Connected on my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube accounts!

 

2019 Light for the Lost Tour-Vision, Faith, and Generosity

October 17, 2019 @ Cordell New Beginnings

Continuing on this journey called the Light for the Lost tour, an annual fundraising tour of the state, we enjoyed a fantastic night at Cordell. I am so blessed by the many volunteers who willingly give up a weeknight to come and serve. These volunteers are some of the cream of the crop!!

This tour consists of 12 banquets that we host across the state of Oklahoma. Each one has basically the same menu…steak, potato, salad, side, and desert. Each steak team that comes in, brings a large cooker and they grill them right outside the doors of the church. There is nothing better than the smell of the steaks grilling to make you want to support LFTL!! 😂

Starting a diet before tour has really tested my resolve especially when there is chocolate cake involved! Last night was a real test of will power as the cake grew larger and larger as the night went on!!

Vision

During this tour, I have been sharing my vision for Oklahoma Light for the Lost and giving thanks to the churches and supporters. I have been so grateful for the many who have caught the vision of LFTL and generously give. Our missionaries are certainly blessed, those who receive the gospel are transformed, and I get to watch it happen!

It is always amazing to see people get behind the vision of the projects that we are presenting. People moved with compassion for the need, responded in a big way. It’s as if God begins to open eyes and hearts and they see the opportunity that He is presenting.

I am thankful to be a part of facilitating this step in the process!

Faith

Each banquet ends with a call for a faith promise. It is the culmination of the work of the Holy Spirit to guide each person and for them to step out in faith to follow. Much of the time, I am so blessed to see people being used by God to fulfill a faith-filled promise.

In reality, it isn’t a leap in the darkness to ask the Holy Spirit for direction and follow His leadership. I have full assurance that what He says for us to do, He will provide for it’s fulfillment. Besides, He has already proven himself many times over in our lives as one who keeps His promises to us!

Generosity

A mark of any believer who serves the Lord, is their willingness to be generous to others. It’s a part of our Kingdom mandate and the DNA of our relationship with Christ.

Because we are to be kingdom minded, then everything we do in this life must be geared toward the Kingdom. In other words, our treasure is given to us as a stewardship for Kingdom purposes!

Where we get ourselves into trouble is when we tie up all of our treasure on things that do not serve the Kingdom, thereby forfeiting our ability to give. This tragedy happens more often than not.

However, positioning ourselves to be generous to the Kingdom and to others requires us to take a look at what we spend our wealth on.

As believers we must ask the question, “What is it that God wants to do and how can I make sure that happens.” Click To Tweet

It may be scary at times and certainly goes against the norm. Yet God says that he will provide shelter, clothing, and food as we follow his will! Be generous!

Thanks

Special thanks to Mike Southerland (Men’s Rep and Host) and Arlis Moon (Presbyter) for doing such a great job in Section 12. I appreciate their heart for LFTL and for the pastors, churches, and people of southwest Oklahoma. What a blessing!

Chad

To read more updates from the LFTL Tour:

  • For more of my blog posts: 
  • Video update from the road:

2019 Light for the Lost Tour– Storms, Surprises, and Illustrations

I’ve always looked forward to Oklahoma Light for the Lost Banquets for several reasons. Meeting with missions minded pastors and congregations, watching incredible volunteers serve, getting to know missionaries who travel along with us, watching people extend their faith in giving, and the many unexpected surprises that happens all along this journey. 

Great Coffee, Tea, Atmosphere!

Tuesday October 15th, 2020 we had an incredible but interesting night for our second stop on this year’s Light for the Lost tour. We stayed the night in Durant and spent the day working remotely from Hot Shots Coffee shop. Great coffee, tea, atmosphere and wonderful employees made it a great afternoon!

And nearly 5 o’clock our phones alerted us that there was a significant weather warning for a storm that developed north west of Durant. When it blew through, heavy rains lightning, strong winds accompanied the  storm. Strangely enough only part of the electricity in the coffee shop went out and it would stay that way until we left!

We had a short break between storms, so we decided to make a run for the church to get unloaded and ready for the banquet. However, by the time we got to the church it was raining again. We unloaded the vehicles, and found out that part of the lights were out in the fellowship hall where we were meeting due to the storm. We joked that it would be a romantic missions banquet!

It was our hope that the storms would not keep our churches from attending. However, the room filled up fairly quickly! So thankful that so many of our pastors and churches were able to attend!

Lights Out!

We had a great night and as I was finishing up my presentation, we were showing our last video before receiving faith promises. All of a sudden, all of the electricity went off! Except for a emergency light behind me and a couple cell phone flashlights, we were pretty much in the dark.

Working on regaining the room and moving forward with receiving faith promises, I brought everything to a close fairly quickly. When it was time for people to fill out their promise cards, cell phones came to life to light up each card. It was a great illustration of people living in darkness and now finding the light of Jesus! Thank you God for the great illustration of what Light for the Lost does!

Thanks to:

Special thanks to Gary Dotson (Men’s Rep), Jimmy Keith (Presbyter), Michael Bradley (host Pastor) and the incredible volunteers at Believers Church for putting on such a great banquet. I couldn’t do it without you!

For more information on Light for the Lost: Oklahoma Light for the Lost

Follow the journey from the beginning of 2019: Light for the Lost Tour-The beginning 2019

For more of my blog posts: Chad’s Blog