Month: May 2019

Written By Teresa Goodnight

Ever have someone walk into your life and you just instantly feel connected? Like you have been friends all of your life?  When Jamie walked into my house, it felt a bit God ordained. She was so lovely inside and out; I knew exactly why my long time BFF introduced us.  We had an instant connection we both felt.  Talking to her was so easy. We didn’t stop. Then, she started sharing her story.  It was her mission birthed from an experience she had buried deep inside her heart.  That is, until someone touched the scar and sent her reeling.  All of a sudden, I didn’t know what to say.  She continued pouring out her heart. We both realized, this story needed told.  We changed the entire focus of the next issue in fact.  People aren’t talking about it, but they desperately need to talk.  There are people in our churches who are suffering all alone and they need to know God loves them.  Someone needs to share that overflowing undeserved mercy and love God offers to all of us who have made mistakes–ALL of us. 

Someone needs to break the silence.  

Abortion is a tough topic in the world in general.  You can’t breathe it without stepping on a landmine.  In Oklahoma, one in four women have had an abortion.  In the country, that stat jumps to one in three according to local Catholic Charities workers.    “In the United States, where one half of all pregnancies are unintended, almost one third of women will seek an abortion by age 45.” according to the American College of Gynecologists (ACOG).  The stat doesn’t improve much inside the church.  It’s a decision defined as a woman’s right to choose what happens inside her own body.  For that reason alone, it’s a political hot button.  

Churches steer so far clear of it that in Oklahoma, 25% of the women in our congregations are left facing this alone.  Many believed what Planned Parenthood told them when they walked in the doors.  Then, when they found out it was different—they were left to suffer alone, without anyone to help them walk through it.  There was no one to help talk through the shaming—done both by well-meaning but hard core protesters and the convicting shaming led by Satan himself.  They were left without anyone to help them with that shame Satan uses to minimize them.  They are without anyone to help them know what God thinks about what’s been done and where to go from there.  These women, for the most part, are just alone.

So, we want to start this off and set the record PAINFULLY straight:  God absolutely offers the same grace, love, forgiveness, and removal of all sins as far as the east to the west to anyone who has made ANY mistake. 

To the liar, the adulterer, the person lacking any trace of integrity, the convicted criminal, fill in your blank here–He offers His love and grace as a free gift. We don’t have to earn it.  We do have to turn to him, humble ourselves, and confess our mistakes to him.  He absolutely will forgive anyone.  The difficult part of finding God’s grace though often comes in a battle of trying to find our own.  No matter what God offers, if we feel so much shame—and there’s no one to talk with us about it—we will find ourselves nursing our scar rather than ever being set free from it.

These women were encouraged to save this joyous occasion for a time in their life when they were more ready.  Some were told they were just carrying a blob of cells.  Some were told by the child’s father this was the only way to face the situation. Others knew exactly what they were doing.  Almost all believed they could just go on with their life just as it was after the choice was made.  Jamie said, “The biggest deception in this war on women is that you can just go on with life.  It’s just not true.  You are forever changed.  Your lenses for seeing life are altered.  The truth is, you will never be the same.” 

We run around offering God’s forgiveness He has promised to everyone who has made regrettable choices. However, somehow, as a church (and not all, but most), we’ve decided it’s just too controversial to address from pulpits, where we are supposed to help our congregations.  There are large churches in town, where we have heard it is absolutely a policy that abortion is not an allowable topic for discussion.  

We know the silence, because Jamie heard it.  Over, and over, and over again.  She even heard it when she tried to launch a recovery group inside her church and found her request lost in the shuffle in what seemed like purposeful avoidance.  She heard what no one wanted to offend her with loudly and clearly.  But, when no one addresses your pain, what you hear becomes a deep-seeded pain buried inside your heart for you to bear alone.  That is, until someone accidentally punches through.

Jamie is involved in a women’s group started through a local church.  The women get together, study God’s word and share things they are facing, needing advice or prayer.  They also laugh and fellowship together.  One day, at this group, Jamie mentioned something about not singing anymore.  The woman, unknowingly said to Jamie, “God will use your singing again.  He will.”  Jamie looked up at her with rage in her heart and thought “Don’t you ever say that to me again.  You don’t even know what you are talking about.”  Then, she left her friend’s house.  Jamie said, “I think I didn’t speak directly to her for a month. I just didn’t know what to say.”  Jamie then explained, “When I had come clean about my abortion my church in Minnesota asked me to step down from the praise and worship team. I had decided that this was the price I would pay for what I had done. I vowed that I would never sing again and that God didn’t need someone like me to lead people into His presence.”  Jamie locked away her torment, her pain, and so much more of her heart than she realized until her friend accidentally punched through. 

Jamie said, “I was so upset by what she said. I just felt she had no idea what she was saying, and the vow I had already made.”  Jamie continued, “Honestly, I didn’t even realize how much it mattered to me.”  She went on, “When I lived in Minnesota, I sang on the worship team at my church. The people there became like family to me.  I just knew my boyfriend would get saved and our relationship would change. However, I found out I was pregnant causing my two worlds to collide.  I didn’t know what to do. I talked with my boyfriend, who was very convincing that we would never be together if we tried to be parents right now. He wanted me to terminate the pregnancy. It was not something I ever thought I would even consider.  I just wanted everything to go back to normal and I was desperate to make things work with him. So I compromised everything I believed in for the sake of convenience and what I thought was love.”

Jamie shared, “I walked in to a waiting room full of other people aborting their babies. There were so many people. Really? Is it always this busy? Probably not. I waited and waited and was finally told that the doctor was involved in a car accident on her way to the clinic. My eyes were big as saucers and I distinctly heard God say, “Stand up and walk out. I’ll take care of you.” I shrugged it off, but was visibly shaken by the way this was unfolding. By this time, the waiting room was almost standing room only. I couldn’t believe it. People were laughing and talking like it was no big deal. Was I the only one that was battling a war in my spirit? They finally called my name and I went back alone. The counselor talked to me and told me they had to do an ultrasound to see how far along I really am. So I laid down and she put the cold gel on my belly. She asked me if I wanted to see and I said yes. I saw flashes of light on the screen and what looked to be a pinto bean. The beating of my baby’s heart was right there. Trying to grow, trying to live. The gravity of what I was about to do hit me for a split second and I asked her to turn the screen around. I prayed at that moment that God would just “leave me alone.”

Jamie said, “I was lead to the ‘procedure room’ where I was asked to undress from the waist down and the doctor would be in shortly. Fifteen minutes go by, then thirty, then forty-five. I finally poked my head out of the door and asked if they forgot about me. It was torture just laying there in a cold, sterile room without God’s presence and with the weight of my sin. Why didn’t I just get up and leave?” Jamie went on, “Once the doctor and nurses came in things moved pretty quickly. Bright lights turned on. Clanking of sterile equipment. The nurses were talking amongst themselves about who knows what and I was just laying there with tears streaming down the sides of my head. I finally spoke up and said, “How can you just talk like that when I’m laying here crying?” One of the nurses looked me square in the eye and said, “Sweetheart, we haven’t done anything yet if you want to change your mind you can.” I’ll never know why I didn’t get up and get out of there. It’s a question I’ve asked myself time and time again. I just knew that I wanted to go back to ‘normal.’” Jamie was so solemn, as she shared the events of that day.  She said tearfully, “I had no idea that my ‘normal’ would never look the same again. It was gone. There was no such thing as that anymore.”

Jamie said she left the clinic and went to eat with her boyfriend and then worked an 18 hour shift. It was done.  However, it would never be done in her heart.  Just a few months later, she was working her church booth at a music festival. She saw a booth across the walkway showing graphic video of mid and late term abortions. Jamie said, “I lost it. My mind began reeling, taking me directly back to the clinic, replaying over and over the decision I made. I started to shake and eventually knelt down on the ground to hide my emotion. My pastor’s wife came over and asked if I was ok. I eventually told her what I had done. She was heartbroken for me. She prayed for me, loved me and accepted me where I was. But in reality, no one could have shamed me or judged me more harshly than I had already done to myself. After some discussion, I was asked to step down from the praise and worship team. I understood. In my mind, this would be the price I would pay for what I did. I vowed to never sing again, I wasn’t worthy to lead anyone into His presence.”

The difficult part for Jamie was that she was now all alone.  There was no one to talk with about her situation.  Who would understand?  She said, “I just dealt with it the best I could.  I think I covered it up—buried it deep inside, and finally found the strength to move on.”  Jamie said she and her boyfriend broke up within a few months of the decision. She didn’t want to have anything to do with him.  She didn’t want to think about it anymore.  Then, she was back in church.  About two months later, she was fortunate enough to go on a trip to Israel where she met her husband. She went with her church in Minnesota and he was with his church from Oklahoma. They talked long distance for a while and he eventually came to visit her. 

During their first date, she just blurted out “I’ve had an abortion. Is that gonna be an issue for you?” Not exactly first date material. Jamie said, “I really was just so ashamed and felt so unworthy of anything.  I thought I would just go ahead and end it there. Turns out he actually did have to take some time to pray about how he felt about it. It just further seared into my heart the lie “What you did is unforgivable.” He eventually asked me if I would date him exclusively. I told him I wasn’t going to move again for a guy. So, he moved to Minnesota and the rest, as they say, is history.”

“I can’t really share all the emotions I experienced about my decision over the years. I couldn’t go back. It was done. I was never the same again and I had to learn how to be ok with that place.  It was a dark, lonely place—so I just decided not to go there.  I think I buried it and decided to go on with life.  However, the scar and the pain were always heavy on my heart.” lamented Jamie.  

After marrying, Jamie found herself pregnant.  About 5 weeks into the pregnancy, she miscarried. She was devastated. She said, “I just felt like I was being punished because of what I had done. Would I even be able to have kids? What if God decided He couldn’t trust me with children? I actually understood that. I was just heartbroken.” Fortunately, shortly after, she was pregnant with her third child.  She was elated.  She was so excited to get to meet her Jacob.  Jamie said, “I just couldn’t wait to hold him, to look in his eyes, to be the best mom I could possibly be to my baby, but my previous decision was always there haunting me in the back of my mind.  It crept up enough to shame me and condemn me until I suppressed it again.”  

When Jacob was born, Jamie’s heart was overwhelmed with instant love for his precious face. Being the best mother she could be to him became a top priority for her daily.  Then, just a few years later, she gave birth to her fourth child, Payton.  Payton was a bright, beautiful baby girl with a joyous heart.  Jamie’s life had never been more right with her better-than-dreamed-of family, except for that nagging voice of condemnation always trying to steal her moments of joy.

That’s where we started, Bible study with the friend who drove into Jamie’s scar like a bulldozer speaking words of encouragement that felt like a knife through her heart.  The incident forced Jamie to reexamine her choice, and search God’s heart for what He wanted to with it. How would He turn these ashes into beauty? Jamie said, “All I had was my story, my guilt and shame and a willingness to share it all.” With that, she began sharing her story with close friends, at first, and then acquaintances and eventually people she’d never met.

“The more I shared my story, the more I realized how many people were suffering in silence. I started to become painfully aware that we are in the middle of a crisis. Not only with abortion itself, but the souls caught in the aftermath.

I decided I wanted to do my part. I said ‘YES’ to God’s heart and am willing to do what I can to bring healing, wholeness and restoration to the hearts and destinies of men and women suffering with the torment of a sin that no one is willing to openly talk about.” 

Jamie said the more she talks about it, the more healing it brings–the more God shows her how much He loves her and how His grace covers her. So, that’s what she is doing. Creating space for men and women who have been touched by the effects of abortion. Jamie said, “A lot of people can’t explain why they feel stuck or why they feel depressed, unworthy or don’t feel ‘alive’ anymore. I didn’t realize until much later that the lies I chose to believe about myself as a result of the abortion caused me to sabotage my entire life. Once I realized that, I was blown away. I wasn’t going to allow Satan to steal my destiny. In fact, I was determined to fulfill the destiny God has for me AND the baby I aborted. Her life is going to matter.”

Talk About Destiny:

Jamie’s humble heart is in ministry to help men, women and families who have been touched by silence of sins like abortion to find God’s grace and healing.  Her message of God’s overwhelming mercy can be restorative to people facing Satan’s army of convictive thoughts like shame and guilt.  Let the church be silent no more. 

You can reach Jamie at: talkaboutdestiny@gmail.com.  Get her on your calendar to speak to your group, church or event.  

Caring for broken people is a beautiful path towards helping God’s kingdom be restored.  When restored, we can all operate from His powerful platform of mercy and grace. 

We can be the mighty warriors for Christ He has called us to be and ALL LIVES can come out of the silence and matter again.

Written By Missy Nicholas

Greeta and Jami had been friends since childhood and now were pregnant with boys, due on the same day.  Conversations assured the strengthening of their bond as they planned to raise their sons together, as friends.  I had not known either of them long and did not know either of them well; I was merely a witness of what was about to unfold.  I met Greeta after she found out that she would not raise her son because of a terminal prognosis.  He would only live for hours, if he lived at all.  She would love him for as long as she was given–just 8 hours after his birth. 

Jami’s pregnancy resulted in a beautiful baby boy–a drastic difference shattering all of those fantastic fantasies of fun. Instead of walking the same path, it seemed that a crossroads was forcing them to go different directions.  Jami organized for the normal things a new baby brings.  Greeta, bulldozed over with loss,  was preparing for a road of grief.  

Most friendships fall apart here.  Many relationships end when there is still affection left to be shared. We are not skilled at being in someone else’s reality when it is different from our own. We prefer swimming in the warm waters of comfortable emotions in order to keep our friendships intact.  The difference between what Greeta and Jami had planned and what occurred seemed too drastic to comprehend. Impossible, it would seem, to move through it together while remaining present in each others lives.  It’s often easier to allow these kind of differences to create distance and let the relationship fade into a memory with nobody to blame other than life’s tragic turns.  It wouldn’t have been the first relationship lost at the crossroads of “I don’t know what to say,” and “I don’t know what to do.”  And yet, what I witnessed between these two friends has forever changed my heart and life regarding love in the differences. 

Imagine a new mom stepping out of her euphoria after childbirth enough to sit with her friend in grief because she just lost what you brought home.  Jami could have stayed home in the joy of her new nursery, relishing the gift of health.  Instead, she showed up for Greeta in ways nobody else could have.  Without knowing what to do or what to say, Jami bridged the gap between gratitude and grief simply by just being there. Later, she was brave enough through tears to ask Greeta to be the caregiver for her son, Jericho when she returned to work.  An uncertain and potentially damaging conversation.

Yet she extended an invitation to share in the blessing of life to her friend who had been swallowed by the grief of death.  Jami took a risk to find the solid ground of friendship instead of allowing it to get lost in the unspoken and assumed.

On the other hand, imagine a grieving mom, who experienced the birth and death of her own son cradling and loving her friend’s baby within days of her own loss.  Greeta likely didn’t have words but she was present with Jami in her joy, grateful for what her friend experienced though it was so tragically taken from her.  Resentment and bitterness were surely vying for a place in her thoughts, but she welcomed into her heart a healthy baby boy.  She allowed herself to sit in the joy of new life with her friend, when grief was still her constant companion.  She not only became the primary caregiver when Jami returned to work, but she loved Jericho in ways that only she was able.  She loved him despite her grief, and because of her grief–a love so rooted in grace it formed an amazing bond between these families. 

I have been just close enough to understand that between these two friends is an intentional and compelling love. The place between them can only be described as holy.  Holy, because moving between them is a love that can only be seen as the hand and the heart of God.

Missy Nicholas is a professional psycho-therapist, an amateur photographer and a lifelong writer.

Catch her blog at www.sunsetsandsnowflakes.com



CRITICAL UPDATE:  

This article was written in early January and we loved it so much, we wanted to share it in our Mother’s Day issue.  Two days after Missy published it in her blog, Jericho who is 3 years old was diagnosed with lymphoblastic leukemia.  Now these women with their beautiful friendship are arm in arm fighting together again. Jericho recently had an allergic reaction to the chemotherapy, causing him to code in his mother’s arms.  After 40 minutes of CPR and 3 days in the ICU, Jericho shocked medical staff with his miraculous comeback.  As of the printing of this article only weeks after coding, Jericho is back to his chemotherapy regime. These two women are a living, breathing testimony of love and grace for one another and an example to each of us.

There is a Venmo account for Jericho Roberts, as well as an account at RCB bank in NE Oklahoma (just drop by or mail) if you would like to assist with medical expenses.

Ephesians 4:3-3-16 (NLT)

“Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit…Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

The unification of the body of Christ to do good works together…ahhh that sounds nice.  At least we think so.  Although we’d like to take credit for the concept, it’s actually woven throughout God’s word.  At the end of the day, we are to be united in Christ as His Body.  Sometimes we get so caught up in being a certain church, denomination or organization that we lose sight of the advantages for God’s Kingdom when we come together as His “Body.”  When you have an amazing group of arms, who can flex their power inside their realm effectively, can you imagine what they could do paired together with some legs to move around? A torso for stabilization?  What if they found some super fingers, who could be instrumental in finer tasks of detail?  Sometimes we just think too small as the “Body” of Christ.  Can you imagine if we applied our strengths and abilities in a unified manner? 

With decades of diversity training in the workplace under my belt, I can attest that Corporate America spends gigantic budgets teaching the value of diversity in the workplace. When we bring together people with different skills, different vantage points looking at a situation, and varied approaches to being effective, we can create a more powerful solution to the problem.  When we bring together all sorts of companies in an industry association, we can share those approaches, finding ways to work together for the common good of the industry.  

The application of diversity in effecting positive change under a unified movement can greatly expand the reach of that movement.  Just using the famous expression—we all understand resources can be saved from “trying to reinvent the wheel.”  So, it’s puzzling why, as a “C”hurch, who is directed by God to be unified in purpose, that we would hold so tightly within our own boundaries.  What could we do if we applied God’s direction, which is a proven strengthening tactic in the business realm, to our efforts to reach the community for Christ?  There are so many business skills that need applied to strengthen the church. (That’s for discussion another time!)

God already made us aware of His plan for our unity.  He also made us very aware of our varied gifts and strengths.  And, of course, he gave us the symbolism behind the “Body of Christ” to demonstrate exactly how we can work together for the greater good of the Kingdom.  (Check out the interview with Jason Law from “Unite My City” for another great demonstration of this plan!)

We recently found great strength in partnering with pregnancy resource centers, abortion recovery ministries, those with a heart to help little babies, and those in Tulsa who are here to help families in crisis or need.  We all partnered up proactively with Focus on the Family and their event “Alive from New York,” displaying a 4-D ultrasound in Times Square–showing our support for life here from Oklahoma.  The Alive from Oklahoma “Standing in Love” event held May 4th, is an exact representation of the power God puts in our unification of His body, working for His purpose.  None of us could have pulled this event off alone.  I can’t wait to see what we do together next! (Did I mention we also did a red carpet event together for the movie Unplanned, which beat all the expected box office records?  The movie rips the veil from Planned Parenthood revealing truths that need told!)  

We feel God is definitely calling us to continue to work together for His kingdom!  It is our prayerful goal to be a vessel to God’s followers, to the “C”hurch, so that we can have a greater impact together.  We’re here to help.  Let’s do this!  #Go.Do.Be

Written By Betsy Gwartney Catrett 

Celebrating the Joys, 

Minimizing the Pain, 

Maximizing the Gain.

Here we go!

As next to the last of 7, I missed out on Mothering 101.  I flunked babysitting, too. I didn’t know what to do.  So, when I married and babies came up, I felt, ummm STRESS. What was I to do?

I prayed and turned to God’s word for help.  I read Psalm 127:3 (NLT) “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him.” So how did that scripture truth jive with my feelings about motherhood?  NOT AT ALL.

So, I kept coming back to the Lord each night until my heart was at peace.  I told the Lord I trusted Him to guide our family size and my fears and concerns of ineptness as a mother!  By this time, I had already miscarried our first baby who was named Levi Joseph. Then, in barely seven short years, the gifts of Larry Paul (Lars), Lynden Dale (Len), Lance David, Lark Daniel, and then Luke Stephen were given to us.  Whaaat?  Don’t worry, it’s ok. 

Despite a wonderful life of exciting travel, amazing people, and treasured life experiences I couldn’t have imagined the one area that tops them all is being a mother!  Seeing the joy on each sweet child’s face when he entered into the light and life of spiritual birth and growing in that walk is ecstasy.   3 John 1:4 (NLT) “I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.”

So, what do we do with the sorrows?  And I don’t mean just the sorrows, but also the

SORROWS. Thankfully not all of you, but many of you KNOW exactly what I mean.  I had SORROWS that ended up lasting for decades. Little by little I believe the Holy Scriptures washed my mind and gave me a heavenly perspective that eased my pain. 

Family life can be a lot like the “no pain no gain” aspect in the gym. We can reframe the pain, frustration, sorrow, embarrassment, shame into a positive purpose that maximizes hope, energy and honor despite what one is going through.

Let’s give it a try by looking at 4 important foundational beliefs. 

1.  First things first:  Salvation is about becoming spiritually ALIVE; born again into a realm for which we were designed, but by the human choices of Adam and Eve the entire human race died spiritually.  Focus on being ALIVE, not saved.  (Salvation is a wonderful by-product, but tends to result in us trying and trying to be “good.”)

2.  Next, create a family atmosphere of LIFE-LONG LEARNING, with an emphasis on MATURING in our understanding of intimacy with God and the activity of spiritual warfare.  We LEARN by listening for God and acknowledging when we hear Him (Proverbs 3:5-6).  We LEARN from mistakes if we take the time to debrief, process and look for the truths in the experience.  A post I read recently on Facebook went something like this: “Boy did I mess up; Dad’s gonna KILL me!” Or is it, “Boy did I mess up, I’ve GOT to call DAD!” What kind of response does your belief system produce?

3.  Rather than life being about perfect performance of whichever Christian list you choose to follow, understand that life is about LEARNING TO LOVE and LIVE IN UNITY and HARMONY.  (John 17:15-23, John 13:35) How in this world do we authentically love people whose choices affect us negatively and their styles of relating are so irritating and frustrating? Try this, realize that we reap what we sow.  When we experience what we earlier “dished out” we have motivation for growth and change.  The irritating person does, so do we!  Give the amount of love and understanding that you want others to give you (Luke 8:31).  Another helpful tool is to “Get wisdom, but with all your getting GET UNDERSTANDING!” (Proverbs 4:7) Understand that our Creator’s plan is for us to defeat evil together, thus He uniquely designed us and placed us in family systems.  No mistakes on His part!  As we understand one another’s strengths, gaps and growth areas we can mature together resulting in a powerful synergy that dispels darkness and produces intimacy, peace, and provision in every way. 

4.     Thus (and lastly), every family has a spiritual ASSIGNMENT given by God. (Exodus 34:7) Beliefs produce behaviors in every family.  Identify the behaviors that rob of life and love and the beliefs behind them, then ask God for the Truth with which to replace them.  You will be delighted with the new fruit your TRANSITION GENERATION created!

You see, your children don’t need a perfect mother.  They need a mother who will show them where to turn when searching for answers, how to humbly receive God’s  heavenly perspective and the life-learning of others, and how to ask God for power to apply what they know.  You can relax and know that Elohim, our Creator, has a Master Plan for bringing us to spiritual life and maturing us in intimacy and spiritual warfare that results in a victorious harmony that will thrill our souls and delight His heart!  By focusing on spiritual life, being a life-long learner, growing in one’s ability to authentically love and unify, and accepting ones family assignment you position yourself to celebrate the joys, minimize the pain and maximize the gain.  

Let’s GO!


Written By Teresa Goodnight

What’s up with all the “Unite my City” Buzz?

We caught up with Jason Law, who has a passion to see the Body of Christ in cities work together in unity. Jason is the President of World Compassion Terry Law Ministries and the author of Unite My City. Jason shared, “Not only is Unite My City a book but a movement I believe God is reigniting in His Church today. Some people may be trying to figure out what Unite My City really is. That’s one of the reasons I wrote the book. Generally speaking, it’s the concept of unification of the Body of Christ. It takes a little bit of explanation and understanding of what this can look like in the context of a city. The main thing we want to communicate is that ‘Unite My City’ is a movement not just a set of events. It’s even beyond the efforts of what we help facilitate through World Compassion. There are other churches or groups that coordinate unity efforts among churches as well. We have met many in the Tulsa area who have a similar heart and vision. To me, this is a sign of a movement, when God puts something on the heart of many that is similar, I think we should pay attention to that.”

Jason went on, “The events we do are more catalytic to help inspire the movement. Unite My City’s message to the church is unity is not something that we do – it is who we are. We are one in Christ. Our heart is to encourage local churches in our city to continually walk in unity by finding ways to collaborate to serve our city in an ongoing way. So, it’s never just an event for us.”  

I asked Jason what was next on the horizon. He said, “We’ve got the big ‘Serve My City’ day June 8. The heart of the event is really to see churches work together to meet the needs of our community.” Jason continued, “So it’s nothing new in the sense of churches serving the community. We have done that, but we haven’t been great at doing it together consistently. It’s important that we serve with one another at such a high level that our city takes notice. I believe in doing so we point people to Jesus in a significant way.”  

Jason said, “John 17 is a very famous passage of Scripture where Jesus is praying for his entire church. He prayed we would become one, and then our unity would accomplish two things. First, the world would believe that God sent His Son for them. Second, our unity shows God’s love for the world just as He loved His Son – Jesus. For the world to experience these two truths, we must show them what the Church working and walking in unity looks like. This is powerful in the context of a city or town. 

It’s not enough to say we are united; our spiritual unity in Christ must be visibly manifested by the Church. When unbelievers in a city learn of churches and Christian organizations of diverse ethnicities, denominations, and generations united in citywide prayer and worship events and especially see our unity through community service projects, they witness our unity in action. I believe it presents God’s love in a refreshing and powerful way.

John 17: 20-23 (NLT) says “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.  I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.  “I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”

Jason also quoted John 13:34-35 (NLT), ”So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” Jason shared, “It’s our love for one another that our cities will know we are followers of Jesus. That’s what Jesus said.  So, what does the world see when they look at the church? We know we all have our own banners on things and that’s great. We are each unique. In no way do I believe that Bible unity requires us to lay down our uniqueness. It doesn’t require us to give up our diversity or different cultures or styles. Rather, I think it calls us to come together with those differences and even our disagreements and say, ‘Our love for one another is stronger than what could divide us because that’s the command we have from Jesus. We are more united than we are separated. What unites us is stronger than what divides us. What unites us is more important than our differences  – that’s love.’” 

Jason emphasized, “So, unity is really a dissertation on God’s love. I don’t know if we really understand what the sacrifice of loving one another really means. I’m still learning this. Jesus commanded us to love one another as Christ loved the church. There’s a self-sacrifice that’s required. A lot of times we allow our opinions on social issues, politics or unforgiveness to get in the way of truly loving one another and defending the bond of unity we have in Christ as the Church. Events that we help facilitate in the Unite My City movement are designed to help begin to build and protect that culture of unity amongst the local church in the city.”

Jason said, “I’m a champion of the big ‘C’ Church and want to encourage the Church in our calling. I want the Church to know that we have an opportunity to share the love of God by how we interact with one another, how we speak towards one another, how we talk about one another or how we interact. The event is great because we get to set an example of unity through love to our city.  But, we also get to share the love of Jesus with people by practically meeting their needs.” Jason added, “For example, Chris Campbell with the 111 Project rallied the Church community and made a significant dent in the foster care issue in our area. Imagine what’s possible as the churches unite together to serve our schools consistently? What impact could be made if five or ten churches collaborated around serving one school consistently? Where could that school be in a year? What impact could we make if the Church improved our coordination on feeding the hungry and shelter for the homeless. What if? What’s possible? As we work together in unity, we hope we challenge us all to think bigger – to think about what once was impossible may now be possible.”  

Jason continued, “I get to travel to various countries through our international ministry World Compassion. Over the past 16 years of doing this, one thing I’ve learned is the love of my own nation has grown. I’m thankful for the services our government provides to our people, but I still believe there’s more the Church can do to better serve our communities even to the degree in which it could help decrease government provided services, saving our cities and state tax dollars. If that’s possible, it may be a perk in all of this, but our main goal is to inspire the Church to love people and point them to Jesus. Whether they are Christian or not, whether they choose to accept Jesus as their Lord or not, I think we should keep on loving and serving them.” 

As Jason touched on the role of tax dollars trying to alleviate the suffering of humanity. As soon as he did, I remembered Steve Largent, while in the House, sharing with the Tulsa World that the church was called to rally around the widows, orphans, poor and degenerate—not the government. Jason feels strongly, “I’d really like to see a movement begin to almost take the weight off of our city officials. I think a movement like this doesn’t only serve those in need but also serves our city officials, elected officials and allows the Church to come alongside them in a significant way helping to find solutions to better our communities for all. We’re here to serve with a united, servant-leadership mentality—it could really make an impact. 

The Unite My City Serve Day weekend will kick off at the “Great Lawn” at The Gathering Place on Thursday night June 6th, before the event day, June 8th. Jason said, “This is an opportunity to come together to celebrate our diversity and get our hearts and minds ready to serve our city. It’s another chance to promote unity, connect and get excited about serving our cities. It will be a fun night for the family with live music presented by a variety of churches. All are welcome to come even if they are not Christians. For those participating in the Serve Day, it’s kind of like a pep rally before the big game. We’re honored to be able to host this at the Gathering Place as they have created, with excellence, a space for our city to gather from all backgrounds.”

Jason shared, “Last year, the Unite My City Serve Day had 35 churches participate and 963 volunteers mobilized in one day. This year, we are expecting much more. The goal for the Serve Day is for churches to partner together with another church. It’s about churches interacting together, planning and preparing. It’s in this process that relationships are being established around a common cause they both care about. It’s through these relationships that we can begin asking the question, ‘What else is possible together?’”

“We’re not asking them to reinvent the wheel or to add something to their plate. We’re asking them to rewire the way they approach outreach.” Jason thought rethinking our approach was really the first step to becoming greater than our individual selves. He said, “They rewire it by doing it together rather than isolated. So, if one church was reaching an apartment complex or school, other churches could consider  coming alongside them and contribute. The hope is a church partnership will continue throughout the year and beyond.” Jason added, “We’re looking for the event on June 8th to be a catalytic event to help launch people into sustainable ongoing relationships to keep meeting needs together throughout the year. Our hope is every year, it just builds and builds and builds until this becomes the norm of how we serve our city.” 

It’s not too late! If you’re reading this and it’s ringing true in your heart—just reach out to Unite My City and they can help connect you and your church to other groups that may be a good fit. 

Beyond the events in June, if you’re interested in being a part of what God is doing in the Tulsa area, feel free to reach out to the Unite My City team. They would love to connect you any way they can. The possibilities are as limitless as your imagination, heart and passion for serving and of course, the power of the One True God we serve!

2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT)

Then if my people who are called by my name will (1)humble themselves and (2)pray and (3)seek my face and (4)turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.

In 2 Chronicles, God offers us a 4 part path to recovery from sin.  Sometimes we feel like we just can’t be forgiven. Sometimes, there is so much silence around our specific offense, that we dwell alone in satan’s realm of pity and condemnation.  Sometimes we feel the silence is absolutely fitting.  We start to think “What else do we possibly deserve?” It becomes a comfortable place of darkness.  Without God’s light–how in the world can we find our way out of that darkness?  So let’s put the light right in the middle of it. 

James 2:10 (NLT)  

“For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws.”

It’s difficult to add anything meaningful to this very clear statement.  Sin is sin is sin. If we have committed one, we are as guilty as one who has committed all.  We should remember that when we need God’s forgiveness–the same as we should remember it when someone sins against us.  So, when God speaks of forgiveness–rest assured, even the sins we tend to not name because they feel too big, too horrible, to shameful, he includes them all.

Knowing God’s grace applies to whatever silent darkness you are in matters. So, now what?  How do we get some light in Satan’s perfect prison of condemnation? After all, who else would benefit the most if we think God’s grace doesn’t apply to our mistakes?

1 – Humble Ourselves

Before we can start to seek forgiveness, we have to come to term with our own mistakes, admitting they are actually sin.  It sounds easy enough, but we all know there are some sins we want to justify.  Abortion is a great example of such a difficult sin to admit.  If we admit it is a sin against God, then it opens the entire experience for more guilt and shame to attack.  That’s why it’s so critical to have people coming alongside to help guide us on our recovery journey. When we are getting right with God–Satan absolutely wants to condemn us so badly that we walk away.

In our interview for the cover story, Jamie Harrell mentioned “I actually had to spend time thinking it through to admit it to myself as wrong—and then finding a way to forgive myself before I could think about talking to God about it.”  That’s not for everyone, but it was a real step in her recovery process that helped.  Jamie wasn’t even ready to forgive herself.  People often find great solace in living with the pain of our mistakes, as it becomes a home we feel we deserve—one we have earned with our decisions.  Not feeling worthy of our own forgiveness, much less God’s forgiveness, is actually a humble, broken place to go before God–because in those moments, we are knee deep in the feeling unworthy of God’s forgiveness.  We are free from pride and arrogance, which often entangles us.  And, He is RIGHT THERE to let us know He absolutely loves us.  He absolutely can remove our sins as far as the east is from the west.

As an example of a heartfelt prayer in humility and confession in front of God, I offer a Psalm speaking specifically of the “shedding of blood,” because of the grave depth of the offense and God’s specific inclusion of this sin in the Bible.  God is not silent on such sins.  As any parent would, God wishes to protect us from making mistakes that will destroy our lives.  He restores the humble heart in despair.  All of Psalm 51 has such a broken, humbled confession to the Lord, but let’s look just at these 3 verses:

Psalm 51:13-15 (NLT)

“Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you.  Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.  Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.”

I love Psalm 51 for so many reasons, but verse 15 really speaks to why we need to know God has forgiven our sin.   “Then…(after He forgives), THEN, I will joyfully SING of your forgiveness.  By healing your heart, God will “Unseal” your lips so that your mouth may praise him from a place of even more gratitude for His mercy than you had before.  When shown that kind of mercy, it allows God to use something Satan meant for evil to bring about good.  How much more mercy does a heart have to give that has been given so much recognizably undeserved mercy from our Creator? 

2 – Praying before God

Humbling ourselves before God and admitting what we’ve done is NOT an easy “said and done” kind of experience.  Don’t misunderstand, God’s forgiveness operates that way, but coming to terms with it ourselves does not.  There are absolute repercussions to our sinful decisions; however, shining God’s light in on the situation helps bring about a peace.  If we’re dwelling in the darkness, we are losing out on feeling the freedom to think on things that are excellent and praiseworthy, which will help guard our hearts and minds.  Humbling ourselves before God frees us to find all the healing He freely offers us to restore us and then protect us when Satan tries to use this tactic to bring us down again.  Praying to God in that humility offers great comfort and peace that makes no sense considering the situation we’re facing. Going before God humbly and telling him what we need brings about the exact healing we need:

Philippians 4:6-9 (NLT)

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

God has always known us–before anyone else knew us.  There is nothing you are going to say in your prayer that surprises him.  He knew you before you were ever born. 

3 – Seeking God

Talk to God about Psalm 139: 1-17 below.  Acknowledge that He already knows as He is omnipotent (knows everything).  This step is critical when you think about God’s guidance in this scripture above.  God says He knew us when we were formed and that He knew the steps we would take in our lives.  There’s nothing you need to tell Him that He doesn’t already know.  He has always known you.  So, humbling ourselves is really admitting to God that we know what we have done is a sin against Him.  It’s finding a broken spirit to lay before Him knowing we just don’t deserve what He has to offer—His payment for our sins and His forgiveness.

Psalm 139 (NLT)

1 O Lord, you have examined my heart and

  know everything about me.

2 You know when I sit down or stand up. You

  know my thoughts even when I’m far away.

3 You see me when I travel and when I rest at

  home. You know everything I do.

4 You know what I am going to say even

  before I say it, Lord.

5 You go before me and follow me. You place

  your hand of blessing on my head.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too

  great for me to understand!

7 I can never escape from your Spirit!

  I can never get away from your presence!

8 If I go up to heaven, you are there;

  if I go down to the grave, you are there.

9 If I ride the wings of the morning,

  if I dwell by the farthest oceans,

10 even there your hand will guide me,

   and your strength will support me.

11 I could ask the darkness to hide me and the

  light around me to become night—

12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from  

  you. To you the night shines as 

  bright as day. Darkness and light are the 

  same to you.

13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of 

  my body and knit me together in my

  mother’s womb.

14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully 

  complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—

  how well I know it.

15 You watched me as I was being formed in 

  utter seclusion, as I was woven together in 

  the dark of the womb.

16 You saw me before I was born. Every day

  of my life was recorded in your book.

  Every moment was laid out before a single   

  day had passed.

17 How precious are your thoughts about me,

  O God. They cannot be numbered!

4 – Turn

Tell Him what you have done.  Tell Him you need His forgiveness and healing. Tell Him your heart’s desire is to commit such an offense no more.  There are so many great places where God speaks of His overwhelming grace and forgiveness when we confess (tell him we are wrong and what we’ve done).   I love 1 John 1:9 for this kind of prayer, where we can cling to God’s promises.  If we confess, he will cleanse us from “ALL WICKEDNESS.” 

That’s ALL.

I will repeat for those who really like to feel they have the ONE thing God won’t forgive—that’s ALL WICKEDNESS.

1 John 1:9 (NLT) 

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.”

Then, while humble, while praying, while seeking Him, pray for the plan to help you turn from your sins.  Some sins are addictive.  Let’s not miss this critical step. There’s not a way to list HOW to turn from any kind of sin here. There are lots of ways I can suggest.  For one, get an accountability partner, one whom you will be honest with and one who will absolutely be honest with you.  Seek out resources inside your church. In some cases, you might need to seek out a Christian counselor. In other, you might need to download an app to keep you from going to certain websites.  If this is any sort of addictive sin, you should seek a restorative group.  There’s a great chance any of us can stumble again and having a group or accountability partners (people to keep us on track and check on us) helps.  Someone in your church leadership or in your church can help point you in the right direction to get the support you need to kick this sin or recover from one that has a lot of emotional weight.  God can absolutely use Christians to help hold you along this path. 

God is super clear. If we humble ourselves, if we pray, if we seek His face, if we turn from our wickedness–He will forgive.  It’s humbling just to think about it.  It can bring us to our knees to dwell upon it. Being forgiven when you know you are horribly wrong, when you know you can’t undo what you’ve done AND when you know how holy and perfect God is—that’s seriously some kind of AMAZING GRACE.

Written By: R.A. Goodnight

Tolerant.  Pro-choice. A new age of human rights.  The world of today has done a good job at making a life separate of God appeal to many by using nothing more than an effective marketing campaign.  They have been so successful that they have been able to re-label who men, women and Christians are in society.   Due to their success, I would argue that all important aspects of modern-day American life have moved to the left of center.  If we are being honest, though, the world itself is not solely guilty for the environment in which we now find ourselves.  There is a second reason this is occurring.

I can remember as a boy and young man, that men were expected to be men and women, women.  There never was discussion or debate about what those two sexes meant.  Additionally, there seemed to be an understood definition of what a Christian was, and what they did or didn’t believe.  There was a unified defensive that existed to help protect individuals and church congregations when it came to our personal and Christian identities. That defensive was made up of parents, mature individual Christians and The Church itself.  It was always there; active and vocal when it came to expounding God’s definitions while, simultaneously, combating worldly ideas.

Unfortunately, the opposite seems to have occurred over the last decade.  With the coming of age of the current generation, our collective voices have started to lessen.  On some topics, our individual voices and the voice of The Church have fallen all together silent.  To a large degree, we have stopped teaching God’s view of men, of women and even of children (both born and unborn).  We have fallen silent on topics such as sexuality; and our absence on topics like abortion has resulted, in part, with the continued erosion of family values.  Now, throughout the country, members of both sexes no longer hold a Christian view of each other’s roles and responsibilities, marriage, or the protection of life.

So, to all men and leaders in any position, I make these statements – it is in our silence that the perversions of the world have taken stronghold.  It is through our silence that we will share responsibility for what individuals believe and for the adults our children grow into.  It is not this world’s place to define sexuality, what is considered life or Christianity.  As God created all of these, it is for Him to define.  It is our responsibility to train others in His ways.  Understanding that this is how we take captive and overcome the definitions the world has created; we should not remain silent.  

In the recent weeks I have spoken to individuals responsible for various roles.  I have spoken to teachers, parents and church leaders.  In almost all cases the responses I received gave the impression that there is a general sense of inability to discuss these with our congregations, with individual’s or our children.  In two cases, I was even told some churches have made deliberate decisions or rules to not address such issues at all.

Is it really that big of deal to remain silent on such matters?  In order to carry this discussion further, here are a few statistics that should be considered:

• More than 4 out of 10 women who had an abortion stated they were active in their church while the decision was being made and at the time the abortion was performed.

(Focus on the Family – Survey: Women Go Silently From Church to Abortion Clinic)

• Of those 40%, 76% said the church had no influence upon their decision (meaning it wasn’t discussed).

(Focus on the Family – Survey: Women Go Silently From Church to Abortion Clinic)

• About 3% of the population do not identify as heterosexual.  Think, then, how many family members, friends or fellow Christians are affected by extension.

(Gallup Data – In U.S. More Adults Identifying)

What is my point in sharing such statistics?  Although these topics are uncomfortable, we are mistaken if we believe they are not having an impact in our church, on our friends or on our children.  So, why aren’t we speaking about them?  Think about it – some of our multi-site/multi-service churches in Oklahoma easily see 1,000 people per weekend per location.  This means that a potentially large demographic of the audience is affected by the topics previously mentioned.  Think of the opportunity this creates for us to be a positive influence and a source of encouragement for these individuals.  But, that will be difficult to accomplish if we will not speak about such matters.

Despite the negative statistics I just shared, 64% of pastors (and a similar number of individual Christians) feel unable to address such topics. (Barna – Faith Leadership in a Divided Culture)

Generally, the reasons cited were that they were too political or unpopular.  Due to this fear, there was an expressed concern on how audiences, congregations or individuals, would react to these discussions.  I understand the concern.  But I would argue that we are looking at the situation backwards.  We are looking at it from the point of view of men and have forgotten God’s point of view. Allow me to build upon this this idea using scripture.

In Bible history we learn of a man named Jonah.  Like modern day Christians, Jonah was tasked by God to deliver a message to the city of Nineveh. (Jonah 1:2; 3:2) However, Jonah believed that no one wanted to hear the message that he had been given.  He believed they would not listen.  Jonah was convinced that the message would be so unpopular that he attempted to run from God and the task he had been given.  He went so far as to board a ship and travel in the opposite direction of where Nineveh was located. (Jonah 1:3) But who was Jonah to decide this about God’s message? 

Eventually, God reminded Jonah of his responsibility as His messenger. (Jonah 1:4-2:10) Because of this reminder, Jonah proceeded to Nineveh and delivered the message as God expected of him. (Jonah 3:3) How did the people respond?  Was the message as unpopular as Jonah had convinced himself it would be?  Notice the outcome as recorded in The Bible, “The Ninevites believed God.  A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.” (Jonah 3:5) Even the King responded to Jonah’s message. In the end the scriptures tell us that more than 120,000 people were saved by what was thought to be an unpopular and unwanted message. (Jonah 3:6-10; 4:11)

What is today’s application?  There are few of our messages as Christians that are viewed as popular in today’s fallen world.  They may be deemed as old fashioned, unpopular or politically incorrect.  There will always be those that do not want to hear God’s views.  It is true that addressing some topics could result in people unfriending you.  It is even possible that some might not come back to your church.  All these possibilities are unfortunate.  But what about the ‘120,000’ that are waiting to hear what God has to say?  Notice the lesson God gave Jonah while he was struggling with his negative, and incorrect, viewpoint, “And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people…?” (Jonah 4:11) Perhaps there were some in Nineveh that did not want to hear.  But God was concerned with those who did want to listen, and he taught Jonah to be concerned with this as well.  A timely message for us in today’s complicated world.

That’s the viewpoint I would suggest we need to consider, God’s viewpoint, not man’s. There could be someone you know or someone sitting in the audience that needs to hear, even wants to hear, what God has to say.  If we remain silent Satan’s voice will be the what people hear.  He will try to define them, mold them and convince them that things God defines as sin are acceptable.  The only questions that remain are, will you deliver the message?  Or, will you play a part in preventing them from hearing it?  Think of the experience your future could hold – one where you positively impacted a person in crisis and introduced them to God. Or one with a whale of a tale.


I would consider it a privilege to hear from any of the readers. Reach out to me, share your stories.

man2man@omegaleague.com 

@omegaleagueman


Written By Teresa Goodnight

The Silence is being Filled

Satan is winning battles all over the place in our silence.  It leaves a void being filled by everyone but the church–and being filled exactly how Satan wants.  In silence, we hear the rationalized, non-Biblical views on topics that the church finds too sensitive to discuss.  If we don’t offer God’s word from those with the most qualifications to explain it–well, you can do THAT math.

GOD FORGIVES.

Satan is on a path to make us all victims—whether it’s of this sin or that sin. The more he can get us to make wrong choices, the more we become prisoners of our own making with the whisper of shame and guilt.  Maybe that’s the wrong wording. I think sometimes it’s more like the shouting to the depths of our souls that we are not worthy.  If Satan can trap us in condemnation, he thinks he has us.  We will feel unworthy to lead our families or the church. 

Just pick the sin—it really doesn’t matter.  He is targeting us to make us feel unworthy of anything God offers, and as such, unworthy of anything God would ever call us to do.  The victimization of Christians is staggering.  Satan does not care one bit which trap he sets that we fall into as a Christian or really as a human being.  He only cares that we fall.  He loves for us to feel the weight of guilt and shame that we never imagine finding the forgiveness and power to rise again. 

Haven’t you ever felt that way yourself?  I have. I could list my sins right here—and so many of them have pushed me to silence myself on different matters.  After all, if you’ve committed a sin, it makes you feel like a hypocrite to say it out loud to someone else about to make the same mistake.  My boyfriend in college was so plagued with his own sins of his past, he just never could believe God had truly forgiven him.  He lived in torment.  It felt like he was tormenting himself, but the truth was (and is), that’s EXACTLY what kind of self-inflicted pain Satan loves to dwell in.  He thrives on convicting, on shaming, on guilting us into not believing God would EVER forgive what we’ve done.

So, we are here today to stand with the wounded from Satan’s merciless attacks and share that God is ABSOLUTELY offering you all the grace, forgiveness, and the same love He offers to every one of His children.  God’s word is very specific.  “For God so loved THE WORLD…” (John 3:16, NLT)  

In that one statement, He included EVERY one of us.  EVERY one of our closet sins.  EVERY one of our gigantic, seemingly unrecoverable missteps and struggles.  He even included those in charge of torturing His son, on a cross, for the sins of the very world He was being sacrificed to save.  (Watch the “Passion of the Christ” if you really want to get a glimpse of how bad they were.)  If He included those torturing and killing His own son, why in the WORLD wouldn’t He include you?  Jesus own words from the cross after suffering so horribly?   Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34 (NLT).  

If you are suffering in silence, alone—start with your pastor and those on staff at your church.  They will be able to help you and point you in the right directions.  If you are seeking help with recovery from abortion, we have included a page with abortion recovery ministries in Tulsa, who can help specifically with guidance in this area.  If you aren’t part of a church or don’t know where to turn—reach out to info@communityspiritmagazine.com and we’ll get you contact information for local churches where we can plug you in with people we know who can help.  There are incredible churches all over our community ready to show you God’s love and help you know that you are NOT alone.  


Written By Teresa Goodnight

When God brought our bundle of joy, I wanted to find a Christian pediatric group.  I found out about Broken Arrow Pediatrics. It was beyond what I hoped to find in more ways than expected.  I’m not from Broken Arrow.  Doesn’t matter.  I would drive much further for this proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  

I dropped in on Dr. Kim Terry, as I wanted to help others on the search for a Christian pediatric practice.  Talking with her is a delight, as it has been with Dr. Carl Pfanstiel.  Dr. Terry started with a bit from her heart, “I think the main thing for me is that it’s such an honor that God has allowed me to be a pediatrician.  I love kids and I love their families. So, when folks bring their kids here, I just find partnering with Jesus and God is important.  That’s why at the end, I ask to pray with the child.  I’m just ‘Lord heal this illness and just put your blessing on this child.’  It’s my joy to see these kiddos.  So, I hope that joy is what families feel when they come in.  We’re so very happy to have families here; we connect and ask God to be a part of it.  So, whether that’s through prayer or just interacting in the office or how we treat folks, I hope that it’s honoring.  I hope they feel Jesus in some manner in this office.  That’s my goal.  I know Dr. Pfanstiel’s heart is the same. He walks with the Lord and wants to honor God in what he does.” 

Dr. Terry has practiced with Dr. Pfanstiel about 20 years.  She was at another group for 6 1/2 years.  Then she had her third kid and said,  “I was wanting to do Locums (flexible scheduling) for more family time.  She said, “I was filling in at other offices and Dr. Pfanstiel found out about it.  He said, ‘Come work with me over here. I’ll make it really flexible.’ So I did.”  

When she first started, Dr. Terry liked that Dr. Pfanstiel treated every family the same.  She said, “There was no difference who you were when you walked through the door.  He accepted Sooner Care—which wasn’t the norm.  At that time, a lot of practices stopped because the fees really went down, but the kids still needed healthcare. We still do.”

Dr. Terry said, “The council that Dr. Pfanstiel gives families–it’s solid about being family oriented and really speaking into fathers.  He does that and he loves it.  We need it.  You can tell when the young fathers come in that they really hear him, talking about being the head of their homes and leading their families.”  

Dr. Terry finished, “The advice we give comes from a Biblical perspective, because we are a Christian practice.  Parents need advice on how to be parents.  We know there is absolute truth.  In the middle of that truth though, there’s gotta be love.  If things are going on, if we’ve built relationships, families are more open to hearing from us.  We never press on people.  We love them where they are and will be the best doctors we can be for them.  The door is open—even if our beliefs are different, we’re gonna love on ya and give you the absolute best care possible.” She’s not wrong. They feel like family that we often visit only once a year, but they are still family all the same.

Written By Teresa Goodnight

Enjoying the Animal Kingdom.

We love Disney.  It’s always fun.  It’s always crazy.  Regrettably, the age old “we can do this park hopper pass” lured us in this time.  It plagues parents on their first trip to Disney World.  There are so many parks and just so little time. Plus, with tickets ranging into the $125+ range, plus another $60 to hop parks—it intrigues those of us with the budget-friendly mindset.  What does a mouse need with all our money anyway? So, we decided to try it out.  

There are many factors to take into consideration.  First, are you spending the big dollars for the Disney properties?  We don’t.  I can get rates at really great hotels for somewhere between 50-75% of the Disney property rates. Even in fairly busy seasons, we can easily hop onto Priceline and grab a great room for between $75-150. They are always 3-star and above.  We will often spring for the 4 or 5-star hotel and always get the room for sub $200 vs $750 and up for an equivalent Disney property.  (There is a Disney property where you can camp for about $140 per night if so inclined!)  This time we tried a new Springhill suites up by Universal.  Incredibly clean and safe!  Completely brand new.  So, if you are a bit adventurous, we do suggest you live on the edge of a good deal.

Now, onto the parks.  We decided to try to hop between Hollywood and Animal Kingdom, while entertaining a 4-year old.  If you have ever been to either of these Disney locations, both are hardpressed for entertaining the family for a full day aside from waiting in line after line for a ride. (Or so this mom thought.) It depends on the age of the attendees of course.  We hopped in the car, grabbed some quick breakfast and found ourselves in a 30 minute line just to get into the parking lot.  By the time we arrived, we were already an hour and a half into the park hours.  So, if you plan to hop—we suggest getting up and heading over about an hour before the park is set to open.  Even wiser, we arrived to Animal Kingdom at 9:30 in our next attempt.  Still it’s just a long process to get in the park.

If you’ve booked your 3 fast passes per ticket holder, the day can pack in more adventure.  Unfortunately the Disney App on your phone is about as reliable as the weather in Oklahoma.  Ours was locked up the majority of the time—preventing us from being able to move the passes around as needed.  It’s much easier if you have a computer the night before.  You can log onto the website and select exactly what you would like to do.  Plus, if you are staying in a non-Disney hotel, you will be in line for fast passes after everyone there.  Nonetheless, we booked successfully for the Kilamanjara Safari trek through the open zoo-like area with elephants, tigers, alligators, hippos, ostriches, giraffes, and a whole host of other land animals.  As always, the sleepy lions and tigers were barely seen from atop the rocks (sleeping their 14 hour shifts).  The ride is a unique experience for those wanting to feel up close and personal with the animals in a somewhat natural habitat.

They also had two shows we found to be worth a fast pass (or even the wait).  Nemo’s adventure and the Lion King were both incredibly well done 30 minute Broadway-style shows.  The Nemo show was our favorite.  Characters were held on puppet-style devices next to live singers, who maneuvered their movements.  The props were just so DISNEY!  We even ran into Nemo a few minutes after it started one day, with plenty of seating available during a spring break flood of travelers. 

The Lion King was a completely different style of show.  The props were akin to parade floats although decorated with Disney-esque sophistication.  The cast of characters were African tribesmen (and women) with incredible dancing, gymnastics, and singing talents.  The characters were on the floats in the corners of the room with giant sized Lion King characters that moved and seemed to interact with the show.  Although I much preferred Nemo, my gymnastics loving dancer was equally in awe with both shows for different reasons.  I’m pretty sure she will be trying those dance moves for her next recital.

Animal Kingdom offered plenty of walking trails to observe birds, gorillas, monkeys, and all sorts of wildlife from right along the trails.  Dinoland is the premier spot for younger children.  Having been to all the parks, they all have generally the same style of children’s rides (Universal and Disney) and both are not the largest sections, but adequate.  Disneyworld, as you would expect, really leads the way in the little kid arena.  However the climbing park alone was entertaining for at least 2 hours.

If you’re paying attention to the length of the shows, a little walking plus a little line waiting—it’s pretty easy to see that unless you are a marathon sprinter, what should be a quick in and out trip can become a full day adventure.  We decided emphatically–”Park hopping is NOT the way to go.”  We were so stressed out trying to get to the good stuff before we needed to leave that we weren’t fully enjoying the time.  So, in the middle of the Lion King show, I called Disney to move our park hopper to a 2-day event.  Then, for the rest of the day, we explored in a much less stressful state of enjoyment.  There were dancers, music groups, lots of shops and plenty to keep us busy for the whole day.  Plus, we didn’t even attempt to go to the Avatar experience, which was exempt from fast passes and had lines around the block!

We finished our day at the Animal Kingdom lights and music show overlooking the lake.  The view is definitely best from the Asian side of the arena seating, but everyone could see.  Disney uses amazing lighting effects to portray animals running across sprays of water.  It was a little too “circle of life” for my tastes.  It kept giving images of animals, which felt like they were from a spiritual realm.  I don’t think it was obvious to a 4 year old, but it was definitely a “Be kind. We’re all one.” sort of message.  Having been to Disney World before, I much prefer the fireworks and the light show on the castle.

We will review Hollywood in the fall, as the four year old enjoyed Animal Kingdom so much more we didn’t head back over there.  Next day?  Yep! We went back! I’m not sure I could’ve been more wrong  about what she would enjoy.  You just never know. We still think Hollywood is the best one to link with another park if you dare.  Maybe it would be better with Epcot (unless you are going to want to do the Frozen experience or one of the new Star Wars experiences offered by Hollywood). However, we seriously FULLY vote no on park hopping.  In fact, when I spoke with the Disney crew on the phone to change our tickets—the guy said he wondered why anyone would try to hop.  He agreed.  There’s just not enough time in a day.