May the God of ENDURANCE and ENCOURAGEMENT grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that TOGETHER you may with ONE VOICE glorify the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The only time failure is final is when we quit trying to succeed. What would you call a basketball player who missed 9,000 shots, lost almost 300 games, and on two dozen occasions when he was called upon to shoot the winning basket, he missed? You might call him a failure or a loser, but the world knows him as Michael Jordan—arguably the best basketball player of all time.
Temporary failure is a part of all success. Winston Churchill was fond of repeating that, “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Great basketball players, including Michael Jordan, know that they are going to miss approximately half of their shots. This never keeps them from doing their best and anticipating the next shot.
For most people the most dramatic part of any basketball game is known as the “buzzer beater.” This is when a player launches a last-second shot when the game is hanging in the balance. If the ball goes into the basket, his team wins; and if it doesn’t, they lose. I remember talking to my friend and mentor, the late, great legendary Coach John Wooden, and discussing the kind of players he wanted to recruit to play on his championship teams. Obviously, he wanted great athletes with the size, speed, and skill to compete at the highest level; but Coach Wooden was much more interested in the mental qualifications of a prospect. He pointed out that the best athletes don’t always win. When I inquired about how he would determine whether a prospect was mentally suited to be a champion, Coach Wooden told me he was looking to recruit players who wanted to take that last-second shot.
A lot of great athletes compete aggressively throughout the game but shy away from taking the last shot. They simply don’t want to deal with the pressure. Players like Michael Jordan realize that pressure is a part of the game and a part of life. It’s simply a matter of who is best qualified to take the shot and being willing to live with the results.
In reality, any shot during a ballgame could be considered the winning or losing basket. It’s just that the last shot holds a place in the spotlight. Any single basket during the entire game could have made the final shot irrelevant, so it’s important for us to learn that everything we do matters—not just the last-second things we do before the deadline. If we perform at the highest level in our personal and professional lives, we will avoid many deadlines and high-pressure situations; but when we’re called upon to take the final shot, we will step up and do what needs to be done knowing that sometimes we’ll win and sometimes we’ll lose, but there will always be another game tomorrow.
I heard a great baseball coach explain that the most important characteristic of a great pitcher is to have a short memory. If a pitcher can give up a homerun, put it behind him, and bear down in order to get out the next batter, he will eventually succeed. Success always looks like a series of victories with the inevitable defeats sprinkled among them.
As you go through your day today, remember that failure isn’t final unless you give up.
Today’s the day!
Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145-9082; by email at Jim@JimStovall.com; on Twitter at www.twitter.com/stovallauthor; or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jimstovallauthor.
Written by Kim Thomas
When you think about the older person who really made a difference in your life, who is it that comes to mind? For me, it was the little old lady who lived next door to my family who let me call her “Grandma Lilly.” I was seven years old and lonely because I had just moved more than 1000 miles away from my extended family in Canada. Grandma Lilly let me come to her house each day after school where she lovingly served me cookies and together, we sat on the rickety front porch swing as she smiled tenderly and gently patted my hand with hers. The way she intently listened to my stories and hung on every word I said made me feel like I hung the moon! Now, 46 years later, as I reflect back on these memories, I see how the relationship forged between us had just as much impact on Grandma Lilly as it did me. My taking time to sit and talk with her when others seemed too busy made her feel just as special as I did and let her know that she was special too!
Unfortunately, in today’s culture, it is not uncommon for the senior population to fall into the stigma of being “less than,” feel dismissed, swept aside or simply forgotten. Instead of being valued for their treasured experience and wisdom, seniors commonly get treated like a nuisance or obligation. Over time, the death of a spouse, family moving farther away, or the loss of mobility or productivity can lead to loneliness and isolation with more and more time spent alone. Weeks can go by without them getting out or having even the opportunity to speak to others.
It is too easy for us to get caught up in our own lives, our own schedules, and our own pressures of life that we forget to give honor where honor is due. Job 12:12 tells us that “wisdom is found among the aged and long life brings understanding.” In other words, there are a lot of things we can learn from our elders if we will just slow down and take the time to listen.
In this busy world, challenge yourself to reach out and tell a senior who has had a positive impact on your life just how much they mean to you. Rather than leave them behind, love them unconditionally. This season of their life is when they need it the most. Above all else, keep in mind that one day, you and I will be seniors too!
Ways to Honor our Elders:
Recognize the contributions they have madeto our families as well as the community. We wouldn’t be where we are today without some of the unconditional sacrifices they have made.
Call and check in on them. Take time out of your day to ask if there is anything they need that you can bring them. One 5-minute phone call can communicate the message you care about their wellbeing. Establish a routine for yourself such as when you are driving home and commit to checking in to see how they are doing.
Stop by and pay them a visit. It doesn’t have to be long. Stop by and share a cup of coffee. Ask questions about family history, heritage, and traditions while allowing them to reminisce. Surprise them and take them for breakfast or a special lunch.
Ask for advice. Be open to their words of wisdom, years of experience, and views on life.
Mail a card to them and specifically list things you appreciate about them. Offer sincere words of encouragement.
Be aware of seniors around you who may not have any family close by. Aging parents are lonely for family. Consider “adopting” someone who is alone and inviting them to join in your family activities. If there is a senior living community nearby, ask if there is a resident who does not got visited often and shower that person with kindness.
Involve your children and teach them to respect and honor elders as well. As parents, we role model behaviors we want our children to follow. Younger generations need to learn the importance of making time to listen and spending unselfish time with others. Lead by example.
Recognize that the Holidays can be a lonely time for some. Pay special attention during this season and look for ways to bless a senior who lives alone.
Pray and ask God to help you see others the way He does. Expect Him to bring those people across your path that He would have you show special honor to.
ABOUT: Kim Thomas is a licensed professional counselor and licensed marriage and family therapist and I have a private practice, There’s Hope! Counseling. I am a monthly co-host on KNYD Oasis Network Radio. I am married with a blended family. I’m a mom of 4, mother-in-love to 2, and stepmom to 3 kiddos, and a dog mom to Rae. Contact info is (918)277-0777 or www.thereshopehere.com
What’s your discipleship plan for your tiny tots? Teens? It’s surprising just how many parents want a plan, but simply have been so busy they haven’t taken time to implement it. I get it. Life is busy. Basketball season leads into baseball season, which leads into summer baseball, then into football right before it kicks into basketball again. Girls go from dance to cheer to their own sporting events—sometimes all at once. With multiple children and multiple activities, I’m surprised parents can even remember where to be and when. But busy is a distraction used by our enemy. Don’t be fooled.
I have one four-year old. I’m not sure how it happened, but going into the fall, she was enrolled in two dance classes, gymnastics, swim lessons and t-ball, where I ended up being the coach for the Y. I just kept saying yes to opportunities before us. We were involved with two churches, attending services on the weekends and Monday nights as well. All of a sudden, I thought “Wait, Wha???” How did I let my little tiny preschool muffin become so busy we barely had a night at home without somewhere we needed to be.
SHAME ON ME. No. Really. I had good intentions, wanting her to get experiences in things while she was younger to figure out which ones she liked best. Hmmm. Where’s that proverbial road paved with good intentions supposed to lead? Yeah. I know.
We were barely energetic enough for our evening prayers. We neglected our night time Bible reading before she went to bed. All of our good “Choose Life” kinds of choices we established became secondary to trying to keep up with our overwhelming commitments. She was stressed out and FLAT OUT worn out. So were my husband and I. We were just one completely exhausted family.
It’s easy to see how ridiculous these decisions were when I write them down. I hate to even share them. They were even ridiculous in the middle of living them. Halfway through T-ball, I let her miss the remaining practices while I went to coach. It was just too much.
No wonder we’re turning out kids who head off to college and walk away from their relationship with God. What did we teach them to prioritize? Anything and everything over Christ.
It’s easy to get your family wrapped up in things that burn up in the end. There is a healthy way to be active in fun things, but also to carve out that very important time for the family to grow together in Christ. That time with Christ does not need to be the victim of a busy schedule. It is the most important thing Christians can do for our children—discipling them. It has to be THE priority. Everything else has to be somewhere down the list.
If I had asked my daughter what our priorities for her were as a family, I’m sorely afraid Jesus would have been left off the list. He was just shoved in between things that didn’t matter as much. She didn’t know the aching in my heart to get refocused from the mess I created. She just knew what she was experiencing and what she saw. She felt herself wanting to say no to a church service for some down time at home to play. Can you honestly blame her? SHE’S FOUR. (Insert face palm here.)
Imagine how much more chaos there would be with two or three or FOUR children? No wonder we’re turning out kids who head off to college and walk away from their relationship with God. What did we teach them to prioritize? Anything and everything over Christ.
If you don’t think they are being shaped by these decisions we make in our life, think again. No. Really. Stop and think again. Now.
This is serious.
We have to course correct. It’s not a life or death situation. Or is it? It’s actually even more than that. It’s an eternal destiny situation. It’s a path leading them to NOT “Choose Life.” In fact, it is teaching them to value anything and everything over that beautifully abundant life that Christ came to offer us.
They will become and do what we teach them to become and do. Our primary responsibility as Christian parents, aside from food/shelter, which I would argue is still secondary, is to teach them how to walk with our God. It is to teach them who He is; it’s to show them how to live a life WITH Him.
How in the world can anything else be more important? How as children of the King could we not prioritize their inheritance from their Heavenly Father?
There are some of you who are getting it right. I commend you. However, I know statistically from the seven out of ten walking away from Christ at college that we are NOT all getting it right. In fact, we’re getting it very, VERY wrong. The numbers don’t lie. My own ridiculous choices cannot be excused. (Just one of us should have heard my husband protesting in the background). I played right into it even as I am painfully aware of the warning signs.
The liberally focused temperature of our nation doesn’t lie. Many current Millennials actually believe that what they feel about love, fairness, and the way the world should operate is of greater importance than what God actually says in His word. Many aren’t even referencing the Bible in their belief systems. Where do you think they learned that behavior?
If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we’re going to get the same results. Thinking that outcome will change if we don’t change is actually Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity. If you don’t make a change today—we will watch 70% of our children walk away from our King of Kings and Lord of Lords into a life without God. That’s not ok for me. I doubt you are ok with it either. Do YOUR choices for YOUR student reflect that it’s not OK? Are you stumbling busily down that same pathway paved with good intentions?
It’s 2020. Let’s make this the year we “Choose Life” for our children. Jesus is the way, the truth and He is THE LIFE. Reprioritize whatever needs kicked to the curb and kick it. Ask yourself “Is this choice making a “Choose Life” choice for my child?” If not? Why in the world are you choosing it?
What does “Choose Life” look like for your family? Here are a few guidelines if you need a pattern to follow.
Pray together as a family. Meal-time prayer is fine, but it shouldn’t be the only time. Teach your children to present their requests to God. Help them to understand what that looks like. My four-year old has led our family in prayer many times since she was three. She asks for our prayer requests and if there’s anything troubling us. My heart leaps to hear her do it. I have to believe God’s heart experiences greater joy than mine at her little prayers.
Study the Bible together as a family (and engage your village!). It’s God’s word. Write it on their hearts. It holds the keys to life. Teach it to your kiddos. My daughter attends a Bible-teaching Christian school, which is a integral part of our discipleship plan for her. The school had her memorize a long chapter for her Christmas show. We worked on it several nights. Then, while in church, our minister was reading it in a different translation than she learned. She began to challenge his words. She knew God’s word. She was able to use it as plumb line to assess whether her minister was in alignment with God’s word. Imagine how she will be able to put everything through the filter of God’s word if we keep writing it on her heart and sealing it in her mind when she’s heading to college? Study His word together. That brings me to the next one!
Ask yourself “Is this choice making a “Choose Life” choice for my child?” If not? Why in the world are you choosing it?
Bring in the village you need to help you wherever you can. There are people who will invest in your kiddos at church. Make sure you check out the programs. Make sure they are actually teaching your kids with a discipleship purpose. Church is not just a social connection (although Christian social connection is critical OF COURSE!). It needs to be a “Choose Life” connection, connecting them to Christ. For us, a Christian school is part of our village. It’s not everyone’s. My husband and I wanted her to not learn to separate God from everything else in her world. We wanted God wrapped up all in it everywhere. I honestly feel we need the help. Again, not everyone does. If you need them, we are blessed in Tulsa to have a wide variety of prices and high quality educational programs.
Live out your faith in service as a family. Where that is for your family can only be determined by you. How has God gifted you and your family? Volunteer and live it out. Millennials today complain of words with no actions. Hypocrisy speaks louder than faith without works. Paul says faith without works is actually dead. There are so many ways to live out your faith just inside your local church. But, also live it out with your daily choices so that your children can see how it looks in everyday life. For example, when a friend asks you to pray for them, stop and do that with your children if they are around. Let them see God is just a part of it all. He’s always just in your day.
These are just a few ways but they affect our core. There are so many more options out there if you just look for them. Make your plan. Write it down. Put the plan into your schedule. Make the plan a top priority. Then, make it happen.
Everything else on the schedule that is optional should clear the way to make time for you to “Choose Life” with and for your family. There is no greater legacy. There is no greater gift you can leave them. This is actually THE ONE that matters.
About YouVersion: Created by Life.Church, YouVersion is on a mission to help people grow in their relationship with God by engaging with the Bible. The team designs and builds experiences that make it easy for people to integrate the Bible into their everyday lives. Since 2008, the Bible App has offered a free Bible experience that can be accessed on smartphones, browsers, voice platforms, and more. The Bible App for Kids launched in 2013 and engages children with Bible stories on an age-appropriate level. The newest app, Bible Lens, analyzes objects in photos, finds the most relevant Bible verse to match, and automatically creates beautiful, shareable artwork. For more information about YouVersion, visit youversion.com.
The global YouVersion community engaged more in the Bible this year than in any previous year. In fact, people read and listened to the Bible 30% more this year compared to last year. In total, YouVersion saw 5.6 billion chapters listened to and 35.6 billion chapters read in 2019.
Around the world, the Bible verse most engaged with throughout the year is Philippians 4:6: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”
“Our desire is to help people grow in their relationship with God by encouraging them to read the Bible and seek Him every day,” said YouVersion Founder Bobby Gruenewald. “We’re encouraged to see so many people turning to the Bible in response to their worries, remembering what God has done in their lives, and choosing to trust in His faithfulness.”
One of the most popular offerings of the Bible App is daily Plans that combine portions of Scripture with devotional content. This year alone, the community completed a record-breaking 1.1 billion days in their daily Bible Plans. People also made 2 billion highlights, bookmarks, and notes to mark meaningful verses and record what God revealed to them in their studies. Many even took the extra step to tell others how the Bible was impacting them, resulting in more than 478 million verses shared.
“What we are seeing in global engagement is exciting to us because with every verse highlighted, Plan day completed, or audio chapter listened to, that’s a person who is being transformed by knowing God more intimately through spending time in the Bible,” said Gruenewald. “We’re humbled by the opportunity to see lives changed in every country around the world.”
The Bible App saw a significant global increase in both installs and engagement this year. In 2019, YouVersion grew by nearly 50 million unique installs to reach a total of 400 million installs worldwide, and the majority of those new installs came from outside the U.S. Based on the YouVersion Community’s engagement with Scripture throughout the year, Poland was one of the fastest growing countries with a 75% increase. India saw 51% more engagement in 2019 compared to last year. Bible engagement also grew across Southeast Asia in countries like Cambodia and Vietnam seeing increases by 36% and 37%, respectively.
“Every year, when we dig into these numbers, we’re overwhelmed by how God is using this app to deliver His message of hope and love to a hurting world,” said Gruenewald. “We also can’t help but recognize how much more work there is to be done together as the global Church to reach every nation.”
Right now, the Bible App offers more than 2,000 Bible versions in more than 1,350 languages. However, over a billion people globally don’t have access to a complete Bible in their native language. Together with illumiNations, a movement of ten Bible translation agencies, YouVersion is working to give more people the Bible in their native language. The group’s goal is that by 2033, 95% of the world’s population will have a complete Bible, 99.9% will have a complete New Testament, and 100% will have at least some portion of Scripture.
Through the generosity of the YouVersion community, translation projects in Republic of Congo, Malawi, Benin, Indonesia, Croatia, Madagascar, and Serbia received $1 million this year to advance their efforts. Combined, these projects will give more than 4.7 million people the first portion of Scripture ever available in their language. To date, the YouVersion community has donated a total of $3 million to fund Bible translation.
“When you take in Scripture in your native language, the words take on new meaning and suddenly, He isn’t a God who came for someone else. He is your God who knows you personally,” said Gruenewald. “Experiencing the Bible in your own language is a powerful gift, and we’re eternally grateful to our partners who share our dream of making the Bible for everyone.”
I was blown away when Life.Church first announced bringing the Bible to our mobile devices as an app. My fascination continued, as more and more downloads happened. With over 400 million downloads and counting, it’s literally revolutionized how you can engage with God’s word. Anyone remember toting your Bible on business trips in your bag? (If you haven’t downloaded it—I’d stop right now and grab it. Did I mention it is absolutely free? Plus, the studies are also free? Amazing, right?)
So, I wanted to talk through a few ways I do YouVersion because they are kind of out of the box for Bible reading. That’s my favorite part of this whole thing. It is a great way to engage with God’s word more often than just the time you sit in your quiet place. It makes God’s word a part of your day in really active ways. It’s easy. It’s educational. It’s certainly motivational. Plus, it never ever hurts to write more of God’s word on our hearts.
YouVersion actually reads the Bible to me in my car. Yep. I can get through an entire chapter if the traffic is just right going from place to place.
Walking—both in the neighborhood and at the gym when I find time to go—I just select it and it starts reading.
On the plane—sitting on a runway and too tired to actually read? Keep on talking to me YouVersion.
Witnessing in the mall—Yep. I was talking with the Chinese massage therapists and I needed to give them a Bible reference. We had a language barrier. I whipped out YouVersion and they read the verse in Chinese. Witnessing crisis averted.
Multiple versions—Honestly, I love reading the same verse in 4-5 different versions—from New Living Translation to the Message. It brings life back into words I’ve read so many times that I sometimes gloss over them a bit. If you’ve been a Christian for a while, many verses that you’ve heard since your childhood become a bit easy to zip through as your brain believes you already know everything there is to know about the verse. Reading it in a different version with a bit different wording (translation) can give you a fresh perspective on the verse you know so well.
Little Bible studies with reminders from some of my favorite authors. Share them with your Bible study group. Dr. Tony Evans has been a favorite of mine since college. If you don’t know him, you should give him a try. There are hundreds of others.
It’s pretty easy to “Choose Life” through investing in Bible study for 2020. Set your reminders and don’t choose to invest in God’s word and let it grow in your heart and your mind. It is truly powerful!
Written by Jesse Leon Rodgers
The interest level in the mission and vision of City Elders has reached a fevered pitch, now, even on a national level. Therefore, I suppose it is time for a clear, unambiguous and public explanation of what City Elders is all about. We wanted to organize the group, the warriors really, in the spiritual sense of the word before we marched too far into battle with the wickedness which has engulfed our nation.
If the history books haven’t been rewritten yet, last I checked, our nation was founded on the freedom of religion. It is the core of who we are as a country. When you consider the incredible persecution allowed around the world, it is easy to see the importance of such a freedom. In China churches are being bulldozed, burned—literally destroyed. Church members are imprisoned for their faith. Many are put into re-education centers to teach their youth a new way. In our nation, we just sat back and allowed the re-education centers to happen right under our noses without much of a debate.
Like it or not, we are being drawn into a fight; God’s word is being disregarded as if it is merely a possible suggestion. Our spiritual and governmental foundations are still in place and we can rebuild again. But it is going to take patriots and preachers of righteousness, business leaders and civil servants, who have had their fill of surrendering territory to the enemy and are ready to go into a spiritual war to preserve a nation.
There has been an assault in America for the soul of our nation for the last two generations. Unfortunately, those of us reading this somehow virtually laid down and played possum. We just didn’t engage in the spiritual, cultural and political battles we should have been in. Rest assured, we are at war against the powers of darkness which are on a mission to destroy the family, the church, the culture and ultimately the nation. City Elders is here to raise up God’s people to take our place in these battles.
Many have not engaged in the battle because they have not understood the nature of the spiritual war, where the attacks are coming from or how to engage. Many are disengaged because they are holding out for the imminent return of the Lord or thinking that the demise of the nation is simply a “sign of the times” and there is nothing that we can do but bemoan our losses and “hold-on” till the end. This theology and eschatology shackles these folks to a sinking ship mentality without sail or rudder rather than a victorious vessel sailing to shore with the spoils of war aboard.
Others have hunkered down in their homes and houses of worship while the enemy has ravaged our youth. He has destroyed morals, undermined biblical marriage, murdered the unborn, pillaged the political system and been allowed to roam freely through our nation. In fact, he roams about with quite a bit of support.
He marches on a full-frontal attack to destroy the next generation of children through the indoctrination and reorientation camps we call schools. Public schools weren’t ever meant to be a political playground. The very innocence, purity and eternal destination of our children is at stake, having been made the target of the Wicked One. He wants to sexually assault the minds of primary school children, sully their morality and confuse their identity through the lie of gender fluidity and sexual reorientation. It’s not ok to redefine our children against what our Bible teaches. It’s not.
The Wicked One does not stop “until He is stopped!” And this is precisely where City Elders comes in. The mission of City Elders is to stop evil from being forced upon others, especially through civil government policy and institutions. We hold that people should be free to practice what the Bible would address as sin (although within the law). However, governmental institutions cannot and should not be used to promote that form of anti-Biblical action. Neither should the government control or subsidize institutions be used to promote or propagate these actions.
There is one, and only one, reason why wickedness has pervaded the culture and dominated the governmental arena . . . and that reason is Christians have allowed it to happen. And we, in the “City Elders Movement” intend to change that narrative.
City Elders exists to govern the gates of our cities spiritually, politically and economically, so that: life is protected, liberty is defended, Christ is exalted, suffering is alleviated and families can flourish. That is our mission, plain and simple.
We have identified spiritual leaders, elders, in the county seats of forty of Oklahoma’s seventy-seven counties. These spiritual leaders are found in the church, in civil government and in the business sectors. These are men and women of God whose spiritual influence reaches far beyond the walls of their own home and the church house. These are leaders who realize the Lordship of Jesus Christ was intended to be recognized in every sphere of our lives, public and private.
Our goal is to have “Spiritual Governing Councils” established in all seventy-seven counties of Oklahoma by November of 2020. We are well on our way to reaching that goal. These spiritual governing councils are praying men and women who function in the same capacity as the City Elders of the ancient cities of Israel. They were the influencers, the decision makers, the leaders of the city. These leaders sat in the gates of the fortified cities of Israel and made judgement calls upon what was allowed in the city and what was disallowed. They protected the city from invasions and intrusions. And they were the first line of defense against attacks from enemies or anyone who would do the citizens harm.
The concept of City Elders is not new; it is an ancient and Biblical form of city governance which recognizes the significance of dominating the spiritual atmosphere through prayer and proclamation. Thereafter believers must wield their spiritual authority by influencing the sectors of civil government and business through participation and engagement. This is governing and protecting the city and its inhabitants within the framework of a Biblical worldview with an understanding that we were and are made in the image of God and for the glory of God.
ABOUT: Jesse Leon Rodgers is the founder and president of City Elders, a reformation model of city and state governance that trains up and empowers Christian elders how to govern the gates of the city spiritually, politically, and economically.
He is the chairman of the Oklahoma Watchmen on the Wall Network; the pastor’s network of the Family Research Council, Washington, D.C.
Rodgers’ unique role with the Family Research Council and City Elders has positioned him to influence government officials from the local municipalities to the White House.
75% of Christian young adults will leave Christianity if not trained to think logically through a Christian worldview based on the facts of Christian apologetics. What is Christian Apologetics?
Presenting the reasons why Christianity is a factual faith.
Defending the Christian faith.
Making the intellectual case for Christianity.
HOW CAN I BE TRAINED IN APOLOGETICS?
Apologetics Study Chapters are available in the Tulsa area:
Reasonable Faith Chapter—Mark Goodnight
Meets on the 3rd Tuesday of each each month firstname.lastname@example.org);
Reasons to Believe—Dr. Dominic Halsmer
Meets on the 3rd Thursday of the month at Believers Church email@example.com)
Oklahoma School of Apologetics & Practical Theology—Dr. Jim Burkett firstname.lastname@example.org
Courses have weekly schedule in area churches as well as APOLOGETICS-on-Fire Sunday Conferences at local churches
The Case for the Bible—The Scientific and Historical Evidence
The Liberty Center (9410 E. 51st Street, Suite A, Tulsa, OK 74145 on Tuesday evenings 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM; January 14,21,28; February 4,11,18, & 25.
MAN—LIFE IS OVERWHELMING! Really. With the pace of life these days, is it any wonder that we find it more and more difficult to keep up with our careers, our family, and oh yeah, our relationship with God? As we feel more and more like a failure, our decisions can become easier and easier to make in the wrong direction. Thoughts like “I didn’t make dinner last week and it was ok. I’m sure it’s fine if I work through it this week.” or “I’m travelling to support my family. What’s this break to watch this show? I’m married. I’ve seen it all anyway.”
We’ve all heard about the slippery slopes. We know we’re supposed to keep our guard up. We also know we’re charged with being the leaders of our family. We know. We know. We know. It gets a little old hearing it quite frankly. When it comes to a thought like “Choose Life,” that abundantly fruitful life that Jesus offers, as appealing as it sounds, it’s actually pretty easy to choose differently. Truth is, Satan knows it.
Satan is a slithering monster waiting in the darkness to spring just the right trap on us to take us down. He watches our weaknesses. He knows where he’s hooked us before. It’s no different than going to your favorite hunting spot, where you’ve sprinkled out the zestiest corn for the longest time. Your prey comes in cautious. Then, they get used to coming into the haven of their favorite food. Their walls go down. They move slowly and comfortably into the space. Then, when they least expect it? You show up and take them down. Hard. Game over.
If you think saying yes to the little things won’t lower your guard, you’re just wrong. I’ve been wrong. I have heard story after story of men who absolutely love their wives ending up in an affair at work. They never intended it to go that way. They grew comfortable. The friendship blossomed. If you think Satan wasn’t working right in the middle of that mess—you are just kidding yourself.
If Satan can take down the leader—He’s got open game day on the rest of the family. The wife becomes emotionally off her game. The children wonder what was real in their family. Everyone is left hanging in the balance. Satan had a playbook. He knew. He wasn’t surprised at all. You played right into His hands.
Maybe you’re in the middle of one of His nasty traps. Get out. Maybe you are standing on the edge just about to tiptoe lightly into the ring. Run. FAST. Do not look back.
God can restore us. He can rescue our wives. He can teach your children great lessons through your mistakes as you show them how to walk back to God. Don’t let past or current failures be an excuse. They are an opportunity for everyone to grow. Lead them through that growth with God.
Choosing Christ and leading our family requires discipline. There is actually quite a hefty load placed upon our plate by our Heavenly Father. It’s one He’s willing to carry with us and for us if we let Him. He says His load is easy and His burden is light. However, when we aren’t really making “Choose Life” choices to choose Him, we are blocking the power God has for us. That power enables us to have that abundant life He has created for us. As the spiritual leaders of our households, we are also blocking that power from our family. We have quite a burden of responsibility. When we stray from God’s path, we take a lot of victims with us.
One area plaguing Christian men like the black plague is pornography. It’s attacking men everywhere honestly and it’s winning. It’s just so easy to access. Our tv’s brought It into our home. Our VCR’s/DVD’s and then computers brought it further and further into our daily lives. Then our pone gave us a private access point with the internet. It has become as easy as typo to land on a site full of pictures we can’t get out of our minds. It can start that easily if we entertain the temptation.
The thing about porn? It has so many victims. Porn is really a gateway drug. Once people are fully addicted, they might never have imagined themselves facing child pornography charges. However, it happens. It just went across the screen during the impeachment proceedings. There was a man, George Nader, accused of transporting a 14-year old Russian boy for sex along with his own child pornography. These are men who have respected roles and positions in our society. This isn’t just in the dive bar scene.
One topic we are going to address next in 2020 will be sex trafficking. It’s big and it’s everywhere. This threat is real. We see people like Jeffrey Epstein in the headlines. We hear of the complete travesty that was his life and his choices. We hear all sorts of very high-level, affluent male names being associated to this man and his island of debauchery. These are men of power and influence. Leaders in our nation and in other nations. Financial men we expect more of. Granted, there’s not a court case on the news, since the head of this ring was found dead in his jail cell, but there’s still a question plaguing everyone as to who was involved.
Those stories feel a bit far off. However, the stories in Oklahoma are right here. They are very real. Recently the number of cases being closed in the Tulsa area alone has our eyes wide open. There are customers driving the industry. People wouldn’t be selling children for sex slaves unless we had buyers—bug buyers. You can bet that pornography had a part in creating that sickening addiction. It’s not just for fun. It carries potential consequences of life and death for all involved—but especially the innocent victims. Don’t be fooled. If you partake, you are supporting the evil. It’s gotta stop. Let it stop with you. Get help. You don’t have to fight it alone. In fact, maybe you can’t.
In the 90’s, I heard Stephen Curtis Chapman share an accountability partner story. He was travelling quite a bit on tour. Back then, one of the most tempting places to pursue pornography secretly was in hotel rooms while away on business. It was such a known threat to men that Stephen had set up an accountability partner he could call if he felt tempted. One night . . . he made that call. He felt himself tempted. He picked up the phone and called his person. He told the person about his temptation. He and the person agreed that when Stephen returned home, he would ask Stephen if he had watched anything inappropriate. It worked. Crisis averted. Temptation didn’t win out. Can you imagine the road where it did win?
We don’t think of the big guys leading people in worship or leading churches as having the same kinds of temptations the rest of us have, but they do. We all do. Temptation is not saved for the weak. In fact, I would argue that it attacks the strong even more strongly sometimes. We are all in its path. Satan has his eye on each of us. He just needs us to crack the door to get his foot in it. Once in? He makes Himself at home.
Men. We are the leaders. We’re it. We have got to change our thinking and our priorities. We’ve got to do better. God won’t give us more than we can bear, but it is more than we can bear alone. He wants to be in the trenches with us. He is right there waiting on you to invite him in. Do it.
Start now for 2020 and “Choose Life.” Ask yourself every time a temptation pops up trying to steer you away from Christ, as the head of your household, is this a “Choose Life” choice? If that answer is no, and let’s be honest, you know when it’s no—then choose differently. Run away. Run towards that abundant life in Christ. You will be taking your family along for the ride with you. It will likely be the greatest choice you have ever made.
I would consider it a privilege to hear from any of the readers. Reach out to me, share your stories. email@example.com @omegaleagueman
Written by Teresa Goodnight
Featuring One of the Largest Collections of Classic VeggieTales, 3-2-1 Penguins, and Owlegories + a Collection of Kids Books such as the Amazon Bestseller— The Laugh and Learn Bible for Kids—Minno Provides Affirming, Faith-Based Content Curated for the 100 Million Americans who Attend Church Every Sunday.
When we find out about programs to help parents help our kiddos, we get really excited. We’ve interviewed experts like Dr. Everett Piper, as they discussed colleges being purposefully after the minds of our children. We’ve listened to City Elders, as they explain the assault on our children in the public-school systems across the country trying to shape their minds as early as possible. This is real and it’s happening now. It’s been happening but it is escalating. Rapidly.
Disney programming moved out of the morally sound realm, originally part of its DNA. Recent rumors around Elsa’s sexual orientation in Frozen 2 got our attention—and dropped our already dashed expectations for the media giant. We’ve heard countless stories of parents trusting PBS with programs like Arthur, only to find their children asking if they should marry a boy or a girl after seeing it on the formerly safe show. Just today at a birthday party, a parent shared that her parental control software program failed. She walked in on her kids watching an adult language show about a teddy bear (Ted), which included inappropriate language and content around body parts just not suitable for young minds.
If you aren’t scrambling for a safety net already, you might need to wake up. It’s a real threat. This isn’t news to parents trying to raise their children in Christ. It’s troubling dialogue without a great solution. UNTIL NOW!
Enter Minno. It’s a new, Nashville-based children’s digital media company offering Christian parents an alternative that is both entertaining and affirming. Minno features an ad-free, subscription digital platform with curated entertainment and educational choices the whole family will love—including one of the largest collections of Classic VeggieTales. Minno has a publishing arm in partnership with Hachette Nashville, with offerings such as the Amazon bestseller Laugh and Learn Bible for Kids, as well as Minno Life, a parenting blog with expert resources and voices for Christian parents. Minno aims to be a one-stop solution for parents and kids.
After receiving a press release on the new company, Community Spirit reached out to CEO and Co-founder of Minno, Erick Goss. He explained Minno’s focus. Goss said, “Parents are desperate to have spiritual conversations with their kids. If we give them some basic tools, we can help parents feel confident and have a sense of control. Parents are asking, ‘How can I connect with my children?’ So, we try to provide the catalysts for conversation.”
Goss went on, “Minno really wants to create teachable, winnable moments. So many parents really feel like the world is pushing against them. Parents feel they are in survival mode. We want to help them move from that mode into what does it mean to thrive and know the Holy Spirit is partnering with us. We want parents confident with discipling.” Goss added, “One thing we know, screen time is important, but off-screen time is also important according to children. We want to be a resource to families trying to raise their children in Christ. In addition to safe programming, we share books and things we recommend.”
Goss shared, “In addition to the programming, we created the Laugh and Learn Bible for Kids as part of the experience. Laughter Is the native language of children. The text is fairly narrative. Phil Vischer, Veggie Tales creator, is hilarious. We thought if we could take the best of what’s in the Bible with the fun tone of the Veggie Tales—put it in 52 selected Bible stories—Genesis to Revelation, we’d have a tool parents could really use.” Goss said, “The feedback has already been so positive.” He went on, “Parents have been commenting ‘I didn’t know this about the Bible. I’m learning this about the Bible.’” He added, “If it’s done in a really fun way, we can help families. We’ve even built parent connect sections at the end for more parental support.”
With a recent launch, Minno already has over 20,000 subscribers in over 40 countries according to Goss. He shared, “The reaction from parents reinforces and affirms the idea there are a lot of parents out there left behind by the media establishment that their stories and their kids are not on screen. It’s important kids can see kids like them. At worst God is a fairy tale. At best, He is irrelevant.”
The thing is—parents need partners, specifically those enabling protective barriers and discipleship of their children.
Our mall recently replaced an amazing play area that was blocked in with a new completely open area. Before, parents could come relax while their children played. It went from a relaxing break while you are shopping to a completely difficult situation to make sure your children are safe. It’s a very similar parallel to what has happened with children’s programming. Parents trying to guard the hearts and minds of their children are no longer able to sit them for a few idle minutes in front of a screen and just walk away. You have to be completely present. Completely on guard. It’s a lot.
Goss stressed, “Parents who care about their children’s faith are in a tough situation. While we attend church and have friends and neighbors who share our faith, the leading technology and media companies are fueling a content culture that is devoid of God and the importance of faith. Christian parents have more content choices than they’ve ever had, but fewer options that reflect their values.” Goss shared, “When you see media companies churning out more shows than ever but none of them reflect your family’s values you want to instill in your family, you are left with an impossible choice—not participating in culture or compromising what you care most about,” Goss said, “Minno resolves that problem, serving as a one-stop, trusted source and a partner in raising kids in today’s pluralistic, social, mobile and media-drenched world. Kids will see Minno as something fun to experience, while parents can feel good about the fact that our content is encouraging kids to deepen their faith and walk with God every day, at home or on-the-go.”
In the coming months, Minno will also offer parent’s guides on top-of-mind topics, family devotionals, and podcasts. In an increasingly secular world where faith and family values are often marginalized, there are few entertainment and education options available that parents can trust.
Minno—ad free, subscription digital video platform. Featuring the largest collection of Classic VeggieTales in the world and the best curated collection of Christian kids content anywhere that can be streamed or downloaded and watched on the go. Parents can try Minno for free by going here: www.gominno.com
Minno Life—a lifestyle blog full of helpful articles, family devotions, and printables developed intentionally to meet the needs of today’s families. Minno Life features curated content from expert thought leaders and parents in the trenches to offer the best in practical hope and help on top-of-mind issues such as spiritual development, education, social media, and culture. Recognized voices such as the team at Daystar Counseling Center—David Thomas, Sissy Goff, and Melissa Trevathan—are all featured contributors.
Minno Kids publishing—because Minno believes the Bible should be at the center of every aspect of living—including parenting—Minno Kids publishing efforts are anchored by the new Laugh and Learn Bible for Kids and also features a wonderful new collection of children’s board books, picture books as well as middle grade novels.
Minno Store—which includes books, Bibles, and other resources from our children’s publishing program, aims to help families experience God together. From board books to middle-grade novels, Minno books help kids better understand what the Bible teaches and offers insights for living out their faith in everyday life.
Written by Andrea Stephens
The idea of having a word for the year was first presented to me by my associate pastor’s wife several years ago when I was living in Florida. She was a very intentional and purposeful type of woman, so it made sense that having a special word, and a scripture to go with it, was something she grabbed hold of. But it wasn’t enough that she had a word, she insisted that everyone had a word.
I passed her enthusiasm (and persistence) onto those in my immediate circle. Each of my family members now select a word for the year. I record their word next to their name on my prayer list so that I’m sure to include it when I am lifting them up to the Lord. As the months go by, I’m sure to check-in to see how they are applying and experiencing the use of their word. We talk about whether or not it is making a difference in the way they are living, whether they are remembering to consider their word as they make decisions about the use of their time and how they choose to conduct themselves.
After all, that is the purpose of having a word. It serves as a guide. It serves as a motivator. It serves as a goal. It serves as a reminder of one thing a person wants to change or become or do as they live their life throughout the year. This is why much thought and prayer are put into the selection of a word. In fact, it can become a partnership—something you and the Lord are working on together.
Last year my sister’s word was outreach. As she analyzed her jam-packed schedule, she realized this was missing from her to-do list. Her job, as regional director for a popular cruise line, kept her traveling, planning presentations, and tracking sales numbers. And usually one of her three kids were in mini-meltdown mode, requiring her attention. And then there was the investment she and her husband made in a beach house that needed updating and some basic TLC before it could be offered as a vacation getaway for families. Of course, none of these things were wrong, she just felt the stirring to focus on being more outward than inward; to support a cause by volunteering her time and abilities.
So that is exactly what she did. She chose the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI). Mental health was near and dear to her heart since one of her kids struggles with anxiety. They welcomed her energy and her host of new ideas for fundraising. Over the course of the year, she served on the Board, participated in the annual NAMI Walks for awareness, helped deliver Christmas bags to area group homes for NAMI families, and through her community connections was able to raise a significant amount for the organization. In return, she was blessed with new friendships and the satisfaction of knowing she was helping others.
In September she came to Tulsa to celebrate my birthday. Knowing her word was outreach, I made arrangements for us to volunteer at Turning Point Thrift Store located next to Loaves and Fishes. We sorted clothes, tagged and priced items, and welcomed shoppers. We even found of few treasures to take home. I loved spending part of my birthday guided by her word outreach.
With the arrival of 2020, now is the time to select a word for the year. Are you ready to join in?
I have chosen the word kindness. I’m challenging myself to stop and ask: What is the kindness thing to do in this situation? What kindness can I offer a hurting person? How can I become a kinder person? Where can I speak a word, provide a meal, or offer a hug? Who needs me to watch their kids, run an errand or simply sit and listen to their story? What scripture can I focus on that relates to kindness?
To help develop myself in this area, I picked up The Kindness Effect by Jill Donovan. Jill is the mastermind behind the Rustic Cuff craze. This attorney and law professor at the University of Tulsa has become a wildly successful entrepreneur. Jill uses her profits to bless others. As the book subtitle claims, Jill has discovered the power of irrational giving, encouraging her readers to do the same. In other words, spread kindness whenever and wherever possible—and give credit to God.
Now, what about you? What will your word be? What are you missing? What do you want to add? Is there an activity or even an attitude you want to incorporate into your life? Give it some thought and prayer, then commit it to the Lord. Get ready for Him to open opportunities for you to put your word into action. What a great 2020 ahead!
If you would like to know more about Jill and her adventures with kindness, you are invited to the Asbury Women’s Gathering on Friday, February 21 at 7:00 pm. Asbury Church is located at 6767 S. Mingo Road, Tulsa. No charge, refreshments provided. Register online at asburytulsa.org or call 918-492-1771.
When I caught up with John Wyrrick this month, I wanted to get a better understanding of his plan for a successful building and remodeling process. I have done both. Sometimes well, and sometimes well—please don’t make me have to relive it by telling you about it. Just that one reference made my pocketbook cringe and my blood pressure jump a few points.
As easy as it looks with Chip and Joanna, the truth is good subcontractors do their best work with a clear plan but also when they know the person in charge knows how to do the job right. It’s just a fact. Wyrrick said, “My job is supervision, inspection, and management of all of the people and companies involved in the project. Having been in the business for a while, I have found that people do what you inspect and not what you expect.” He went on, “It is incumbent upon me to “inspect the expects” to get your desired results.”
Wyrrick continued, “Building and remodeling should be enjoyable and exciting. Based on my years of experience, I have found some essential steps, which lead to a happy ending. First, a clear, complete, and specific plan gives us our roadmap to the desired finish. Second, a procedure and protocol for progress meetings, inspections, cost updates and change order reviews must be established.” These items, which to some (like myself!) might seem like formalities, are critical steps in a successful project. They just are. Wyrrick went on, “I strive to deliver the best product for the best price, which results in our client receiving the greatest value. Having an established process and expectations coupled with my ability to inspect for quality results gets my clients the outcome they wanted.”
Behind the Scenes:
Depending on your desires, needs, and the complexity of the project, we recommend an architect to provide a full set of plans complete with elevations, sections and details. If you have a small project, we can employ a building designer. In either case, we make your thoughts and ideas come to life with drawings that allow us to pinpoint the costs.
Plans are complete. So, now we meet with our team to cover all aspects of your project and prepare an accurate budget and cost. We work on a “cost plus” basis or a “fixed price” model. We will fully cover how each of these models work and which one might be best for you. We want our customer to be comfortable with the financial terms and conditions.
We schedule a weekly meeting. Communication is critical; it allows both parties to be transparent with their thoughts to ensure the desired result is delivered. Project supervision is an important part of the process as well. We can provide dependable supervision at the level requested, either full time or project specific. Cost summaries are provided twice a month and change orders are executed in a timely fashion to eliminate surprises. These elements will make the construction experience amenable for everyone.
Skilled and knowledgeable tradespeople are a vital part of any project. We assembled a group of contractors who possess the quality construction skills coupled with integrity and dependability for our customers. Our subcontractors have a close relationship with us, which results in quicker response times and trusted results.
John Wyrrick, LLC Custom Homes and Remodeling Contact: Phone: 918-510-0331 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Services: Custom Homes, Custom Remodels, Outdoor Living Spaces, Full Design and Plan Services