Category: FAMILY

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

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.

Written by Mike Henry Sr. – Follower of One

The Offense

The Human Resources director of your company called. Suddenly, today is your last day. There’s a reorganization and your job is no longer necessary. You’re a great person and this isn’t personal. There’s nothing you could have done, but they don’t need you anymore. There’s a little severance, but you know it won’t last long enough. Meanwhile, it’s time to pack. 

Initial Reaction

“They” did it and it wasn’t fair. Or “They should…” The word “they” is a key.  When we focus on the past and we hold someone else responsible for what happened, we build walls of bitterness because we haven’t forgiven someone.

The Command

‘And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.’ Matthew 6:12

Can we forgive others in the workplace the way we want God to forgive us? Do you want God to forgive you the way you forgive others? The way I forgive others often falls short of the way I ask for forgiveness. When I’m honest, I appreciate God’s forgiveness. I’m glad he created forgiveness and I know my efforts don’t measure up. 

Three Steps

Even though I’m no expert in forgiveness, I still practice. And in my practice, I’ve found 3 activities that help me move toward God’s command and away from my natural reaction. 

Name the offense. Often, we need to make ourselves aware of the offense we feel so we can forgive properly. Think about this event. Step into the pain. Think about the costs. Get it out there where you can deal with it. Some people think they’ve forgiven someone, but they still harbor ill feelings. They still blame their former employer for debt they incurred while unemployed. Or they blame their boss for a poor review or a less-than-expected pay raise. When we name the offense, we begin to manage it.

Give it away. Once you name the offense, give it away or give it to God. Ask God to give you a heart for the person or people who offended you. Then ask God to make it right. Unforgiveness keeps you stuck in the past. When you can trust God to make something positive out of your offense, you experience the benefits of forgiveness.

Make it unconditional. We didn’t earn God’s forgiveness. I’m unaware of many of the offenses I’ve caused. None of us truly understand the vast scope of the unconditional forgiveness we have each already received. Don’t revisit the offense months from now when something else happens. Remember that you unconditionally asked God to restore you from this offense. Remind yourself everything related to this offense bills to the same account.

Perfect Job

I have always wanted to work where I could screw up BIG without fear of penalty or job loss. When I turned my life to follow Jesus, I got my wish. But I often saw only the temporal. While the pain was fresh, I did not see my eternal boss give me repeat chances. I did not see my career as what God was doing in my life. Whatever offended me was visible, not eternal.

“Therefore, we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NASB

Keep it Real

When we focus on visible things, we can find offenses everywhere. For work-oriented problems where we were let go, laid off, or we lost money or status at the hands of someone else, these steps can be a quick guide for how to focus on the future. An unforgiving spirit keeps us locked in the past. We continue to bear the misery of the past rather than giving it away, or even using the offense as a springboard to a new future. We know God uses our stories. Let God use your offense. Name it. Give it to Him. And make it unconditional.

God willing, I will continue to work on my weakness forgiving others. I hope to one day be willing to ask God to forgive me the way I forgive others. For now, I’m grateful he forgives better than I.

_________________________________

Note: Often, issues at work are much less painful or costly than the others discussed in this issue of the magazine. But our workplaces are regular, daily places where we interact with others. Conflict and offense live there too and every grudge or bitterness we hang on to costs us daily. 


Written by Andrea Stephens

I’ll never forget the Sunday morning when the Fertility Clinic called with the crushing news that none of the eggs from the IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) procedure had produced an embryo.  We had tried so many other procedures but this was the time we were going to actually see what was happening by putting the eggs and sperm together in a petri dish and watching for results.  

But nothing.  

Nothing happened.

The doctor explained that the next step would be using donor eggs.  I could look at the profiles of women who had frozen eggs, select one, then have her eggs used in another IVF procedure.  But we had already decided that we would not take that route.  Though others were making that choice and joyfully producing little bundles of joy, we had decided we would draw the line at this point.  No third-party intervention.

To say I was devastated was putting it mildly.  I was already ten years into this infertility journey.  Hundreds of doctor’s appointments, invasive ultrasounds, blood draws, fertility drug injections, ovulation kits, six surgeries to remove painful cysts and endometriosis and I still had empty arms.  The hand-knit baby booties on my dresser, intended to be a symbol of hope, had become a disheartening reminder of the loss I felt from being childless.

I had already worked through the jealousy of birth announcements from friends.  The Lord had brought me to the understanding that what He was doing in someone else’s life had nothing to do with me and I eventually could rejoice with them.  I had already learned that taking non-emotional gifts like diapers to a baby shower helped me feel stronger (shopping for cute baby outfits could land me in a puddle of tears).  I had already mastered the art of redirecting the conversation every time someone asked me when I was going to start my own family.

I had also already worked through the tough God questions. Why won’t You give me a baby?  Why don’t You love me? What have I done wrong?  Is there unconfessed sin in my life?  Do You not think I would be a good mom?  Why won’t you bless me?  I promise to raise my children to love and serve You! The majority of my wrestling with God over my childlessness had been resolved with the biblical truth that my infertility was not a withdrawal of God’s love, not a judgment call, not a source of punishment, not proof that I’d been abandoned or forgotten about, and not proof that prayer didn’t work.

Yet, that day after the phone call, I felt like I was still missing something.   I still needed the Lord to comfort my heart and give me understanding.  As I sat and prayed, I sensed a whispering in my soul.  It’s time to focus on the bigger picture.  The bigger picture?  What could be bigger than God’s instructions to be fruitful and multiply?  What was bigger than the biblical accounts of God opening the wombs of Sarah, Rebekah, Hannah, and others in the Old Testament?  What was I missing?  What piece of the big picture was not in my puzzle?

I decided to dive into the Gospel of John, paying close attention to Jesus’ words in an effort to understand what God wanted me to see.  So, first we learn that Jesus is the Word, John the Baptist came with a message of repentance, Jesus turns the water into wine, then he turns over the tables in the temple.  Got it.  In Chapter 3, the nighttime chat with Nicodemus about being born again caught my attention in a fresh way.  Jesus said we must be born of the Spirit in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, and believing in Him, God’s Son, brings eternal life.  Hmmm. The eternal.  The kingdom of God.  A different kind of birth.

I continued on.  Finally, in chapter fifteen it happened.  A huge clue was uncovered.  Jesus is the vine, we are the branches; we are to bear fruit—eternal fruit!  I was starting to get it.  Fruitfulness was being given a new definition.  In the Old Testament, fruitfulness referred to bearing earthly children.  In the New Testament, it was about abiding in Christ and producing spiritual fruit.

God, does this mean that Jesus brought a new focus, a new sense of purpose? Could it be that being fruitful was not connected with having kids?

Jesus’ focus was not on the earthly development of the family of God, but the spiritual development of the Kingdom of God.  How?  Share the good news of saving grace found in Christ alone, so others might receive Him into their lives and be born again, born spiritually into the Kingdom of God, into His forever family.

Thoughts of New Testament people without children or without mention of children flooded my mind:  John the Baptist, Martha and Mary, Priscilla, Dorcas, Mary of Magdela, Apostle Paul, and Jesus Himself! If having biological children was the end all, then God would owe Jesus, John, Paul, and others an apology for leaving their lives unfulfilled and incomplete!  Not possible.  God was at work in each of their lives, he loved them, He had an obvious plan for each of them and they fully completed their calling before heading to heaven. 

Whew.

As the idea of spiritual children twirled around in my heart, my head realized that according to this definition, I had lots of kids.  Through years in youth ministry and writing for teen girls, I had indeed seen many be born spiritually and had the joy of discipling them—growing them up in Jesus!

I began to take note of some awesome women God had put in my life throughout 

my baby journey, other childless but Kingdom-focused women.  He was using them—right then—to help me see there was a bigger picture.  Rhonda had a local Christian TV show for women and taught a seminary class for soon-to-be pastor’s wives.  Susie was editor of a teen magazine and led groups of girls on mission trips.  Gail had a puppet ministry that told little ones about God’s love.  Rebecca had a worldwide music ministry.  Lori was an award-winning second-grade teacher who developed a mentoring program.

The dictionary says that part of being a mother is providing affection, protection, nurture, and guidance.  It’s what many of us childless women do.  We love, we teach, we train, we coach, we encourage, we guide.  We are an important part of building God’s forever family.  It seems that on some level we meet the definition of a mom.

The various clues had come together!  This the “big picture” God wanted me to see.

Over the years, I have been so grateful for the truths God has revealed to me and grateful for grasping an eternal perspective.  Now I celebrate each Mother’s Day in a fresh way.  I celebrate all the ways God has used me to be a mom in the lives of teen girls during the previous year.  And I smile, remembering all the young ones who took my manners classes—allowing me to have a tiny part in parenting them.  And I focus forward knowing that I am a mother.  Just another kind.

-parts of this article first appeared in Just Between Us Magazine.


Written by Brenda Hilligoss

For the last few weeks I have been thinking about not greeting at Life.Church.  I thought that I wasn’t really helping God.  I would no longer have to get up early on Sunday mornings, since I have some health problems and do not sleep well.  I thought that they wouldn’t miss me.  I kept praying about what I was thinking, but I could not decide what to do.  God kept telling me that it didn’t matter what I thought or what others thought; I was doing this for Him.  He kept telling me, but I certainly wasn’t looking for that answer.  So, I kept praying, possibly, for Him to come around and just tell me what I was wanting to hear—that it was ok to hang up my hat for a bit.

I greet both on Sunday mornings and on Monday nights.  I’ll be 69 by the time this issue is published.  I’m retired and sometimes even bored, but still, I thought about taking a break.  It’s funny how those thoughts creep in.  I think Satan pokes around, looking for a bit of a cracked door, so that he can slip in and bust the door wide open.  He’s just sneaky like that.  If he can find our weaknesses, maybe a little bit of our self pity, or pounce on our desire to just take it easy, he will grab onto it and run with it.  So, I just kept praying and hoping for “MY” answer.

Then just a few weeks ago, the church presented me with a medal and certificate for my service.  March marked 5 years of greeting at the auditorium doors!  I have greeted a lot of people in those 5 years.  It was nice to stop and take note of how long I had been serving.  But, still, you guessed it–I thought about taking a break. You might even say I was just longing for God to give it to me.  When you want a certain answer from God, it’s amazing how long you will seek “His will” in prayer, when you aren’t hearing your own heart’s desire.  Sometimes we don’t want His answer at all, because deep down we already have decided on our own answer.  

However, that same Sunday morning, God decided He would give me one last chance to hear what He was saying about how He was using my choice to serve.  As I was standing at the entrance to the auditorium, waiting to open the doors, a young man came up to me and asked me when the service started.  He told me that he usually came at 10 a.m. but ended up missing that time this morning.  As we talked, I told him of the various days and times of the services; he told me that this was only his 4th time having come to Life.Church.  

We continued to talk for a little longer when my pastor, Isaiah, came out of the auditorium door.  I told Isaiah how the young man was new, as he introduced himself.  Then, the young man immediately told Isaiah how he had been wanting to raise his hand to receive Christ and salvation when he had been in the other services.  I thought “Wow! Was he going to accept Christ as his savior right here at the door?”  Isaiah, without hesitation, asked him if he would like to just do it now.  The young man immediately responded “Yes!” 

I bowed my head, as my pastor prayed for him, overwhelmed with emotion for the young man’s decision.  Together with Isaiah’s guidance, they expressed in his prayer that he knew he was a sinner who needed God’s forgiveness.  He also prayed that he understood Jesus had died on the cross for his sins  and that he wanted to accept his payment and accepted Him as his Lord and Savior.  When he looked up from the prayer, I was overcome with elation.  

It was then I realized that volunteering to be a greeter on the Life.Church host team was such a blessing, not just for me, but for all those who wanted to help fill God’s Kingdom.  It seemed so small before that moment.  It was God that saved that young man’s soul.  But, being at the door greeting allowed me to have a small part in welcoming another child to Jesus.  

I think that’s exactly how God has it all planned out.  He wants us to serve Him so that we can experience the joy I felt at that exact moment.  It renews us.  It gives us strength to continue on in whatever God has called us to do.  After all, God is certainly big enough to reach the world without us.  He said he would cause the rocks to cry out in our silence.  But, He wanted us to share in the expansion of his kingdom for so many of the things that went into my heart that day.  I was renewed. I was reminded how big God was. I was reminded I just needed to be faithful and He would use me.  My own faith was strengthened and revived as I experienced this beautiful moment with this young man and Isaiah.  

Sometimes you might not get to see how God is using you, but it helps to open our eyes a bit to realize that our small part plays into the bigger picture.  Every soul being saved in our church has to enter through those doors—and it sure helps when someone is there to greet them. There are many ways we can volunteer in our church – greeting, waving, handing out invitations or even serving coffee.  No matter how we are being used, no matter how small they may seem on some days, we are choosing to play a part in souls being saved for Christ.  What a blessing and honor to serve, not just for your church or the staff, but for the Kingdom of God.  

Needless to say, I stopped those prayers for my own will.  God answered me with a resounding blessing.  I am grateful to continue being a greeter!  I can’t wait to see what God brings my way in the next 5 years with my invigorated purpose. 


The young man had heard the following message of God’s love if you haven’t heard it before.

God loves all of us.  He always has and always will.  He loved us so much that He gave His only son for us.  He says in John 3:16 (NLT) “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[a] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

See, we have all made mistakes.  Some feel bigger.  Some feel smaller.  However, they are all called sin in God’s eyes.  He says in Romans 3:23  (NLT) “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”

Unfortunately, because we’ve all messed up, God can’t just overlook our sins.  They actually carry consequences both on earth and eternally.  God says in Romans 6:23  (NLT) ”For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

He loved us so much that while we were still knee deep in our sins, He sent His son to die for us so that we could have eternal life through His son’s payment for our sins.  He says in Romans 5:8 (NLT) “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”

But, Jesus didn’t just die for our sins.  It didn’t stop there.  He was actually raised to life 3 days later just as the Bible had foretold.   1 Corinthians 15:3-4 (NLT) says “…Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.”

We can’t earn salvation.  We are all offered God’s complete forgiveness and grace.  We are offered His payment for our sins.  An easy analogy is this:  A son was speeding in his car. He was pulled over and given a ticket for his offense.  He went to court to try to get out of his ticket.  The judge asked if he had sped.  He said “Yes. I did.”  Then, the young man asked the judge if he might show him mercy and forgive the offense.  The young man didn’t have enough money to pay his fine.  So, as such, he would need to be put in jail.  The judge, being a judge, was bound to uphold the law.  So, he upheld the fine charged against the young man for his offense.  Then, the judge took off his robe, stepped down from the bench, and paid the price for his child’s offense.  You see, he was the young man’s father.  That’s a tiny picture of what God did for us.  Because He can’t ignore sin, He upheld the law, but then He sent His son to pay the penalty.   

God will absolutely accept anyone no matter how big their offenses.  He is both just (as the judge) and loving as the father, and He has already paid the price you can’t afford to pay.  You can pray that prayer right where you are—but we’d urge you to get to your local church (or email us at info@communityspiritmagazine.com and we can help get you with a local church) for help in your journey as a new believer in Christ!


Senior Moments was contributed by Brenda Hilligoss. Brenda is a retired financial counselor, who enjoys her watching her grandkids, working in her yard, and her role as a greeter at church. She’s been a Christian since she was years old.  She’s spent a lifetime pursuing a relationship with God and guiding her children and grandchildren towards a life in Christ.  She promotes Community Spirit Magazine wherever she goes. She also happens to be the mom of one of the owners. (if she hasn’t already told you!)


Senior Moments, sponsored by Visiting Angels918.609.5600 Tulsa or 918.333.7400 Bartlesville visitingangels.com/greencountry


The BIG, FUN, PEOPLE-LOVING event!

Download Press Release Here

Community event. Open to everyone.  We are showcasing the amazing services available to the community for men, women, and families who need them. 

When: May 4, 2019 12:30pm – 4:30pm

Where: Union High School Stadium


Schedule:

  • 12:30 Congressman Kevin Hern, opening speakers, and band
  • 1:30 simulcast starts with Focus on the Family 
  • 3:30 closing speakers and band

During the event, the following fun, free activities will be available for everyone (especially children):

  • Bouncy houses
  • Scavenger hunts 
  • Obstacle courses
  • Giant 6 ft soccer ball game
  • Frisbee contests
  • Throwing contest 
  • Art sections
  • Face painting and more

Want a table?

Table/chairs provided – $0.00 to $300. Show the community the services you offer! (Pregnancy resource centers, adoption, fostering, medical clinics/services, mobile ultrasounds, churches, community groups, and more).

Email info@communityspiritmagazine.com to reserve your table!

Want to volunteer?

We’re looking for loads of volunteers to host games, sell beverages (cans/bottles), and more. Send us your preferences for areas and we will try to accommodate. 

Email info@communityspiritmagazine.com to volunteer!

Exhibitor List

  • Birthright of Tulsa
  • Mend Medical Clinic
  • Crisis Pregnancy Outreach
  • Go Life Mobile Medical
  • Northeastern Hope Resource Center
  • Pregnancy Resource Center of Owasso
  • Stay Close to Christ
  • Compassion Women’s Center
  • May Be Pregnant
  • James Mission
  • Good Samaritan
  • YouthCare of Oklahoma
  • OKDHS Foster Care and Adoption Recruitment
  • Refiner’s Fire Ministries
  • Nightlight Christian Adoption
  • Dillon Adoption
  • LilyField Adoption
  • Oklahoma Baptist Homes for Children, Owasso
  • Tulsa Hills Youth Ranch
  • Catholic Charities
  • Broken Arrow Pediatrics

Written By: R.A. Goodnight

“Stand firm then… with the breastplate of righteousness in place… Take the helmet of salvation…” Ephesians 6:14, 15

THE BATTLE FOR HEARTS AND MINDS

For ages, human philosophers have pursued answers to life’s biggest questions.  Thankfully, a degree in philosophy isn’t required to find explanations for most, as the scriptures provide satisfying answers to all such questions.  Let me give you an example. 

It is a problem as old as war itself. During a war, the invading force needs a strategy to defeat the defending force, but also a plan to minimize resistance from the local population. Additionally, being able to shape the ideology of future generations is strategic to the long-term success of the conquering army. But how do you control resistance from the indigenous people as well as their children? By targeting their hearts and their minds.

With physical warfare there is, generally, a psychological war that is fought simultaneously. One of the earliest secular references to this comes from India, around the 4th century B.C. In a book that was written the writer gives advice on how to wage Gudayuddha, or “silent warfare”. The invading force would use propaganda campaigns that attempted to convince the people that they were the force for good. They would try to sway the population (and even the opposing soldiers) that the invaders have the people’s interest in mind, that they were liberators and not enslavers. In the end, they offer some form of freedom to the people with the hope of winning them over to their ideology. For if you can win the people, you have a greater chance of winning the war. But, depending on who the invading force is, the ‘freedom’ they entice the population with can be dangerous lies.

THE LIES OF TODAY

It should not come as a shock that our invader, Satan, uses this tactic in his war against God’s people. The scriptures tell us, “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14) The Bible also refers to him as the father of lies. (John 8:44) Through the ages he has proven himself to be a skilled liar and an effective propagandist. At the beginning of human history, Satan employed lies and propaganda to target the mind of Eve. He presented himself as a liberator and promised her ‘freedom’ that he claimed God was withholding from her. Once he convinced her of his lie it infected her heart causing her to act on the idea. (Genesis 3:4, 5) So began human sin. It is an effective tactic that has won many over to his side. Due to its effectiveness, we should not expect him to have abandoned its use.

Bringing the application to our day, thousands of years later, Satan is still employing this tactic. He persists in his efforts to “lead the whole world astray” by use of lies and propaganda. (Revelation 12:9) Even today he builds his lies on the same fundamental deception – that God is holding us back. That we are not free. That we can have more, and that he is offering it. His ideals are embedded in the constant barrage of data offered to us by Hollywood, news outlets and politicians. The ideals we encounter include stances on sexual immorality (homosexual or heterosexual), abortion, idolatry (many times not recognized as idolatry), spirituality and religion along with many other hot topics in the world today. He tries to convince us that these are not bad. He tries to persuade us to adopt an ‘anything goes’ attitude toward life; he presents that as being free, as us being in control of our own lives.

Sadly, many of our fellow humans have given into these ideas and now find themselves in a precarious situation. Those who accept (and more importantly promote) these popular lies, knowingly or unknowingly, have become agents in Satan’s war. 2 Corinthians tells us, “It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” (11:15) God pronounces woes upon individuals in this state, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness.” (Isaiah 5:20) This is not a situation in which we want to find ourselves or our families–taking a stand against God and his truths through the belief and promotion of Satan’s lies.

Understanding that the assault is more intense than it ever has been, how do we protect our minds and our hearts?

THE HELMET OF SALVATION – OUR MENTAL DEFENSE

Just as a physical helmet protects the head and brain, the source of our intellect, our hope of salvation can protect our minds. The distractions and lies presented to us by Satan’s world can have an intoxicating effect upon us. Interestingly, Paul admonished first century Christians, “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” (1 Thessalonians 5:8) In this verse, Paul establishes a connection between spiritual sobriety (or mental protection) and our hope of salvation. Instead of allowing ourselves to be distracted by the promises and ‘wisdom’ of Satan’s world, a focus on our hope of salvation can help ensure that our minds are strong, aware and filled the truths from God as opposed to the lies of Satan.

However, our minds require constant attention. As the flow of Satan’s propaganda exists 24/7 our consideration of God based truths need to occur daily. This counsel is given to us through scripture as well. The Bible admonishes, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2) Yes, a regular renewal of our mind convinces us of God’s truth and reinforces His will as opposed to Satan’s lies that our minds encounter. Meditating on what is true, right and pure is the only antidote to the information offered to us through Satan’s world. (Philippians 4:8)

THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS – DEFENSE FOR OUR HEARTS

The defense of our heart begins with protecting our mind, as the path to our hearts is through our minds. This is one of the most important aspects of Christian warfare. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23) What is in our figurative hearts defines who we really are, the inner person. Our heart is our seat of motivation. Everything we do, love or hate comes from our hearts.

The breastplate of a soldier’s armor protected his heart. So how can righteousness protect our figurative hearts? First, we must understand and accept that righteousness is only defined by one person – God. Not ourselves, not a politician (or other public figure), not our friends – not this world. Once we have accepted God’s standard on righteousness, this will cause us to reject any ‘wisdom’ we encounter in the world that changes, removes or disputes His standard. Over time this will develop in us a heart that hates evil but loves good. (Amos 5:15) Once our hearts have been conditioned to love what God loves, it will govern what we say and do. Speaking of Christ, Hebrews 1:9 tells us, “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.” As our exemplar, we should strive to have a heart of Christ. It will define who we are as a Christian.

CHILDREN ARE PRIME TARGETS

The defense of our own hearts and minds is of utmost importance. In the outset of this article, I mentioned that a strategic initiative of an invading force would be to change the ideology of future generations as well. This means the minds and hearts of our children are prime targets.

Men, the attack upon our children is as fierce as I have ever seen it. Satan is using music, movies, TV shows, even children’s books to hack their little minds and pirate their precious hearts. More importantly, through school and colleges they are taught many ideas that directly conflict with God’s standards of righteousness. Whether through poor choices in friends or through the school curriculums, there is an active campaign against our children. Are you aware of who your children’s friends are? Do you know what is being taught in their classrooms? If we do not choose to fill their minds with the pure thoughts of God and to shape their identities as Christians – Satan will do his own filling. Do not test him. The Devil would love nothing more than to have his way with our children’s minds.

Our children need us to fight for them. Their futures depend on us forging child-sized helmets and breastplates to protect their minds and hearts. Let’s consider for a moment the example of a Christian youth – Timothy. Paul said this of him, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” (2 Timothy 1:5) It was Timothy’s grandmother and mother who shaped his mind and conditioned his heart. Further counsel from God’s word admonishes us as fathers, “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 11:19)

What are some practical ways we can apply this counsel? Bedtime stories are a great way. When fishing, hiking or involved in outdoor activities – use these moments to teach your kids about our Great Creator and God. When you drive them to school, impart God’s truths and wisdom with application for their day. If practical for your family, prayerfully consider a Christian school or college for your child. If not practical, be aware and involved in what public schools are actively putting into the minds of our kids. We are their fathers. As far as it is in our power, let’s make intentional choices what we allow into their minds and hearts.

CONCLUSION

t is our responsibility to start forging for our children a strong faith and passionate love for God’s standards from the moment we see their eyes the first time. Fight with a ferocity that the Devil has never encountered before. Fight as if their futures will be shaped by the effectiveness of the defense you mount because they will be.

We now have a full suit of armor that we can use to defend ourselves as well as our entire families. In this series we have considered:

• The sword of the Spirit
• The shield of faith
• The belt of truth
• Feet fitted with the gospel of peace
• The breastplate of righteousness
• The helmet of salvation

(www.communityspiritmagazine.com or www.issuu.com contains back issues of CSM to read the set).

Equip your armor men and scream back at the Devil, “You cannot have them! Not this child, not today!” Strike you swords against your shields and fight like men, in Jesus name, Amen!


I would consider it a privilege to hear from any of the readers. Reach out to me, share your stories. man2man@omegaleague.com 

@omegaleagueman


Free Wellness Education Seminar

You hear it all the time. You probably even believe it. However, most do not act on it.

Vitamins and minerals are essential to our bodies in order to function properly.

The problem is we can survive for quite a long time with a deficiency without seeing the devastating effects to our bodies. Suddenly, we are faced with a health crisis. We start to treat it with the pharmaceutical of the day.

However, in many cases, we can course correct with a special diet and nutrition.Oftentimes we are not tested for vitamin deficiencies, which might be at the core of our problem. Problems from vitamin deficiency don’t crop up overnight. They come from a lifetime of not paying attention to what matters most.
In some cases, those deficiencies can be caused by our genes.

Dr. Gonzales’ office offers a wellness section inside their clinic testing on vitamins and nutrition deficiencies. Many patients can reverse inflammation, exhaustion, skin disorders and even infertility with modifications to their regimen. In one case, a female who had faced multiple miscarriages found out her body didn’t properly process folic acid, which is needed for a baby’s neurological development. The patient started quality supplements to treat another health condition and found herself pregnant at 44, delivering her first perfectly healthy child. Proper treatments MAY help course correct some of the effects patients are experiencing.

When Community Spirit Magazine found out Dr. Gonzalez was hosting a free Wellness Education Seminar with a renowned naturopathic doctor for FREE right here in Tulsa, we wanted to tell our readers. Dr. Andre Alexander Kulisz is an international consultant in the area of neurotoxicity and chronic inflammatory conditions.

We have seen first hand the detrimental effects of inflammation caused by everything from food allergies to improper dietary choices. If you or a loved one experiences any kind of health condition possibly related to these conditions, it’s worth dropping by for the event. It could be the key to healing and restoration you’ve been seeking!

Date: April 12, Friday at 10-1:30
Where: Tulsa
Neurospecialists
5010 Esat 66th Street #102
Tulsa, OK 74136

Written by Andrea Stephens

I’d been on mission trips before, but this one was different.

Having recently been given the opportunity to write a column in Focus On The Family’s BRIO Magazine for teen girls, I was invited to be part of their annual mission trip. That year they were headed to Costa Rica. Hmmmm. Sharing the gospel, leading a team of eager young women who loved Jesus, and getting to experience a different culture—I was in!

The plan was to have the girls, coming from all over the U.S., meet in Miami for several days of training. Then on chartered planes, all 250 of us would fly to San Jose,
(I thought organizing 250 excited teenager girls sounded like the challenge of a lifetime until several years later when the group had grown to 850!). Right after the early morning breakfast buffet, the girls were divided into twelve teams and taught choreography to a powerful 25-minute drama presentation of the gospel called Spellbound. They also had daily sessions of language learning and the opportunity to fine-tune their personal testimony of God’s work in their lives which they would be sharing at their various ministry sites around San Jose.

My main assignment while in Miami was to encourage my team during rehearsals, make sure everyone had called home at least once, help finalize costumes, and practice Spanish phrases. The days were long and rushed but worth every second once we touched down on Costa Rician soil, ready to tell others of the love of God and saving grace of Jesus. I was excited that these precious girls were about to be obedient to Jesus’ command to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15). Each morning I led team devotions, then getting on our knees, we asked the Lord to lead us, guide us, and grant us favor as we presented the drama at parks, schools, and open market squares. We asked the Holy Spirit to be at work in the hearts of those watching the drama and, in our hearts, as well.

Each night, at the close of an adventure filled day, all the teams gathered together to share stories and to thank the Lord for all He was doing. The worship offered during these times was very genuine. Coupled with my private morning devo time, I began to experience a stirring deep inside of me—an unsettled feeling that I had felt before. Call it a yearning, a feeling of discontent, a touch of heart ache. Being on a mission trip where I was able to spend extra time in the Word and prayer drew my attention to the stirring. At home, with the busyness of life, it is both easier and necessary to push down the thoughts and feelings that are trying to rise to the surface; the very things that the Holy Spirit is wanting to use to get our attention about something. Well, this was one of my somethings. So, I asked the Lord to explain this to me. And he did.

His answer came the next afternoon. We returned from ministry a little early so the teams had free-time until dinner. Ah! I welcomed the extra time to recharge alone in my room. I had been reading in the Psalms, so I picked up my Bible to continue looking into these/this collection of thoughts and prayers as expressed through their author, King David.
I was reading Psalm 63 when I got it. This Psalm talks about seeking God, thirsting for Him, and yearning for Him. Seeking, thirsting, yearning. Another word to express how David was feeling is the word longing. David was longing for God. This is when the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to what was really stirring around deep inside of me. I was feeling what I was feeling because I was actually…homesick. Homesick?

The idea took me by surprise.

Yet it explained the days when I felt out of sorts, not quite comfortable whether I’m at work, in line at Starbucks, rushing through Walmart or reheating leftovers for dinner. I knew this was more than just needing a long soak in a hot tub with lavender scented bath salts. It would easily be mislabeled as loneliness or interpreted as depression. But those words did not accurately describe what I felt. These were times when it feels like something is missing and I just long for more. Now I understood. I was longing for my heavenly home. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not talking about an eerie death wish. I’m talking about a deep longing to be in that place where we, as believers and children of God, will experience belonging, satisfaction, wholeness, total acceptance, and of course, a love like no other.
When we have developed an intimate personal relationship with Jesus—the kind that goes beyond Sunday morning casual Christianity—our longing for home makes total sense. Girlfriend let’s do a quick review: We have been transferred from the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of Light. Yes, out of the Dominion of Satan into the Kingdom of God. We have become new creations—made new in our spirit which now houses the Holy Spirit, which now makes us children of the most High, ever-present, ever-loving Father! Right now we are citizens of Heaven, our real home. We are God’s ambassadors here on this earth from that moment on. We are on assignment, getting our orders from headquarters, fulfilling God’s purpose for us to love others and tell them about Jesus. (Colossians 1:13, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Philippians 3:20, 2 Corinthians 5:20, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Matthew 22:37-39, Mark 16:15).

So this longing in me was not a bad thing, it was a good thing; not a negative feeling, but a positive one. Have you felt the longing? Perhaps you chalked it up to PMS or your biorhythms being off or a general dissatisfaction with life. If so, knowing it is a desire to be more deeply connected with your Heavenly Father is very freeing. And very good.
So what do we do to help satisfy the longing until the day our Heavenly Father calls us home? We spend more time in the Word, pray without ceasing, surround ourselves with worship music, serve Him by serving others, fellowship with other believers—all things that help us keep our hearts and minds set on Jesus so that we will have peace for our longing. And we choose to rejoice in the Lord always and give thanks in everything (Philippians 4:6-9). Yes, I have learned to be content and grateful for the stirring inside of me. It is confirmation that I am connected to my Heavenly Father and that my longing will one day be fulfilled when I live in my heavenly home where I will spend eternity.

None of this would be possible without the sacrifice that Jesus made on my behalf by going to the cross. He willingly chose to die a painful criminal’s death in order to break the power of sin and death, to pay the penalty I could never pay for myself, to provide the beautiful gifts of salvation, forgiveness and grace, and to open the door for me to be in direct relationship with my Father-God. Because of God’s incredible love, He would have done all of this just for me. But He didn’t. He did it for you, too.

This month as we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection let’s also rejoice that we experience a sense of longing every now and then.

Let it be a reminder that because we have accepted Jesus into our lives as Savior and Lord, we are now the children of God. Our culture teaches that we are all God’s children yet the scripture is clear that Jesus gives us the right to become children of God. We are all God’s creations, yet we become His children through Jesus. (John 1:12). In God’s selected timing, we are children who will one day be home where that longing will be turned into fullness of joy. (Psalm 16: 11).