Category: LIFE

When the flood waters were coming up, so was the power of God to move through His Church in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.  We spent days talking with flood victims, as many just needed a friend to hear “their” story.  Story after story, we were heartbroken.  However, what we saw above the heartbreak? God moving as His Church was moving.  We were simply BLOWN AWAY at the way the churches of Prattville and Sand Springs mobilized as a force of power and relief for the flood victims.

You may have heard, as the news repeated over and over for Prattville/Sand Springs to check out “,” who had organized a website with resources available to the flood victims.  Pastor Rusty Gunn of that church said, “ is a site we set up to compile information for flood victims regarding resources available to them. It is a one stop shop for them.”  However, in talking with Rusty—we found there was much, MUCH more to the story.

“Sand Springs is blessed with an incredible network of local churches. We work together on a regular basis.” said Rusty, “So, when this crisis hit our city, it was only natural for us to come together. The pastors of the Sand Springs Local Church Network meet every month to plan ministry projects together such as a huge “Back To School Bash” at the end of the summer, our city’s downtown Halloween event called Boo on Broadway, or a thanksgiving meal where 2,000 hot meals are delivered on Thanksgiving Day.”  Rusty said, “We have a community-wide Thanksgiving worship service, the National Day of Prayer, and more.”  I was really blown away.  We’ve been hot on the trail of what the Church could look like if we united as we felt God has called us to do.  We were all talking about it, but these guys have been doing it for 20 years.

“We also meet a second time each month at City Hall with our city manager, mayor, and other leaders who join us periodically to pray over our city together” shared Rusty. He went on, “Our local church youth ministries also unite regularly for events, serve days, and a Spring Break local mission trip where the groups serve around our city together during the daytime and then have worship rallies at night.  We rotate between different church facilities each night.”

For Rusty, he felt it was this ongoing relationship and partnership that made it easy to come together at this time and be the Church.  He’s not wrong.  Their movement as the Church was really astounding.  I witnessed it.  I felt it.  I was drawn to it.  I went back to their facilities over and over. I haven’t spent that much time in Prattville for a while.  I think I have been craving such a unification that I just needed to be right in the middle of it.  It gave me a place to go help families right where they were.  

Another thing that really helped, Rusty said, “I had been certified through FEMA’s NIMS (National Incident Management Systems) back in 2009. I have not really used much of that training since then, so I am certainly no expert, but I did know that we needed to take one of the approaches suggested by FEMA in a situation like the flood in our city.”  Rusty continued, “One of the approaches is simply a commander of sorts to take charge and make decisions. The other approach was to form a response team or committee. This was a much better option for us, because of the great cooperation we already have in our city. So, we called together a meeting of all of the local church pastors, city leaders, a state representative, and the superintendent of our schools, along with  disaster relief organizations who were beginning to make their way to our city including The Red Cross, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief, Samaritan’s Purse, and Billy Graham Rapid Response Team.”  Rusty shared, “The meeting was amazing and the support and cooperation was evident. We nominated and elected the Sand Springs Flood Response Team. It is made up of four local church pastors, a city government leader, and our school superintendent. This team also had connection with state government leaders and county leaders.”  I couldn’t believe that the activity I admired that was being rolled out at City Elders was already in full force in action right here in Sand Springs, OK!  They were nailing it, honestly.

Rusty had the mission statement down perfectly for their churches.  They were being the Church.  He stated, “Our local churches are not just churches IN Sand Springs. We are churches FOR Sand Springs. We mobilized this way because this is what the church does. We come together under the banner of Christ to be His hands and get to our neighbors.” Rusty went on, “We know that what we have in Sand Springs is unique. It is special. God has brought it together over many years. We do not take it lightly nor take it for granted. Pastors over 20 years ago prayed in our city specifically for what we are seeing today.”  I believe they prayed for it. I’ve prayed for it—quite recently in fact, but I didn’t really understand how beautiful it would be until I saw it in action.  Then, I couldn’t get enough of it.  

As far as the flood, it’s been really rough on this group.  Rusty said, “The most difficult part is seeing our neighbors hurting and knowing, even with the great cooperation and the great accumulation of people from our churches collectively, some are having to wait for a long time to get the help they need.”

Rusty continued, “There are so many stories from this, but one in particular is a man name Chester who is a military veteran. His wife had passed away not too long ago and then the flood filled his home with water destroying almost everything he owned. He had already been facing depression after the loss of his wife, but this really set him back. When our team encountered him, he was ready to just give up on life. He wanted to light a match and just let the house burn with all of his remaining belongings and he literally did not want to live anymore. Our team went in and did mud out on his house, carried all of the damaged property out and got the home ready for contractors to come restore it. Another part of the team just ministered to him, built a relationship and shared the gospel with him. He prayed and surrendered his life to Jesus and was saved. He was in our church’s Worship Encounter this past Sunday and was so full of joy he was beaming and smiling from ear to ear. His neighbors have commented to our teams that he is a changed man.” Now isn’t THAT what it’s all about at the end of the day?

“The unity of our local churches through this has strengthened my belief that we really can see our city transformed for the glory of God one life at a time. The impact on the affected neighborhoods, on government agencies, and even on disaster relief organizations has been talked about all over town. This will truly be a legacy moment for the churches of Sand Springs in this season. Pastors and other individuals from other communities have commented how unique this has been to see. I do believe we have set a great example of what churches can do if we lay down our preferences and pride and humbly serve, not caring who gets the credit other than Jesus.”  Rusty—AMEN BROTHER!  AMEN.  I couldn’t have said it better myself.  #GoDoBe

Ongoing Needs

The ongoing needs will be here for years to come. People who had income disruptions, people who will be waiting for FEMA and insurance claims. The seventy five percent who were uninsured for floods will not recover for a very long time. We still have families with continuing needs from the 2015 Tornado that hit the same area.

You can help.  Reach out to these guys to see exactly what needs they have.  These are people who are displaced, who will not be back in their home for maybe into next year.   

Written by Teresa Goodnight

My four-year old daughter was in awe of Captain Marvel.  The show was much too old for her, but I had wanted to take my 17-year old niece to inspire her.  When I described the show over the Bluetooth in the car—my kiddo insisted it was a movie for her.  I decided to comply and took them both. 

I’m not a superhero junkie, but Captain Marvel exemplifies an oppressed person with amazing power.  Because she was convinced by the world she lived in that she was less than she was, her strength was buried by lies.  She was imprisoned by rules crafted to control her, as well as emotional manipulation used to dominate her.  When she finally realized the truth and shed the deception, she set free the strength and power suppressed inside of her.  When she did, the whole theater about flew out of our seats with excitement. 


Does her power being minimized by her world remind you of anything today?  Are you seeing Christians being pressed back into a corner?  Told our beliefs in the Bible aren’t correct?  Told we need to modify the Bible to fit the culture today?  Sound familiar at all? 

This morning at the City Elders meeting, I heard a description of who we are meant to be as the Body of Christ, the capital “C” Church.  It painted quite a picture.  Being in the midst of some of the most devastating floods our state has known—we can see firsthand the power of the force of water.  I can see it in the movement of the risen rivers.  Their immense forces were set free a bit, but still controlled by the flood gates and levies.  We were reminded that when the river starts to show its real power, we are forced to step back and get out of the way.   

However, imagine the waters from all of the rivers and lakes rising so that you could no longer identify the origination point of the water.  Imagine those smaller entities flowing together as a massive, powerful force, sweeping across the land.  The power of those waters would be definitive as a body but really unidentifiable as a specific source.  They would just be the massive floodwaters—full of strength, unleashing their power.  

The question at the meeting?  What if the Body of Christ approached God’s work for the Kingdom with such united strength and power that it could only be credited to that capital “C” Church?  (as opposed to church x or y or denomination a or b). 

It’s a concept that seems a bit foreign to us, as the size of communities has grown to give thousands of smaller church groups their own form of a “kingdom” inside of the Kingdom.  However, looking at the Bible, we read the smaller church groups addressed from the same leadership of the Church.  They were all very much a part of the Capital “C” Church but were grouped together to spread the word and to disciple as smaller groups.  Since there were fewer of these smaller groups in the disciples’ time, it was much easier for them to know in their core that they were part of the larger unified Body of Christ.  The Bible clearly points to the disciples and Paul as those charged with leading that capital “C” Church.  Paul went from church to church with guidance and direction, which was put into the Bible to give that same guidance to each of our churches today.  

The Bible is full of books written specifically to the churches by the governing authorities put in place by God.  My favorite, Romans, was written to the churches in Rome by Paul.  Peter writes his book First Peter, as a letter to the Jewish Christians who are spread around the Roman Empire.  First and Second Corinthians; Paul writes to the churches he planted in Corinth.  Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, First and Second Thessalonians are all written directly to churches or groups of churches in a geographic area.  It was quite clear these churches were very much a part of the Body of Christ.  They were teaching and training while being a part of the bigger picture.  They were growing the Kingdom of Christ and not just their specific churches.  These letters were also assembled into the Bible, God’s word.  That alone gives that stronger unification as their role was in the capital “C” Church.

As instructed, that Church spread throughout the world doing exactly what God instructed them to do.  

19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 New Living Translation (NLT)

Lip Service to the Capital “C” Church 

With those smaller entities growing (some quite massively) in size and being separated by greater distances, the sense of simply being a local governing entity of a group of Christ’s followers became lost in the shuffle.  Don’t get me wrong.  We like to say it.  We speak of being a part of the bigger capital “C” Church, but we honestly move about in our own affairs with very little time to pull our thoughts out to the original Kingdom entity created in the New Testament.  The result?  The separation of church and church and The Church.  

Sure, there are different worship styles, prayer styles, preferred worship times, places, and spaces but at the end of the day, all of the Christian churches are the Body of Christ.  We are united, as one, on God’s word.  We are inseparable by the adoption as the Children of God through the sacrifice God made of His Son Jesus Christ for the WHOLE world. 

We are all sinners saved by grace.  People who have messed up in one way or another and were separated from God by those mistakes.  People who have accepted that Jesus Christ died and rose again, paying the price for our mistakes.  By accepting his gift, we all became united as Children of God, the Body of Christ. We have God’s Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us, full of power, full of might, to advance for the Kingdom of God.   Together, we are HIS capital “C” Church.

No Division in the End 

It’s certainly not going to be a divided house in heaven.  God’s Kingdom will most definitely unite, but what if God is waiting on us to come together now?  What if we went back to the roots of THE Church to find the position of “our” church in that Kingdom?  Wow.  We would transform into THE CHURCH, the Bride of Christ.  We would operate in such a way that we know the Gates of Hell (the powers) could not prevail against us—just as Christ said they would not.  We would be a mighty force sweeping across this land, coming into the power of God’s Holy Spirit living inside of us.  There would be no levy, no flood gate, and no dam that could stop us.  Not one.  Can you even imagine it?

Back to the Avengers

I’ll circle back to the Captain Marvel story to bring it all together.  She finally found who she was and came into her incredible power bursting out of the control of those who tried to put her in a box. 

“When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.  I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:14-20 (NLT)

More than we might ask or think?  There is so much power promised to the children of God in just those 6 verses than we can even imagine? Hmmm.  As we cower back, we slip into a comfortable place giving away our freedom, surrendering our God-given powers.  We have yet to break free and rise up as a force to be reckoned with, who will not be shoved into a corner.  With all of the thousands of churches around the world, it’s time to go back to the Bible and remember who we are.  We are the children of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  With that identity comes great power–”more than we might ask or think.”  Can you imagine every church finding God’s power inside of us?  What would that even look like? I can imagine quite a bit. So MORE than that?

So, hold on.  

Imagine even greater things with me.  

After all, God says it’s more than we can even think of.  As incredible as Captain Marvel’s day of awakening was–in the last Avengers, I can draw a parallel to the Body of Christ, the Church that might blow you away like it did me.  In the end of the movie, each of the hundreds of superheroes realized they were not meant to do this battle alone.  They couldn’t win.  They discovered a plan set in motion long before they knew there would even be a war of such great proportion.  

The bigger, more popular hero guys we know and love were losing the battle.  It was nearing the end.  Then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, with a force of might—“they” showed up.  “They” being the rest of the united heroes in the land.  They combined in their fullest forms and power to defeat their ultimate enemy.  You could see each one playing a critical part.  When they converged—there was that mighty feeling that this war was over. The enemy would be defeated. You just knew.

Rest assured, I’ve read Revelation.  God will unite us as a mighty force with heaven and earth in the end.  What a day that will be.  However, what I read in the Bible calls us to remember that unification and who we are today.  I don’t think we’re supposed to wait.  We are in the battle right now.  On some fronts, in our great country, we are losing, but my heart almost explodes with excitement to think of what a force we could become if we united as the Church of God.  Can you imagine?  United, with His power working in us that is more powerful than we might ask or think? did you read what I just thought of?  More powerful than even that??? 

It would far surpass any unification of the bodies of waters into a massive force.  It would eclipse any show of power in the Avengers.  I can’t sit still even as I’m typing this as the excitement of just a hint of God’s power rises up inside of me.  That power by the way–it is already inside of any of us following Christ.  It’s just sitting there, masked by confusion, deception.  It’s shackled by chains put on by others or even by ourselves in some ways.  Satan has us in some sort of trance with the things of this life, but it is RIGHT THERE. Whatever way you want to think about it–it’s right there.  It’s RIGHT THERE WAITING.  God is waiting.

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.  Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.” Ephesians 6:12-13 New Living Translation (NLT)

“And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.” Ephesians 1:10 New Living Translation (NLT)

May each church find its strength.  May it rise up to take it’s part in the Kingdom, God’s capital “C” Church, the “Body of Christ,” whichever name He gives for that unity that you want to use.  Because, when we do come together, when we do put our stake in the ground and draw our line in the sand, we will come into that Kingdom of God as His Children and the Gates of Hell WILL simply NOT PREVAIL against us.  They won’t win.  

Come on. 

What are we waiting for?  #GoDoBe

Written by Mike Henry Sr. – Follower of One

Christ set us free. “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed,” John 8:36 NASB

Freedom and Work

Do you feel free in your work? I mean do you look forward to your job or thank God for Friday’s? Do you feel empowered by your occupation or chained to your job? Work or situations we dislike can contribute to our feeling trapped in our work.

Studies I found online suggest as little as 15% or as high as 30% of the American workforce are engaged in their work. Trapped or disengaged employees go through the motions. They’re not present with energy. Engaged employees bring more energy, produce more, and stay longer. 

If you feel chained to your job, but you follow Jesus, are you free?

Freedom is ours for the taking because of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. But many people, whether they follow Jesus or not, work chained into situations we dislike serving people we dislike. If Jesus made us free, why don’t we change? 

Could it be we fail to understand the freedom given to us by Jesus?

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Galatians 5:13 NASB

Christian Freedom Looks Like Love

Paul suggests our freedom will produce a love through which we can serve one another. I often thought “one another” meant other Christians. When I first became a Christ-follower, I worked with people in the trucking and logistics industry. Many didn’t seem to follow Jesus. And most were from a different background and experience than me. Instead of even trying to understand them, I just decided I didn’t like them much. It’s easier to dislike someone than it is to get to know them. So, without seeing myself as the solution, I often chose instead to beg Jesus to get me out of that career in that industry. 

How often do you catch yourself hurrying to get out of your workplace? It is work, right? If the term “one another” in Galatians 5:13 means other Christians, it would be easy to follow this command. When I get around other Christians, I find it easy to serve them in love! If everyone I was around every day was “my kinda person” this would be much easier.

But what if Paul’s “one another,” meant everyone? The Greek word can mean “fellow man.” In the next verse, Paul references the 2nd half of the Great Commandment, “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’” Galatians 5:14 NASB. Paul seems to equate “one another” to my “neighbor”. And Jesus already said my neighbor is anyone and everyone, whether I like them or not. (See Luke 10:27-37.)

God’s Freedom

God created Adam free, but ever since that first sin, we have each given up our freedom as slaves to sin. Jesus purchased our freedom again when he paid for our sin on the cross. But we may still live like a slave to sin and to myself. The difference, maybe even the answer, is my willingness to serve my fellow man. God makes me free to do what’s in the best interest of everyone I interact with. Regardless of my situation, Jesus makes me free to serve others. And when I do, I get a new energy and a new passion. 

Want some proof? Pray for your coworkers for the next 30 days. Ask God to bless them and do whatever he knows they need for their best interest. And ask him to use you to bless them. Avoid the temptation to pray that God make them likable. Rather, get to know them better so you can pray for them better. 

Two Results

If you sincerely pray for your coworkers, supervisors, or customers, you will experience 2 outcomes. The first is that you will see God at work. God actively works in their lives already, but often we focus on ourselves and never see it. As we connect with Jesus on behalf of our coworkers and customers, we will see his miracles in our ordinary, daily life.

Second, we will experience Jesus’ freedom. He frees us to serve others. When we give our freedom away, it multiplies. When we keep it to ourselves, or if we deny the freedom and continue in sin, our freedom withers and dies. Jesus’ frees us to serve others. We gain new strength from God as we serve others and wait on him. And we see him working in everything we do. 

We receive freedom in our situation instead of freedom from it. Jesus’ freedom makes us free in any situation. And he makes our freedom visible as we serve others, too.

Take the Challenge

Does this sound too good to be true? Try it for 2 weeks and see what happens. Our Marketplace Mission Trip ( is a 2-week trial serving others at work. Each “trip” has produced miracles and energy in the lives of those involved. Whether you sign up for the “trip,” or you enlist 1 friend and pray for your coworkers daily, Jesus will show you the freedom he bought for you. Either way, you will gain a new appreciation for the freedom we have in Jesus.

Written by Andrea Stephens

The other day I wasn’t feeling so good/well.  I had just come through an intensely busy time at work that left me drained of energy. I had a dull annoying headache, and didn’t even want to go out for lunch with a friend—you know I don’t feel good when I don’t want to eat out!  Therefore, I declared it a sick day and stayed home. Well, while I was lying in bed feeling sort of sorry for myself, I started thinking about the word joy—probably because I needed some right then.  

I thought about some of hard things that happen in life that try to snuff out our joy.  We all know about some of those, maybe a broken relationship, being gossiped about, bills that are piling up, an illness, issues at work—the list is never-ending.  And then, there is the everyday stuff that tends to wear us down causing joy to leak right out of our heart; you know, things like laundry, making dinner again, picking up after the kids, cleaning the house, car trouble, yard work, and an endless list of errands.

We can easily end up feeling overwhelmed and anything but joyful.

Yet, in the Bible, Jesus talks about us having joy no matter what is happening around us.  Though some confuse joy with bubbly emotions that come when things are going their way, which is better defined at happiness.  Happiness is generally based on one’s circumstances which are ever changing thus sending emotions on a roller coaster of ups and downs. But joy, especially as a Christ-follower, is different.  Real joy doesn’t fluctuate.  It is not based on our current situations or feelings, but on something deeper.  Something solid.  

So how do we have that kind of joy?  A joy that is solid, steadfast and unshakable?

First, spending some time every day in the Bible and talking to God gets us started on our journey to joy.  That may sound like such a standard answer, but it is just the truth.  We are spiritual beings with a spiritual Father.  Intentionally connecting with Him through scripture reading and prayer is essential.  The quality of time is more important than the quantity.

Second, making sure we have a clear conscience before God is vital.  Dealing with guilt or shame over something will definitely steal one’s joy.  One of the things I appreciate about the program Celebrate Recovery (A Christ Centered 12 Step Program) is that it teaches people to end their day by asking God to show them where they missed the mark (sinned) that day—so they can ask God’s forgiveness (1 John 1:9).  And when necessary, ask someone else’s forgiveness.  So, keeping a clear conscience before God, is essential to our having joy.

These first two are areas where Satan will try to trip us up.  He wants to kill, steal, and destroy—including our joy (John 10:10).  He wants busy and distracted from our time with the Lord.  He wants us feeling guilty and less than enough in our own eyes and the eyes of others.  Shame is one of the first things Satan used against Adam and Eve and he still uses it today to keep us hiding instead of walking in the fullness God has for us.  Let’s not let that be our story.  Let’s pay attention to protecting our time in the Word, prayer, and confession.

Next, choosing to focus our thoughts and lives on the truths in the Bible will provide the solid foundation we need to build our steadfast joy upon.  They are facts.  They are promises of God.  They are unchanging and unbreakable based on God’s inability to lie or break a promise.  Now that’s good news!

Though there are hundreds of promises we can find in the scriptures, here are just a couple to get us on the road to joy, deep joy which the bible refers to as inexpressible and full of glory 1 Peter 1:8 NLT “You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you don not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy.”

Through faith in Christ Jesus, we have become children of God.

We have been adopted into the family of God and are co-heirs with Christ.

The Holy Spirit has sealed us for eternity—we are heaven bound.

This life, with all of its issues, is temporary but heaven is eternal. 

The best is yet to come. God is with us!  

We are never, ever alone. Never abandoned, never rejected, never

forsaken, never put on hold while God is busy doing something else.  He is actually in the trials of life with us giving us wisdom for our difficulties and strength so that we do not grow weary in our well-doing. 

God’s love is unending!  Think about it.  We have never lived one unloved day in our entire lives.  

Wow.  Every single day of our lives we have been loved and will continue to be loved no matter what.  Now that will make your heart happy!  

Jesus’ forgiveness is available for the asking! 

Scripture tells us that if we confess our wrongs to Jesus, He is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).  Instant gratitude and joy.

Jesus is praying for us!  Seriously.  

He is currently seated at the right hand of God and 

is making intercession for us (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25).  We so easily forget this awesome reality.  Jesus sees us, He knows the details of our lives, and He is speaking up for us to our Father.  He is our advocate, our mediator, our intercessor.  He understands us because He was human—He can help us because He is divine.

These are just a few of the truths found in God’s Word.  When we take time to close our eyes and meditate on one truth at a time, it will begin to infuse our spirits with a fresh joy—the kind of joy that is sustainable and never to be taken away, even on our hardest or most frustrating days.  Joy benefits us in many ways.  Most importantly, it gives us inner strength which is something we all need (Nehemiah 8:NLT “…for the joy of the Lord is your strength!)  Our joy will benefit others—those whom we are called to minister to as well as those we work with and live with.  

Let’s not lose sight of the joy that is ours when we keep the promises of God in the forefront of our hearts and minds.  We can do this!

Written by Teresa Goodnight

As a society, we have really opened up the door on “Free to Choose” in so many areas.  Many, I just don’t agree with on any level—but the beauty of America is that we offer those freedoms to our citizens.  Where it gets interesting is when freedoms are being pressed in one area, while they are being annihilated in another.  How can we decide a “woman’s right to choose” allows her the freedom to abort her child based on convenience on one hand and yet doesn’t offer a parent the right to choose whether or not to vaccinate their own child (the child btw they are trying to research every possible way to keep healthy and protected)?  How can one possess the freedom to choose to end life in one hand but not possess in the other hand the freedom to choose what they believe is the best path of protection?  So, I wanted to talk with some level headed doctors in the area to get their take. 

Broken Arrow Pediatrics specifically mentions in their advertising that they will work with families regarding vaccinations for their children.   They are also super clear they are 100% a proponent of vaccinations.  They believe vaccines work.  So, they are not by any means an anti-vaccination group.  That said, they also fully believe in the parents right to choose the best path for their child.  So, unlike many doctor’s offices that try to force parents to vaccinate their children in order to receive care—they choose a different path.  

Dr. Carl Pfanstiel said, “We would like to see children vaccinated, as we think it’s the best way to protect your children from these medical diseases. However, we fully believe that choice lies directly in the parents’ hands. 

There are a small percentage of children with specific medical conditions, which might contraindicate their usage.  These definitely exist.”  Dr. Pfanstiel went on, “Regardless, we still believe the parents get to choose what is best for their children’s health.  We don’t believe our forefathers expected medical professionals to ever deem themselves to have the right to some form of eminent domain over your children’s vaccinations.  We always offer the best medical advice we have.  For example, we suggest when to take something to reduce a fever, but many parents will choose to administer something like Tylenol at the first sign of a fever.  Others will let the fever run until 101 or 102 and then start treatment, as research indicates the fever is the body fighting the illness.  Parents painstakingly make decisions minute by minute to protect their kiddos.  

We are here to partner with them for the best possible care for their child.”  Dr. Pfanstiel continued, “That  said, we certainly don’t have the right to withhold treatment, because someone doesn’t agree with our medical opinion on a vaccination.  That sort of decision lies firmly within the parent’s rights.  We do think vaccinations are the best course of treatment though.”

Seems to me this group gets it.  There has to be a line in giving and taking away freedoms.  That line needs to stay within our Constitution and Bill of Rights.  Once we start to give away these freedoms, we might find ourselves at a loss for how to get them back.

Written by Teresa Goodnight

If you aren’t working a children’s museum into your vacation or weekend trip planning—you just aren’t doing the kiddos justice.  When my now four-year old came to me with the plan to go to Tampa when she was just two, I was a bit intrigued.  Turned out, the fun programs on her iPad included a guy named Blippi.  He’s a zany reviewer of kids museums all over the country.  Since her first request for Tampa, she’s asked to go to Vegas, Los Angeles, and Seattle.  So, we decided to take her to Tampa to see what the fuss was all about.  It did NOT disappoint.

Tampa, as a vacation spot, is a fairly cheap plane ticket on Southwest.  It’s a one hopper ranging from four hours or so if you plan well and book early.  In fact, looking out a bit on my Southwest app, I could get there for $138 plus tax each way.  Tampa gives you driving access to Orlando for a day at Disney.  It offers Busch Gardens, which is really a lot of fun.  In addition, with a short drive, you are at the ocean. It’s 30 minutes from St/ Pete.  In the spring, you can even catch spring training with the Yankees and their opponents.  I’m not gonna lie.  I did hold my foul ball over a few kids heads to get Jeter’s autograph.  I’m not proud.  Well, I’m proud of the ball but not the reach. Anyway!  I’m not sure where dads are in the family vacation planning, but if you haven’t thought spring break at Tampa, you might have missed it.  Now you won’t.  Seriously.  

You’re welcome, BTW.

Tampa is relatively inexpensive.  The cool thing about Southwest flying?  One way tickets aren’t penalized with higher rates.  You can even fly into Tampa, rent a car when done and drive to Orlando and fly home from there.  We’ve driven to the Keys and flown back from Ft. Lauderdale.  It’s really a versatile tool in my trip bag.  I’d explain more about Southwest, but then you’d be taking my flights.  That’s all I dare to share.  Some things are private treasures.

So, back to the Glazer Children’s Museum in Tampa.  First, it’s part of the Tulsa Discovery Labs network of children’s museums.  So, if you already spend a lot of time there—an annual pass works well for both.  Glazer becomes half price with that membership, normally $15 adults and $10 kids aged one to 12.  My daughter has now been over five times at four years of age.  Needless to say, she adores it.  The experience was everything she fell in love with on the Blippi video and really more.

Izi spent at least 2 hours in the water exhibit on the first floor.  There are waterways allowing for boats, sea creatures and fun balls lifted onto railways rolling into the water.  Setting out for treasure in the Gasparilla Island sand pit brings another hour of sheer joy to her face.  Funny thing?  These aren’t even her favorite experiences.  She just can’t pass them up to get to all that I know she loves even more.

Upstairs?  Immediately you are in the middle of a climbing apparatus allowing for exploration using her astute climbing skills, many of which were first tried at Glazer when she was younger.

Behind the climbing area, she skips the super cool tents, where other kids are building their campsites.  She instead moves straight to the opposite side of the building for the fire truck, pizza kitchen, and dancing room.  With fire helmets, a fireman’s pole, and a truck with seats for at least 6—she’s off on an adventure to save the burning town.  The pizza kitchen has beautifully crafted ovens to fire up the pizzas with seating for guests to be served.  The dancing area offers a selection of crazy music, lights and a video display of her dance moves.  She can spend another two hours in these three sections alone and did.

When we finally vacate the burning buildings, burning ovens and burning moves on the dance floor, Izi heads straight for the career and economics section.  She loves the area to play doctor. They have jackets, stethoscope’s, x-rays, and more to create a really authentic doctoring experience for the kiddos.  The same style of equipment is available at the vet’s office next door, including some pretty fun stuffed animals requiring her care.  Then, she cleans up and we’re off to another hour or more in the well stocked grocery store.  At her disposal were baskets, both the push kind and the ones you carry on your arm.  She loads them both with every veggie, can, bread and cookie in her reach.  Children interact together.  Some stand behind the cash registers to check out LITERALLY every item she puts in every basket.  She waits patiently, loading them into her sack.  She gladly pays and finds some sort of adulthood satisfaction with her venture. 

When we finally find the little gap of boredom to leave the grocery store, Izi heads into the Twinkle Stars Theater where her true self finds a home.  The children have costumes to dress up, enacting their own versions of scenes and plays.  They enter from behind curtains.  The lights come on.  The parents sit on the bench with other kids and enjoy the show.  By far, this section alone is worth my time and money.  I love watching her incorporate ballet moves into dragon scenes with swords.  It’s really a creative talent I didn’t realize she had. 

The list of activity centers is long.  I can’t even explain her thrill with the rock wall.  I’ve never been that we haven’t been marched out with the end of the day parade.  Considering the fact that she would have me drive from Orlando (leaving the opportunity for a day at a Disney park) to take her to Tampa—you can calculate the savings.  Last ticket for Disney, $130 per person.  Glazer half price? $7.50/$5.  Air conditioners, bathrooms, a giant grassy park area to run around in with fountains at the end of the day?  It’s a super museum.  Blippi hasn’t made it to Oklahoma yet, but I hear we have one that might make our list this fall in Seminole.  Stay tuned.  The Tulsa Children’s Discovery Museum is also breaking ground on a brand new facility that might be ready as early as 2020.  

In any event, we really haven’t been disappointed in a children’s museum yet.  From Denver to LA, Tulsa to Tampa—they are really a wonderful activity to add to your plans for any style of trip!

Written by Teresa Goodnight

Generals for war are not made in 15 minutes.  They aren’t even made in 15 years.  Most receive that sort of command and respect after two to three decades of service.  Achieving the rank of a four or five-star general takes longer. In fact, I can’t find one other six start general besides Washington.  The strategists for war find great lessons learned from the heat of the battle.  The greatest ones are pulling from those decades on the battlefield to rise up to a position of great authority.  After all, the lives of our men and women in service depend on those strategists to effectively know how to approach and win the battle.  In reality, our very freedom as Americans rests on their very capable shoulders.

In life, we just don’t get many of the battlefield style ranks to put us into our positions.  The same is true in the church.  We don’t have ceremonies promoting through the ranks.  In the Army, your rank is your pay grade, as well as a representation of the amount of responsibility you hold.  The “” website shares that the fastest ways to move through those ranks are additional training and schooling.  Makes sense.  Just under the enlisted soldier status, there are 13 ranks.  There are 11 within the officer realm landing at General, which the army site says have usually 30 years of experience or more.

So what does that system have to do with you?  When we accept Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are squarely in the infant category.  You might want to equate that to the Army’s lowest ranking of private, but I would take it back a step further to calling that person a recruit. It’s a person who has made an assessment of the situation and decided their loyalties belong to Christ.  In the Christian world, that is the moment where you move into God’s family and are adopted back in.  It’s an official rank not nearly on par in that regard with a recruit from that perspective, but it’s still an infant in Christ regardless of age.  

Many of our churches have given up any formal discipleship training process.  I really think that’s a big mistake.   But don’t take my word for it.  Let’s look really quick and what Jesus words were on this topic.  We embrace the idea that Jesus told us to go tell others about him—the Great Commission.  Jesus told us to go into the world and tell them about Christ.  But that wasn’t EXACTLY all he said.  Matthew 28:19 (NLT) reads,  “Therefore, go,” but he doesn’t stop with simply telling us to go tell others about him.  In fact, he is incredibly specific.  His sentence continues, “and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you…”  The actual Greek word Jesus used here, “mathetes” is explained in Vines Expository Dictionary (great tool BTW) as “thought accompanied by endeavor.”  It’s the word we get mathematician from.  With all my reading, I would sum it up as someone who is incredibly intentional about being dedicated to a teaching both in learning it and following it.  Further, as a former Campus Crusade for Christ (CRU) staff member, I’d say that we disciple so that those we have discipled are equipped to go out and disciple others.   

Those Christians are put in charge of Bible studies, home study groups, Sunday School and more who are not trained disciples, who understand how to study God’s word could unintentionally dismantle our churches.  Without a discipleship process, there is a lack of qualifications for those teachers in those positions.  We don’t allow those fresh out of the crib to waltz into our school system.  We put them through the 12 years of schooling, then college just to move towards a teaching certificate.  It’s very similar to how a recruit has to complete basic training to earn the right to be a private.

Many of our seniors came from a time when the practice of hardcore discipleship was being executed in our churches.  There are those of us out there who have long since moved past a recruit.  In fact, with many of the stories of trials and tribulations from life and experience with Christ—seniors are some of the best equipped discipling machines we have in the church.  Many of you know that you are actually sitting around the rank of a general with all that was taught to you, for all the battles you have lost and won.  We need you. 

There won’t be a formal ceremony pinning badges of courage and honor upon your chest.  Your armor, as you full well know, was crafted in the depths of Heaven and is empowered by our great and mighty creator.  When that power is invoked?  Katy-bar the door.  It was crafted to withstand the Gates of Hell, which cannot prevail against it.  So, yeah.  It can’t be penetrated with a simple stick pin.  We are in a spiritual battle daily.  There is a war beyond what we see in our day to day view.  We need to adhere to what Christ commanded us to do. 

So, I hate to break it to you.  If you think you’ve reached some sort of retirement age in God’s Kingdom, you simply must think again.  You are the generation of Generals, trained in the war for hearts and minds across our city, nation, and world.  You ARE crafted, trained, and chosen.  So grab your armor and get in the war.  We weren’t meant to do it without you.

Senior Moments, sponsored byVisiting Angels

918.609.5600 Tulsa or 918.333.7400Bartlesville

Written by Teresa Goodnight

Have a nearsighted child?  What if you could eliminate their glasses/contact lenses during the day for sports/swimming/life?  Would you be intrigued if this new simple treatment could spare your child from the potential of further eye damage?  There are many serious potential byproducts of myopic (nearsighted) eyesight as children age.  Glaucoma, retinal detachment, myopic macular degeneration and more can plague them in adult years.  

Enter Dr. Chris Chenoweth, Wink Optique.  He has an incredible passion for helping children’s vision in meaningful ways.  Dr. Chenoweth specializes in a relatively new procedure that can help nearsighted (myopic) children ages 4-14 (FDA approval ages).  Dr. Chenoweth said, “Parents really need to do this for their kids #1, because it helps them in a lot of their activities.  You know, different sports like swimming, basketball, baseball, soccer, where glasses or contact lenses might get in the way or they might get dusty or get thrown off.”  Dr. Chenoweth continued, “That’s, of course, the value parents see.  For me, the value I see is the power it gives in limiting or reducing the complications with adult retinal detachment, myopic degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts.  We can’t do anything about this current generation, but we can do something for this next generation to try to control myopia and reduce the risks of eye diseases.  These efforts mean they can live healthier lives as adults.  Hopefully, we reduce the amount of overall blindness in future decades.”

Although the lenses are best in correction for the younger children, Dr. Chenoweth said. “These lenses can actually be used for any age to just improve vision, but those 14-18 and above, their vision is relatively stable and it doesn’t help as much for the myopic correction.  So, it is better the earlier we intervene.”  

I asked Dr. Chenoweth to define myopia for us as the definition can help us see why correction is so critical.  Dr. Chenoweth explained, “Adult myopia means the eye has grown abnormally during adolescence.  So, it has lengthened, which stretches the retina which makes it thinner, more fragile, and more likely to have eye diseases down the road.  The immediate impact on vision is they can’t see distant objects clearly, although they may be able to see near objects fine without glasses.”  Dr. Chenoweth went on, “When children are treated with glasses and contacts, the eye continues to lengthen and stretch which damages the way the eye attaches to the retina.  There is also some tissue inside the eye that is near the retina called the ciliary body.  Issues with that tissue can cause glaucoma and increased risks of cataracts as well.”  

At Wink, children are fitted for small lenses to wear while they sleep.  Dr. Chenoweth shared, “Measurements are input into a computer, which calculates the proper CRT lens for the child.  That lens arrives usually in about two days.  Then, within another two days, the vision should be corrected to 20/20 during the day.  It’s pretty quick.”  Dr. Chenoweth said, “So, within about 3 weeks from the first visit to the ball field, they no longer wear glasses or contacts.  It’s that simple.  Plus, the lens can actually help myopia not to worsen.”  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing—mainly because my family has suffered from retinal tears, glaucoma and other more serious eye conditions with aging.  These conditions, if not caught just in time, can cause serious permanent eye damage.  Plus, for those who don’t know, glaucoma requires daily drop(s) in the eye(s) affected, which honestly causes some stinging and irritation.  Of course, it’s better than losing vision in the affected eyes, but still.  What if these kinds of early eye corrections with a specialist could prevent these in the future for the next generation? 

That’s Dr. Chenoweth’s passion for eye care.  He doesn’t just want to help someone see today, but hopefully further improve their vision for the rest of their lives.  His wife was born with myopia.  He said, “It continued to worsen until she was seeing about as well as Velma on Scooby Doo without her glasses.”  Luckily, he also specializes in RK laser treatments, which are incredibly precise (and preferred by most over Lasik surgery).  So, she has had her treatment and sees great!  

However, when his son, Ace, who is now 10 started showing mild signs of myopia around age 5—he put him into some lightweight glasses.  Dr. Chenoweth said, “He was really pretty stable until the end of third grade.  Suddenly, he went from mild myopia to a more severe level within about a period of just under a year.” Dr. Chenoweth shared, “With the worsening of his myopia, we ordered his lenses to get him started on CRT.  He wears the lenses every other night (sometimes every night). He is free from any vision enhancement devices during the day.”  He continued, “Ace didn’t like the lenses at first, at 9 they kinda wanna throw on glasses or not even see well at all.  But, within just a few days, he was putting them in on his own and then later taking them out on his own.”  Dr. Chenoweth shared, “They are not difficult like soft contacts can be.  They are smaller diameter and firmer than a soft lens.  After a bit, Ace used the tiny assistive device to pop them out in the morning.”  

For Ace, Dr. Chenoweth said, “It’s really been a game changer for him.  He saw better the next day.  Before treatment, he was around the 20/80 mark.  Then, in two days—20/20.”  Dr. Chenoweth added, “It actually works for adults too for those who don’t want to or can’t have the RK surgeries.  It doesn’t have the same restorative effects for damage done in their youth, but it can correct the vision and eliminate the need for any other kind of lenses.” 

Dr. Chenoweth had another patient with a similar condition.  This young man’s eyes jumped to a -2.25, which was a pretty hefty jump.  His sisters both had severe myopia, one so much that it was really too difficult to try RK or Lasik surgery to fix it.  So, Dr. Chenoweth wanted to stop his negative visual progress dead in its tracks.  He started the patient on the lenses—20/20 during the day.  Then, every few years, Dr. Chenoweth would have the patient go without the lenses for a week just to be able to check where his eyes were, monitoring them for any progression.  For all the years, his eyes were still at the -2.25 reading.  They hadn’t progressed at all.  When he graduates college, he will be able to do a pretty simple RK procedure and remain free of any lenses.  “It’s just a game changer.” Dr. Chenoweth said.  “Just to be able to stop the progression alone is quite a feat.  Then, when the eyes are fully developed, they can be treated as needed without much effort.”  

Dr. Chenoweth said, “We have been treating nearsighted kiddos with glasses and contacts for decades.  What we didn’t realize is that it actually causes some swelling of the eye.  That swelling stretches the retina, which can absolutely cause glaucoma, retinal detachment and/or the myopia macular degeneration. Anyone of these conditions of the eye can cause loss of vision up to permanent loss if not treated properly.  So, this treatment for kids is a big deal.  It’s really upping our potential level of care for children in a meaningful way.”

Dr. Chenoweth was one of the first in the United States to get credentials to do CRT over 15 years ago.  It’s a specialty certification that most eye doctors just don’t tackle.  Sadly, most also don’t refer to seek a better path of treatment for these kids.  They just keep prescribing glasses/lenses.  Dr. Chenoweth said, “It’s similar to orthodontists vs. dentists.  It is the same for myopia control (CRT).  Not everyone chooses to get the specialization.”  He continued, “We’ve been doing this in Ponca City for 15 years and the community is smaller.  So, word gets around pretty quickly.  However, in Tulsa—we need to do a little better job of making parents aware of this potentially life-altering treatment.”  I agree.  This kind of treatment could really be life-altering.  Call Wink at 918.417.7774

About Wink Optique:

Dr. Chris Chenoweth recently acquired Wink Optique at 101st and Yale.  His office performs regular eye exams for all ages.  He also specializes in CRT therapy for children, as discussed earlier.  He has incredible stories we plan to share in the future—as he has had incredible results with patients–one who thought she would never use one of her eyes again.  Eye doctors who are passionate about eye care and eye health both for current situations or preventing long term potential damage, like with CRT are less the norm.  His passion for helping children alone moved my heart to want to include him in the magazine. 

Dr. Chenoweth is an honors graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma and Northeastern State University College of Optometry and is a former Assistant Adjunct Clinical Professor at Pacific University, Forrest Grove, OR. He is an active member of both the Oklahoma and American Optometric Associations and is trained in the diagnosis and treatment of ocular disease and performs an array of cutting-edge laser eye surgeries.  Dr. Chenoweth is also a long-term, faithful Life.Church Jenks member, where he and his wife continue to raise their son, Ace. 

Written by Vickie Wilson

May 24, 2019. 

The events of this day forever changed the lives of so many in Sand Springs, Oklahoma, including my own family.  

For the second time in their lives, my in-laws were devastated by flood waters from the Arkansas River. Their first experience occurred in 1986, which, at the time, seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime tragedy.  Unfortunately, the flood of 2019 was just as bad, if not worse.  The four feet of water inside their home and six feet of water in the garage rendered their home uninhabitable.

The day prior to the flood, my family began the process of removing the contents and precious memories from their home.  Fortunately, my oldest son, Beau, is an insurance agent and assisted tremendously during these critical hours.

Without hesitation, my husband, Mark, my son, Hunter and I opened our home to them.  When we respond immediately to others’ suffering, we usually do so without thinking about the logistical impact of our decision.  This was no different.  In our case, we’ve learned that with the blending of two families in one home, adjustments are required on everyone’s part: 

• We’re managing more people in less space

• We’re combining different routines and rituals

• We’re accommodating different schedules

• We’re planning for different tastes and preferences.  

In spite of the need for adjustment, we are experiencing first-hand that in the spirit of giving to one another much can be accomplished.  For instance, my daughter-in-law, Abbie, has prepared meals and desserts to help alleviate the pressure of cooking for a larger family.

As the process of rebuilding Sand Springs has begun, we are seeing that we are not alone in our desire to help. So many people are volunteering their time and resources to help others in their time of need.  Personally, I wish that everyone would continue this kindness every day. Why are disasters required to bring out the best in us?  On an extremely hot day, even my grandson, Tucker, has delivered popsicles to the workers that are helping to restore his great grandparents’ home.

Do One Thing it just takes one thing, one act of kindness to brighten someone’s day.  Only you know what you are able and capable of doing.  The point is to make it a priority to really see others and meet their needs.

Today, my family has the privilege of celebrating my mother-in-law’s 82nd birthday in our home.  Each of my family members has chosen to Do One Thing to make sure her day is as special as she is.  Hunter has ordered her favorite dessert; my husband has purchased a card and I get to make her favorite Mexican meal.   What a precious memory this will make not only for her, but my household as well.

How can you make kindness a choice? Can you Do One Thing? Try it. You will not regret it.

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  2 Corinthians 9:7

Written by R.A. Goodnight

I had a chance to meet with Brandon Outlaw, owner of Commercial Fitness Concepts.  Brandon is a local business owner with a drive for giving back into the community.  Brandon’s business began in 2003; since then, his business has grown from an e-commerce model based out of his garage to five warehouses he uses as distribution points.  Today, CFC is the largest warehouse of new, refurbished, cleaned and serviced, as well as “as-is” fitness equipment in the Midwest.

During our talk, Brandon expressed to me that he recognizes how Christ has blessed his business throughout the years.  Because of how he has been blessed, Brandon likes to use his business as a blessing for others.

Brandon works regularly with The Wounded Warriors organization, donating exercise equipment to help get the country’s finest back on their feet.  Speaking of his partnership with Wounded Warriors, Brandon said, “If someone requests a machine, we are going to try and fulfill that request.”  Brandon expressed to me that regardless of its use, for rehab centers or personal homes, they do their best to help when called upon.

From there we moved on to other organizations with which CFC likes to partner.  Brandon shared, “We donate as much as we can to The Boys and Girls Clubs.  We also partner with Planet Fitness; they donate some cardio and we donate some strength.  The fire department is another.  We donate as much as possible to them.  Just about anybody that needs help.”  

Brandon mentioned other fire and veterans’ associations he partners with as well.  He said, “Anybody that comes to us that needs help, I am willing to go the extra mile.  If it’s a legitimate organization, if someone needs something, we like to help if we can.  Recently, we just did a deal with Make a Wish foundation.  A girl here in Tulsa had a wish to give some fitness equipment to a school.  We were able to help them get what they needed within the allowance they had to do it in.”

From Community Spirit’s point of view, we need more of this is the kind of guy and company in the community.  What a great example of emulating Christ, not just in personal life, but even through his business practices.

Outside of Brandon’s altruistic activities, he is also happy to work with local gym owners.  Brandon said, “We can do everything–from kettlebells to barbells, rowers to rigs or squat stands.  We can get anything for them.” CFC can also help individuals with home gyms, “Anybody who is looking for an individual machine at home – spin bike, treadmill, elliptical – anything.  They should reach out to us.” said Brandon.

What about us lowly gym goers?  He didn’t leave us out either.  I asked Brandon if he had any recommendations as far as the health club scene in Tulsa goes.  Brandon shared, “Sky Fitness. I think they are great.  Lifetime, if you want amenities, they are incredible.  For lower cost memberships – 10 gym has great ownership and great management.”  He added, “You really understand the judgment-free zone when you attend Planet Fitness, then go somewhere else.  Many people feel comfortable over there.  The YMCA’s have great facilities and great management as well.”  

He finished up by giving a call out to some local shops as well, “Body Masters on Memorial is a great place, with a great guy.  There is a great personal training facility down on 111th and Memorial called Journey Fitness.  They are great people.”  Community Spirit did a story on Journey in April and we agree; they are a great group of people.  They even give free memberships to pastors. That alone is pretty cool!

All said and done, Brandon is one outlaw that we are glad to have in the community.  If anyone knows of a charitable cause looking for a partner, a local business owner in need of some equipment or you’re looking to upgrade your treadmill – hit up Brandon ( or Dean ( at CFC! Tell him CSM sent ya!