A New Lens

I was filming a television pilot earlier this year for Nutopia for a proposed show for the History Channel. A decision will be made soon as to whether or not they will pick it up.
During the filming I made some good friends with the film crew. The producers, directors, cameramen, all were quality folks and were a credit to their company and industry.
I gave each member of the crew a copy of my latest book, “The Shark Tank Theology”. I explained to the head producer how someone in their own industry, Mark Burnett, had not only produced the miniseries, “The Bible”, and “A.D.”, but, that he also had produced several prime time television hits, including “Shark Tank”, with Biblical themes. He listened, took the book and thanked me.
I saw him the next day and he had read the book. He said, “After reading your book, no one will ever watch Shark Tank the same again. They will be seeing it through your lens.”
He got it!
Tomorrow morning I am preaching on, “Why We Get To Go To Church”. Not “have to”; “get to”. A preacher I enjoy watching said recently, “What I see, is up to me.” It is. And as we are going to “see”, going to church is a “get to” situation.
We are also going to observe the Lord’s Supper, and in that, Jesus used our vision, didn’t He? He gave us an ordinance to do until He comes again and He gave us only two simple elements to it. We have the fruit of the vine and a small wafer of unleavened bread. He told us that these represent His blood and His body. That precious ordinance was a vital part of the early church’s life and it helps us see through the fog all around us as we come to the table and are reminded of these timeless truths. I look forward to taking it with you tomorrow.
William Blake once wrote something like this (There is more than one variation of it.)

This world distorts the heavens from pole to pole and dims the windows of the soul.
And leads us to believe a lie,
when we see with, instead of through the eye.

You go to the eye doctor occasionally to have your vision checked and to perhaps change the lens that you see “through”. Well, in these last days, we need to check what we are seeing through. Come tomorrow and get a vision check from eternity.
God bless you all!

Charity Is Top Three Finalist In Tulsa For Caring Award

I was notified this afternoon that our church has been selected as a finalist for the 2017 Caring Awards. The top three church finalists were the Church on the Move, Victory Christian Center, and Charity. The banquet will be on September 14th at the Double Tree Hotel at Warren Place. A film clip of the three churches will be shown and a description given of our ministries. The winner will then be announced and will receive a check for $1000.00.
The other two churches are mega churches and do a lot of impressive work in the community. Our small church was chosen out of the thousand churches in this area and is humbled to be mentioned with these fine ministries. It is incredible that we would have been selected by an independent review committee and moved into the final selection.
A press release will be on the news, in print and video in the next few days. Congratulations to all our members for their Sharing Christ’s Love!

Church For Rent

Our church is now available Sunday afternoons from 1-5. If needed, a night service is available from 7:30 to 9 pm. Our Spanish church just disbanded and the church is immediately available. Call 918-742-1506.

She Makes Me Feel Young and Alive

A pastor looked over his afternoon appointments one day and saw that he would be counseling one of his favorite members. John was in his forties, had a beautiful wife, and three great kids. He was a professional making good money, was generous to the church, and could be counted on for whatever was going on in their ministry. The minister looked forward to seeing him and wondered why he had requested they talk in his home office rather than at the church or a nearby coffee house.

He found out why. The member arrived and after an exchange of pleasantries he got right down to business. He said, “Pastor, I’m going to tell you something that has happened in my life. I am not here to discuss it. I am not here to reason it out or to be condemned or judged. I’ve made my decision, it is settled, and I will not revisit it no matter what you say. Is that clear?”

“Yes,” replied the pastor, somewhat hesitantly. He wanted more information and still wanted all of his options open. But, he decided to see what was going on with John. So, he added, “Go ahead and tell me what this is about, John.”

“Well, my marriage has been okay. We have been married over 20 years and I have great kids. But, I have had a restlessness for some time. I have not felt fulfilled and I feel trapped. To make a long story short, I have this tremendous assistant at work. We did not intend to do it but we have fallen in love. She is 26, beautiful, intelligent and makes me feel young and alive. I am in love with her and have asked her to marry me. She said yes.

Now here’s what I need to know. I don’t want you judging me. I don’t want to hear that this is wrong, and what about your kids, and all of that. All I want to know from you is this; when I die, will I still go to Heaven?”

And what did the pastor reply?

Be here Sunday at Charity at 11 am when I will continue preaching from Hebrews 10 in a message I have titled, “Bundled Together”. I look forward to seeing you!

Now What?

Your husband tells you he is leaving you. He will move out tomorrow. Now what?
You get a call from your son’s girlfriend’s mother. The girlfriend is pregnant. Now what?
You are called into the boss’s office and told your company will be shutting down. You are being let go that very day. Now what?
We all come desperate places in life where it seems like we have arrived at a cliff with nothing but space beyond. We can’t go back and there seems no way forward. We are perplexed and baffled and worried and full of, “Now what? What do I do now? What can I do now?”
This Sunday we will celebrate Easter and the text is from Luke. There is a poignant verse there, a “Now What?” verse. Jesus has just died, the Centurion has declared Him God’s Son, there has been a mighty earthquake, darkness has covered the land and we read in 23:49, “And all His acquaintance, and the women that followed Him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.” Now what? They had given up all to follow Him. He was their reason for living, the hope of their present and future. Now He was dead. Now what?
Easter makes the difference, answering that question with power, glory, and direction! When we are standing “afar off”, when we are “beholding those things”, those painful disruptions, those ruptures of our bliss and peace that have us crying out, ‘Now what?”, we find in Him what we need to resurrect our lives and to go on to the next best thing!
Be with us this Sunday and bring whatever your “Now what?” is to give to Him!

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Shark Tank Theology

I am watching again, the A.D. Series that Mark Burnett and Roma Downey put out two years ago at Easter. It is very well done and the scenes of Pilate, Peter and Caiphas on the night of the resurrection are thrilling. I appreciate this Christian couple for bringing back to television, the Gospel stories and themes.
Mark uses his television shows to also convey Biblical truth. I just wrote a book, “The Shark Tank Theology: How The Tank Mirrors Life’s Journey”. It is available on this website or at any bookstore world wide. In it, I take out some of the major themes and Biblical truth Mark put in. Shark Tank the show has a world wide popularity. Through the show, people are introduced to something sorely lacking in the great majority of shows on television; a Biblical world view.
Take for example one such truth that I will speaking on Sunday morning at 11. You cannot make up your own standards of acceptance before a judge. This can be in any venue but we are looking at the show. Contestants frequently come in and offer to the savvy businessmen their own made up standards of why the Sharks should invest in them. Mark Cuban or Lori Grenier should accept them and let them into their world because they are so passionate about their business. They are very hard workers. They just know that their product will sell because so many people gave them business cards at a trade show.
The Sharks hit back and hit back hard! Hard work is nice but it is not a standard for a partnership. Passion is good but it does not make for a viable reason for a Shark to get involved. As you watch the shows week after week, you will find that the Sharks operate from sound, absolute, investment and business principles. Without these, you are not likely to get a deal.
The same is true for many people today on their plans for their presentation to God for His judgment. They may look at Christians and decide that they are as good as those Christians so if they can go to Heaven, so can they. That is not a standard of God. They may reason, I am not as bad as all those people I see on the news. I am a good person, I gave 5.00 to a poor person on a corner with a sign this morning, surely God will not send me to Hell. That is not a standard. You may love your wife and grandchildren. You may be the kindest person on the block. You may send a check to St. Jude’s every year. None of these are the standard.
Hebrews 9:27 says, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:” What will the standard of God be at that judgment? That is the key question and answer of it all. What will He accept? What standard will He judge by?
We find in the Bible, there is only one standard and it is His. No matter how we feel, no matter how sound a rationale we may construct in our minds, we will end up out of His presence, just as the contestants end up out of the Tank, when we try to make it up ourselves.
Join us Sunday morning at 11:00 for, “Your Presentation At Your Appointment”. Bring a friend.
And don’t forget! Easter is just weeks away, on the 16th.

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Style or Substance

As Stuart Briscoe looked out at the church landscape 10 years ago, he had the following to say in a Leadership Magazine interview.
“You need to understand that I am 75 years of age and have been active-and still am-in ministry for more than 55 years. Your emphasis is “the future of the church”, but my first question is,”Are we giving careful attention to the 2000 years of it’s history?” How did we get here? What did the “cloud of witnesses” do right? What are the non-negotiables that cannot and should not be changed? What is good in “old” as well as what is “novel” in innovation? G.K. Chesterton said, “Never remove a fence until you know why it was erected in the first place.” The future of the church needs to be explored in the light of what we do know about its future; the rest is speculation. What do we know? “I will build My church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.”
Although it may sound like it, I am not resistant to change and regard it necessary on occasion in a changing world. But I differentiate between “style” and “substance”. The former can change. The latter must not. “Has the church affected culture?” Take a trip around many parts of Europe and see if you can find a city without a cathedral or a village without a church, and take a look at the U.S. founding documents. The answer is obvious. But the big issue in both these instances is that those who built the cathedrals and those who wrote the founding documents were not seeking to be “relevant”; they were showing the relevance of an unchanging truth to those who needed to know it.
My concern about many attempts to be relevant to contemporary culture is that we seem to trade some of our uniqueness for acceptance, and in so doing barter some of our faithfulness for relevance. We don’t need to make truth relevant. We need to show and explain and apply it in all its Spirit-empowered relevance and see transformation happen.” Stuart Briscoe, minister at large, Elmbrook Church, Brookfield, Wisconsin.
I love the wisdom and truth of what he said. We want to be relevant, but more than that we want to be faithful. And we might want to look around today, ten years after he wrote those words, and ask ourselves, “What has our becoming relevant, cool, hip, and contemporary as a church achieved for us?” Churches are dying. The percentages of those trusting Christ, those attending church, those who believe in absolute truth, and those who call themselves Christian are all way, way down. We have not produced a generation of Super Spiritual Christians. Instead, we have the unholiness of over 90 percent of those men who do profess Christ saying they view pornography on the internet. In the words of Jim Cymbala in his book Spirit Rising,
“Some might say, “Yeah, but we’ve improved upon that New Testament style (there’s that word again) of Christianity.” If that’s true, I want to see the spiritual fruit our improvements have produced. People may have mocked those first, “unsophisticated” Christians, but thousands got saved in the first four chapters of Acts. The Word of God was treasured. The churches were filled with sacrificial love. A holy excitement pervaded the atmosphere. Have we really improved upon that?”
Of course we haven’t!
Be at Charity tomorrow at 11 am. I will be talking about a lot of these things as we continue in Hebrews 9. It will be all “substance”, “truth”, and hand the style! God bless you!

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