You probably are not aware (unless you read the resume I submitted before coming to work here) that from April, 1998 until September, 2000 I was the minister for the church of Christ in Leedey, OK. During this time a couple of very important things happened for our family.
First of all, in November, 1998, Rachel was born. The very first sermon Rachel heard/slept through, which, by the way was entitled, “Yes, Rachel, there is a God!”, was in the church building in Leedey, OK. A cute story is that when Rachel was about 3 weeks old, one of the little boys at church (3 or 4 years old) asked Monica if Rachel had “opened her eyes yet”...farm kids are so cute...or maybe you just had to be there.
Then, at some point in February, 2000 or so, Jamie was brought into existence. She wouldn’t be born until after we’d moved from Leedey, but you can see how significant the 2 years and 5 months that we lived in Leedey were to our family.
I also learned a little bit about farm life and, especially, wheat harvest. I even was able to ride in, but not actually drive, a combine with one of the brothers there one season (one day was all it took for my appreciation for those who live this life to grow by leaps and bounds).
I learned much about ministry during my time in Leedey. A lot of who I am as a minister was formed during my time in Leedey (and in other places where I ministered).
So why am I telling you this now? And why am I highlighting a place where I was for less than 2½ years? Well, because Leedey is located in western Oklahoma and the “Rhea Fire” that ravaged western Oklahoma has adversely affected the lives of many in the congregation in Leedey (and many more in the town itself).
Barns were lost, farm equipment was destroyed, people’s livelihoods just suddenly gone up in smoke (pun intended). And, yes, some of those people are your brothers and sisters in Christ.
I asked the elders here if we could do something to help the congregation in Leedey directly and they determined that a box will be placed in the foyer Wednesday, April 25 and Sunday, April 29 for those who would like to help.
The church will then send a check to the Leedey church of Christ to be used at the discretion of the elders in Leedey to help people affected by the wild fire in western Oklahoma.
P.S. If you are not a member at Eastgate but would like to help the saints in Leedey, you can mail a check directly to them at Church of Christ; PO Box 207; Leedey, OK73654
When I first heard about it, I thought, that’s so dumb! I mean, really, how lazy can people be? The “it” I refer to is the grocery pick up service offered by the company with headquarters in Bentonville, AR.
My initial reaction was that if you were too busy to shop for your family, maybe you’re just too busy. We all have things to do, places to go, people to see...so maybe we need to cut some stuff out of our “busy, hectic schedules.”
But then Monica and I decided to give it a try. I bought a gift card from the merchant and we filled our cart...only to find out that this particular arm of this large retailer doesn’t take their own gift cards! You had to pay with a credit or debit card.
The next week, we really didn’t feel like going to the grocery store...so we gave them another chance. And you know what? I kind of liked it.
All I had to do is check in on the app before leaving, pull into one of the specially designated parking spaces, and they brought my groceries out, loaded them in the car and wished me a good day.
And the best part is that grocery shopping has been less expensive the past two weeks: a lot less expensive. When you order online, you work your way through the departments and select what you need and nothing else...no impulse buying means a lower grocery bill.
Admittedly, there are some drawbacks (they take your order literally, not like you meant it for one - i.e. “one” banana is not one bunch of bananas, but a single banana). But overall, with a college student coming home in a few weeks, I think it is just a great way to shop for groceries.
So why am I telling you this? Is it an advertisement for the retailer whose name I’ve not mentioned? Uh, no.
Impulse purchases at the grocery store make your bill higher. Impulse purchases in your spiritual life endanger your soul.
What I mean is that sometimes we want things the way we want them, no matter what God says about the thing that we want.
So we decide to “purchase” an idea presented and promoted by man instead of sticking to our “list” (i.e. the Bible and what God wants). We enjoy it...we don’t see anything wrong with it...we even feel God will accept it, despite His instructions to do something different...after all, “everyone” else is doing it the different way.
When it comes to offering “…our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God…” (Romans 12:1), we need to “stick to the list.” We need to see what God wants and what He doesn’t want and not let our own impulses determine what we give to God.
February 2, 2018 is another day that will linger in infamy. What made February 2, 2018 so special? Well that was “Groundhog Day” for this year.
This year, when “Punxsutawney Phil” (the most famous of groundhogs) rose from his den in Punxsutawney, PA, he saw his shadow...meaning his forecast was for six more weeks of winter.
Not a real big deal. Although some claim Phil is right 100% of the time, a little fact checking reveals his correctness is around 39% (“Time” online February 2, 2018).
Six weeks from February 2 of this year was March 16. The official first day of Spring is March 20. Yet on April 7, 2018 we saw a dusting of snow (and a human weatherman tells me there is a chance we will see another dusting of snow on April 15).
For the record, April 7 was 9 weeks, one day after “Groundhog Day” and April 15 will be 10 weeks, two days after.
There are a lot of people who put a lot of stock in what the groundhog says. They plan their lives and, perhaps, livelihood, around Punxsutawney Phil’s weather forecast.
Then you have others who rely on the “Farmer’s Almanac” for telling them what to do and when to do it. Others will change plans if their favorite weather forecaster says that in 10 days, something will happen.
Then, when whoever or whatever they rely on proves to be inaccurate...well, they trust them again next time.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was some source we could look at that is right 100% of the time? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had a source we could turn to that is never wrong?
Well, we do! It is the best-selling book of all time. Most homes have at least one copy (either in print or electronic format). It is, of course, The Bible.
In Psalm 111:7 we read (of God), “...all his precepts are trustworthy.” God has never failed to keep a promise. Nothing predicted by one of His servants has ever failed to come to pass. God is accurate 100% of the time. Can the same be said about the “Farmer’s Almanac” or any weather person - whether they have two or four legs?
The Word of God speaks of a future day. A day when Jesus will return. These are the only prophecies of God that have not yet been fulfilled. The only thing we know about that day is that nobody knows when it will be...we just have to be ready for it when it happens.
Are you ready?
On Sunday I told you about Rachel’s “unfortunate accident” on Saturday night that led to her going to the Searcy hospital Emergency Room on Sunday morning. Fortunately she seems to be getting better.
I really didn’t like the feeling I felt on Sunday morning when Rachel called. She was in tears, obviously in pain, and I, her father...who until this point was able to hold her, hug her, and make things better when she was crying and/or in pain...was a million, zillion miles away and unable to help her! (OK, it’s actually only 240 miles, but it may as well have been a million, zillion miles.)
I am grateful for Rachel’s friend who was willing to drive her to the hospital and stay with her. I’m grateful we have health insurance. I’m grateful she was only at the ER for a couple of hours. I’m grateful it was, apparently, only a pretty bad sprain.
But I was so far away! I could not help; I could not dry her tears; I could not offer substantial comfort...all I could do is tell her its going to be OK, now find someone to take you to the ER.
As I reflect on my feelings this past Sunday, I couldn’t help but think that some people see God as like me this past Sunday. One of His children is hurting and he’s a million, zillion miles away and not able to help at all.
And as that thought crossed my mind, so did Paul’s speech to the Areopagus in Athens. In Acts 17:27, Paul says, “...though he (God) is not far from each one of us.”
When we are hurting, when tears are streaming from our eyes, when the people who love us are too far away to hug us, when we can’t seem to find a nearby friend to help us through...HE IS NOT FAR FROM EACH ONE OF US.
God is not bound by time or space. He is everywhere all the time. He is not a “million, zillion” miles away (or even 240 miles): He is right beside us all the time. His words of comfort are as close as our Bible. When we need to talk to Him, we need only pray.
And for that, this past Saturday night and Sunday morning (and always) I am most grateful!