Monthly Archives: February 2010

Tomorrow’s Sunday

Yesterday was Sunday. Tomorrow is Sunday. That means today must be Wednesday. That is how my thinking seems to go each week. Sermons and Bible studies come around very quickly when you are a pastor. Over the years I have the discovered a sermon preparation routine that seems to work for me. Under girding it all is a continuous reading plan of Scripture and diverse books followed by a time of reflection and prayer.

I prefer to have a tentative three-month plan for future sermons. Lately I have been about six weeks ahead. On Sunday afternoons I try to take a nap. After church on Sunday nights we laugh watching the British TV comedies we have seen now a hundred times. Then I ask myself, “What is next Sunday’s sermon about?” Dorothy always asks me that same question on Tuesday night as she begins preparing the organ music for the morning service.

On Monday I review the passage, give the message a title and seek to write the main idea in one sentence. A wise person once said, “If you ever get near a point, make it.” So three questions have to be answered: What is the point of the sermon? Does it speak to my heart? and So what—will it really matter to someone else?

By Tuesday I usually have the general outline of the passage and the conclusion of the sermon completed. On Thursday I review any materials I have gathered about the passage, jot down any leftover thoughts and ideas, and write out a one-page speaking outline. In ministry Sundays always begin on Saturday night. Just before bed I review all of the materials and finalize my opening illustration or metaphor. Then I go to sleep and let the sermon “cook” over night. I have discovered over the years that I cannot go to a Saturday night movie or watch an emotional TV program or else my mind will process the movie rather than the sermon. On Sunday morning I rewrite my speaking outline on one index card or, if I have some exact quotes, a larger sheet of paper. When it is time to preach, I try to get out of the way of the preparation and let the Holy Spirit speak to the spirit within the people. Somehow God uses the foolishness of this preaching to change us.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Pray for the preacher. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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What a Fellowship

The celebration is over, but what a fellowship! Our 75th Anniversary was a delightful time for everyone. I am told that there were right at 200 present for the worship service, and that 140 stayed for the lunch. Dr. David Willets spoke on behalf on the family about the naming of Willets Hall after his father. Glenn McKinley voiced a prayer of gratitude and rededication. We received an official legislative recognition from our state representative, Eric Proctor, that was signed by Gov. Brad Henry. We were given warm expressions of appreciation from Dan Robovsky, director of Tulsa’s Meal on Wheels; Lyda Wilbur, principal of Will Rogers High School; Connoly Perry, administrator of the new Yale Ave Apartments; and from Ranan Gangel, clerk of the Session at Yale Ave Presbyterian Church, who read a letter from the congregation and presented a $150 contribution from their church in honor of our church to Eastside Meals On Wheels. (By the way, they also congratulated us on their church sign.)

The Southern Gospel quartet, Forgiven, led us in a full and meaningful concert of praise and worship. Gift bags consisted of a picture postcard of the church’s Good Shepherd window, souvenir pen and post-it notes, and the 40 Day New Testament MP3 CD. Other items that were available included a Spiritual Growth Journal and copies of the 1957 Baptist Hymnal. This was all followed by a wonderful fried chicken dinner in the newly refurbished Willets Hall.

There are so many who worked to help make this all come about. The Hall Redecorating Committee included Connie Gillis, Rhonda Justus, Dorothy DeBorde and Waneta Reynolds. John Roe and Tim and Cody Justus provided the installation for the new curtains and wall hangings. The Food Committee included Nancy Holdt, Ben and PJ Shepard, Glenn McKinley and John Roe. Table decorations were by Waneta Reynolds and Connie Weatherly. Sandy Smith provided the Anniversary Cake, and Dino Zaragoza setup all of the tables. A big “Thank you” also goes to those who provided salads and desserts, helped with the last minute details and the final clean up. This pastor is very proud and grateful for all the people of the Braden Park Baptist Church.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Pat yourself on the back. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Col Sanders and the Pilgrims

I came across an article in the current issue of the Harvard Business Review entitled, “Why Colonel Sanders Has His Own Museum” at the same time I was reading Sarah Vowell’s book, “The Wordy Shipmates.” Vowell’s book is a very good historical and theological, if not slightly irreverent, study of the pilgrims and the puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In my mind, both authors are discussing the same thing—the importance of remembering the real stories of early beginnings. Although one is a fried-chicken restaurant and the other the United States of America, those who reflect on their beginning stories will stay true to their essential values and principles in a time of deep change. Founders are as flawed as anyone else, yet their vision and ideals propel a company, a church or a nation forward through history.

Writing, in 1630, on board the Arbella sailing from England to what would become Boston, the governor-elect John Winthrop composed his vision of the “city upon a hill.” He titled his lay sermon, “The Model of Christian Charity.” In one now-famous sentence, he wrote: “We must delight in each other, make other’s conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, our community as the same body.” Without pausing to learn the real lessons of the founders, pilgrims and puritans turn into quaint old people who wore funny clothes and ate turkey with the Indians at the first Thanksgiving.

This Sunday we pause to reflect on the beginnings of our church, which was started by 35 people meeting in a home at the corner of 5th Street and Yale Avenue on the second Sunday of February, 1935. Seventy-five years have flowed past this corner. Countless lives transformed by Christ, told and untold stories of relationships formed, sermons preached, worship and songs of praise inspired, babies born, believers baptized, weddings attended, Bible study classes, vacation Bible schools and youth camps, mission efforts, neighborhood and world-wide ministries, sorrows and sadness all shared by our church family of faith. And how many fried-chicken dinners have there been in 75 years?

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Come celebrate this milestone with us. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Extreme Makeover

News accounts indicate thousands of people in Tulsa participated in the ABC television program “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” This project is about a mile from the church and seems to be the talk of the neighborhood. The restaurants are very happy. The Make A Wish Foundation raised $200,000 locally as the project started January 28. Disney World sent Cinderella and Snow White to be on hand. There are a number of story lines about four different children having their wishes fulfilled with this project. The youngest son of the Starkweather family needs extensive 24-hour care, so their home is being replaced and redesigned from the ground on up. One young girl from Utah is on site to design a room in the house as her wish is being fulfilled. Others are there to meet the star of the program and see everything in person. Even with the delays from the ice and snow storm, the house was completed nearly on time on February 3, with the episode to air in March.

The house is located just south of 11th street on Indianapolis Ave. Indianapolis sits on a diagonal near the corner with Harvard Ave. The two blocks are shaped like triangles. There were police cars, barricades, cranes, dozens of trucks, high-intensity lights for the night work, and hundreds of people pulling together to make it all happen for this family. What an interesting neighborhood of typical ’30s-style homes. Behind the new house is a dry cleaner, jewelry store and liquor shop. Three doors north is an old house that’s now a check cashing loan company. The mosque is just across the diagonal to the right. The University of Tulsa is only two blocks away, and now there are sightseers everywhere. More than the house has been transformed in this makeover.

This is a real picture of the extreme diversity of our community. Yet home by home, the stories of family and struggle and quiet pain continue. All of us could use an extreme makeover occasionally, yet many times we are so preoccupied with ourselves that we do not notice what has changed next door. We live in community. Maybe it’s time for a life makeover, a walk around the block, and a prayer of forgiveness.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Meet some more neighbors. And let’s the love and power of God together.

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