Monthly Archives: August 2010

Road Blocks

For the second time in two weeks the street on the north side of the church has been closed. Fourth Place is a main east/west street that links Yale Avenue to Will Rogers High School and continues on to Harvard Avenue. A burst waterline closed the street just two blocks west of the church. Repair crews worked in two locations replacing the deteriorating pipes with new ones. In that process they discovered another leaking water line a few yards from our church parking lot. So they have closed 4th Place again.

It has been an interesting study watching people deal with the “Road Closed” barriers. Apparently most people do not believe the signs and will drive around them. That is when they see that machinery, pipes and rocks block the entire street. The more observant drivers turn around in our parking lot, or drive through the lot looking for 5th Street. The others find themselves over committed to disobedience, trapped by the cars behind them, and looking for a way to turn around in a nearby driveway. A few minutes ago a school bus driver managed to turn around in our parking lot before it was too late. The road has been closed all week!

There are four very large barrier signs that say “Road Closed.” There are two smaller warning signs at the Yale intersection. They are not hard to read. Road construction is everywhere in town. Each torn-up street represents city, county, state or federal money providing local jobs. Next time you drive through a construction zone, say a word of appreciation to the workers, or offer a prayer for their safety. I have a feeling they get yelled at by too many impatient drivers who do not believe the signs. And what about us, do we believe the signs? Do we think we know better, or are smarter than the warnings all around us?

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

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School Daze

I attended two “Meet the Teacher” events last week for two of our grandsons. With a profoundly uncoordinated calendar, all of the schools in Tulsa County have started, are starting, or will start classes by August 23. Two school districts picked a Friday for the first day of school. Don’t these districts remember that the whole reason school has been out is so the children and teens can help with the summer crops in preparation for the harvest this fall? Those children have been needed around the house all summer to work the fields, clean the barns, and can the fruit. Not to mention how useful they are every day with the chickens and the pigs. – Maybe it is time to reconsider what the school year should look like in an urban America in the 2010s.

On the other hand, the teachers I met were delightful. It was obvious that they love their work and are looking forward to the challenge of getting to know their new students. There were a number of students dropping by to say hello to their former teachers. Many came to thank them for the impact on their lives. One elementary teacher was saying that he was about to have as a student the son of a former student. Some parents were a little misty-eyed.

I have been a public school volunteer now for over 30 years as a parent, a pastor, and a former school board member. Our church began an intentional ministry with Tulsa’s Will Rogers High School in the spring of 1991, with Tuesday Time Out, where the students could come to the church for an all-you-can-eat pizza lunch. They really could eat pizza! We’ve continued providing food, friendship, prayers and our facilities to students and faculty alike. All of this is in a spiritual context of love and service in the name of Christ. It is easy to complain about the public schools (see above). Consider, instead, walking into the building as a volunteer to make a difference, or supporting your church’s ministry with the public schools.

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

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Church Plus

I’ve gotten used to free access to the internet. I like the idea of being able to find the information that I need almost anywhere. So I have become aware of the places that provide free internet access to their patrons. In that process, I have discovered a growing divide among our area eating establishments.

Some restaurants are taking an inclusive view by allowing everyone access to the internet, whether on their laptop computers or cell phones, versus the other point of view. Virtually all coffee shops now provide free internet access. All of the major casual dining restaurants, like McAlister’s, Burger King, etc. seem to provide it. Yet there is this other more exclusive view.

One neighborhood restaurant owner tells me he does not want his customers surfing the web and drinking coffee. He wants them to buy their meal, eat it and make way for the next person. He is about selling meals rather than providing work/play space for people. He also believes his customers do not want internet access. Maybe he is right. Other managers tell me they would rather have people walk in and see lots of activity at the tables. They feel it makes their place look more friendly, busy and alive. They are selling “meals plus” for their customers. Maybe they are on to something.

I eat out often, so I am always confronted by these two views. Include or exclude those who want to multitask during lunch. I find that I am choosing the more inclusive places, whether I use the free internet or not. I like the idea of places where people can experience more than just a good meal or a good cup of coffee. This also applies to ideas about church. Are we providing church plus?

Some people will self-exclude, expressing their preference for something else, just like picking a restaurant or listening to a certain style of music. In the church, though, we need to allow people multiple opportunities to grow spiritually and serve faithfully. If church is just about getting customers in and out of the building on Sunday mornings, then church has become an exclusive preference for some and a barrier to Christ for others.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Take down a barrier. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Becoming Glocal

One of my misadventures during college was when I tried to make some extra money by working as a temporary long distance telephone operator, and impress a girl who worked there. Neither worked out well at all. I spent half a day being trained on how to answer the telephone, learn to tell the difference between a quarter or a nickel or a dime when they were put into a pay phone, and practice connecting cords from the incoming call into another hole on a board in front of me where I could then dial the long distance number for the customer. I lasted about three days. Long distance operators lasted a few years longer, but now we are running out of telephone numbers, again.

The church’s telephone number used to be Temple 75 and most of our church members had Temple, Webster or National as their prefix. Area codes were added, but we have still run short on telephone numbers. Starting this month, a new area code (539) is being superimposed on northeastern Oklahoma. This means we will soon have to dial either 918 or 539 before Tulsans can place a local phone call. In fact, the whole concept of long distance versus local phone calls is fading away. Technically everyone is being asked to reprogram all telephones (home, office and cell) to include the area code. This means I will have to dial the area code plus the number to call my next door neighbor. By April 2011, calls will not go through without the area code. (So fix your emergency contact numbers today.)

The whole concept of local versus long distance missions is also fading away. It may take an extra step, but you and I can hold conversations with people from around the world who live down the street or next door. Missions, ministry, and in many ways our whole world has become glocal—global combined with local. How many different nationalities and ethnic groups are represented on your street or shop in your favorite grocery store? How many of our glocal neighbors would like to hear some Good News for a change?

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

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