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Tulsa State Fair Preparations

Over the course of the summer, I have watched construction crews redesign the entrance to the Expo Building by the Golden Driller statue at the Fairgrounds. They have been frantically painting the outside of the building, roof and all, to the new colors of light grey and royal blue. This is to match the new logo on the reimagined gates at each of the old entrances.  It looks to me like they may be painting late into the night for another week. The Tulsa State Fair is about to open on September 30. On the other side of the fairgrounds, where the barns are, the fair has already begun for the future farmers of America.

Trucks with trailers filled with large animals have been rumbling past the church this week headed for the fairgrounds. While the painting continues, midway rides have been assembled, new parking signs have been added, and RV’s filled with people and merchandise have assembled in the designated parking lots, creating their own little camp towns.  Corn Dog and Cotton Candy trailers are escorted down the street like honored guests arriving at the ball. All that is left is for about 1,000,000 people to show up, discovering along the way that it costs real money to go to the State Fair.

I enjoy the Fair. Last year it was cancelled because of you know what. This year seems to be full steam ahead. I enjoy watching the people, eating the food, and discovering the latest, greatest miracle-working gadget ever seen on the face of the earth. If we make it to the fair, I will be searching for the first sign of autumn—the deep-fried, bacon-wrapped, pumpkin-spiced cheesecake on a stick. There is nothing quite like a state fair. But it would never happen at all without detailed preparations, hardworking people, and a common goal to hold the finest fair ever. So when you see the 4H-ers with their prize cow or pig, the blue ribbon cakes or quilts, the hot tubs or the glasses cleaners, remember the effort and sacrifice that is behind it all. Any worthy endeavor takes preparation, commitment, and sacrifice. That includes your family, your church, and your daily life.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Do what it takes. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Come From Away

I am still reflecting on the impact of the 20th anniversary observance of the 9/11 attack on the United States. I was surprised by the emotions I felt about a story from so long ago that I thought I knew so well. Dorothy and I visited the World Trade Center National 9/11 Memorial and Museum in 2018. I showed a couple of pictures during Sunday’s service. While we were in NYC, we attended the Broadway show, Come From Away. It is a musical play based on a true story about the days following the attack. 

Come From Away is about the little community of Gander, Newfoundland, the home to a long disused international airline refueling station. On September 11, every airplane going or coming to the U.S. was required to land immediately. The Gander runway was big enough to land some of the international flights. In fact, 7,000 passengers, including infants and crewmembers, found themselves stranded in Gander with nowhere to go. This story tells of the generous and heroic efforts of the townspeople to open their homes to these strangers in distress. And no one knew for how long. Or the fact that all the planes had animals on board! And many internationals did not speak English or French Canadian. “Come from aways” are what Newfoundlanders call visitors. You can watch some clips of the production on the internet. The Tulsa Performing Arts Center will be hosting the touring production October 12-17 if you would like to see the musical for yourself. 

It is the story of people rising to a dramatic and uncertain situation. There are themes centered around fear and grief, neighborly love for strangers, with a kind of loaves and fishes quality about it all. At the end of the performance, during the standing ovation, a small group of young people in front of us clapped vigorously. One young lady exclaimed for all to hear, “I have been so proud to be a Canadian!”  It has been announced that 800 recently rescued Afghans are being sent to Tulsa to begin the long process of rebuilding their lives as strangers in a distant land. Temporary housing is needed for nearly all the people.  Will the people of Tulsa respond like Gander?

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Welcome the “come from aways.” And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Tender Creation Series

We only know in part, and our ways are certainly not as high as the Lord’s ways, but we are invited to know the Lord more and more, day by day. In fact, the most important aspect of eternal life is being able to be with our Lord, getting to know him completely (John 17:3). Even now, our Heavenly Father asks us to seek him — to get to know him personally. Exploring his creation is a big part of this endeavor. After all, the Lord loves to create. Join us as we further learn about our Lord God.

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The McDonald’s Incident

I was called out on a childhood memory I created for our girls about 35 years ago. During a quick meal with some of the extended family, McDonald’s hamburgers made their way into the conversation. Our granddaughter, who has lived most of her life in China, believes the American McDonald’s is the greatest hamburger in the world. I have actually eaten a McDonald’s burger with her twice now in the past 4 months. Just for the record, let me state that I have never been a fan of McDonald’s. Burger King was always my fast-food burger of choice. Burger King had an early store not far from our house. The price of a regular burger was 15 cents, but the flame-grilled Whopper cost 25 cents. It was worth it! My choice was set. To underscore this point just a little more: On our wedding day, Dorothy and I drove to Dallas after our afternoon ceremony. We checked in at our designated hotel, then drove the two blocks, still in our fancy outfits, to the Burger King for our first married meal together. This is a verifiable story.

The incident all started innocently enough. Whenever I was asked Why not McDonald’s? by our young girls, I would reply, Burger King is bigger and flame grilled, and McDonald’s is made with horsemeat. We all would have a big laugh and go to Burger King.  Raising McDonald’s-free children is not an easy task. It seems their friends went to McDonald’s often. On the family road trip in question, we were headed to Glorieta, New Mexico. We came upon Tucumcari just as everyone was ready to stop and have lunch. As life would have it, there was a Burger King and a McDonald’s across the street from each other. As I steered the car toward the Burger King, the McDonald’s pleas began. To their surprise, I quickly turned the car and headed to McDonald’s. I drove around to the back and sure enough, there was a horse trailer with some horses parked near the kitchen door. All I said was, “See, I was right.” We ate at Burger King. 

Apparently grown children remember these kinds of incidents for decades. I was confronted with, You had seen that horse trailer at the McDonald’s and that’s why you went over there. What could I say? She has grown wise. 

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Actually, McDonald’s burgers are not made with horsemeat. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Tender Creation Series

In Romans 8:18, the Apostle Paul writes that “creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.” What an amazing statement! At the very least, this verse is quite intriguing. In fact, these Tender Creation devotions have been building towards this verse each week. What does this eagerness mean? Can creation truly be eager, or is it merely figurative, a literary use of personification? Join us as Kevin Avery explores this idea because if this verse is meant to be received literally, ramifications are huge for both the church and creation.

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Five Big Dreams

I call it Five Big Dreams. I was involved in a small directors meeting once when someone posed the “Million Dollar Question.” What would happen if someone gave us a million dollars? A number of quick, humorous answers were given. The group was stopped with, “No, I’m serious. What would we do to fulfill our mission?”  No one in the group could offer a reasonable answer. So I made up, on the spot, the challenge for all of us, including me, to come up with Five Big Dreams.

Five is an arbitrary but reasonable number for any challenge. Packaging a series of little ideas into one seems to be less appealing to big donors. But one Big Dream can captivate the imagination of the very many who may not be able to give as much. A Big Dream inspires. Five Big Dreams could change everything. I have been giving deeper thought to this whole idea of big dreams. Inspiration comes through dreams, visions and imagining a better future. The business world understands this with their emphasis on mission statements, as well as goals, which are the steps to make the big dreams come true.

What are the big dreams for your personal life? This past year and a half has altered, and in some cases, forever changed our plans and dreams for the future we had hoped for. This is a time for rebuilding and redreaming our futures.  Let me ask about your dreams for your family, your relationships, your mission, and your retirement.  Add to all of this your big dreams for what you would like to own one day or where you would like to travel, and if you are not careful, you might discover that you have 25 Big Dreams to inspire your life. I believe 25 Big Dreams is overwhelming and may be going a little bit too far. Let’s just stay with Five Big Dreams. Here is your challenge for today: what would your dream be if, as we say we believe, “Nothing is impossible with God”? (Luke 1:37)

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

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