Category Archives: Reflections

Thunder Sleet Week

You know it is going to be an interesting week when the temperatures dip below 20 degrees with light precipitation and daylight brings a few hours of Thunder Sleet with occasional lightning, followed by Sleet Showers. Tuesday was quieter with just Light Sleet accompanied by deep cold. We were all ready for the Big Snow last week. Groceries were bought. Gas tanks were filled. But, alas, the Blanket of Snow (“up to 6-inches in some locations”) turned out to be no snow for the Tulsa area, also known as “the Donut Hole” in the blanket, as one weatherman mixed his metaphors. As of this writing, area schools will have at least three Snow Days this week, and a strong possibility of a fourth. Some businesses are closed, sort of. Hourly wage earners are missing work. Automotive body shops are incredibly busy. Insurance companies are saying, “Send us some pictures.” Some have taken these days to rest or catch up on a few things. Others have taken these days to fret, worry and be anxious about everything. Long anticipated medical appointments or procedures have been canceled and need to be rescheduled, causing further delays. For many, these days of being shut in are just like every other lonely day.  

We had Thunder Sleet one March Sunday in 2014. That winter we had to cancel one service each month for four months in a row because of the bitter weather. If I were the one in control, the weather would always be beautiful on Sunday morning and Wednesday nights. God and I have had this discussion for years now. Mostly I talk. God doesn’t say much about it. All I ever get is, “It rains on the just and the unjust alike.”  You would think that God would make it as easy as possible for people to go to church.  Most likely God does not micromanage the weather at all. It’s probably more about strengthening our character, stretching our faith, and learning to depend on God through whatever comes our way. We have been here before. This coming Sunday, February 5, is predicted to be sunny and 60 degrees (or not.) 

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

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The Adventurous Journey

(Turkey Mountain High)

Once again, we’ve embarked on a brand-new year. Are you ready for your adventurous journey ahead?  Is 2023 a year with a special birthday, anniversary, graduation, or class reunion? Is this the year you complete that project, get that new job, or move into a new season of life? What are your goals and dreams? Where would you like to be spiritually on this journey called life? What are the challenges that will shape and sharpen you in the days ahead? What is the very next step you need to take? 

Tulsa River Parks announced that multiple phases for enhancing Turkey Mountain are well underway. They are adding a Sandstone Staircase that will lead to more adventurous hiking trails through the dense forest. The Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area now covers about 600 acres and is adding 5 more miles of “difficult to moderate trails for the hikers who desire a more challenging experience.” There are already 11.5 miles of pedestrian and bicycle trails. An additional 15 miles will be built in the near future. When on the mountain, it is suggested you wear sturdy shoes and carry a cellphone with GPS. Dogs must be on leashes, and horses should be acclimated to steep, rocky trails, overhanging trees and the occasional snake. I suspect some adventurers may take a sudden interest in prayer. The summit is 300 feet above the Arkansas River, which may not sound like much unless you have made it to the top—the Turkey Mountain (adrenaline) High. 

What is the adventurous journey, the big challenge, that you are facing this year? Are you entering a new season of your life? Will your challenge come from family relationships, medical issues, a new role as caregiver, or even great sorrow? Preparation for the journey is vital. These life adventures can catch us by surprise and disrupt everything—there are, after all, big rocks, slippery slopes, and the occasional snake.  A wise man once said, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

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

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The Duck Pond Incident

This is a reposting of The Duck Pond Incident from June 2009. 

This is the accurate, true account of the day Deacon was fished out of the Duck Pond.  It was a hot and humid day, Father’s Day ’09.  Deacon’s parents had gone to the church that afternoon to take care of some unfinished tasks. Deacon and his older brother were spending quality family time with their grandfather and grandmother. It should be noted that his Mama D, as she is fondly called, had filled her grandsons with the excitement of walking the fifty yards or so to the very small Duck Pond “to feed the ducks.” The prospect of feeding the ducks at the neighborhood pond brings her a daily joy and satisfaction like no other. Papa D also went to the pond that day.

There are about 25 domesticated, semi-domesticated, wild, injured and convalescing ducks generally hanging out at the pond year-round. Some people apparently feed these ducks regularly so they will not ever go to the big pond two blocks away. The geese do come and go. The Duck Pond is not very clean. That afternoon we found the ducks, including a new mother with 7 ducklings, luxuriating along the shaded banks of the pond. Some ate a little bit of the bread, but most were too hot or too full to bother with it. A crippled goose, though, did come close to Deacon and eat small pieces of bread he was thrown. This delighted everyone.

Soon Mama D focused mainly on the ducklings, and some of them began to eat her bread. Deacon and Carter followed their grandfather over to the shaded benches to try their luck at feeding the fish. This was very successful. Papa D sat on the short little rock bench and handed bread to the boys. The older one skillfully threw the bread stirring up the fish. Deacon was having a harder time getting his bread to land in the water when he lunged forward with a big step and mighty throw. He lost his balance on that steep bank falling on his right side, then rolling ever faster down into the pond.

If this had been a movie, the stunt double would have stepped in to take Deacon’s place. The downhill roll would have taken place in slow motion. Papa D would have been quick as lightning to stop the rolling 2-year-old before he landed in the water. But, alas, it was not so. Deacon sputtered with surprise as his half-submerged head came up out of the water. His grandfather got down into the water and pulled the soaked boy out. He checked Deacon’s algae-covered face and limbs for any signs of injury, wiped his face fairly clean, and held him close while taking him back to the road and on to the house. Mama D noticed that Papa D and Deacon were all wet and asked why. Deacon never said a word.

After a fun bath, Deacon enjoyed a pleasant evening with his grandparents and brother while waiting the return of his parents. They noticed Deacon’s clothes were different and asked questions.

(Used with permission from Deacon Enos, who is now licensed to drive.)

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Choose Wisely

I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all the daily decisions I face. Every decision I make is a choice. Every choice I make is a decision. I decide things so often, and I make choices so frequently that many times I may not even realize the impact of what we are doing. It is one thing to decide what to wear today. It is quite another to contemplate a new opportunity, adventure, or big purchase.

I follow these three principles for my decision-making:

  1. Pray for direction expecting to discover the answer.
  2. If there is an uncomfortable doubt, don’t, until there is a settled heart.
  3. Because I have a right to do it, does not mean it is the right thing to do. 

 When seeking to choose wisely I ask myself these questions:

  Is this in keeping with Scripture? Is it right, true, honest and Christ-honoring? If it does not line up with what I already know about God’s will, I am guaranteed a disaster.

Is this the right time to do this? Timing can make all of the difference in a successful decision. If I must have or do something “right now,” I may be responding to unhealthy pressures or influences.

What will be different after I make this decision? This forces me to look at the consequences. How will things look in two weeks, six months or five years from now?

What is the true cost? This question is not just about money. What sacrifices will be made? Who will be affected? What, or who, will be changed?

Are there alternative options that I should be pursuing? Sometimes the first choice presented is taken to be the only choice. It is never the only choice.

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

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New Doors

This is the full update from Kevin Avery, our Missionary-In-Residence. 

Although 2022 ranks as one of the hardest years my family and I have ever experienced, there are many things about 2022 for which I am grateful. First and foremost, of course, I am thankful that our God of comfort and compassion is trustworthy in every way, even when loved ones die or when our own physical health crumbles. 

I am so thankful for Dayna and the kids, who have literally stood by me this year, and for those like my brother-in-law and paramedics who literally carried me when sepsis left me too weak to move. Even signing my name has been challenging. I am very grateful for technology, which allowed me to write my father’s obituary and virtually participate in his funeral and graveside service. Amazing that I could even give the graveside message as I FaceTimed with my cousin Dave. In addition, I am grateful for your prayers for us and for those of you who have been sending financial assistance to help with medical bills. Thank you so much. Words fall short. (Currently, I am doing much better, but I am still recovering.)

Ministry wise this year, I am so glad to have been able to begin prayer conference calls on Mondays and to start Tuesday night Prayer for the Nations on Zoom. Also, although I was not able to do as much as I had wanted to with the Lausanne Movement in 2022, the Lord has used the Disability Concerns Network of Lausanne (and my struggles in general) to open new doors. 

Most notably, I was introduced to a ministry by a friend from Lausanne named Ben, who is blind. This international ministry is called Internet Theological Education by Extension (iTEE) Global or simply iTEE Global, which is pronounced “I.T.” Global. This ministry trains pastors and other church leaders in third world countries, especially in Africa and Asia. Among such pastors in these areas, 80% to 90% lack access to theological training. Christianity is rapidly expanding across Africa and parts of Asia, which is wonderful, but such gaps in training allow heresies to thrive. The need for discipleship and accountability is vast. 

Officially, I had my first interview with iTEE Global on October 5 — just hours before being taken to the hospital the first time — and was offered a position of Global Facilitator in mid December. I became one of 52 missionary facilitators, who are all raising support to keep classes affordable to these third-world nations, where need is greatest. Likely, I will start teaching and discipling church leaders in May. I will serve as a student or co-facilitator these first months.

Also, this virtual iTEE Global ministry enables people with disabilities to have much greater access to training. As part of my orientation, I have been placed in a cohort (or student group) with others with physical disabilities. Whenever possible, I hope to work with my friend Ben to increase opportunities to disciple more groups with disabilities. In a few weeks, I will share more, but first, I just wanted to add an encouraging detail. I have been communicating with Peter, my pastor friend in Uganda, introducing him to iTEE Global since it is already training cohorts in Uganda. This is exciting! The ministry potential is great, and the harvest is ready. Come Lord Jesus!

As we enter 2023, we look forward to seeing all that the Lord will do in this new year. Thank you for joining us on this new virtual mission of discipling disciple makers across the nations.    

With gratitude,

     Kevin, Dayna, Molly and Hudson

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Reflections On My Father

December 29, 2022, marks the 100th anniversary of my father’s birth.  He said he always got one leftover Christmas present for his birthday when he was a kid. He felt sympathetic to those whose birthdays fell close to Christmas and New Year’s Day.  As the youngest of five children, he was used to hand-me-downs and leftovers. 

My father was a railroad man. After trying his hand as a machinist and a jeweler, he went to work for the Seaboard Railroad in 1949. He worked in different capacities for the company for 33 years. My father struggled with high school but managed to graduate just before World War II began. He served in the Coast Guard, married my mother, and after the war, they started having children. Three of us were born within 4 years, and we all went to church each week. Faith mattered.

My dad started out as a switchman in the rail yards accompanying freight trains around the city. Because of union rules, seniority made all the difference in the world when it came to work schedules. Dad worked the nightshift for many years. Things got better. After a dozen years or so, my father began to think of ways to improve the efficiency of the freight delivery system. On his own, he drew-up maps of all the small spur lines that the freight trains used to deliver to the warehouses throughout Miami, Florida, and the surrounding towns. Doing this helped the engineers to have the box cars in the right order to be dropped off, as well as knowing where to find some places. He also took a Dale Carnegie course to learn how to speak in public and work more effectively with people. Management was impressed—he was soon promoted to Assistant Yardmaster, then Yardmaster overseeing the freight crews. 

In 1965, our family life changed completely.  Dad was asked to move to Birmingham, Alabama, to become a Customer Service Representative for the railroad and Mom announced that she was expecting a baby. Even with all the life changes, the whole family continued to go to Sunday School and church.

Eventually Dad was promoted to General Yardmaster of Atlanta, later as Assistant Terminal Trainmaster for Georgia, and finally Terminal Trainmaster over a three-state area centered in South Carolina. Through it all he taught us the place of faith and the importance of church. Everywhere my parents lived, they were active members in a church. When my father learned he had just a few days to live, he took the day to make phone calls to friends and family to tell them how much they meant to him. He died in mid-December 2003, just shy of his 81st birthday. 

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

Bro Darryl

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The Melancholy Christmas

You probably know someone who is quietly experiencing a melancholy Christmas. Melancholy is an old word that describes feelings of sadness, loneliness, or grief. When Bing Crosby popularized the song “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” he was echoing the longing of thousands of soldiers fighting through the harsh winters of World War II. Some did make it home for Christmas, but for most, it was only in their dreams. The song conveys the dissonance between our expectations and the realities of Christmas. Christmas time is partly about being home with family and dear friends. The separation of miles and circumstances, heartbreak, or the loss of a loved one often turns this holiday season into a difficult time for many. When financial pressures, stressed relationships, and dreary days are added to the mix, depression soon blankets the soul.

When Elvis Presley popularized the song “Blue Christmas,” he was echoing the pain of unrequited love—the break-up of two former lovers. One has moved on, the other has not. The loss of a love brings an inner ache that seems to grow deeper during the holiday season. The empty chair across the living room. Sharing the children and grandchildren with other families who have their own traditions. The loneliness of an isolated soul. 

A Blue Christmas Service is the name given to a Christian time of prayer and reflection, usually held the night of the winter solstice, for those who have experienced grief and loss during the year. It is designed to bring peace and comfort for those going through the long night. December 21 is on Wednesday this year. We will be having a Blue Christmas Prayer Service at 6:30 that evening at the church. Join with us, in person or in spirit, as we intercede for all who may be having a melancholy Christmas this year.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

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

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Christmas Sunday

Christmas Day falls on Sunday this year. One sign of the times is that some churches are canceling their worship services that day. If it is true that some people only go to church at Christmas and Easter, why cancel church? I believe Christmas on Sunday is a very important time for friends and families to worship together. Christmas Day can also be a very stressful and exhausting time for many. This year we will open the church doors for our annual Christmas Eve Candlelight Lord’s Supper Service on Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m. and gather at 10:00 a.m. for a Christmas morning brunch and worship hour. Christmas on Sunday is special.

For someone on their own or even traveling, Christmas can become a quiet and unsettling day. In 2006, Christmas Day was on a Monday. That meant two special Sunday services on Christmas Eve. Our family, for what must have been some really good reason, had decided to go on a brief holiday cruise to Mexico, leaving from Galveston on Christmas afternoon. That meant a family caravan road trip leaving around 10:30 p.m. on a rainy Christmas Eve. As we drove through the night the topic of conversation was about all the closed gas stations. We arrived at Dayna and Kevin’s Waco home around 4:30 a.m., took a brief nap, opened Christmas presents, then headed for Houston in three cars. We met Kevin’s parents at the only open restaurant in Houston for a too quick lunch, then we were back on the road, looking for open gas stations, barely making it to Galveston in time to board the ship. That was an exhausting and stressful Christmas day. 

What is always open on Christmas day is a different kind of sanctuary—movie theaters. The shared experience of a movie is a refuge for some and a point of connection for others. The church is that and so much more. It’s an encounter with the true and living God, who “became flesh and dwelt among us,” Jesus. It’s the place where we come to know authentic grace and truth. Here we can cast our burdens on the Lord, and hear His call to service and mission. 

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Make Christmas on Sunday special. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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The Feline Leap

We had a cat that looked down on us. I once read that cats were worshipped as gods in Egypt, and they have never forgotten this fact. I attributed our cat’s penchant for high places to her lineage. It is my theory that Doll was part cat and part squirrel. She was a climber. In my study at home, she would climb up on my desk, step on top of the printer, then leap to the top of the bookcase, rattling everything in sight. From her vantage point up high she would stretch, hang her head slightly off the edge and survey her kingdom.

I was given this cat as a Father’s Day gift from my wife and daughters. Doll was so pleased when we set up our Christmas tree that year. It was the largest cat toy she had ever seen. So she jumped right in and started playing with it, in it and on it. She would climb up the trunk and lurk in the branches. She would hide there quietly until some poor unsuspecting target would pass by. Then she would reach out with a quick paw and swat at me. One year I saw her climb up on the piano and lunge across the wide-open spaces, landing on the tree, sending it every which direction. I caught the tree before it fell over. Some of our ornaments have never been the same. After that, she was given her very own ornaments which were hung around the bottom of the tree to swat at her leisure. Her real goal was always higher up.  

Setting up our Christmas tree is an occasion for such memories. We have many handmade ornaments from the grandchildren, some with their pictures. Gifted ornaments from friends long ago, and a spot on the tree for the treasured pets we knew and loved. We still hang one of the cat’s ornaments down low. But oh how she loved to leap into that tree and climb up high.

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

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Love Gives the Best

“Anyone can give without loving, but no one can love without giving.”  Dr. James G. Harris.  My model and mentor for being a pastor was Dr. Harris, Senior Minister of the University Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. I was a member of his church, taught a 5th Grade Boys Sunday School class and sang in the choir. Dr. Harris counseled Dorothy and I as we prepared to marry. Together Dorothy and I taught the Junior High Youth Class on Sunday evenings and helped in the young adult department. Dr. Harris led my ordination council and sent us forth to Tulsa in 1973. 

The story is told about an elementary school holiday program called Christmas Love. If you have ever been to one you understand the excited nervousness of the children, and the audience. The program was proceeding pretty well until the final song. This was the time a row of young children stood in front of the rest of the group holding big posters while awaiting their turn to reveal each card. One youngster was enjoying herself, bouncing along to the music, when she realized everyone was watching her and giggling. She dropped her card and they laughed. She picked it up and danced even harder, dropping her card again. Suddenly it was time for the children to turn their cards around.  At the director’s signal, the children turned their card over to spell the title of the program, only her card, the M, was upside down. Some laughed but then came the applause. The children had spelled CHRIST WAS LOVE.

As messed up, off the mark and downright mean as our world has gotten, Christmas continues to remind us that no one can love without giving—even God. “God so loved the world,” the familiar verse says, “that He gave His only Son that we might have eternal life.” Dr. Harris gave his all to God and the church. He died on a beautiful early Sunday morning in January 1975, as he jogged around the high school track, preparing his mind, body, and soul to preach of God’s love gift that day. His memorial service became a true spiritual and church-wide homecoming as hundreds of us returned to say thank you to God for giving us the gift of James Gordon Harris.

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

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