Category Archives: Reflections

Meals On Wheels Ministry Update

Meals on Wheels has been in the news and on my heart this week. You may have seen the coverage of the July 15th groundbreaking for the new Meals on Wheels of Metro Tulsa Service Center on 51st Street near Yale, beside the YMCA building. I was asked to lead the invocation to start the ceremony. This new facility will include a state-of-the-art kitchen, food preparation and delivery system, as well as a community event center. Why is healthy food and caring contact for sick and homebound seniors so important? The cost of one year’s worth of meals for one person is less than one overnight stay in the hospital for that same person. 

This past Monday, July 19, the coordinators from our Eastside Meals on Wheels churches met at our church to discuss a recommended plan for us to cautiously begin to restart delivery. The proposal is for volunteers from our churches to deliver seven frozen meals at a time to 20 residents in a single apartment building near 11th Street every Friday starting at 11 a.m. There is a phone app that volunteers would use to contact the recipient and update the office on the delivery and care that might be needed for these neighbors. I would like for you to prayerfully consider becoming a part of this ministry. We are having a meeting to learn the procedures for beginning delivery again, and to be trained on how to use the app on Friday, August 6 from 1:00-2:30 p.m. at the church.

The story of Tulsa’s Meals on Wheels organization goes back to 1970 and the kitchen at First Presbyterian Church downtown. The church provided a regular noonday luncheon for the business community. In the course of time someone suggested delivering some of those meals to homebound members. Someone else read about a program called “meals on wheels” in another state. Soon other churches were recruited, and the Tulsa program became an official Task Force of Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry, our local interfaith organization. In March 1978, I received a phone call from our own Waneta Reynolds suggesting that this might be something we should consider as a church.  The next month we held an organizational meeting in our Fellowship Hall with five of our neighboring churches. Eastside Meals on Wheels began serving meals from our kitchen in August 1978.  

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

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A Day with My Grandfather, Hoyt Frazure

Once I spent the day on a very personal, behind-the-scenes grand tour of The Miami Herald. I was being guided by the Grocery Advertising Representative, Hoyt Frazure, who was my grandfather. He started with the paper in 1927 and was credited with inventing the Thursday grocery ad supplement used by newspapers to this day. In all of my memories of him, this was the only day we spent together, just the two of us. I was about 12 years old. He and my grandmother had divorced when my mother was in high school. He and his wife, Olive, lived in far south Miami where he had planted all kinds of fruit trees. His Ponderosa lemons were as large as his grapefruit. He had orange, avocado, papaya and mango trees also. On that one day with him at the newspaper, I saw him stop the presses just for me, his only grandson. Great rolls of newsprint were threaded like ribbons through the system. Various sections of the paper were being printed simultaneously and then cut to form the actual newspaper.

A visit to the typesetter gave me my most lasting memory. In those days a “hot type” was used to provide the basis for the printing. All of the articles were entered through a linotype machine where each word was entered by hand. An actual metal plate was created with all of the type entered in the appropriate columns. My grandfather asked the typesetter to make a line of type with my name, which he did. A few minutes later I was handed a still warm piece of metal with my name in italic and written backwards. Seeing my confusion they showed me how, when ink and pressure was applied, my name would be printed perfectly. I treasure that line of type to this day.

I remember many Sunday afternoon trips when our family traveled down to Granddad’s place. On our visits we would look at the trees, examine the fruit and sometimes be entertained by Olive at the piano. Before he retired from the paper, he gave an extensive 10-week Sunday supplement interview where he told his stories of the early days in South Florida. It was made into a book, Memories of Old Miami, which holds family stories we never knew. Time spent with my grandfather made all the difference in the world to me. Spend time with your Heavenly Father. Let Him show you His handiwork. Ask Him to write your name in His Book of Life.  

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

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Things You Might Find Useful in Your 100 Years of Life

Apparently, I keep nearly one of everything in my office. I came across this notice from The Baptist Standard dated May 8, 1992. I may have used this in a sermon once. “Mary-Ellen Smauley was honored recently in Sweetwater in celebration of her 100th birthday.” Mrs. Smauley was a member of First Baptist Church, Sweetwater, Texas. Among the gifts she gave visitors at an open house at her daughter’s home was a list of  “Things You Might Find Useful in Your 100 Years of Life.” 

 1.  Be forgiving of yourself and others.

 2.  Live beneath your means.

 3. Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated.

 4.  Keep a tight rein on your temper.

 5.  Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every area of your life.

 6.  Eat fruit.

 7.  If you have time to pray, God has time to listen.

 8.  Never use profanity.

 9.  If you never forgive others, hope you never sin.

10. You know you are old when you feel you corns more than your oats.

11.  Be kinder than necessary.

12.  Leave everything a little better than you found it.

13.  Never go to bed with dirty dishes in the sink.

14.  Take care of your reputation—it’s your most valuable asset.

15.  Pray. Pray. Pray.

16.  Eat jellybeans.

17.  Never, never neglect your Heavenly Father.

18.  Let not envy or jealousy consume your soul.

19.  Happiness is midway between too much and too little.

20.  To live a long life, get somebody else to worry for you.

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

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The Day Dizzy Dean Came to Church

Just a few weeks after he had been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the celebrated pitcher Dizzy Dean arrived at our church—to lay a brick. Our pastor at the time, Rev. Patrick (Pat) Murphy, had a promotional idea to stir up some interest in the church and raise some funds for the completion of a new sanctuary. The building project had begun in 1949. Things were going slowly. That spring of 1954 the pastor invited Dizzy Dean to church. Pat Murphy was from Arkansas and was acquainted with some of the Dean family. Pastors occasionally have bright ideas like this.

This story, which I have told before, was recalled as I was contacted by Andrea Brixey Shoemaker after she was looking at some old photographs from the church. We have begun displaying old photographs from our church archives on the Braden Park Church Facebook page. Andrea’s father, Herb Brixey, died in 2012. She was thinking about her dad and the red brick.

Ten-year-old Herby was chosen to go with Dizzy Dean and the pastor up on top of the roof of the northeast office where Herb handed the baseball player-turned-announcer a red brick. With wet mortar and trowel, Dean carefully placed the red brick up high on the east wall facing Yale Avenue. Pictures were taken, autographs were signed and then it was over. The workmen proceeded to add the beige-colored bricks that matched the rest of the building. If you stand across the street from the church and look real closely towards the upper north side of the big stained-glass window, you will not see the red brick.

I suspect the pastor went to sleep pleased with the day’s events. But that very night some displeased church leaders had the red brick removed. The pastor’s comments were not recorded. I think of it as a cautionary tale of a bright idea not completely talked through with those most affected.  Some years before Herb had his double lung transplant in 2000, he and I were cleaning a closet near the back of the sanctuary. There we came upon a mortar-encrusted red brick. We decided this was “The Red Brick.” It has since been kept in the church library. This week we passed the brick on to Andrea and her husband Curt, as the family reminder of the day Dizzy Dean came to church and met Herby Brixey.

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

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Finding Time

I am always looking for time. That is because I am always losing it. Time that is. I think I have plenty of it, only to discover that it has gone, vanished. Turn around and where did it go? Where does time go? One person told me they are living on borrowed time. Another said they had too much time on their hands. Is that where it went, or did they just take the time and not tell me? Where do I get time? Is there a workshop some place near here where I can possibly make up time? 

One day I found the time. I confess. It was just there so I used it. I was waiting somewhere when I realized I had time—time to listen, time to learn, and time to think. It was great. Then came the quarantine pandemic. Time did not stop, but my busy calendared schedule was erased. I planned my short ventures into the outside world to have as little contact with people as possible. There is a downside to being shut in, like feeling lonely all by yourself all the time, or feeling trapped with too many close relatives at hand. I discovered the joy of my backyard. The interruption in the routine gave me the perspective to see the value of time well spent. 

Time is not consistent. When absorbed in a project, book or activity, it speeds on by us. When burdened by conflict, illness or fear, it slows almost to a halt. Some nights I barely close my eyes before the alarm starts ringing. On other nights, I hear every tick of our grandfather clock. Time flies when you are having fun, but it doesn’t when you’re not.   Psalm 90 encourages us “to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” For me this means that I am to use well the time allotted to me today. Time is a gift of grace. Apply it with wisdom.

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

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Our Missionary in Residence Update by Kevin Avery

In the 1990s, I appreciated the song by Twila Paris called Cry for the Desert. But it wasn’t until recent months that I’ve fully grasped Twila’s cry. India has been in dire straits during a second wave of COVID-19. Experts are referring to it as India’s Tsunami Pandemic. Pastors, church members and even whole fellowships have been succumbing to the grips of the virus. 

When churches in Nagpur, India, asked for my help, I was eager to assist in any way I could. For the last few weeks, I have been supporting Indian churches in areas of bereavement and spiritual care. In our first Zoom gathering, I began teaching how we can live out the literal meaning of compassion, “to suffer together.” As God’s people, we want to be an extension of the Lord’s comfort and compassion. In other words, we pray and weep with those who weep. Soon, I will continue with this teaching, helping the churches live out their “Project Compassion.” 

Though we are far away geographically from India, I am brought to tears when I think of the Indian church members extending compassion, literally putting their lives at risk. I promised the pastors we would compassionately pray for them, and this is what we’re doing. On Monday, June 7, we even held a special Zoom conference call to pray for India and Nepal. 

Although in different circumstances, our friends in Tanzania and Pakistan also need help. Throughout Asia and Africa, so many churches, families and orphans are facing economic hardships due to COVID. Starvation is the biggest threat for them. I’m not exactly sure how, but we pray we can be involved in relieving the suffering of many. As Christ has shown us, our good news needs to be interwoven with compassionate care.

In addition to praying for and serving the nations as a “resident missionary,” I am serving as a communications manager in Lausanne’s Disability Concerns. I write newsletters focusing on global disability ministry, and I help edit the “Disability in Mission” blog hosted by Joni and Friends. Also, through Facebook and Zoom, I am able to keep teaching through Tender Creation, the devotional I wrote last year. Likewise, starting this week, I will be teaching youth critical thinking skills so that they won’t be knocked over when confronted by different worldviews. In all these ways of “resident” ministry, I am privileged to serve, pray, and love. Thank you for praying for us. May God uplift you all.

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Dory the Duck

(This is the 20th anniversary of Dory the Duck.)

Over the Memorial Day weekend of 2001, an injured mallard landed in our backyard. We gave her food and water, bought a little swimming pool, and named her Dory. Over time she began to trust us and even our cat, who wanted to be out where all the excitement was taking place. The cat learned to control her instinct to chase the duck. The duck restrained her instinct to attack the cat. Eventually they learned to hunt for crickets together. The cat would catch a cricket and then proceed to play with her prey. The duck could not tolerate a cat playing with her food. She would quickly reach in and gobble up the cricket, always leaving a surprised cat staring into the grass.

The summer of 2001 was a particularly emotional and stressful time for us. We took the arrival of the duck as a sign that God wanted us to find the smile amidst it all. The church was going through the difficult discussions about changing its name from White City to Braden Park. The vote to make the change came in June and some dear friends walked away. Vacation Bible School and Youth Camp were stronger than ever, and in August our youngest daughter Dayna, and her husband Kevin, moved to the mission field in China. In July, Dory began to try to fly again, flying from one side of the yard to the other.  She loved the applause we gave her as we sat on the patio and cheered her on.  One day she flew high enough to land on the other side of the privacy fence only to meet the neighbor’s big barking dog. She flew back in an instant and decided to take a day off from flying lessons.  All that summer we benefitted from the time spent watching Dory’s healing progress.  It was a sweet gift of peace during a difficult time.

One evening she saw a flock of ducks fly over the house. As the holiday weekend approached, she began to circle out over the houses and fields, always coming home for supper. On Labor Day 2001, Dory the Duck took off and never came back. Ours was not really her home. What a special gift we were given from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Eight days later came the attacks of September 11, and a different kind of emotion flooded our world. Then we remembered how God gives us a sign of His love through it all.

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

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Faith Still Stands

Faith still stands in Tulsa’s Greenwood. This weekend marks 100 years since that Memorial Day, and the day after, in 1921 when nearly 11,000 people were burned out of their homes, businesses and churches. Organized mobs of deputized men strategically descended upon the 35 square blocks of the Greenwood area with guns and torches on the night of May 31 and through the morning of June 1. In the horrific aftermath of massive casualties and death, the church people of Greenwood did what all people of faith do—they prayed, ministered to everyone, and helped rebuild their community. Thirteen of the churches founded before that awful day rebuilt and still stand by faith to this day. Some had to relocate to rebuild. This Sunday’s Unity Faith Day is a day to recognize these churches:

Christ Temple CME Church, established 1903

Vernon AME Church, 1905

Mount Zion Baptist Church, 1909

Bethel Seventh Day Adventist Church, 1909

Wesley Chapel Church, 1910

Paradise Baptist Church, 1912

Greater Union Baptist Church, 1916

Metropolitan Baptist Church, 1917

When the mob came to First Baptist Church North (1899), they mistook it for a white church and left it unburned. Other churches surviving the flames were Pine Street Christian Church (1907), Church of the Living God (1913), Morning Star Baptist Church (1916) and The First Church of God in Christ (1920). This Sunday we will stand in faith against the generational sin of racism and bigotry. This Sunday we will stand in faith for unity in reconciliation with God and our neighbors. As Paul reminds us, For Christ’s love compels us because we are convinced that one died for all…Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come. Be sure to read the whole passage, 2 Corinthians 5:14-6:2.

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

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Underestimating the Power of God

I am a big fan of daily devotional guides and Bible studies. These are the bread and butter of daily spiritual growth. I have a habit of reading one or two devotionals each morning. I receive some by way of daily or weekly emails. I change around and use the calendared ones, the writings of popular authors and devotional Bibles. When I am studying a particular book of the Bible, I like to read the devotional comments of people like Herschel Hobbs, who wrote Sunday School material from 1968 to 1993—25 years of quarterly lesson books. Dorothy enjoys the Jesus Calling series by Sarah Young. Last year I came across the Simple Faith Bible: Following Jesus into a Life of Peace, Compassion and Wholeness. Included throughout this Bible are reflections from a Sunday School teacher for over 65 years, former President Jimmy Carter. Today I read the Bible in Life comment based on Matthew 8:23-27 called “Underestimating the Power of God.”

The disciples had their individual reasons for following Jesus. He had called each of them under different circumstances. But faced with a terrifying storm, they were all in the same boat—figuratively and literally! They thought they were going to die, and they felt skeptical as to whether or not Jesus cared enough for them to save them. The disciples had seen other people benefit from the healing ministries of Christ, but up until this point, they had not had that personal, profound, shocking, life-changing experience that the blind man or the leper had. In this storm, the disciples came to see that the all-encompassing power of God through Jesus Christ transcends anything they could possibly fear. They had underestimated Jesus and his power as the Son of God. We need not make the same mistake.

Simple, direct and to the point, Bible-centered devotionals help us set our minds on Jesus and our hearts on the Spirit’s leading. A breath of prayer and the fragrance of gratitude fills the air. You do not even have to search for the perfect devotional source for so many are available. The only real downside is developing a bad habit of reading the devotional while neglecting the actual reading of the Bible. That is like licking the butter off  and casting the bread away. A good practice is to read God’s Word first, pause to reflect, then read what the writer is saying.

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

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Camping in the Everglades

I went camping in the Florida Everglades—once. I was in my teens and part of an active Royal Ambassador church group. You must be a Southern Baptist and of a certain age to remember the RA missions program for boys. It was sort of an alternative to scouting for some of us. The name is taken from 2 Corinthians 5:20 where Paul proclaims we are “ambassadors for Christ” as we go about the mission of reconciliation. We went camping in the Everglades National Park as preparation for a cross-country camping trip we would be taking to Washington D.C. that August to the RA National Congress.

Alligators, snakes, and mosquitoes were all on my mind as we set up our pup tents in a circle around the campfire. We had driven out to a point where our leaders parked their cars and the truck.  We hiked through mucky high grass and through some trees and overgrown bushes. We eventually arrived at a clearing that was very dry and flat.  As the darkness settled in, we crawled into our tents, zipped up our sleeping bags and tried to remember that the Lord was with us. When the sun came up, we all got up. Then we heard our leader tell us to be quiet and get very still. The men were examining the whole camp site. Then the announcement was made, no snakes in sight, but we had been visited in the night by at least one bobcat who had explored our garbage pile and everything else in the camp. I did not know I was supposed to worry about bobcats in the Everglades. After camping in the Everglades, we knew we could face just about anything together. 

The RA Pledge took on new meaning for me during that trip: As a Royal Ambassador, I will do my best: to become a well-informed, responsible follower of Christ; to have a Christ-like concern for all people; to learn how to carry the message of Christ around the world; to work with others in sharing Christ; and to keep myself clean and healthy in mind and body. These are still good words to live by and a reminder of the Kingdom adventure we are on together, representing Christ our King.  

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

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