Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Last prayer focus of the year!

Well, this is the last time I'll be writing to you this year. It's gone fast and has been a wild year. One of the highlights is being able to partner with you each week. Thank you for that.
Here are some prayers I'm praying this week and would ask you to join me.
  • Big trip this week – Unfortunately, Sara lost her grandfather, Harry Holt, on December 26. Our family has decided to all go back to New York this week for the Memorial Service and to be a blessing to our family. We leave tomorrow morning and will cover over 3000 miles in our van in less than a week. I'm asking God that we will be safe, make lasting memories with our boys and that we can be a true blessing to our family in New York. We're also asking God to provide for the financial side of this trip. It's probably going to cost us plenty, but we believe God is our source :).
  • Big prayers I'm praying for 2012 – I'm not quite ready to unveil some of the big prayers I'm praying for 2012, but I will soon. Can you just ask God to increase your faith to join me in those prayers as I share them with you.
Thank you, again, for your partnership in prayer this year. I hope we'll have another great year of partnership together in 2012.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Do You Keep Track of God's Blessings?

This year was tough.  I went most of the year without a regular salary from the church.  I worked a secular job for 5 months to supplement our loss of income.  Our church made a move to a permanent facility.  It cost us a bunch to move and then our attendance and giving promptly took a dive.  That all sounds bad, but did you know that God is faithful?

Do you keep track of God's blessings in your life?  You should.  I do.  I just totaled up the numerical blessings God brought to my family and my church this year (so far).  We do have 9 days left in the year.  Get ready for this.  You might want to sit down.  I'm almost in shock because I had no idea God had been this good to me this year.  (And I'm sure I probably missed some too)

Oh, and let me say that both my family and my church are faithful tithers.  We both also give liberally above the 10% tithe.

God blessed my personal family with $17,066 in cash and gifts that saved us from spending our own cash.  God blessed our church with 33,050 in cash and gifts that came from outside our own church!

All year, neither the church nor my family had a solid plan of how to make the budget work.  Never once did we even consider holding back tithes.  Neither should you.  You can't afford to tithe?  I say you can't afford not to.  It's only a cliche' because it's so true.

I will be spending the remainder of the morning writing thank you notes.  May this stick in your head and in your heart and mess you up today :)

I blogged it because it's too long to tweet . . . A psalm of thanksgiving

Psalm 100

A psalm of thanksgiving.

1 Shout with joy to the LORD, all the earth!2 Worship the LORD with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
3 Acknowledge that the LORD is God!
He made us, and we are his.t
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving;
go into his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Plans @ Freedom Valley

Just wanted to share with you what's going on and what's NOT going on this week at Freedom Valley.  
  • I want to make sure all of you realize that Freedom Valley will not be holding services on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.  Our next service will be Sunday, January 1 @ 11am.  If you're looking for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day services, I would encourage you to worship with Connection Church who is very close by.
  • Since we will not be holding services, I want to make sure those of you who are regular tithers and givers have the opportunity to keep up with your giving.  You can give securely, anytime, right here.  I deeply appreciate those of you who are funding the vision God has give us at Freedom Valley.  
  • Update on our Christmas Offering.  Thanks to your generosity, we received nearly $800 on Sunday to give away.  Ok, it was $790, but we just made it an even $800.  This week, we are giving $400 to CrossCulture Church, a new church in Owasso who will be opening January 29.  The other $400 is going to a local family in need. That single mom could hardly believe it when I told her about it.  She went on to tell me she just lost her job this week!   It's so cool to be able to be a blessing to people when they need it most.  THANK YOU to all of you who gave so generously in that offering last week.  
I am praying today that everyone who reads this will have a very blessed, peaceful and restful Christmas.  I'll miss you this weekend, but will see you January 1.

Some Prayers To Pray

I can't even begin to explain how much God is changing my view of Him.  And when my view of Him increases, my problems seem to decrease.  That's good stuff.

Here are some areas you could join me in prayer this week:
  • The best family Christmas ever - This is the first Christmas in three years that I will get to spend with my parents and they will spend with us and the grandkids.  I'm asking God to make this Christmas weekend the most enjoyable, restful and special one anyone in our family has ever had.
  • Rest for our leadership team - Much of our church leadership team is on the road visiting family over the Christmas season.  I'm asking God for His blessing of safety and security on them.  We've virtually closed our church for two weeks just so our team can get some rest and I'm asking God to give them a deeper rest than they even thought possible.  I know many of you are on our leadership team, so go a head and pray for yourself :)
  • Ever-increasing faith - Like I said before, I'm becoming just a little bit aware of how incredible God is.  I am asking God to continually increase my faith.  The time has come for me to believe bigger and pray bigger than ever before and my faith is rising like I've never felt.  Bring it on, God.  I hope to share some specifics on this with you next week.

Love you guys.  Have a very Merry Christmas!  

How can I pray for you?  I really would love to.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Christmas Offering Can Change a Family!

Last year we collected about $1800 in our Christmas offering at Freedom Valley.  I hope, and am praying, we can collect even more this year.  But let me tell you about how that $1800 impacted one family last year.

The week before Christmas, I sat in the living room of this small apartment and told these complete strangers (the school guidance counselor had given me their name and said they were in need) that our church wanted to (1) pay their rent (2) pay their electric bill (3) pay their car insurance and (4) leave them with a $300 gift card to Wal-Mart to give their kids (3rd & 4th grade) a great Christmas.

Not bad, considering that prior to that visit they had no idea how they were going to pay their rent, electric bill or car insurance.  They had also decided they could not do Christmas gifts for their kids and it broke their hearts.  On top of that, they began coming to our church.  They ended up deciding it was not quite their style, but they have gotten plugged in at another church that is.

I'll never forget standing in the parking lot of the 68th & Memorial Wal-Mart with this guy as he hugged me and said, "I've never quite met anyone like you before."  Wow. This should not be the exception for the church.  This should be the norm.  Still think you really need to buy yourself another gift this Christmas?  

We will be receiving our Christmas offering this Sunday at Freedom Valley.  I hope you'll really give something significant this year.  Because you can be a significant difference maker.  If you can't make it to church this Sunday, for some reason, you can give online right here or mail a check to: (mark it "Christmas Offering")  By the way, 100% of this offering goes to needs outside of our church.

Freedom Valley Church
12330 E. 60th St. South
Suite E.
Tulsa, OK  74146

Have a Merry Christmas.  This is what the season is all about.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A story, a wedding and helping those in need - this Sunday @ Freedom Valley

As many of you know, I took an unscheduled break during the second half of November and the first half of December.  And this Sunday I will be sharing the full story of what happened with me over that time.  I think the journey I was on could be life-changing for you YOU.  I hope you can be here this weekend.  If that's not enough of a reason, how about this other great stuff happening this Sunday at Freedom Valley.
  • Wedding Bells - David Reddoch and Lillian Carey will be getting married immediately after our service on Sunday and they would love for you and your family to join them in celebrating their big day.
  • Christmas Offering - This Sunday is our designated day to receive our Christmas offering. This is an offering separate from regular tithes and we give 100% of it away. What if you really decided to spend less on Christmas this year and gave that money to someone who needed it a whole lot more than you?  This year, our Christmas offering will be split evenly between a needy family we know through Jefferson Elementary and Cross Culture Church, a new church that is opening January 29 in Owasso.
Looking forward to seeing you at church and the wedding!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Prayers driven by BIG faith

Thank you, again, for your faithful prayer and friendship!  I feel like I'm growing in faith and strength by the day.  I came through a really withering attack here and I know for sure that it was a Holy Spirit breakthrough that saved me from just caving in.  I'm not only excited, but optimistic about the future for me, my family and my church.

Some areas I'm praying this week:
  • Another pastor in the same spot - I have a friend who pastors another church here in town and he's away on a similar sabbatical as I just was.  I know he's feeling really tired and discouraged.  I'm asking the Holy Spirt to give him the same, soul-level, breakthrough that He gave me.
  • Financial breakthrough - I've prayed for this before, but this time I'm not praying from a posture of fear or desperation, I'm praying from a place of faith.  If God owns all the stuff in this world - and He does - it's not much for Him to dramatically increase the income of our church.  I'm asking Him to double our regular income in the next 30 days.  Like Jonathan said to his armor bearer in 1 Samuel 14:6 “Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few!”
  • Continuation of the growth on our team - The last month has been a big stress and a very growing time for our leadership team.  I'm asking God to continue to bind our team together and grow our team.
  • God's power to be at work in and through our church - Our church is good.  We have good music, good preaching, good kids ministries . . . just about everything is good.  I'm asking God's Spirit to move in big ways in and through our church.  I'm asking God to do what we can't do . . . make our church great.
  • My father-in-law - Barry, my father-in-law lost his wife some years back and the holidays are especially tough for him.  I know he's really struggling right now and my heart is breaking for him.  He's one of the most wonderful, godly men I know.  I'm asking God to lift him up above all the junk he's feeling weighed down with now.  
Thanks so much for your prayers.  I'd love to pray with you this week.  Let me know what's going on.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Cookie & Coffee Party

Yes, this is the actual coffee I plan
to brew.  Mmmm.

Hey, we're hosting a Christmas Party at our place tomorrow night!  I hope you can drop by and hang out a little.  I'd love to celebrate with you.  You can see all the info here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What a difference a week (and prayer) makes

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your prayers lately.  In the last month, I have come through the most discouraging and darkest time I've ever had, personally, in my life.  That's the bad news.  The good news is that Romans 8:28 is true and even this incredibly painful time is working for good in my life, my family's life and the life of our church.  Simply put, I no longer have expectations concerning our church.  Yes, I still have vision.  I still have hopes.  But I no longer expect God to do certain things on a certain timetable.  And I certainly no longer have illusions that I can get anything done.  I'm part of His plan and excited to see Him do what He wants to do.  I'm just in love with Jesus and, for the first time in years, feel no pressure to deliver or perform.  I believe that your prayers have a huge hand in helping me get to this place today.  Thank you.

Some areas I'm praying about this week:
  • Families in New Oxford - Five high school students were killed in a car wreck in New Oxford, PA yesterday.  You can see the news story here.  I'm praying for those families this morning and would ask you to join me.
  • God's power to come into our church - As I alluded to above, short of God's power working in our church, we're just having meetings.  I'm seeking God and asking - even begging - for His power to show up and change people's lives in and through Freedom Valley Church.
  • To love my family even more - My new found focus has me loving my family even more than ever.  I'm asking God to help me love them in really practical and special ways right now.
Thanks again.  I love you guys so much.  Can't wait to see you at at church this weekend!