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Promises: Delivered

Promises: Delivered

by Lane Moss
MOVE Program Director
Christ In Youth
Joplin, MO

“I trust you!”, he yelled over his shoulder.

I had only known our new youth pastor for about two months, but that wasn’t stopping him from literally putting his physical safety in the interlocked hands of eight nervous teenagers.

“I trust you!”, he yelled again.

And I remember standing there on that gravel parking lot sweating under the Oklahoma June sun thinking to myself… “I’m not sure we’ve earned”. Our youth pastor then crossed his arms over his chest and fell, backward, off of the 7-foot wooden railing of the canteen. And that not-yet-earned, but still freely-given trust? Turns out it was a tad misplaced. We dropped him. We barely broke his fall. Well, except for his feet. Those we caught… I thought we had killed him. But instead he caught his breath, got to his feet and said, “It’s ok. I trust you.” and he climbed back up onto the railing for round two, then round three, then four…

Trust is powerful. It moves relationships beyond acquaintance and into something much deeper and more meaningful. It creates bonds, forges alliances and strengthens love. But trust is powerful because it is, at times, so difficult. It means being vulnerable and putting yourself in situations that seem out of your control. And if we’re honest, we would say that, like us, our trust can be a little fickle at times.

That was certainly true of Abraham. Here was a guy who, at age 99, was told by God that his 90-year-old wife was going to bear him a son (Gen 12; 17), and through that son he would be the father of nations and whole world would be blessed. And you thought trust-falling onto a bunch of sweaty high schoolers seemed crazy. And yet, Abraham trusted God’s promise to him. Following God’s instruction, He picks up and leaves his home and his people trusting in God’s ability to deliver on His promise. It’s a powerful example of trust.

And yet just a short time later, as Abraham and his beautiful wife, Sarah, entered Egypt (Gen 12; 20), he becomes afraid that the Egyptians will kill him for his wife. So instead of trusting God, he lies claiming that she is only his sister and allowing Pharaoh to have her. Why would he do this? God has just told him his future plans for him and his family, and Abraham believed him. So why now does Abraham try to take things into his own hands?

The reality is that we all do this. We hear God’s macro promises: That he loves us, that he’ll never leave or forsake us. And we say we trust him. But then when things get into the micro; things like relationships, generosity, career, we suddenly we find ourselves wanting to take control. Not trusting that God can deliver on his promises.

Trust is funny. Relationships are built on it. Depend on it. As trust goes, so does the relationship. All of us have had, at one point or another, our trust broken by someone. As for our youth pastor, we never caught him that day. We dropped him over and over. We couldn’t deliver. But God has never failed to deliver on a promise. He is good, His promises stand, and placing our trust in Him is the greatest decision we could ever make. And you can be assured he’ll deliver on it. Every. Single. Time.

If God has delivered on a promise for you, comment with a one word hashtag like #finances or #marriage or just simply #promisesdelivered.

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Noah, The Superhero

Noah, The Superhero

By James McCracken Lead Pastor
Boulevard Christian Church
Muskogee, OK

We love our super heroes! Superman, Batman, Iron Man, the Tin Man (Oops he didn’t make it out of Oz!). Marvel comic books have spawned a billion dollar movie industry. When kids dress up for their annual foray to ask for candy, most of them will be dressed up as one of the recent Superheroes.
The Plot is normally the same. Earth is about to be destroyed by some force, often that force is so powerful no one seems to have the ability to stop the destruction. The populace cries out for a Deliverer! Who will deliver us from this destruction?

But before there was the Black Panther, Thor or Superman there is a chapter in the Bible that lists a group of people who were Superheroes. They all had one great characteristic. Their names are listed in Hebrews 11 and as each one is introduced these 2 words are used: BY FAITH.
Noah was one of those superheroes. He may have seemed kind of Clark Kentish to those who lived around him. From all accounts people mocked him, called him a fool or insane; but Noah turned out to be the only sane man around. He lived in a day in which man is graphically described as wicked and every intent of the thoughts of men’s heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5). A day when the earth was corrupt and filled with violence (Genesis 6:11–12). It is the essence of sanity to take what God says seriously, and it is the insanity of sin that leads us to reject the Word of God.

There was a contrast between Noah and the rest of his generation. While everyone else around him sought and thought evil, Noah sought a relationship with God. In a time where destruction of others was continual, Noah lived a life of trustful obedience to God. Because of that steadfast faith, Noah became a deliverer.
Hebrews 11:7 says: By faith Noah, when he was warned about the things not yet seen, with reverent regard constructed an ark for the deliverance of his family. Certainly a time when there were many people hoping for and desiring deliverance.
T

he writer of Hebrews defines faith as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Faith, in this context, is a settled confidence of something as yet unseen but promised by God. Without faith in the promises of God, it is impossible to please Him. (Hebrews 11:6).

Noah is a landmark figure in the history of redemption because he was a living example of the just living by faith. The evidence of Noah’s faith is seen in his trusting God, believing in His word, and acting in obedience to God’s command to build the Ark. Noah’s story also demonstrates both judgment and salvation. God is a God of righteous judgment who must punish sin, but most wonderfully He is a God who delivers escape from His judgment. He did this for Noah by way of the Ark. Today, however, Jesus Christ is God’s way of escape from His judgment; He is the ark of our salvation, the door by which mankind must enter in to be saved.

The Flood is a horrifying account of judgment but also one of amazing deliverance. My life will be characterized by either one of these. Either I will trust Jesus as My Deliverer, or I will face the judgment of God for my sin.

 

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Sinfulness of Sin

Sinfulness of Sin

by Leroy Thompson
Interim VP of Academic Affairs
Bacone College
Muskogee, OK

In 1994, innovative film maker Quinton Tarantino produced “Pulp Fiction,” a gritty neo-noir work that highlights a chilling scene in which Bruce Willis talks to his cab driver about the sensation of killing a man.  The scene is shot in a combination of stark black and white and color that is down-right frightening.  The scene is a journey into the mind of a murderer and moviegoers find it disturbing and hard to even watch. The scene is a startling reminder of the reality of evil; that there is a very dark side of human nature that lurks under the surface of ‘proper behavior.’  

In the “My Deliverer” production there is a ‘sin scene’ that depicts what was going on among people in the days before the flood of Noah.  While it is set in the time of Noah, it is disturbingly familiar: murder, human trafficking, robbery, partying, and lust are a few of scenes depicted.  It looks like a recent MSNBC podcast.  In fact, the scene is so realistic that some of the actors have a hard time performing it.  Part of what makes the scene so unsettling to cast and audience alike is that we know it is true and we know it is really part of us.   

Sin is not a popular word today.  We try to explain our actions with phrases like “I messed up” or “I need to clean up my act” or “I just didn’t make good choices.”  In the early 70’s Karl Menninger, co-founder of the famous Menninger Clinic wrote a classic work entitled, What Ever Became of Sin?  It is an intriguing book coming from an MD who recognized that nearly ½ of the people who came to his famous clinic were there due to illnesses that were the result of unresolved guilt.  Charles Spurgeon, sometimes called the “Prince of Preachers” wrote, “We really do not understand the sinfulness of sin.”  

In His Sermon on the Mount our Lord Jesus said, “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.”   In this paradoxical verse, Jesus teaches that the first step towards discipleship is to see and mourn over our sin.  Through song, drama, and dance “My Deliverer proclaims that there is a solution to our sin problem.   But it also declares that first we must recognize that we have a problem from which we need to be delivered.  The solution is Jesus Christ Who is “My Deliverer.”

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Cain and Abel; Brotherly love

Cain and Abel;
Brotherly Love?

by Sy Huffer
Lead Pastor, College Heights Christian Church
Joplin, MO

“I need to be delivered from my brother.”

 

These are words I have never had to say, because I don’t have any brothers. Three sisters. Yep. That’s been my life. I grew up with three sisters and I now have two daughters.

 

Women, all around me.

 

Yet I don’t think that is the point of the first murder in the Bible: “21 Tips on How to Handle Conflict Between Brothers.”

 

When Cain kills Abel, we don’t sit around and talk about how to apply Godly conflict resolution when Bert doesn’t share with Ernie.

 

No.

 

What we see in the pages immediately following Adam and Eve getting kicked out of the garden, what we see in the chapters fleshing out the curse on creation, what we see when we read the paragraphs flowing out of sin entering the world is this: sin destroys everything.

 

It destroys our relationship with God.

 

It destroys our relationship with Creation.

 

It destroys our relationship with ourselves.

 

And it destroys the most intimate relationships we have with others: with our coworkers; with our friends; with our family; and even with our brothers.

 

What we see in the first CSI episode in history is this: sin destroys.

 

When Cain kills Abel, we learn the basic truth that sin destroys.

 

When Jacob steals the blessing from Esau, we learn that sin destroys.

 

When I throw a race car at my sister’s face when we are 7 and 9, we learn that sin destroys.

 

We need to be delivered from this sin that destroys even the closest relationship between brothers and sisters.

 

We need to be delivered from this horrible thing called sin. And right now, everyone of you reading this has a name that has popped into your head of a relationship that has been destroyed because of sin.

 

Who is that?

 

Maybe make a comment and just put Amen, or Yes, or their name if you are really bold, or their initials, or their relationship to you. Maybe you just need to ask for prayer to be delivered from this broken relationship.

 

But the Gospel of Jesus is this: his death and resurrection paves the way for everyway that sin destroys our relationships, his grace restores them even more.

 

Today, I can say, “I need to be delivered from my sin,” and the good news is that I have a deliverer who can do that.

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Adam and Eve; The First True Love

Adam and Eve;
The First True Love

by Leroy Thompson
Interim VP of Academic Affairs
Bacone College
Muskogee, OK

“When God made you, He must have been thinking about me.”  So says one of the first songs of “My Deliverer” as it provides the musical background for the opening ballet of the program.  Through dance, the ballet captures the intimate and innocent relationship between Adam and Eve.  It reminds us that everybody loves love.  Poets write about it, artists try to capture it, and singers never tire of putting it to music.  But after all these centuries of celebrating love no one can really explain it.  I remember years ago when I was first starting to think about relationships, I asked an older guy the question that goes through everyone’s mind at some point their lives, “How will I know if I’m in love?” The answer was  a classic, “Don’t worry, brother.  You’ll know!”  The answer wasn’t particularly helpful.  However, when I fell in love, I discovered that he was right.  You just know when you are loved.  No one has to tell you that you are loved, you just know it. People in love do things that don’t make sense to anyone else.  In fact, that’s one of the ways we identify people in love.  We watch people in love and muse to each other, “Must be love.” We laugh and joke about it but we know it’s true because we probably did things out of love that didn’t make sense to anyone else.  

Adam and Eve were in love but “My Deliverer” goes on to depict what happened to that innocence.   In the midst of this beautiful, romantic scene, Guns and Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle” is danced out by demons who plague the happy couple and eventually drive them out to wander east of Eden, never to find that innocence again—except in the love of God. That really is the message of “My Deliverer.”   The innocence that was lost so long ago, caused conflict between Adam from Eve, created ecological disaster and cut people off from God is restored by the One who is “My Deliverer.”  His name is Jesus.  Out of His love for us, God did something that didn’t make any sense:   He gave His Son to die for people like me.  If you’ve ever wondered, “How can I know God loves me?” look at Jesus, then, as my old mentor said, “Don’t worry, you’ll know!” Then you will be able to say, “My Deliverer!”

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Jesus in Creation

Jesus in Creation

by Zoe Huffer
Senior, Oklahoma State University
10/5/2018

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…” (Genesis 1:1)

The first words of the Bible tells us how the world was made. It tells us the time, the beginning. It tells us what, the heavens and the earth. And it tells us who, God. God was there in the beginning. He was there before anyone else. But God wasn’t alone…

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1:1-2)

The first words in the book of John tell us who else was there, Jesus. Jesus was with God. Jesus is an extension of God. Jesus was the Word of God. This concept, “the Word of God,” can be hard to grasp sometimes, but that is why we have scripture! Scripture interprets scripture. While reading God’s word, he speaks to us and reveals things that will help us understand him more. God gives us these revelations through his Word. The Word being scripture AND Christ. Not just one or the other, you have to have both. Jesus gave us something that we couldn’t get through the law: grace and truth. Look at verse 14.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

God knows that we need grace and truth. The law wasn’t cutting it! The law was there to show us how much we needed a Savior to guide us. Jesus is grace and truth. He loves us in our worst and corrects our mistakes. So, God created the world knowing that we needed Jesus. Jesus became flesh so that we could see the power of our Father in heaven. It says in Hebrews 1:2,

“[God] has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”

God knew we needed a Deliverer from the beginning!

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

This was written years before the Messiah was born. This author knew how important Jesus was to the glory of God and his role in the creation of the universe. Hebrews 1:3 states,

“He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

Jesus was there in the beginning and in the end. He made a way for us to become children of God. Then He returned to the right hand of the Majesty on high, but only after sacrificing his life and making a way to live in eternity with him.

When we believe in this truth; that Jesus was with God in the beginning, chose to come and live life with us, and then at the end sacrificed his life for our sins, we have the opportunity to call him our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, and our Deliverer. He is the Deliverer of all people, then and now. He is My Deliverer.

Question:

How does understanding that Jesus was there at the beginning of creation change your view of the creation story? Or does it?

Do you see Jesus as your deliverer in everyday life? Why or why not?

(Comment some of your Answers!)

Memorize:

John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

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My Parents are Crazy!!

My Parents are Crazy

by Ali Carlton

9/28/2018

My parent’s are crazy

I hear about wild, unbelievable success stories all the time, we all do. We all wish we would have the gumption to go out out on a limb and create something or have our talent or hard work noticed. We have a desire to do something that makes a difference.

But what do you do when the opportunity presents itself? Is it an easy first step? Do you realize this is your golden opportunity? I don’t think we do, I know I don’t. Most of us want to play it safe. It’s hard to step out in faith and follow that crazy idea or do the extra work to go above the daily grind. I’ll be the first one to admit I get content in my daily bubble. 

When my parents said they wanted to take this show, this idea that I know in the deepest parts of my heart was God given, to a bigger stage to reach more people, I thought yea that would be awesome but I’m not sure I ever believed they would actually do it. Then when they said now is the time I panicked on the inside. The time? The money? The details? It’s too big. This is crazy talk! I never verbalized my hesitation because no one wants to be a dream squelcher. But then God started doing amazing things and it started with changing my heart. He said to me, you need to be all in. So I said ok.

Now don’t get me wrong, God would have kept moving whether I was on board or not. Now that I have jumped on board I have seen so many amazing things and have heard some amazing stories. God is moving, people! I believe with all my heart that he is looking down at my parents and saying, “My good and faithful servants!” And that is a mission, THAT is a crazy idea I want to get behind and be a part of! 

Here is the deal though, we can’t do it alone. It’s too big, it’s too important. We need you to jump on board. 

We need you to pray. 

We need you to commit to coming and supporting the show. 

We need donations. (Asking for money is scary! But it is necessary) 

Everyone can do at least 2 of those three things. Please jump on this wild ride with us!