I have quite an array of topics this week. Thanks for taking the time to read. If you have been reading regularly, and I’ve never heard from you, let me know. I am always encouraged when people tell me they have read DHD.

  1. Thunder in Orlando

It looks like it’s going to happen. The NBA schedule reset looks to be on schedule. The Thunder will play its first game Aug. 1 against Utah.

To be honest, I feel somewhat neutral about it. I’m hoping I will feel differently when the games start, but since the pandemic began, I have found myself focusing on other things than sports. I’m sure if the Thunder are successful in this reset that will definitely give me a boost.

And there is reported “confidence” about the Thunder approaching the schedule reset in Orlando.

“I think Oklahoma City thinks Oklahoma City is a lurking, dangerous team,” said Royce Young, Thunder beat reporter for ESPN. “There’s a lot of confidence. I don’t think that they’re putting themselves on a pedestal with like the Lakers or Clippers, but I think that when they look at some of those other teams around them that they feel like that they’re going to Orlando with kind of a clean slate and feel pretty good about themselves.”

Young’s comments reflect how I felt about the Thunder before the schedule pause in March. Other than Lakers, Clippers and Bucks, I thought the Thunder was capable to beat the rest of the league. That says a lot for a team that is experiencing a rebuild this season.

Also, for major Thunder fans, you might be interested in reading this blog entry “First Day in the Bubble.”

  1. Thankful for the rain

It’s Friday afternoon, as I’m keying in this DHD. We experienced a rather unexpected thunderstorm this morning. It’s not every July in Oklahoma that we get a thunderstorm like this one.

But it was a pleasant surprise. Rain is always welcome in the middle of the summer. It made me think of how God does look out for us, especially in the unexpected moments.

I’m finishing a study with the book “Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts” by Jerry Bridges. Chapter six is titled “God’s Power Over Nature,” and there’s a section in the chapter under the subhead “God Controls The Weather.”

Bridges wrote, “A Christian TV meteorologist has determined that there are over 1,400 references to weather terminology in the Bible. Many of these references attribute the outworking of weather directly to the hand of God. Most of these passages speak of God’s control over all weather, not just His divine intervention on specific occasions.”

Bridges then features the following Scripture passages: Job 37:3, 6, 10-13; Psalm 147:8, 16-18; Jer. 10:13; and Amos 4:7.

He points out how all these Scriptures attribute all expressions of weather—good or bad—to the direct controlling hand of God.

So yes, even though it was forecasted to be a 20 percent chance of rain today, God is more powerful than chance. Thank you, Lord, for all your provisions!

  1. Stetzer on churches in pandemic

Ed Stetzer responded to the New York Times reporting on churches being “a major source of Coronavirus cases.”

Stetzer is fair-minded whenever he offers commentary, and he gives the Times a fair shake, maybe more than I would. Check out his article “Churches, Coronavirus and the New York Times.”

It can be easy to conclude the mainstream media is rather harsh when it comes to church gatherings across the country. The media is always coupled with liberal politicians on being overbearing on religious entities.

Hershael York, a Kentucky pastor, was invited to speak before a state congressional committee about the “treatment of churches” by the government.

“We’ve not been belligerent in any way,” York said about churches responding to the COVID-19 breakout. “But when we were allowed to go back, for instance, we were told we could only have one person in a bathroom at a time and then the bathroom had to be cleaned after each use. Well, my question was, why wasn’t Walmart told that?”

Stetzer’s explanation is even more thorough when responding to the Times article.

“Churches have been remarkable partners in the fight against the coronavirus,” he wrote, “with the vast majority closing their gatherings all around the country. Yes, there have been a few outliers, but their paucity demonstrates the cooperation of churches with officials throughout this pandemic.

“Churches have overwhelmingly been partners with health authorities and have carefully taken each small step.”

That’s just a snippet of Stetzer’s callout to the Times. It’s a great read.

  1. Stetzer part 2

My second Stetzer segment is on another article he wrote this week, “Time for a New Normal.”

This is an edification piece he wrote directly to churches. Stetzer’s voice of reason was great in preparing churches for the beginning of the pandemic. Now he is challenging church leaders to glean from what the pandemic has taught us.

He’s encouraging churches to not go back completely to how they functioned before the pandemic. Instead, he encourages more involvement of church members.

“Wouldn’t it be amazing if we didn’t go back to consumer-driven Christianity where people line up like customers outside of Costco?” Stetzer asked. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t come in like consumers of religious goods and services but instead continued to see ourselves as the co-laborers in the Gospel?”

  1. Meeting with OBU president

I had the privilege of talking with new OBU President Heath Thomas. I hosted an edition of the Messenger Insight podcast, interviewing Thomas and asking him about what is happening on Bison Hill. If you don’t want to watch the podcast, my article summarized our visit. You can read it here.

Or check out the podcast below

  1. Sneak preview of upcoming Messenger feature

I’m exciting about an article we will feature (possibly cover) in the July 23 print edition of the Baptist Messenger. The Messenger got a lead about an interesting work happening in the Oklahoma panhandle.

There’s a meat packing industry in Guymon that draws many immigrant workers. We found out that Guymon High School has 37 different languages represented among its students. This leads to a fantastic evangelistic opportunity especially with international missionaries who are stranded in the United States due to the pandemic restrictions.

I won’t give away the story, but it is an exciting situation that involves Oklahoma Baptists advancing the Gospel to international groups through the panhandle.