Baptist Messenger of Oklahoma https://www.baptistmessenger.com A Ministry of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma Mon, 19 Oct 2020 20:31:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.2 FIRST-PERSON: America is in crisis: What do we do? https://www.baptistmessenger.com/first-person-america-is-in-crisis-what-do-we-do/ https://www.baptistmessenger.com/first-person-america-is-in-crisis-what-do-we-do/#respond Mon, 19 Oct 2020 20:31:13 +0000 https://www.baptistmessenger.com/?p=37954 NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)—The original goal of the secularization of America was to see religion become nonexistent in our nation. This has not happened. However, religion has been neutralized to such a point that often it is silenced. It is evident there are leaders at every level of government across American life who no longer believe or even categorize religion as essential.

That is why we are seeing a decline in and even a resistance to religious and spiritual influence in America. I believe the world is witnessing this struggle of mindsets and worldviews in American life over the potential confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court.

Many in America would deny and even defy what we believe about the authority, infallibility, inerrancy and sufficiency of the Holy Scripture. That is why many believe truth does not come from the Bible, but truth is doing whatever is right in their own eyes. This is why America is in a major crisis, perhaps the greatest crisis in our generation.

Wars between worldviews and mindsets are real. Spiritual warfare is illustrated before us daily. Therefore, those of us who follow Christ wrestle with how we should respond in this present crisis. What should we do?

There were people in the first century who believed human knowledge was above the Holy Scripture. They also did not believe Jesus was the Son of God. That is why the apostle Paul lifted up the deity of Jesus Christ. Paul gave his life calling people to Jesus because he believed Jesus was the Son of God and He died in our place for our sin.

Through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, any person at any time can experience and receive forgiveness of all their sins and the promise of eternal life.

Jesus is the answer, whatever your question may be.

Therefore, what should we do about current crises? I believe we do what the Scriptures teach us to do in Colossians 4:2-6.

  1. Seek the Lord

We do not need to pray like we are living on another planet, unaware of all that is occurring. America is in a crisis.

We need to prevail, persist and persevere in prayer for America. We do not need to give up on our nation. We need to pray our nation through this present crisis.

We must also be on the alert, actively watching what is happening as we pray for America. Effective prayer gazes toward God, and periodically glances around at our circumstances in life.

Yet as we pray, we are encouraged to do so with a thankful heart, walking in the joy of the Lord, and choosing to delight in Him always. Why?

Whatever your question may be, Jesus is still the answer.

Christians should be praying for our nation. Are you? Is your family?

Is your church prevailing in prayer for America right now? Or does your church believe praying for America is political?

Churches must return to God, return to prayer and return to fasting. Prayerlessness should never occur in a church.

God’s people need to learn from the actions of King Jehoshaphat when surrounded by his enemies and all hope appeared to be gone. He cried out to God in prayer, “We do not know what to do, but we look to You” (2 Chron. 20:12).

While we are seeking the Lord, we also need to:

  1. Reach the Lost

When we pray, we will have a burden to reach people for Jesus Christ.

We need doors to open, so we can proclaim and share the Gospel with every person in the world. Millions of Americans are lost and in need of Jesus. That is why we pray, we preach, we share, we send and we go.

Every individual and church needs to seek the Lord, asking Him to lead us to a strategic vision for how we can reach every person in our towns or in our cities for Jesus Christ.

While we are seeking the Lord and reaching the lost, we also need to:

  1. Impact the Culture

We only impact culture one person at a time. When Christ changes a life, He also creates a new attitude that leads to a new direction.

Therefore, in this opportune moment in American history, we must answer the need. That is why we must always speak truth in a wise way and with a loving heart. In other words, the way we communicate truth can open the door for others to hear us.

Our goal should not be to win an argument or have the final word in a conversation. Our number one goal is to reach others for Jesus Christ, not simply to change their minds.

In this national crisis, what should we do?

We need to seek the Lord, reach the lost, and impact the culture.

Is this possible? I believe it is.

God is able to do anything, at any time, with anyone, anywhere.

God can do more in a moment than I can do in a lifetime.

Now is the time to lead.

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How to bring joy to your pastor https://www.baptistmessenger.com/how-to-bring-joy-to-your-pastor/ https://www.baptistmessenger.com/how-to-bring-joy-to-your-pastor/#respond Mon, 19 Oct 2020 18:41:44 +0000 https://www.baptistmessenger.com/?p=37948 Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you” (Heb. 13:17).

A pastor’s work is never finished. When he goes to bed Sunday evening, the last thoughts on his mind are the things that he will need to attend to the following week. Even on his days off, the pastor is never off. A simple trip to the hardware store usually leads to a ministry encounter or two.

October has become the month that many congregations say thank you to their pastors for the hard work and dedication they show their churches throughout the year. Does your church have anything planned for your pastor this year?

Looking closely at the passage in Heb. 13:17 which reads, “Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden…” leads me to offer a few suggestions to help church members support their pastors.

First, pray for your pastor, and let him know that you are praying for him. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the past nine months have been incredibly challenging for most pastors. They had to find new ways to comfort their congregations and learn new technologies to bring people together to worship.

Some churches had to suspend services, while others have been meeting virtually. For those that opened, worship services have had limited attendance. Pastors’ hearts have been heavy as they see their churches affected by the pandemic.

One pastor literally wept as he related the story of not being able to visit a church member at the hospital who was critically ill. To help your pastors experience joy in his work, let him know that you are praying for him.

Second, consider blessing the pastor and his family by providing them a celebratory dinner. Your church may decide to have a potluck or catered dinner brought to the pastor’s home. This is a great way for the pastor and his family to enjoy good food and feel appreciated at the same time.

When the pandemic is over, invite the pastor and his family over for dinner or take them to a restaurant. You might give him a gift card to his favorite place to eat and let him go at his leisure.

Third (this is my favorite), appreciate them all year long! October is a great time to show appreciation because it has been designated on the calendar. However, to really cause your pastor to feel immense joy in his work, have the church put together a plan to show their appreciation for him throughout the year. After all, showing support and love to your pastor every day is the best gift of all. As the verse says, “Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden . . .”

Do you know what happens when you show appreciation to your pastor? Your pastor will become a greater blessing to you. Heb. 13:17 implies that if we bring joy to a pastor then we will benefit from his ministry. Over the years, I have noticed that congregations who bless their pastor with encouragement and love are immensely blessed by the work of their pastor.

Perhaps it is God stirring the heart of the pastor, or perhaps the congregation’s heart is better prepared to receive the Word from their pastor. Maybe it’s both, but either way, time and time again, I have seen an enriched relationship between the church and the pastor when appreciation is demonstrated. Unquestionably, the way to be personally blessed is to love and encourage your pastor.

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Oklahoma-native David Manner named new state executive director for Kansas-Nebraska https://www.baptistmessenger.com/oklahoma-native-david-manner-named-new-state-executive-director-for-kansas-nebraska/ https://www.baptistmessenger.com/oklahoma-native-david-manner-named-new-state-executive-director-for-kansas-nebraska/#respond Sun, 18 Oct 2020 18:51:18 +0000 https://www.baptistmessenger.com/?p=37945 Oklahoma-native David Manner named new state executive director for Kansas-Nebraska - Baptist Messenger of Oklahoma

David Manner, center, was elected as the fifth executive director of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists. He will succeed Bob Mills, right. Mills joined the KNCSB staff in 1998 and became executive director on Jan. 1, 2010. He will retire Feb. 28, 2021. With them is R. Rex “Peck” Lindsay who served as KNCSB executive director from 1977 to Dec. 31, 2009. Photo by Eva Wilson.

SALINA, Kan. (BP) — David Manner, a 20-year veteran of Southern Baptist work in Kansas-Nebraska was named the new state executive director for the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists (KNCSB) Oct. 16.

He was elected to the post by the KNCSB Mission Board during its meeting held at CrossPoint Church due to the cancellation of the state annual meeting. Manner will assume the role March 1, 2021, and will succeed Bob Mills who announced his retirement in earlier this year.

Manner joined the KNCSB as its director of worship and administration in 2000 and moved into the role of associate state executive director in 2012. Prior to his time at the state convention office, he served on church staffs for more than 20 years including 13 years at Derby, Kan., Pleasantview, as director of worship and administration.

Manner said in an interview that he wants “the state convention to be seen as more of a partner than just as a resource by our associations, campus ministries and churches.”

“We are currently working with NAMB (North American Mission Board) to rethink our convention,” Manner stated. “We are about eight months into that process of working with NAMB and Will Mancini through the Denominee program. We believe that’s going to be a great push in the future for us to connect more with all of our churches in more of an expanded partnership.

“Instead of us serving as the go-to resource, we will help curate responses and resources from leaders and churches who are doing ministry well.”

Manner holds a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma Baptist University, a master’s degree from The Southwestern Seminary, and a doctorate of worship studies from Robert E. Webber Institute of Worship Studies. He recently released Better Sundays Begin on Monday: 52 Exercises for Evaluating Weekly Worship. The book offers “foundational worship considerations to help leadership teams ask questions evaluatively rather than defensively.”

A native of Ardmore, David and his wife Karen, a school teacher, have been married for nearly 40 years and have one adult daughter and son-in-law, Jessa and Cullen Swearingen.

The KNCSB serves more than 83,000 Southern Baptists through its 460+ congregations. The two-state convention was founded in 1945 and was scheduled to celebrate its 75th anniversary this year. That celebration was pushed to 2021 after this year’s annual meeting was canceled due to concerns related to the COVID-19 global pandemic. The KNCSB is the oldest of the new-work conventions in the SBC.

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DHD: Six memorable moments from Amy Coney Barrett’s senate confirmation hearings https://www.baptistmessenger.com/dhd-six-memorable-moments-from-amy-coney-barretts-senate-confirmation-hearings/ https://www.baptistmessenger.com/dhd-six-memorable-moments-from-amy-coney-barretts-senate-confirmation-hearings/#respond Fri, 16 Oct 2020 20:07:24 +0000 https://www.baptistmessenger.com/?p=37941 Greetings!

The Senate confirmation hearings occurred this week for Judge Amy Coney Barrett as Supreme Court justice. I appreciate the decorum that occurred and the opportunity for Judge Barrett to be presented not only to the committee but also to viewers across the country.

Judge Barrett was exceptional. It was an incredible display of legal knowledge, dignity, humility and composure under pressure. Anybody who watched should be impressed with Judge Barrett’s presentation for three long, taxing days.

Though I did not watch the entire hearing, what I did watch directly or through recaps was an education and an inspiration. I would go so far as to say if Judge Barrett does get confirmed for the Supreme Court, this could be President Trump’s greatest public achievement during the first term of his presidency (if not his only term).

Why am I so convinced? Well, mostly because I am that impressed with Judge Barrett. I realize the timing of her confirmation is controversial, but that does not have bearing on whether or not she is deserving to be confirmed. She most certainly is.

Judge Barrett is someone who needs to be a national role model. Her knowledge of the law is at superior level, and her approach to apply the law, especially to the country’s most pressing cases, is needed in the Supreme Court. Every person can learn great life standards from Judge Barrett.

Therefore, given the possibility of her time serving on the highest court having great longevity (Lord willing), Judge Barrett stands the greatest chance of being Trump’s most enduring decision from his current term.

For this week’s DHD, I share six memorable moments from the confirmation hearing

  1. The notepad

I don’t know if Texas Senator John Cornyn knew his question would have such an effect, but when he asked Barrett to display the blank notepad that sat in front of her, what resulted was the most popular “still-shot” or meme image from the hearing. It also demonstrated Barrett’s vast knowledge that she can recite numerous cases, as well as vast information of law, without any resource or even a crib sheet. Check it out:

 

 

  1. The super precedent question

When Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar asked Barrett “Is Roe a super precedent?” it was a powerful moment of education, regarding how to view historical SCOTUS cases. To me, it is even clearer why Roe v. Wade was a bad decision. Why? Well check out what Albert Mohler said:

“(Barrett) said that Roe, by the very fact we’re talking about it in 2020, is not a Supreme Court decision that has been considered settled by the American people. If it had been considered settled by the American people, it wouldn’t come up in 1975 in hearings for the Supreme Court, much less 2020. You might look at it this way. It actually takes a very bad decision by the Supreme Court to age so poorly that when you’re looking now at almost 50 years later, there is an absolute cultural consternation over the issue and over the decision.”

Here’s the exchange between the two “Amys”:

  1. Harris’ questioning debacle

This next one I’ve watched numerous times. California Senator and vice-president candidate Kamala Harris attempted to trap Barrett with a series of questions, trying to get Barrett to look foolish. First of all, and this is where I am so impressed with Barrett’s approach to legal matters, notice that she did not give just a simple yes or no answer. She displayed why she is confident in her answers, and she responded in such a quick and direct manner.

Secondly, she respectfully acknowledges what Harris was trying to do in Barrett’s answer to the final question, regarding climate change. She is not arrogant. She is confidently matter-of-fact and quickly dissects Harris’ poor manner of interrogation.

See for yourself:

 

  1. Durbin’s George Floyd video question

This is an excellent exchange. I appreciate how Illinois Senator Dick Durbin approached asking Barrett about the video of George Floyd being arrested, which led to his death.

Durbin was objective in how he worded his question of racism in America. And Barrett was willing to share a family experience when speaking about the video. This is one of the most inspiring segments of the entire hearing.

 

  1. Kennedy’s ‘butthead’ question

This could be the hardest and most uncomfortable question of the hearing. Louisiana Senator John Kennedy asked Barrett about a college professor accusing Barrett of being a “white colonist” in regards to her and her husband adopting two children from Haiti.

I wish Kennedy did not call the professor a “butthead.” The wording demonstrated a lack of professionalism and decorum, especially in such an important setting. It also allows critics to focus more on that word instead of the response Barrett gave, which was powerful and sobering.

Kennedy was respectful to ask the question without Barrett’s children present, and he did apologize for asking the question.

I could not find a video of just the question and response, but in the following lengthy video, scroll to the 12 minute mark to find this segment. Or if you have time, watch the exchange leading to the segment. It can be quite entertaining.

  1. Laura Wolk’s testimony

I won’t give any intro to the final video. I will say it is quite moving and speaks exceptionally well of Barrett’s compassion for Laura Wolk when Wolk was beginning law school.

 

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BLOG: Instant pot pumpkins and promises https://www.baptistmessenger.com/blog-instant-pot-pumpkins-and-promises/ https://www.baptistmessenger.com/blog-instant-pot-pumpkins-and-promises/#respond Fri, 16 Oct 2020 16:32:37 +0000 https://www.baptistmessenger.com/?p=37938 One of the best things about fall is the heaping piles of fresh squash and pumpkins. In my younger days when I was a new wife and homemaker I wasn’t exactly sure how to cook either so I would turn to the canned versions. They were good but I always felt like the fresh ones just had to be better. Right? It seemed like a no-brainer . . . All the bright colors, shapes, sizes and cool names. Surely, with all of that going for them they had to be delicious.

I read cookbooks and studied recipes, and the methods of preparing them always seemed complicated, messy and very time consuming. Ignoring that, with high hopes and expectations, I would buy a delicious looking squash or pumpkin only to get it home and discover that it was so big or weird that I could barely cut it open. It never turned out just right.

If we wanted to have one for dinner it seemed like it took such a long time to cook that it was inconvenient. Even though I had friends and relatives telling me just how to prepare them, it wasn’t working for me. It wasn’t as easy as it seemed, and my expectations were not lining up with my reality. I needed to find a method that would work for me.

Little did I know that my breakthrough was coming! My dad is a great cook and loves kitchen gadgets, so it’s no surprise that he’s the one who purchased me my first Instant Pot. It wasn’t long before I discovered that you can put a wire rack in the bottom of your Instant Pot, add a little water, place a clean pie pumpkin or squash in there, and in minutes, it was soft and ready to eat. And it would turn out perfect every time.

This revolutionized our consumption of cucurbits. I had finally learned a method of cooking them that worked for me and that allowed me to access all the goodness and nutrition that they had to offer. I was thrilled!

My experience with the Instant Pot parallels with what I know we all have experienced at some point in our Christian walk. While on the journey, we look around and see friends and relatives who seem to have incredible relationships with the Lord. Their lives portray peace, joy and fullness. It seems like they have climbed to the top of the big pile of colorful pumpkins and squash and have picked the best one, taken it home, prepared it perfectly (the old fashioned way) and everything is turning out great.

From the outside looking in, it appears that there’s so much goodness that they have tapped into. But, we’re stuck living a plain ole, straight-out-of-the-can experience because we haven’t found the “method” of maintaining a walk with God that works for us.

We can read self-help Christian books or ask those people for their recipe to success, but at the end of the day, the expectations that we have for our lives sadly do not match up with our reality. Don’t get discouraged dear brothers and sisters, a breakthrough is available. There’s no secret ingredient or 5 Steps to Success. There’s only one thing that works and turns out perfect every time, and that is choosing to believe God’s Word and His promises. It sounds rather cliché’ but it’s revolutionary.

Second Corinthians 1:20 tells us, “For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes; therefore also through Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us.” Jesus is the fulfillment and “Yes” to all of God’s promises. It’s all about Him! When we place our faith in Him and live our lives so that He gets all the glory, then we are able to enjoy all the goodness that He has to offer. Learning to trust in His promises is not instant, but it turns out right every time! May God give us the desire and faith to believe His promises.

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First person: The recent resurgence of Baptist associations https://www.baptistmessenger.com/first-person-the-recent-resurgence-of-baptist-associations/ https://www.baptistmessenger.com/first-person-the-recent-resurgence-of-baptist-associations/#respond Thu, 15 Oct 2020 15:28:38 +0000 https://www.baptistmessenger.com/?p=37932 First person: The recent resurgence of Baptist associations - Baptist Messenger of Oklahoma

Associational leaders pray with SBC President J.D. Greear at a meeting of the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders.

PIKEVILLE, Ky.—COVID-19 has changed so many of our association’s ministries this year. All of our regularly scheduled events were canceled. No free dental clinic. No VBS clinic. No mission trips. No free basketball camp. No Executive Board meetings. With all of the cancellations, one might think that there was nothing for the association to do.

However, that would be a false assumption. As an associational mission strategist, I was busier during the first few months of the pandemic than ever before. As I have had conversations with fellow associational leaders, I have discovered that my experience was far from unique. Many associations were flooded with requests for assistance from their member churches. Some heard from churches that rarely (if ever) contacted the association. Many associations hosted some of their largest pastor gatherings in recent memory.

I believe the pandemic has highlighted a recent resurgence in the relevance and value of local Baptist associations within the Southern Baptist Convention. I’m pleased by this development, especially since the local association’s reputation has not always been positive.

Hard times for associations

The earliest Baptist associations were formed in 1707—that’s 138 years prior to the formation of the SBC. In more recent years, Southern Baptists have questioned whether associations are still relevant to churches in the 21st century.

The results of a 2017 study on the perceived value of Baptist associations were not encouraging:

  • When asked to describe the most exciting aspect of their association, the most popular answer among Southern Baptist church leaders was, “Nothing.”
  • When asked to describe the most frustrating aspect of their local Baptist association, two of the three most popular answers among church leaders were, “The association is irrelevant” and “Lack of association strategy, vision or purpose.”
  • Only 65.6 percent of church leaders indicated that their local Baptist association was a strategic partner in helping their church to fulfill the Great Commission.
  • Only 58.5 percent of church leaders indicated that their church would be negatively affected if their local Baptist association ceased to exist.

Perception has been improving

However, I believe the perception of associations has been slowly but steadily improving in recent years, primarily through the efforts of the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders (SBCAL) and its president and CEO, Ray Gentry.

In 2017, the SBCAL commissioned a study team to evaluate the role of the associational leader and offer recommendations at the 2018 Annual Conference in Dallas. I had the honor of serving on that team.

After a year of quantitative and qualitative research, the study team offered a list of seventeen proficiencies that were “most helpful for an associational leader to be successful, regardless of context.” In addition, the study team offered a new descriptor for associational leaders, the associational mission strategist (AMS). After adopting the study team report, the SBCAL formed a vision team to implement some of these recommendations. One of the products of the vision team’s work was a new book titled The Baptist Association: Assisting Churches. Advancing the Gospel.

Through these and other efforts, I have started to notice a renewed emphasis and interest in associational work. A small resurgence of the Baptist association has begun.

Pandemic response

As counterintuitive as it may seem, I believe the COVID-19 pandemic has served to highlight and accelerate this resurgence for many associations.

During the early days of the pandemic, the value of local associations increased significantly in the eyes of Southern Baptist church leaders. According to a recent survey of 271 Southern Baptists, associations stepped up to assist their churches in a number of ways:

  • SBC churches received more help from their local association than any other SBC entity. (#1: local association, #2: state convention, #3: other churches)
  • SBC churches received a greater variety of assistance from their local association than any other SBC entity. (#1: local association, #2: state convention, #3: other associations)
  • SBC senior pastors indicated that their perception improved more for their local association than any other SBC entity. (#1 {tie}: local association & other parachurch organizations, #3: state convention)

These results are very encouraging. Many local associations have experienced a resurgence in recent days, and Southern Baptists are better for it!

Reasons for the resurgence

Why have churches suddenly become more receptive to their association?

If you had asked me this question a few months ago, I would have responded that effective associations provide value to their churches using a five-pronged strategy—local evangelism, missions mobilization, church planting, leadership development, and communication. While those strategic components are still helpful and necessary for the long-term success of an association, I believe there are other reasons behind the current associational resurgence.

  1. Associations are nimble. In other words, associations should be able to adapt to changing circumstances quickly. When the pandemic began, I was able to organize a pastors’ meeting within two hours to discuss the rapidly changing circumstances. More than half of the pastors in the association showed up. A few weeks later, we were able to conduct online Holy Week services, featuring different associational churches with only a few days to plan. Larger organizations simply could not pull off meetings and events like this so quickly.
  2. Associations are local. Every community has its own unique context. Associations can provide immense value to churches because they are a part of the same community and they understand the territory. There is great value in knowing that other churches in the area are facing similar circumstances. As churches in my association began to make plans to regather, there were some unique considerations they needed to think through. Our association was able to provide several online webinars to help church leaders consider those contextual matters.
  3. Associations are built on relationships. Because of the proximity to the churches in my association, I’m able to know many of their members by name. Pastors are able to get to know other pastors as well. Their wives get to know one another. Over the years, we’ve been able to develop a significant level of mutual trust. When a crisis hits, you often turn first to those you know and trust. This is one of the biggest reasons that the first call that many church leaders made was to their local association office and other churches within the local association.
  4. Associations can share resources easily. In the early days of the pandemic, churches responded in some creative ways. One of the most creative was to conduct drive-in services. As more and more churches began to explore this option, it became difficult to purchase short-range radio transmitters to broadcast worship services. Several churches in my association began to offer to share their transmitter with other churches who had not yet been able to purchase one. Again, this is much easier to do in a local association.
  5. Associations can help in a variety of ways. As I mentioned earlier, associations provided assistance to their churches in a greater variety of ways than any other SBC entity. Just during the pandemic, our association has provided help with networking with other churches, encouragement and personal soul care for pastors, general health guidelines and recommendations, CARES Act implications for churches, church regathering resources and training, online streaming resources, online giving resources, small group resources, online sermons for churches without pastors, online Holy Week services, and other resources as requested.

Southern Baptists firmly believe that we can accomplish more for the Kingdom of God when we work together. The local association is one of the oldest examples of this belief in action. I believe that many associations have been a valuable partner to their churches during the past few months. Associations have been around for more than three hundred years in North America, and I’m so thankful that they are still here for such a time as this!

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Freshmen find ‘home away from home’ on OBU’s Bison Hill https://www.baptistmessenger.com/freshmen-find-home-away-from-home-on-obus-bison-hill/ https://www.baptistmessenger.com/freshmen-find-home-away-from-home-on-obus-bison-hill/#respond Wed, 14 Oct 2020 20:21:49 +0000 https://www.baptistmessenger.com/?p=37919 SHAWNEE—Freshman year. When it comes to planning for college, the thought of being a freshman seems at once exciting and electric, while also yielding some anxiety and uncertainty.

Adjusting to college life is a big step for all college-bound high school graduates. For the high school graduating class of 2020, this year held even more challenges, with adapting to the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic at both the end of high school as well as the beginning of their college careers.

Yet, at Oklahoma Baptist University (OBU), freshmen have the opportunity to find a sense of belonging and community from their earliest days on campus. While freshmen experience many “firsts” on Bison Hill, as they navigate homework loads, live away from home, adjust to dorm life and learn to make new friends, new students at OBU find an amazing experience on campus as they learn and grow into their new role as college students.

College classes can be an adjustment in themselves, and balancing the work of several college classes and class schedules can be a big adjustment for freshmen.

Freshmen find 'home away from home' on OBU's Bison Hill - Baptist Messenger of Oklahoma 1

Anna Black, nursing major

“My classes are going pretty well,” said nursing major Anna Black. “I am in several classes that are fairly difficult, so I have a lot of homework on a regular basis. My favorite class is my algebra class because I really enjoy the professor, Dr. Cherith Tucker. She is really funny and relatable.”

Freshman vocal music education major Emily Day said life on Bison Hill has been both challenging and rewarding this fall.

“All of my classes are music-related classes, except one,” she said. “Being a music major is more difficult than people may think, because we have so many one-hour classes. I am in 15 hours of classes right now, and all of them are going well.”

With new college classes comes new homework loads, and students must find ways to adjust to the workloads of multiple college classes.

“It’s been a big shock. I wasn’t expecting it be so much, but I have gotten into the swing of things. I have had help from some upperclassmen music majors. They have helped me make my study schedule and manage my time,” Day said.

Freshmen find 'home away from home' on OBU's Bison Hill - Baptist Messenger of Oklahoma 2

Emily Day, vocal music education major

OBU is home to all kinds of clubs, organizations and activities where students can participate and contribute. It is important to get involved on campus and plugged into an organization that is a good fit. However, it can be hard to find the balance between campus activities and schoolwork as a freshman.

“I am involved in Freshman Follies, the 519 Collective Band and Bisonnettes. It can be overwhelming to be involved in so many things, but I am getting to do what I love in the midst of it all,” Day said.

Morgan Landes, freshman family science major, thinks she is adjusting pretty well.

“I am on the women’s golf team, and it has not been as difficult to balance school, sports and a social life as much as I thought it would be. I just plan ahead, and I can generally balance it all pretty well,” Landes said.

One of the biggest adjustments that freshmen often make is moving away from home. The freedom of being on your own also comes with great responsibility. Dorm style living is an experience in itself.

Freshmen find 'home away from home' on OBU's Bison Hill - Baptist Messenger of Oklahoma 3

Morgan Landes, family science major

“I love dorm life,” Day said. “I am from Shawnee, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to move on campus or not, but I am so glad that I chose to live on campus. I feel so plugged in and have met so many friends on my hall.”

Being a new freshman in college is a big adjustment in itself, but being a college freshman during a worldwide pandemic is even more challenging. As OBU freshmen navigate the changes of being on their own, the class of 2024 faces the challenges of getting involved and meeting new friends behind facial coverings and amid physical distancing restrictions.

“It is difficult to make friends on campus with COVID 19 because there are not many events going on to get involved in and I have to be cautious about being around people for too long. I also live off campus, so I do not get to meet other girls in a dorm hall, but I have made several friends in my classes,” Black said.

“I knew in the midst of a pandemic that making friends would essentially be harder. However, God is faithful and has blessed me with the sweetest people I could have asked for,”
Landes said.

OBU has supportive staff and faculty. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 13-to-1, students are able to have a better connection with their professors. In the midst of so many changes and transitions that come along with freshman year, professors, club sponsors and resident directors are helpful in making the transition easier.

“The support of professors and the RAs (residential advisor) on staff have exceeded all my expectations. I feel loved and cared for so well and I know my professors genuinely want me to succeed,” Landes said.

Freshmen find 'home away from home' on OBU's Bison Hill - Baptist Messenger of Oklahoma 4

Mark French, computer information systems major

Mark French, freshman computer information systems major, agreed that the care and concern shown by professors really sets OBU apart from the crowd.

“My professors and coaches are always encouraging us to ask whenever we need anything or have a question, which is nice to know we have that,” French said.

Day agrees that the support coming from faculty, staff and residential life staff is amazing and makes a tremendous impact on her life.

“My RA is really sweet. I have already had coffee with her and lunch with my RD (resident director). The music professors are all close knit and really supportive as well. I have a professor that always has snacks in her office and will let you take a nap on her couch,” Day said.

With their first semester now more than halfway over, these freshmen shared advice for high school seniors in the college search process.

Landes offered encouraged to high school students who are looking at OBU.

“To the (high school) juniors and seniors who are thinking about OBU, I would say if you are looking for a tight knit community of students and staff then OBU is perfect,” she said. “I have friends who are constantly leading me closer to Jesus and professors who want me to genuinely do well and succeed. I could not have asked for a better place to call home for the next four years.”

French concurred and stressed the importance of campus culture and climate in the college selection process.

“I encourage students not to make their decision on college just based off the major you think you want. Take the time to learn about the culture on campus and figure out if it’s a good fit for you,” he said.

“If you want a place that is a loving community, this is the place for you,” Day said.

To apply to OBU, visit okbu.edu/apply.

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Rite of passage: Out of the picture https://www.baptistmessenger.com/rite-of-passage-out-of-the-picture/ https://www.baptistmessenger.com/rite-of-passage-out-of-the-picture/#respond Wed, 14 Oct 2020 16:56:35 +0000 https://www.baptistmessenger.com/?p=37916 One day a father was summoned to the office of the principal of his daughter’s school. Sitting across the desk from the principal, the father asked, “What’s the matter?”

The principal pulled out a drawing his daughter had made of her family. She slid it across the desk and asked, “What’s missing?”

It didn’t take long for the father to see that the child had drawn a picture of her mother and two brothers but had left him out of the family drawing. The picture had disturbed his daughter’s teacher, who sent it on to the principal, who passed it on to the school counselor. After some discussion, they brought the father in to see if they could figure out why, when asked to draw a picture of her family, the child had left out her father.

The father assured the principal that he was a good father and insisted that they bring the little girl in to see if they could get to the bottom of the problem. They brought in the little girl and asked her to explain her picture. “This is my mommy; this is my big brother, and the other one is my little brother.”

“And where is your dad?” the principal asked.

“He’s not in there,” the little girl said.

“Why isn’t he in the picture?”

The little girl looked up. “He’s the one taking the picture.”

When I was growing up, there was no such thing as digital anything. Our phone was rotary, and a party line at that. Have you ever tried to explain to this generation what a party line was? They get off-track at the word “party.” (If you want to know more about what a party line is, Google it!)

I did have a transistor radio as a child, but that was about the only thing that could have been considered digital in my life. We had an old Kodak Brownie camera, the kind where loading a roll of film was an art in itself. We didn’t have self-timers on our cameras that we could set and then run like a greyhound to get into the picture. Today, everyone takes selfies, but that is hard or nearly impossible to do with a Kodak Brownie. Unless there was an extra person around, someone had to be left out to snap the picture. If you look through our childhood albums, you would be hard-pressed to find many pictures that include our entire family.

I know many of you think God is no longer in your family picture. But I want to assure you He is watching over you, looking after and caring for you. Even when you don’t see or feel Him, He is there. You and your family matter deeply to God.

Titus the Honorable and Cohen the Goodhearted were having a sleepover at our house. Now, these boys are some of the world’s best negotiators. Since the COVID pandemic, I am no longer able to visit their school and join them for lunch. I was telling them how disappointed I was that we couldn’t have these special times together. Without missing a beat, Titus said, “You could pick us up from school and take us home.” Of course, they speak in coded language. “Pick us up from school” means “Pick us up from school and take us to Sonic for a chocolate shake with M&Ms.”

On the way home after getting a shake, I said, “It was good spending time with you!” And Titus responded, “We are available for a sleepover on Saturday.”

When the boys have a sleepover with us and we put them into bed, either my wife or I will sit in the darkened room with them until they fall asleep. My wife puts on a CD with children’s songs. As I was putting them in bed this past Saturday night, the music was playing softly in the background: “He’s got the whole world in His hands/ He’s got the whole wide world in His hands,” and I heard two tiny, faint voices singing, “He’s got the little bitty baby in His hands/He’s got the little bitty baby in His hands/ He’s got the whole world in His hands.”

As the boys fell asleep, I prayed a prayer of confession that many days, I don’t see Him in the picture. But the invisible God is always visible; He reveals himself in every child, every tree, every blade of grass and in a single snowflake. The father wasn’t absent from the little girl, she knew where he was when no one else did.

Yes, God has the whole world in His hands. “The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Ps. 24:1). He is the one taking the picture.

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Messenger Insight 399 – Insights from an Overseas Missionary Veteran https://www.baptistmessenger.com/messenger-insight-399-insights-from-an-overseas-missionary-veteran/ https://www.baptistmessenger.com/messenger-insight-399-insights-from-an-overseas-missionary-veteran/#respond Wed, 14 Oct 2020 14:30:02 +0000 https://www.baptistmessenger.com/?p=37912 IMB Career Missionary from Oklahoma, Shannon Ford talks about insights from his 22 years of serving the Lord overseas and updates us about his current ministry and prayer needs.

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BLOG: Reclaiming your childlike joy https://www.baptistmessenger.com/blog-reclaiming-your-childlike-joy/ https://www.baptistmessenger.com/blog-reclaiming-your-childlike-joy/#respond Tue, 13 Oct 2020 17:05:16 +0000 https://www.baptistmessenger.com/?p=37909 Several times in Scripture we see Jesus use children as an example to what the Kingdom of heaven is like. I love these examples because it reminds me there are no grown-ups in heaven.

To be fair, I don’t know what age we will be in the next life. We could look 15 or 50, but the point I think Jesus often illustrates is that there is a certain childlike trust and innocence that are trademarks of His people.

I think this means that heaven will be more like Peter Pan in Never Never Land than a business person in an office cubical. If heaven is like a playground then hell is likely a tiny cubical with poor lighting, no windows and an annoying co-worker who constantly steals your stapler.

My desire is to figure out how to begin to reclaim the childlike joy that will be ours in the future. There are a few basic biblical principals that I think we can apply to add a little bit more Peter Pan to our lives.

The first thing that we need to deal with in order to be more childlike is learning how to deposit our stress and worries into the right place. You will always carry some amount of stress in your life, but the question should be what do you do with that stress? When my kids have a toy that breaks, they bring it to me. We have a saying in our house, “If Dad can’t fix it, take it to Poppy (my dad); if Poppy can’t fix it, take it to Papa Wayne (my wife’s grandpa); if Poppa Wayne can’t fix it, then it’s broken.”

My kids deposit their stress and worry at the feet of their father, knowing that he will do whatever he can to fix the situation. Stress doesn’t belong on your shoulders alone. We are not designed to carry it quietly. It’s not brave to be quiet about your fears and worries; it’s toxic to your soul. We must learn to deposit our fears at the feet of Jesus.

Secondly, I must learn how to play again. Playing is all my kids care about. They can play because they feel safe and free. To them, the world is one big playground. The cracks in the driveway that stress me out are something fun for them to jump over.

We both see the same thing, but we view them differently. I think about the cost of repair; they think about how they can have fun with whatever is in front of them. I think we forget that Jesus is fun. Jesus loves to create, loves to converse, and heaven will be full of play.

Make sure your day includes some kind of play time. This can be a hobby or something as simple as putting together a puzzle with a friend. If all you think about is work, the stock market or politics, you will quickly lose focus of what is really important. The Bible tells us that the Joy of the Lord is our strength, but I see lots of joyless Christians these days.

There is more I would like to cover, but to simplify what I want to share, I will add this. Maturity isn’t about getting rid of a playful attitude; it’s learning to play in a way that brings those around you joy. When we trust God for our provision, when we allow ourselves to drop our cares at His feet, we become free to play again, and we capture a glimpse of what kingdom living will look like.

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