Weddings and Birthdays and Funerals, Oh My!

May 19, 2017


by Pastor Mark McAdow


One of my greatest joys of being your Pastor has been the opportunities I've had to be present at some of the most significant events of your lives personally and our life together as The First Church Family.  Though I have preached hundreds of sermons here, I don't expect you to remember but a few thoughts over those years--hopefully the most biblical ones!  For any others, I pray for a strong case of amnesia!

 

But what I expect you will remember, as I will, are the times we've worshipped together, prayed for one another, cried together, shared God's Word together in small groups and Sunday School classes, served alongside each other in local missions like Whiz Kids, Friday Night Alive, Gatewood School and global missions to Las Carbaneras, Mexico;  Grecia, Costa Rica and a life-changing trip to Israel! (I still will not fly Delta!)

 

As you know, I am a Pastor at heart.  I love each of you and am thankful to the Lord for you.  I've enjoyed baptizing and/or dedicating your children, preparing for marriage and officiating at weddings, singing to you on your birthday or somewhere near there, praying with you to receive Christ, baptizing children, Youth and adults, welcoming new members and celebrating the rich lives of those who have "graduated" to Heaven before us.  These are the memories I will cherish the most.

 

We have shared so many life experiences, and that's what makes lasting friendships!  One thing I trust you all will remember me saying is this, "Life is all about relationships"--our relationship with Jesus and others!  We've accomplished many remarkable milestones together but those pale in comparison to the love we've shared.  Though it is very difficult to say "good-bye" I am reminded that if The Lord and Bishop Robert E. Hayes, Jr. hadn't appointed me and Robin to First Church 10 years ago, we wouldn't have shared any of these memories and I probably wouldn't have known any of you "this side of Heaven."  God is good!  All the time!

 

This Sunday we have another opportunity to celebrate what the Lord is doing at First Church.  We plan to baptize three students and receive four into membership as they complete their Confirmation studies and take our membership vows.  The final one asks, "Will you be loyal to Jesus Christ as expressed through First Church and uphold it with your Prayers, Presence, Gifts, Service and Witness?"  It will be a great day to renew our vows to Christ and our First Church Family too!  After all -we are First Church. "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body.  So it is with Christ." -I Cor. 12:12-13.  Jesus is The Head and we are His body!  

 

See you for our special Gospel Sunday and Confirmation this Sunday May 21st!

 

Yours in Christ's Love, Pastor Mark

 

PS -Just a reminder after June 4th: Lesly Broadbent will be your new Pastor.  As such, I will no longer be coming back to First Church to officiate at weddings or funerals.  I would of course welcome any news so I can pray for you, and be present as a friend and brother in Christ, when opportunity allows.  After all, there is no distance in prayer.  We will always be "Forever friends!"  Love you!

What a Great Church!

May 26, 2017


by Pastor Mark McAdow


Last Sunday was such a great day in the life of our First Church Family! I had the wonderful privilege of baptizing three students: Conor and Halle Reeves and Katie Miller and welcoming four students into membership here at First Church: Mikayla Janka, Katie Miller, Conor and Halle Reeves! Each one declared Jesus as their Lord and Savior and promised to support First Church with their Prayers, Presence, Gifts, Service and Witness! It doesn't get better than that! The Gospel Choir presentations led by Morgan and special solos by Jan, Peggy and Phyllis were a blessing as well! 

I've come to appreciate in these last weeks that every day is truly a gift from the Lord! (That's why it's called the "present"). Every visit, lunch or dinner date, conversation, smile and hug -- especially the hugs -- are greatly appreciated. Good-byes are never easy, but in the Christian life we know we never ever really say "Good-bye" - its simply "Until we meet again. " 

I have to tell you about a very special answer to prayer that came yesterday after years and years. Thanks to a most generous donor and the hard work especially of Dick Cavin and our Trustees over the years, we now have internal signage showing our guests where restrooms are located, Harris Hall, The Sanctuary, our Children's, Youth and Adult classrooms. We also have new external signage denoting our Worship Center for the City to see! Hospitality is so vitally important for growth and this project was one I've especially wanted to see come to fruition. Thanks to all who made it happen! Pastor Lesly will inherit something brand new as part of his welcome to First Church! 


This Sunday is Memorial Weekend Sunday. It too will be a very special Day! We will recognize our veterans in Worship and at Morgan's request, my beloved bride is planning to play and sing for the offering. It's also the day we will celebrate our 2017 graduates from High School and College. I'm looking forward to seeing "My favorite people" this Sunday morning. You know who you are! "This is the Day The Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it!"



Your Pastor and Brother in Christ, 



Mark 


PS - Next week is Annual Conference at OCU and St. Luke's UMC. Our Bishop Jimmy Nunn and his Cabinet will be having a private luncheon here at First Church on Memorial Day and we will host the Asbury Seminary Alumni Luncheon on Tuesday. Please keep our Lay delegate Steve Blake and me in prayer for next week's meetings. Blessings!

Let's Celebrate what The Lord Has Done!

June 2, 2017


by Pastor Mark McAdow


Ten years has come and gone much too fast!  Wee have been so very blessed to be a part of The First Church Family and to get the opportunity to serve Christ with you!  To God be the glory!  I thought it might be fun to give a quick review of some of the highlights of our shared life together through some quick "bullet points."  We learned how to "Experience God" and join Him in what He is doing in some exciting ways!

 

  • Paid off our First Church mortgage in October 2007!
  • We added 238 new members!
  • I baptized 49 children and adults
  • I officiated at 37 weddings at First Church
  • We celebrated the lives of 32 at Funeral/Memorial
    Services
  • Special Advent and Holy Week Services
  • Led a life-changing pilgrimage to Israel in 2010!
  • Complete renovation of our Welcome Center Plaza area
  • Celebrated our 125th Anniversary with Bishop Robert E. Hayes, Jr.
  • Vital Second Wind Marathon Ministry
  • Hosted The Sing, Night of The Bible and OKC Worship Services
  • Began Whiz Kids tutoring Ministry
  • Fruitful MAD Week and WOW Week Mission Ministries!
  • Hosted Breakfast for the Homeless for two years
  • Began Friday Night Alive Homeless Ministry in 2011!
  • Participated in our first Senior High Youth International Mission trip to Costa Rica!
  • Participated in the SHIFT Heartland District Initiative
  • Heartland Chapel Worship begins!  November 2016
  • Restored our historic bells to our Bell Tower Christmas Eve 2016
  • Revival Services with Rev. David Player - February 2017
  • Held our first Leader's Visioning Retreat! - March 2017
  • Hosted Oklahoma's National Day of Prayer Service 3 years
  • Special Men's Discipleship Emphasis - April 2017
  • New internal and external signage - May 2017
  • First Church registered as an Historic United Methodist Site at Annual Conference, May 31, 2017!

Wow!  We've done a lot together and I'm sure I've forgotten plenty too!



We have one more opportunity to "Celebrate" this Sunday as we celebrate Holy Communion together at The First Church altar.  I sincerely hope you can be present.  I'll close with these words, "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen."  Ephesians 3:20-21


 

I love you!

 

Pastor Mark

A Tribute to My Mom

May 12, 2017


by Pastor Mark McAdow


My mother Donna Mae Burner McAdow turned 86 on May 3.  Though I wasn't with her on her birthday, I did call and sing to her and I got to see her last Saturday in Enid to celebrate my Great Uncle Horace's 101st birthday!  He and my Mom actually have the same birthday  - 15 years apart. 

 

My Mom was and is a beautiful woman.  She was a model during High School for a couple of the famous downtown Tulsa clothiers of the day!  I can easily see why my father fell for her.  (He used to have a small black and white photo of her in a one piece swim suit on the inside cover of the kitchen cabinet with the phrase written in pencil -"ooh la la -my pinup girl").  For the longest time I didn't know what that meant.  It's been said the best thing a Dad can do for his children is to "love their mother," which he certainly did!  With only a High School education, he also worked two jobs to provide for her and my sister and me.

 

Mom loved Dad as well for all his great godly characteristics.  Before I was born she worked as an Executive Secretary for Gulf Oil in a very responsible job.  When I came along, they made the decision she would no longer work outside the home but be a revered "stay at home" Mom.  They were willing to make the financial sacrifice for the sake of their growing family.  Of course, that's what most people still did in the two parent families of the 1950's and 1960's.  My sister Valerie and I were blessed because of it.  We had a Mom actively involved in our local church --Will Rogers UMC -- a Children's Bell Choir Mom, Hoover Elementary School PTA member and Homeroom Mom and so much more!

 

She was the one who cared for most of our needs, as Dad worked shift work at the Texaco Refinery in West Tulsa and installed draperies on the side for the JC Penny Company.  She was the one who helped us with our ABC's, multiplication tables, cursive writing (anyone remember that?), spelling words, drama lines, etc.  Dad was a Navy cook, so he did his share of cooking but Mom took care of most everything else.  When I began working for Casa Bonita Mexican Restaurant she made me take off my greasy shoes and clothes in the garage so she could wash my enchilada-stained clothes.  (I'm sure the smell is still in the garage!)

 

Thanks, Mom, for taking such great care of Valerie and me.  We were blessed with a wonderful childhood and two loving parents.  I know not everyone is, but we are all blessed with a most loving Heavenly Father!  As we honor all women and Moms in particular this Sunday, I'm reminded of these verses from Proverbs 31:29-30, "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.  Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."  We praise you Ladies!

 

Yours in Christ's Love,     Pastor Mark

 

P. S.  All ladies will receive a special carnation this Sunday!  Come be blessed!

A Big Thank You to All!

May 5, 2017


by Pastor Mark McAdow


Thanks to each of you who so faithfully served during Marathon Weekend at The Cox Expo Booth, Blessing of the Shoes Worship Service, early morning Survivor Tree Service and, of course, our Second Wind Ministry Outreach Sunday morning with our free Pancake Breakfast, Children's Area and Massage Station (I especially appreciated the massage following my grueling first Half Marathon. Thanks to Jan for her loving care and Michael for his vigorous assist! You make an awesome team!).


Special "Thanks" to Sarah Baumann and Casey Heald for leading our Marathon Ministry again this year and all our Chairpersons who gave great leadership including: Tim Basham (Expo), Julie Gochenour (Dining Room), Jim Parsons (Kitchen), Robin McAdow (Greeters), Jan Chapman and Rachel Janka (Massage), Greg DaValt and Ron Peeples (Facilities), Lisa Turley (Children's Area), Ridge and Morgan Kennedy (Worship), and Ian Wolfe (Security). Each of these folks were assisted by remarkable teams of volunteers - Thank you! I am very proud to be your Pastor and to have served alongside of you these past 10 Marathons. God is good! Pastor Lesly Broadbent affirmed the great team of volunteers we have in our First Church Family as well. I'm glad several of you were able to meet and get to know your next Pastor last weekend.


I had a very special blessing at our Blessing of the Shoes Service. As I anointed several runners with oil, one runner asked if she could anoint me. As she did, she prayed over me for my Run too. I did finish the Run and got my "Finisher's T-shirt" and medal. I am now an official "Half Marathoner" and probably a "retired" one as well! After all, I did reach a PB "Personal Best" at 2:47:59. (Micah DeCicco did pretty good too coming in at 1:39 but of course I had an age advantage on him). Another OKC Marathon is in the books and it was the biggest ever!


Be sure to join us this Sunday as I share my message entitled, "We've Entered The ____________Zone!" Come fill in the blank with us as it represents each of you specifically.  We're celebrating Holy Communion together too.


I love you!


Pastor Mark


PS - Thanks to each of you who came and gave support to The National Day of Prayer Service here yesterday. We heard some great singing, "pre-prayer preaching" and praying too. Be Blessed!

Race On!

April 28, 2017


by Pastor Mark McAdow


It's here!  Marathon Week 2017!  Thanks to each of you who have been preparing for our Second Wind Ministry Outreach this weekend and recruiting others to help us as well.  We need "all hands on deck" as we share the love of Jesus with our guests through "The Blessing of The Shoes" Worship Service Saturday evening from 6-7PM and our amazing Free Pancake Breakfast Sunday morning from 5:30 -10:30 AM.  It's going to be a great time of extravagant hospitality and tasty fellowship!

 

First Church has a rich history of ministry and loving service in downtown Oklahoma City.  We are the "first church" still on its original property and enjoy a most special relationship with the OKC National Memorial and Marathon.  They are counting on us once again for our heartfelt support!

 

Today and tomorrow our enthusiastic First Church Staff and fantastic volunteers will be at the Cox Center Expo flipping silver dollar size pancakes, passing out pancake mix and inviting people to join us this weekend!  I always love the opportunity to interact with the runners and families there.  It is a great place to reconnect and we have a lot of fun too!

 

I've invited our new Pastor Lesly Broadbent to be with us this weekend so he can "learn the ropes" as I pass the baton on to him on June 8.  He's excited about being with us and getting to meet several of you for the very first time!  Please make him feel very welcome, as I know you will.  As many of you have heard, I'll be running in the Half Marathon for my very first time!  I've been training for months with The Land Runners and am eager to reach my goal and cross the Finish Line with Mitch and Texye Fernandes, Cindy Janka, Tammy Patton and others! (OK -well behind then all!)  Please pray for me and us (I've already instructed EMSA to be standing by!).  I anticipate it will take me a little under 3 hours to run  - walk and/or crawl across the line.  Please save me a pancake!

 

This is our greatest outreach of the entire year, so be sure to be present to help us if you're in town!  Remember, this Saturday evening's service at 6:00 PM is for our entire First Church family and our running friends and guests too!  We will worship Jesus, bless shoes and anoint runners with oil for the Big Run!  "But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 3:13b-14


Let's all "press on" for Jesus together this weekend!  Love to you all-

 

Pastor Mark


PS - Please join us this coming Thursday May 4 at 11:55 AM for Oklahoma's National Day of Prayer Service here in our First Church Sanctuary!  This is the third year we have hosted this most special prayer event for our State.  Blessings!

Seeking and Finding

April 21, 2017


by Morgan Kennedy


As I reflect on Holy week my heart is still so full! I love that we were expectant and excited to sing praises to our victorious King on Easter morning. We set our hearts and minds on Him and He was our one desire. I would like to encourage you all to keep that momentum, that excitement and mindset. He is still alive, so we should always come into His presence full of awe and wonder like children staring at the beauty of our King.


"One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple" (Psalm 27:4). This has been my prayer for a while now, that I would truly fix my eyes on Him and stay in His presence every moment of every day. I believe when we look to Him we'll know Him and become more like Him. So I encourage you to be worshippers who worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Make Him the first priority in your life not just on Sunday, but also Monday through Saturday.


We can prepare our hearts for worship when we spend time with the Father in His word, in prayer, and in personal worship - this is crucial to our spirit.  If we all came prepared to worship Him, letting go of anything that hinders us from Him, imagine what He would do and the ways that He would move and how we would respond? It would be incredible! Friends, God desires to speak to you, to help you, and guide you. He is for you and He loves you. He is so worthy of our praise, our attention. I urge you to earnestly seek His presence and behold His beauty every single day . . . that is when your life will change.

 

Blessings,


Morgan Kennedy

What Have You Sacrificed Lately?

April 14, 2017


by Pastor Mark McAdow


Today is Good Friday.  As we've followed the events of this Holy Week, we've already celebrated Jesus' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem with our Bishop Jimmy Nunn on Palm Sunday and shared The Last Supper with the Lord and each other yesterday on Maundy Thursday ("Maundy" is Latin for "mandate," reminding us to love and serve as Jesus humbly demonstrated by washing the 24 filthy feet of his disciples).  Today is Friday.  We as Christians have the audacity to call it "Good Friday" because it is the Day Jesus Christ died for your sins and mine.  God alone is good and He alone could pay the price for our sins.

 

It is only "good" because it fulfilled God's ultimate plan to pay our death penalty through the precious blood of Jesus, "The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world"(John 1:29b).  The Jews didn't kill Jesus, though they have been blamed for centuries.  The Romans didn't kill Jesus, though they carried out the death sentence to kill his body.  You see, The Bible says clearly, "The soul who sins dies."  Jesus has no sin, so in reality his soul could not be killed, according to Christian pastor and author Wayne Jacobsen.  He died in the flesh, but not the spirit.  No one took Jesus' life; he willingly surrendered it out of love for us.  He gave the ultimate sacrifice.  He submitted to death for a "moment " to overcome death for all eternity!  That's the great news of Easter Sunday that takes the sting out of Good Friday.

 

What have you sacrificed lately?  Did you give up something for Lent?  I did but it was no real sacrifice.  Did you invest more time in personal Bible reading and devotions or give more of yourself away to others?  Have you made a sacrificial Easter offering? Was it a true sacrifice?  I have to ask myself, "What have I truly sacrificed for Jesus lately?"  In a word, nothing -- unlike the Egyptian Christians killed last Palm Sunday morning in suicide attacks.  Nothing compares to the sacrifice He made for us.

 

Come tonight at 7:00PM to experience "The Service of Shadows" as we remember through Scripture readings and music from our First Church Choir, directed by Morgan Kennedy, and special guests the meaning of Good Friday.  "And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:8).  Remember Christ's death and be thankful.


Yours in Christ's great love, 

 

Pastor Mark

 

Be sure to join us this Sunday April 16 at 10:45AM for Easter Worship as we proclaim again, "He is Risen.  He is Risen Indeed!"  Bring your family and friends for this great Day of Worship - the greatest of the entire year!  Blessings to you and yours.

Holy Week Beginning One Day Early This Year!

April 7, 2017


by Pastor Mark McAdow


Though Holy Week traditionally begins on Palm Sunday, which is this Sunday, as good "Sooners" or "Pokes" we're beginning a day early this year!  It's not a Fall Back or Spring Forward thing, but a "Reach out" in love opportunity!  Tomorrow morning, Saturday April 8 at 10:30 AM we're hosting a Kid's Devotional Time and free Easter Egg Hunt at Gatewood Elementary School at 1821 NW 21st Street (just south of OCU on Gatewood Street).  You will remember we have a van ministry to pick up students on Sunday mornings in the Gatewood neighborhood and our Whiz Kids Ministry partners with Gatewood School.



 


Lisa, Morgan and members of our Children's Council have planned the games and activities for the morning.  I'll be sharing the story of "The Resurrection Eggs"--I bought a NEW dozen to share (I even ate an egg omelet and egg salad sandwich for lunch in preparation)!  It should be an "egg-citing" time for all!

 

We'll have an Easter Egg Hunt outside after the Devotional time in the Gym for elementary age children in the neighborhood.  We will also be serving popcorn and lemonade for all involved!  What a great way to begin Holy Week--giving to others in Jesus' Name.  Bring your kids or grandkids and join in on the fun!

 

This Sunday, April 9, we will be blessed to welcome our new Bishop Jimmy Nunn to First Church.  Our children will begin our service waving palm branches and singing and Bishop Nunn will be bringing the morning message.  We will host a Reception for him immediately following worship in the Welcome Center Plaza.  Thanks to each of you who have donated and stuffed Easter eggs for this outreach and are bringing cookies to share on Sunday too!  This will be a festive beginning to Holy Week!  See all the great worship Services planned for next week here or on our church website at www. FirstChurchOKC.

 

As we consider the special week ahead, let me conclude with these few words from The Apostle Paul to the Christians at Galatia, "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world" (Galatians 6:14).  Keep your eyes on the cross!

 

Yours in Christ's Unconditional Love,

 

Pastor Mark

God's Will

March 31, 2017


by Pastor Mark McAdow


In life there are many times we question the will of God.  What does God want me to do?  Am I fulfilling His will for my life?  On Wednesday evenings, ten First Church men are working through a resource called Operation Timothy.  It's an opportunity to explore life's great questions concerning our true purpose in life.  We recognize many of us never stop long enough to consider our real purpose for living in Christ. 

 

As we asked the question of purpose last week, I heard several men respond it was to be a good husband and father, a provider and protector of our family.  These answers reflect important roles and responsibilities.  I then rephrased the question and asked, "What is our purpose as a Christian man?"  Is it different?  I believe it is.  We have a much higher purpose that involves The Great Commission. 


            Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing               them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the               Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have                 commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to                   the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)


It's been rightly said, Jesus last words should be our first concern!  Am I investing my life in producing disciples or am I solely interested in becoming one on my own?  We're not truly disciples until were investing in another's spiritual life.

 

Christian author Paul Little has written in his book, Affirming the Will of God,


             The will of God is not like a magic package let down from               Heaven by a string...The will of God is far more like a                     scroll that unrolls every day...The will of God is                               something to be discerned and to be lived out each day                 of our lives.  It is not something to be grasped as a                         package once for all.  Our call, therefore, is not to follow                 a plan or a blueprint, or go to a place or take up a work,                 but rather to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and seek to                     follow Him daily.

 

God's will is perfect every time -- whether we understand it or accept it initially.  It is always perfect.  Unlike Mankind, God makes no mistakes.  God's motives are always pure and true.  God loves us each of us with an everlasting love!

 

Remember the words of Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."  Keep your eyes on Jesus--He always has your best interest at heart!

 

In Christ's Great Love,

 

Pastor Mark

 

PS - Come join us this Sunday as we celebrate "Christ in The Passover" with our Jews for Jesus friend, Shoshannah Weinisch form New York City!  We will discover the richness of the Jewish Passover again as we celebrate Holy Communion together in Harris Hall.  Blessings and Shalom!

The Shack -- A Place for Heresy or Healing?

March 24, 2017


by Pastor Mark McAdow


As many of you know, there is a lot of controversy surrounding the new movie The Shack.  It is based on the book written by William Paul Young.  It was originally written simply for his family and the first copies were duplicated at a local copier center.  It quickly became a bestseller when others read it and recommended it be published.


It's the story of the lead character Mack's life, the "Great Sadness" and ultimate healing he experienced in his life at The Shack.  It is a powerful and moving picture of forgiveness and healing.  If you read the Religion section in last Saturday's Oklahoman, you will see a lengthy article about a United Methodist Pastor in Shawnee who had a replica of The Shack built outside his church and is preaching a series about some of the themes.  Ben is a friend of mine.  Another good friend, Paul, sent me an article delineating all the heresies in The Shack.  Both are strong Christians.

 

Did you read The Shack?  We did a few years ago for those interested and discussed it during one of our Wednesday Night class options.  We had lively and engaging discussions!  I was very interested in seeing the movie when it came out earlier this month, so Robin and I saw it and many of you have too.  Should you see The Shack?  I don't know.  Did you see The Passion of The Christ?  How about Oh God or Bruce Almighty when they came out?  It's hard to imagine George Burns or Morgan Freeman as "God." Meeting Papa in The Shack is even more mind-blowing.  Trust me.  And it is not at all comfortable but then again we know "God is spirit and his worshipers must worship him in spirit and in truth"(John 4:24).

 

What I personally liked about The Shack was the representation of the relationship between the members of The Trinity identified as Father, Son and Spirit and how they loved each other and were in complete unity and harmony in their love for Mack as well.  What I didn't care for was the lack of specificity of Jesus as the only way to the Father. "I am The Way and The Truth and The Life.  No one comes to the Father except through me"(John 14:6).  Salvation and forgiveness come through no other means but Jesus.  I also thought that in an effort to describe The Father as Loving and Compassionate; they failed to note there is still judgment, even within His love.  We will all be held accountable for our lives before God.

 

Beyond the relationship within The Trinity, the themes of restoration, forgiveness and healing is what I take away from The Shack.  For so many people who have endured so much pain in this life that they can't begin to conceive of a loving Heavenly Father, I believe it may cause them to explore that relationship for the first time. We can only pray!

 

We should never base our theology on movies whether Christian or not, but on the Word of God.  We must be good Bereans, "for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" (Acts 17:11).  I suggest we each do the same.

 

Yours in Christ's Love,

 

Pastor Mark

 

PS - Please keep our Sarah Baumann in your prayers as she experiences her "Walk to Emmaus" this weekend.  De Colores!

New Opportunities!

March 17, 2017


by Pastor Mark McAdow


As many of you are aware by now, Robin and our family will be moving this June to Enid, Oklahoma to serve a United Methodist congregation there.  First Church will be receiving a new Pastor and family as well!  Our last Sunday together will be Sunday June 4 - Pentecost Sunday - a biblical Day of new beginnings!

 

In between, we have lots of ministry opportunities to share together through Holy Week Services, our Easter Celebration, Confirmation, Second Wind Marathon Ministry (sign up right away!) and hosting Oklahoma's National Day of Prayer Service for the third year in a row!  Wow! (We'll also being getting a house ready to put on the market and beginning the massive task of packing and preparing to move - I get tired just thinking about it!).  This is a "bittersweet" time for us all as we transition to a new reality for First Church and us.  We look forward to these next two months together in friendship and ministry.  Thanks so much for your love and support over these past ten years.  Life certainly moves fast!

 

Robin and I want to invite you to join us for two remarkable 7 week studies before we leave First Church, one for women and one for men.  The Women's Study is The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer (the cost of the workbook is $13).  The Men's study is called Operation Timothy Life Questions, a CBMC Resource (the workbook is $10; there is also a free electronic version available).  Both these classes begin this coming Wednesday, March 22 at 6:30 PM.  We hope you will clear your schedules, open your hearts and come share this time in the Lord and His Word together with us.  We want to "Finish Strong" and enjoy every moment together in Him with each of you!

 

Thank you for your prayers about these opportunities and your prayers for us too!  We love you and are so very thankful to God our Good, Good, Father.  It's true, Father always knows Best.  To God be the glory!

 

Looking forward to worshipping our Lord Jesus with you this Sunday!

 

Yours in Christ's Love,

 

Pastor Mark

 

PS  - Robin and I went to see the movie The Shack based on the book by the same name last week.  Very interesting.  I hope to get o discuss it with many of you in the days ahead!  Bless you!

 

PPS - Happy St. Patrick's Day! from your Scotch/Irish Pastor.  You'd better be wearin' the green today!

Priceless

March 10, 2017


by Pastor Mark McAdow


We watched a very poignant and powerful movie here on Wednesday night called “Priceless.”  I’m glad our First Church Youth and many adults were present to learn about the prevalent issue of sex trafficking in America and right here in Oklahoma!  It was very difficult to watch, especially for those of us who are parents of girls -though boys are trafficked as well.  I really did not know what to say or pray when it ended.  There was such a palpable heaviness in the room.  When I spoke to Mark Mazzolini about it afterwards he put his finger on the right word: evil.  It is pure evil what some human beings do to innocent girls and boys solely for profit. God forgive us for our sin as a nation.

 

How are we to respond?  It’s so difficult to know what to do.  We can always pray and we must!  But prayer alone will not change this evil.  We must stand for Truth and expose the deeds of darkness within us and among us.  Keep your eyes and ears open.  If you suspect something, say something.  Contact the local Police or The National Human trafficking Resource Center 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at Toll Free 1 (888) 373-7888.  In OKC, you can also call “Beautiful Dream Society at (405) 717-1201.  Our Heavenly Father calls us to care for His children--The Least, The Last and The Lost.  “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

 

Two weeks ago I spoke at Friday Night Alive! and encouraged those gathered to consider three truths that can change our lives and to say them aloud often.  First, “I need you Jesus.” May we always be aware of our need for Jesus as Savior and Lord.  Second, “I trust you Jesus.” May we all put our faith and confidence in Him.  Third, “I love you Jesus,” remembering what the Lord first said about us in Jeremiah 31:3, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.”  All God’s children are “priceless" because He paid the ultimate price for each of us on the cross.  (Be sure to keep your eyes on the cross at the corner of Fourth and Robinson during this Lenten Season.  John Barrett is faithfully adding a new symbol every week to the cross reminding us of Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection.  Thanks John!).  Our children are adding symbols to the cross in their area too!


 
Tonight marks our 6th Anniversary Celebration of Friday Night Alive!  I hope many of you will join us for this wonderful milestone and express appreciation to Mary and Tom Walbert, Texye Fernandes, Cary McClellin, Michael Davis, Morgan and Ridge Kennedy and their faithful team of volunteers!  Our homeless are among our “priceless” too!

 

In Christ’s Love,

 

Pastor Mark

 

PS -Don’t forget!  Move your clocks ahead one hour this Saturday night.  It’s painful, but be sure to “Spring Forward!” with the rest of us!

Happy Lent!

Friday, March 3, 2017


by Pastor Mark McAdow


We had a nice Ash Wednesday Service in Harris Hall on Wednesday night with several guests present.  The Season of Lent has officially begun.  I shared from Joel 2 about returning to the Lord, rending our hearts not simply our garments (outward expression), repenting of our sins and fasting.  What prompts us to respond this way during Lent?  The reminder of Christ's great sacrifice for us on the cross and the gracious, compassionate, loving nature of our Heavenly Father.

 

Fasting can take many forms such as abstaining from desserts, red meat, alcohol, specific meals, entertainments, etc.  The goal is to focus on Christ -not on what you are "giving up" for Lent.  I concluded with these words from Romans 13:14--"Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature" as Hardy and I "marked" each person with the sign of the cross on their foreheads. (When we were done, Sean brought his young daughter Natalie to me and asked if she could have a special mark on her forehead, and Mark was happy to comply!)

 

Pam Lippoldt also sent me the following piece about fasting from Pope Francis.  It too has some excellent ideas about fasting this season.


Do You Want to Fast this Lent?
In the words of Pope Francis


  • Fast from hurting words and say kind words
  • Fast from sadness and be filled with gratitude
  • Fast from anger and be filled with patience
  • Fast from pessimism and be filled with hope
  • Fast from worries and have trust in God
  • Fast from complaints and contemplate simplicity
  • Fast from pressures and be prayerful
  • Fast from bitterness and fill your hearts with joy
  • Fast from selfishness and be compassionate to others
  • Fast from grudges and be reconciled
  • Fast from words and be silent so you can listen


I'm beginning a new sermon series this Sunday called, "Meeting Jesus Again:  Lent 2017."  Hope you will join us as we focus on Jesus and celebrate Holy Communion together!

 

Yours in Christ's Love,

 

Pastor Mark

  

PS - Please be in prayer for a group of First Church leaders who are participating in a "Discernment Retreat" for First Church tonight and tomorrow at Camp Canyon!

The Most Famous Wednesday

This next Wednesday March 1 is Ash Wednesday. It's the official beginning of the Season of Lent in the Christian Year.  Lent comes from an Old English word meaning “springtime.”  As I write this, we’re breaking a record in OKC for the highest temperature on this given day on record!  It certainly feels like spring is right around the corner, though a few more below freezing days are still possible.

 

The day before Ash Wednesday is called “Shrove Tuesday.”   "Shrove" means to “repent.”  It’s also known by a much more popular term, Mardi Gras, which is literally “Fat Tuesday,” a day set aside to “party” by eliminating all the sugars and fats from your home in preparation to fast, give and pray during the 40 days of Lent.  The 40 days do not include Sundays, which are called “Little Easters” to remember Christ was raised from the dead on Easter Sunday.  The color for Lent is purple, symbolizing repentance, sacrifice and royalty because King Jesus died for all of us.

 

Lent is a time to prepare us to remember the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ during Holy Week.  Many people choose to fast by giving up a specific food, alcohol or other pleasure to focus more on Christ. The writer of Hebrews put it this way, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning it’s shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2-3)  Let’s all focus on Christ during this special season of the year.

 

I have found it meaningful to wear a cross during Lent to remind myself and others of Christ’s sacrifice. You could read the chapters of both the Gospels of Mark (16) and Luke (24) during the 40 days. I also urge you to consider signing up this Sunday to be a Lenten Prayer partner to encourage yourself and another First Church brother or sister in personal prayer.  I look forward to the opportunity!  You may want to create a prayer list of family members and friends who need Jesus as Savior and Lord that you in turn will invite to Holy Week Services.

 

Whatever the Lord shows you to do, do it!  As Pastor David Player challenged us last weekend, “Be all in for Jesus!”  He was and is all in for you.  Come join us this Wednesday evening at 7:00PM for our Ash Wednesday Worship Service in Harris Hall.  We will conclude our time by receiving the mark of the cross in ashes formed from last year’s Palm Sunday palm branches. To God be the glory!

 

Yours for a “meaning full” Lenten experience together,

 

Pastor Mark

 

PS - Keep the Revival fires burning in your heart!  We’ve only just begun!

Revival is Here!

February 17, 2017


by Pastor Mark McAdow


Tonight begins our scheduled 3-day Revival Weekend with Rev. David Player, Senior Pastor of Altus First United Methodist Church, originally from South Africa.  I also learned his second cousin in the famed Professional Golfer Gary Player!

 

We’ve been meeting in Harris Hall all month to prepare for this Revival opportunity.  We’re reading The Book of Acts every day, praying at 9:00PM nightly and I asked you last Sunday to prayerfully fast one day this week or the equivalent of three meals if you’re able.  I invested my meal times praying for each of our First Church members and friends by name--that includes you!  I trust you feel loved.

 

Now I’m asking you to be present at every service you possibly can.  We’re meeting tonight and tomorrow night at 7:00PM and Sunday morning David will be sharing in The Joint Heirs Adult Class at 9:30 (you all are invited!) and at Morning Worship at 10:45AM.  If you’re out of town this weekend, please be in prayer for these special times of worship.  Remember our theme is “Closer Together, Closer to God!”  If you’re in town, please come and bring a friend or two!  We’ve invited several neighbors and friends ourselves.  “We have not because we ask not.”  Come ready to receive from the Lord and experience His manifest Presence.  Childcare is also available.

 

I also wanted to share something that greatly touched my heart last Sunday.  Lisa Turley shared in Staff Meeting that a young boy in our Children’s Ministry seemed especially sad last Sunday morning.  She took him aside and asked what he was feeling.  Through tears he said he was concerned about his mother whom he hasn’t seen in over a year.  He said, “I don’t know if she is dead or alive.”  What a terrible thought for a young boy to have to carry.  At that, Lisa began to cry and they both exchanged Kleenex they cried together and Lisa offered comfort.  But there’s even more blessing to this story.  When they came back into the room, several inquired what was wrong and Lisa explained the boy was just having a rough day and they needed to pray for him.  Jan Chapman sat him in a chair and had the children surround him for prayer.  When asked who would pray, another young boy said he would and offered a brief heartfelt prayer.  Tears are in my eyes now.

 

God is at work at First Church.  Maybe not in the “big” ways of the past, but in every day ways that is making a difference in personal lives and for The Kingdom too!


Do everything you can to be present for each service this weekend.  I don’t want to miss out on anything the Lord wants to do in us, for us, with us and through us! 


To God be the Glory!!

 

Yours in Christ’s Love,

 

Pastor Mark

 

PS -Keep praying for Revival!  “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.  And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of God boldly”(Acts 4:31). Come Holy Spirit!  Revive us again!

Seven Days to Revival!

We're just seven days away to Revival!  Last Sunday we moved into Harris Hall to prepare for this month of Revival.  We began with a full altar of people on their knees praying for revival and began worship by singing "Holy Ground." I sensed God's Presence in a sweet and special way as Morgan led us.  I focused our thoughts on Becoming a Fully Devoted Follower of Jesus by Living a Life of Service following Jesus' example.  "The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."(Mark 10:45).  I was amazed when I asked for testimonies of where you are serving inside and outside of First Church and the responses just kept coming!  We truly are "Closer together, Closer to God" - our Revival theme in that historic, sacred space.


Monday night, many of us gathered again to meet Rev. David Player our Revival Preacher, originally from South Africa, and to hear his heart for Revival.  He led us in a moving time of prayer together.  We're praying for Revival nightly at 9:00PM and reading through the Book of Acts this month - 28 chapters in 28 days- being reminded how the Holy Spirit worked through the lives of our first brothers and sisters in Christ!


I'm also asking you to considering fasting 3 meals this week in preparation for our Revival Services.  You may choose to fast an entire day or one meal for three days.  Seek the Lord for His direction in your own personal walk with Him.


I'd like to close my thoughts by sharing a poem by Mother Teresa, who I mentioned in worship on Sunday.  I believe it is entitled Love Seeks to Serve


          I never look at the masses as my responsibility.  I look at the individual.  I can             serve only one person at a time.  I can feed only one person at a time.  Just               one, one, one.


          You get closer to Christ by coming closer to each other.  As Jesus said,                     "Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do to me."  So you                         begin.....I begin.


           I picked up one person - maybe if I didn't pick up that one person I wouldn't              have picked up 42,000.  The whole work is only a drop in the ocean.  But if I              didn't put the drop in, the ocean would be one drop less.


           Same thing for you


           Same thing in your family


           Same thing in the church where you go


           Just begin....one, one, one.


We serve an Audience of One and we are loved by the same Father.  May the Holy Spirit prepare each of us for a fresh encounter with Him this next weekend.  To Him be the glory!


I'm interrupting my current sermon series this Sunday to speak about our final Preparations for genuine Revival according to God's Word.  Praying to see you there!


In The Father's Love,   

 

Pastor Mark

God is on the Move!

by Pastor Mark McAdow


February 3, 2017


I shared last Sunday that Robin and I woke up Sunday morning to K-Love playing the song "God is on the Move!" and I believe He is! I've just come from Harris Hall that is now set up for Prayer and Worship this Sunday morning February 5th. We will gather in our Adult Sunday School classes at 9:30 and then move to Harris Hall for our bi-monthly All Church Prayer Gathering at 9:45AM. Please join us!


As you know, we set our phone alarms in Worship last Sunday morning to ring at 9:00 PM every night, so we can stop and pray for Revival! My phone went off at a Thunder game the other night, so my Thunder buddy and I stopped and prayed silently. (On hindsight, we should've prayed for The Thunder's "revival" too!). Oh well, that's another issue altogether! I forgive you, Enes Kanter.


This Monday evening Feb. 6, we will have the opportunity to meet our Revival Preacher, Rev. David Player, as he leads us in prayer for Revival beginning at 6:00 PM in the sanctuary. As we know, Prayer in the key to genuine revival!


Remember, to clear your calendars Feb. 17-19, so you can receive all the Lord has for you and us during this month of Revival. God is up to something good and I don't want any of us to miss it! If you can alter your plans that specific weekend, please do it as a gift of yourself to our Lord and I believe you will receive a great blessing too!


On Wednesday night the First Church Men's Class led by Michael Davis discussed the importance of preparing for Worship every weekend. Some of the practical ideas included:  getting good rest on Saturday night, getting up early on Sunday morning, spending time in confession before you come to worship (a new idea for many of us!), praying for the Worship Service and participants the day before (Your Pastor and Staff really appreciates your prayers!), setting our your clothes out and eating a good breakfast, coming with Bible and paper/pen in hand to learn and grow. That's some great advice! Hope you will try one or more of those ideas this Saturday evening!


Looking forward to what the Lord is going to do! Blessings!


Yours for Revival,


Pastor Mark


PS - See you this Sunday morning in Harris Hall -our original worship space!


PPS - February is a great month to read through the book of Acts...28 days, 28 chapters!

Revival is in the Air!

by Pastor Mark McAdow


January 27, 2017


I had the opportunity to play golf with two other friends who are United Methodist pastors last Friday.  It’s our semi-annual golfing trip that hasn’t happened for 10 years! (I left the scorecard behind as to avoid further embarrassment!)  As we were preparing to tee off, one of my friends shared about a SHIFT Team meeting he had recently at his church.  Some of you know, we have engaged in the SHIFT process this last year as well learning how to shift our focus in some key ministry areas at First Church.  My current preaching series, “Becoming a Fully Devoted Follower of Jesus Christ,” is based on some of those key themes.  


He mentioned that he had shared with his team that they are quite good at planning events and filling the church calendar, but what he feels they really need is Revival!  I was able to share with him that the Lord is saying the same thing to us!  How encouraging!

 

I’ll share Sunday some ways I’d like us to prepare for Revival and Revival Services at First Church the weekend of February 17-19.  The most important prep is, of course, prayer.  Rev. David Player from Altus First UMC will lead us in prayer on Monday evening February 6 at 6:00PM in the sanctuary for Revival.  We’ll be in Harris Hall during the month of February for Worship and Revival.  We’re changing venues for Revival!  I want to challenge you to pray nightly at 9:00PM for personal and First Church Revival, as we prayed for The Presidential Election and many of us have continued through The Daniel Fast.  Prayer is the key to Revival!  Morgan and Jan both received the same scripture for revival - “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past.  See I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah. 43:18-19)

 

The next important step is to “clear your calendars” as much as you possibly can during our Revival Services Weekend.  Anything you can let go of that weekend, please do.  This is a priceless and unique opportunity to seek the Lord together and we need everyone to make a special effort to be present every time if possible.  Ask the Lord what He wants you to do.  We’ll meet Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:00 PM and our regular time of Worship at 10:45 AM on Sunday  morning.  The atmosphere will be relaxed, but also expectant!  We pray the Lord will speak to us in fresh and refreshing ways during our weekend together.  To God be the glory!

 

Yours in Christ’s Love,

 

Pastor Mark

 

PS - Remember this Sunday we’re hosting our first Potluck Dinner of 2017 following morning worship.  Please bring a side dish or dessert as we “break fast” together and hear about First Sunday Heart and Home Fellowship.  Come prepared to share a great meal and enjoy some fun together too!  Blessings!

I've Got Some Great News to Share . . .

January 20, 2017


by Pastor Mark McAdow


During our Daniel Fast this month, The Lord has been speaking to your Pastor, Staff and First Church leaders.  As I began my fast, the Lord gave me a word: "Revival." I'm praying to be revived personally and for our First Church Family as well!


 

As we're prayed, shared and sought the Lord's will these last two weeks the idea arose to move to a "new" sacred space where we originally met for Worship as the First Church Family.  Some of you may not know, but Harris Hall was our original 1904 Sanctuary prior to the April 19, 1995 bombing of The Murrah Federal Building. That's why there are such beautiful stained glass windows in that room that once had wooden pews and a balcony too!  Have you ever noticed the special stained glass window from Robinson Street of a very famous US President?  I'm told there are only two of their kind in Oklahoma! I want you to know we plan to meet for Worship in Harris Hall during the month of February.

 

The space now associated with eating physical food (thanks to our great cooks Mary McIntire and Cary McClellin) began as sacred space for feasting on spiritual food.  We'll be moving there on Sunday Feb. 5 for the purpose of Revival!  We'll create space for worship and personal response with the opportunity to offer some new ways to worship our Lord too.  We'll meet at 9:45 AM that Sunday for an All Church Prayer Gathering and celebrate Holy Communion together in worship.  (Our coffee drinkers will also be able to drink coffee if they like!  Michael Davis has been asking me for that chance for many years!)  We're praying for a very special time together seeking the Lord this February.  Please pray with us for genuine revival.

 

My Best news is that we will also be hosting Revival Services in Harris Hall on Friday Feb. 17 -Sunday Feb. 19 with Rev. David Player, Senior Pastor at Altus First United Methodist Church.  The Lord gave us our theme this last Monday evening,  "Closer together, Closer to God!"  This specific verse came to me as well, "When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place" (Acts 2:1).

 

David Player is originally from South Africa--you will hear that clearly in his voice--but most importantly, I believe we will hear the voice of God.  David is a spirit-filled, passionate, fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ and man of great prayer!  We just secured his coming Wednesday afternoon, so I wanted you to know right away!  Praise the Lord!

 

Let's begin praying now for revival and renewal for us personally, our First Church friends and family and OKC too!  God is moving--let's be sure to move with Him!

 

Looking forward to being with you this Sunday morning as we have other good news to share!

 

Yours in Christ's Love,

 

Pastor Mark

 

PS - Special "Thanks" to Kris and Toby Nelson for the outstanding First Church Highlight video they produced and shared with us last Sunday morning.  It was simply amazing to see what we shared and accomplished together with the Lord in 2016!  Can't wait to see what He has in store for 2017!  Blessings!


How May I Pray for You?

January 13, 2017


by Pastor Mark McAdow



Last weekend, Robin and I took our youngest daughter Lauren out to dinner to celebrate her great grades from her first semester at OSU.  First semesters in college  can be very tricky and challenging! Thanks to the Lord and Lauren’s diligence (not to mention her parents’ prayers!)  she navigated quite well.  As the waitress delivered our meals and asked if there was anything else we needed, I said “We’re about to pray over our meal.  How may we pray for you?”  She was taken aback and replied. “Not a lot of people do that here, but we do in my family too.  I’m good but thank you.”  So we prayed she would be blessed and have a good evening at work.  Now, I want you to know that I don’t do that every time or even most of the time, but I did last Friday.  Why did I share?  Maybe to encourage you but also because of what the Lord revealed to me later when we got home.


You see it hit me that the very question I asked a complete stranger I rarely ask my own wife or children.  How may I pray for you?  I’m not sure I even ask members of our First Church Family the question that often.  I pray for you but don’t often ask your specific needs.  I’d like to do a better job in this New Year!

 

As some of you have experienced, I often try to call people on their birthdays and sing “Happy birthday!” to those I think will not laugh at me!  This year I also want to ask you a question on your birthday:  “How may I pray for you?”  After all, what greater gift can we give each other than to pray for one another?

 

During this month of January, while many of us are participating in The Daniel Fast or a variety of it, we know we will have grater sensitivity and our prayers will have even greater value.  We know from Jesus that prayer and fasting linked together can accomplish great results!  That’s why last Sunday I encouraged each of us to stop at 9:00PM nightly over these next three weeks and pray for First Church.  I’m praying specifically for Revival--my own and ours as a Church Family too!

 

Blessings to you and yours!

 

In Christ’s Love,

 

Pastor Mark


Staying Power

by Sarah Baumann


January 6, 2017


Happy New Year!


On the morning of Monday, January 2, I watched the annual Tournament of Roses Parade.  I never miss it.  That's mainly because Pasadena, California, is my home town, and I grew up going to watch the Parade as a little girl and, later, working on some of the floats in high school and college.  It was a unique experience!  Because of the Parade and the Rose Bowl, New Years Day in Pasadena is almost bigger than Christmas, if such a thing were possible!


As I watched this year's Parade, I was blessed to see that two of the entries were back once again as they have been for decades.  Amid the marching bands, equestrian groups, and floats from corporations and philanthropic organizations, these two stand out for their staying power and for the respect and affection in which they are held by the crowd.  One is The Salvation Army Marching Band, and the other is the Lutheran Layman's League float.  What makes them stand out and gives them staying power?  I believe it is their unflagging Christian witness in an era when it would be so much easier to conform to popular culture and go along with all the other groups.  Not that there is anything wrong with the other groups--on the contrary!  The whole event is usually family friendly and uplifting!  There is just something even more special, though, about The Salvation Army Marching Band and the Lutheran Layman's League float.  It is more than their talent and art on display--it is their faith.


As Christians, we too must have staying power in the face of the challenges and conflict that surround us.  Most people think of "power" as being a burst of extra-human strength that shows up just when it is needed most.  It is that, of course, but even more it is the quiet persistence and courage that keep us going day after day during all the small moments of trials, tests and temptations that come our way.  Powerful storms like tornadoes and hurricanes can wreak terrible destruction all at once, but the Colorado River has cut a deep gorge we call the Grand Canyon by simply flowing, wearing down the surrounding stone to create a place of extraordinary beauty.  The river has staying power.


Our staying power comes from the Holy Spirit living in us, from a steady diet of God's Word, and from a regular discipline of prayer.  My prayer for all at First Church in 2017 is that you will discover your staying power and be encouraged as you study and pray throughout the year.


Blessings!



Sarah Baumann

Director of Communications