faithful witness blog

Every week Pastor Mark McAdow and other staff members write their thoughts about current events, church happenings, and other topics of interest, all from a spiritual, Biblical perspective.  To view older blogs from the current year, please click here.

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!


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!