be who god made you to be

It seems lately that everywhere I look I’m seeing some type of message that’s being sent out to society enticing them to be somebody they’re not. As a youth minister this is particularly important to me because I know and understand how impressionable teenagers are and can be. This past Wednesday evening we spent some time in Youth talking about this very topic. As I taught on this topic, to our teens, I began to realize that though it is important to teach them that the only opinion that matters is God’s opinion and that we don’t have to pretend to be somebody we’re not just to impress a certain group of people … As I taught all of that I realized that adults are no different. Somehow, someway, throughout time its become a normal part of our everyday life to kind of put on a mask and hide the real us, so that whoever it is we’re trying to impress or hide from is successfully fooled into believing we’re something we’re not. How do we do this? The answer is simple, we do it in a lot of ways. There are many different types of masks we put on … One mask we put on is “THE HOLY MASK” … The is the one that tells everyone else how holy we are, how much we love God, how much we’ve got it all together, but in reality we couldn’t tell you the last time we opened our Bible or just sat down and prayed to God without it being during church. Next there’s “THE HAPPY MASK” … This is the mask that helps us hide our problems and our weaknesses. If we can hide those and pretend like they don’t exist then everyone else will think we’re just as happy as happy can be. Then we won’t have to have any real meaningful conversations with anybody. How about “THE SUCCESSFUL MASK” … this mask allows us to hide behind our accomplishments in life and just point to them all the time instead of dealing with our insecurities. Think about it…so many successful people in the world, celebrities, athletes, etc. all have one thing in common … They’re successful (by worldly standards). If that’s true and they are so successful then why do we see so many “successful” people crumble right before our eyes? The answer - Their insecurities are never dealt with and they just live behind the successes in their life. Lastly, we’ve got “THE LIKE YOU MASK” … This is the one I used to think only young people deal with but its so clear that adults alike do this same thing. We want to be liked by others, we want to be accepted and so sometimes we sacrifice our values in order to pretend to be somebody we’re not. No matter how hard we try we’ll never fool God. No matter what kind of mask we put on He still knows who we really are. And each one of us have one thing in common … We’re all sinners and we all need Jesus. The outside can be altered and changed and we can fool people but the inside stays the same unless we deal with it.  Why do we do this? Because our enemy, Satan, wants us to believe that we’re not good enough, that we must change who we are to be accepted and that the outside is what matters most. Scripture tells us otherwise.


Romans 3:23 says the following … “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”


AND THEN …


1 Samuel 16:7 says the following … “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but The Lord looks at the heart.’”


Let’s pray together this week that The Holy Spirit would guide each of us everyday to be exactly who God has made us to be. Let’s seek God with all our heart as we acknowledge that sometimes we don’t have it all together, sometimes we try to pretend but our own personal reality is that we’re all sinners. Let’s pursue God and grow closer to Him each day all while being authentic, repenting of our sins and truly turning away from them so that we can indeed grow closer to God each and every day!


First Church Family … I LOVE YOU ALL! Above all … don’t forget … GOD LOVES YOU!!

May we all be different and changed people because of the time we spend with God! AMEN!


In Christ,

Tony Moran

Director of Student Ministries


the greatest prayer ever prayed!

SEPTEMBER 25, 2015

Last Sunday morning we had the privilege of hearing from Mark Burget with Search Ministries about "The Greatest Prayer Ever Prayed" from Colossians 1:9-10.  He was quick to add that his title in no means meant to diminish the power of The Lord's Prayer, which we pray together every Sunday morning.  He just made the case that Paul's prayer for the Christians at Colossae has been most powerful in his life as well.

 

Robin has prayed that prayer or me over the years, as I have for her on occasions, but Mark shared how not only does it pray it for his bride, but also his children and grandchildren as well.  Het described as a simple and effective 14-word prayer.  Here it is in the NIV.

 

            "For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you, and asking God to...fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding."  That's a great prayer to pray for yourself and others!

 

There's a great promise that's follows- "And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light."  Cols. 1:10-12

 

I had an opportunity to share these verses with a new friend today who received it as a direct word from the Lord, regarding a new ministry opportunity before him.  You never know how the Lord may want to speak through you  -through His word.  I was so inspired and encouraged last Sunday, I feel directed plan to preach through the Book of Colossians.  I encourage you to read through Colossians this next week, especially chapter 1 for this Sunday.  I believe the Lord has something special to say to each of through his inspired Word!

 

Blessings!

 

Pastor Mark

 

 

PS -Wednesdays Nights at First are off to a great start!  You can still join us for an excellent meal at 5:30, time of worship and separate studies for Men and Women from 6:30 - 7:45 PM.  You will be blessed!



EVERYBODY LOVES MELVIN

OCTOBER 2, 2015
There's a popular television show now in reruns called "Everybody Loves Raymond" but around First Church, we'd say "Everybody Loves Melvin!"  Today at 1:00 we will celebrate our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and celebrate the life of our beloved brother and friend Melvin Ervin.  I hope you will be able to join us with your prayers and your presence if possible. 

 

One of the great joys and privileges of being your Pastor is the opportunity to share life with you during the happy times as well as the harder ones.  I was blessed to be with Martie, and Melvin's daughter Kelly when he "graduated" from this life to the next last Tuesday early morning.  John Wesley said, "Methodists die well" and indeed they do.  It's a peaceful transition to a promised reward.  We all know Jesus is our reward and Heaven is our real home. 

 

The famous Radio and Television Commentator Paul Harvey once wrote a piece entitled "What Are Fathers Made Of."  I've excerpted several lines that reminded me of Melvin...

 

A father never feels entirely worthy of the worship in a child's eyes. He's never quite the hero his daughter thinks, never quite the man his son believes him to be -- and this worries him, sometimes.

So he works too hard to try and smooth the rough places in the road for those of his own who will follow him.

A father is a thing that gets very angry when the first school grades aren't as good as he thinks they should be. He scolds his son though he knows it's the teacher's fault.

Fathers are what give daughters away to other men who aren't nearly good enough so they can have grandchildren who are smarter than anybody's.

I don't know where fathers go when they die. But I've an idea that after a good rest, wherever it is, he won't be happy unless there's work to do.

He wont' just sit on a cloud waiting for the girl he's loved ...

He'll be busy there, too, repairing the stairs, oiling the gates, improving the streets, smoothing the way.

 

"Well done, good and faithful servant."  We love you Melvin!

 

Your Brother in Christ,

Pastor Mark


CELEBRATE MARRIAGE 2015

OCTOBER 9, 2015

Last October, I was invited to participate in the first "Celebrate Marriage OK" event at the State Capitol on a Tuesday at noon.  It was an opportunity to gather with other believers to encourage and celebrate God's gift of marriage.  I met some new friends in Christ and was able to renew my wedding vows with my bride Robin as well!  Thirty-one years and going strong!  Obviously, she is a most loving and gracious lady!

 

I just learned that this year the event is actually this Sunday, October 11, right after church at The Myriad Gardens beginning at 1:00 with local Food Trucks available for lunch.  About 2:00; there will be a short walk through Bricktown with participants carrying balloons representing their commitment to the Institution of Christian marriage as singles, married couples and children with a balloon release to follow on their return.  I remember Pastor Charlie Spears who led Robin and my pre-marriage counseling sessions and challenged us to love Marriage, even more than we loved each other.  It seemed like a strange remark to make, but there are days in any relationship when you must choose to love the relationship even more than the person.  That's what love does!

 

The Apostle Paul gave us the best definition of love in I Corinthians 13:4-8a.  "Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails."

 

Some of you know those verses so well; you didn't even take time to read them just now.  And even for those who did, the familiar often loses it's meaning.  I invite you to read them again -slowly now.  And if you are willing, insert your first name in for the word "love."  How does it fit?  For me, sometimes not so very well, especially that line about self-seeking. 

 

What would it look like if we truly loved others like I Corinthians 13?  I believe the world and The Church would be a better place!  I'm so glad the Lord promises, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving kindness"(Jeremiah 31:3).  Thankfully, The Lord always keeps His promises!  "And now these three remain:  faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love"(I Cor. 13:13).


View more on Celebrate Marriage 2015

 

In Christ's Love,

 

Pastor Mark

 

PS - Hope to see you this Sunday!  If you can attend Sunday afternoon's event, please bring a chair or blanket to sit on at The Myriad Gardens.  Blessings!

WE THE PEOPLE

OCTOBER 16, 2015


Do you know what historic document begins with "We The People?"

 

            "WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

 

We the people.  "We The People" established our government founded on biblical principles by men who in the vast majority were true Christian believers, willing to sacrifice their wealth, livelihoods and their very lives to "form a more perfect union."  We are the recipients of their great sacrifices and the ones entrusted to maintain this union and the principles upon which it was founded.  Not only are we Americans, but we are also Oklahomans, but also more importantly, we are Christians.  We now live in a Society that no longer appreciates the sacrifices of our forefathers and mothers or hold to their high biblical standards.  Like the Colossian believers in Paul's time, we too are being deceived and taken "captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world, rather than on Christ." (Cols. 2:8).  We believe we are wiser than those who went before us but nothing could be farther from the truth.  We may know much more about God's creation than they did, but we deny that He created it all and it all belongs to Him.  We are so arrogant to believe we know better than Almighty God.

 

We must make a choice.  Throw in the towel on God's truth or defend it with our lives.  We have an opportunity to do just that right here in Oklahoma on Sunday October 25 at our State Capitol from 4:00 - 6:00 PM.  It is a Protect Life and Marriage OK Rally and Prayer Gathering.  I've been asked to be present to assist in leading prayer.  Over 700 pastors have signed up in support of this effort to end abortion in Oklahoma, except in the rare case of the life of the mother, and to re-establish the biblical definition of marriage here in Oklahoma that was passed overwhelmingly by Oklahomans a few years ago and added to our State Constitution.  Nowhere does the US Constitution give The Supreme Court the right to make decisions of this magnitude for the nation without respect for individual state's rights.  It is an abuse of their power and affront to God and His Holy Word.  I am investing my time and my money in this effort and I invite you to learn more and join me and other fellow believers next Sunday afternoon for the sake of Christ and a biblical worldview.  "Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter; Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man" (Eccl. 12:13). We The People Can make a difference!

 

Yours in Christ,

 

Pastor Mark

 

PS - There will be petitions available in the Plaza for those of you who want to lend your name in support of this great effort.  Thanks.


PPS - Be sure to help us feed the hungry of OKC by filling up a grocery bag with canned fruit and cereal for Skyline Urban Ministry.  You can bring your food items back this Sunday Oct. 18 or Oct. 25.  Bless you!

LOOKING BACK OVER OUR YEAR:  Senior Pastor's Report to the 2015 Charge Conference

OCTOBER 23, 2015


We pray every Sunday The Lord's Prayer from Matthew 6, including this line, "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."  How is it done in heaven?  Perfectly!  We are often far from that in this world.  As I was blessed to hear last month at The Bishop's Retreat Day, Christian Pastor and Author Reggie McNeal reminded us it doesn't read "Thy Church come, but They Kingdom come."  The Church and The Kingdom are two different things though closely related.  The Church is the vehicle by which The Kingdom is designed to grow here on earth.

 

I have always been a proponent of The Kingdom!  It's bigger than any local church and draws in believers from many different Christian faith traditions.  I believe we should discover what God is doing and join Him in it!  Too often we try to create our own strategies, rather then seeking to determine the ones God is already blessing.

 

This last year we've been involved in Kingdom work here at First Church by engaging our local Community through our growing Whiz Kids tutoring ministry in conjunction with Gatewood Elementary School.  We celebrated our fourth anniversary of Friday Night Alive!, our ministry to and with the homeless population of Oklahoma City most every Friday evenings, led by Mary Walbert and Texye Fernandes and their faithful First Church volunteers.  We hosted our 10th Second Wind Marathon Ministry Weekend in April with our Blessing of The Shoes Worship Service and Free Pancake Breakfast for Memorial Marathon runners and their families.  I had the privilege of participating in the 20th Anniversary Service of The Murrah Bombing by offering the Invocation.  We also hosted The State of Oklahoma's National Day of Prayer Service this year, the day after the May 6th flood downtown that flooded a significant part of our first floor and Sanctuary.  We overcame the adversity and just kept praying!

 

A special emphasis for us this last year - all for The Kingdom - was our participation in The Franklin Graham Festival held at The Chesapeake Arena August 22-23. I served on The Executive Team representing a United Methodist presence and First Church hosted City Evangelism Training events here, as well as The City Wide Prayer Service prior to The Festival.  I was proud that several of our members served at the Festival as ushers, counselors and members of the Choir for the evangelistic Outreach.  Praise God for their faithfulness!

 

We welcomed a new Worship Leader--Morgan Harper --to our First Church Staff in June and recently a new Administrative Assistant Sarah Baumann as well.  We added 18 new members, baptized a total of 10 infants, children and adults and anticipate others in the weeks to come.  We also have just celebrated the lives of three of our faithful members:  Ken Gibbons, Melvin Ervin and Doris Haley, who are enjoying the blessings of their eternal home today!

 

In response to the Charge Conference questions concerning First Church...

  1. 1.    Who are we now?  We are a historic downtown medium sized congregation primarily from the OKC Metro that "exists to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."  We seek to do that by:  Connecting with God through weekly worship and prayer, Growing in Faith in Small groups and personal devotion times, and Serving with Love on regular Ministry teams and Missions.  We were thrilled to host our first oversees Mission Trip with our Senior High Youth to Costa Rica this last Spring Break. A life-changing trip for many!  We also are a Community Host for The OKC Memorial Marathon, new Church starts, another local homeless ministry associated with The Disciples of Christ Church, OU Dental and White Coat Graduations, weddings, state and National Events including the National Day of the Bible Event.
  1. 2.    Who are our neighbors now?  The downtown business     community, the homeless of OKC, low income children in the Gatewood neighborhood and new downtown residents too!
  1. 3.    What does God call us to do now?  We feel led to invest in intergenerational ministry within our First Church Family and to get outside the walls of our Church facility into the lives of our friends, family, co-workers and neighbors!  We have recently launched a new "user friendly" website to reach out to our guests and our women are making plans to host a Women's Bible Study for working women downtown in the near future.  We've created a brand new Creative Outreach Team to be led by Kris and Toby Nelson.  We want to strengthen our Whiz Kids and Homeless Ministries and reach out to downtown businesses and residents in practical ways.
  1. 4.    What difference has God called us to make in the next 3-5 years and what will be the results if we are fruitful?  Quite honestly, that is yet to be fully determined.  We obviously want to grow in prayer, evangelism and outreach in OKC.  We want to learn how we can bless Oklahoma City and her residents much more in the years to come, maintaining biblical integrity and a non-compromising presence in the heart of The City.  We anticipate spiritual growth, as we are faithful to Christ and His work, allowing Him to determine our ultimate fruitfulness. 

We've implemented some of the ideas gleaned from our United Methodist Foundation's Arise Seminar and I am actively participating in The Companions of Lifestyle Renovation Team with The Heartland District learning new ways of expanding The Kingdom of God!  I believe what we need most is heartfelt revival - personally and as a church family.  The Church in America especially needs revival and it must begin here as faithful Christians pray passionately for "The Kingdom to come on earth as it is in Heaven."  Bold prayers honor God and God honors bold prayers!  May we pray as though it all depends on Jesus and serve as though it all depends on us!  I feel blessed and privileged to serve Jesus Christ and The First Church Family another year as their Senior Pastor.  To God be the glory!

 

Respectfully Submitted,

 

Rev. Mark S. McAdow


A MONTH OF THANKS!

OCTOBER 30, 2015

November is almost here!  You can feel it in the air and the calendar doesn't lie -this Sunday is November 1!  Do you know what this Sunday is called?  All Saints' Day or "All Hallows. "  That's also where we got the term "Halloween" from - "All Hallows Eve" - the day before All Saints' Day.  What is that about?  It is a Day in The Roman Catholic Church to commemorate Saints and in our church to remember the "saints" of First Church who went to be with the Lord since All Saints' Day last year.  We have four special people to remember in worship this Sunday.  We are most thankful for their life and witness among us and for their families.

 

I want to thank those of you who participated in Laity Sunday last week especially Kris and Toby Nelson, John Ringgold, Sue Kuntze and David Hancock for bringing us a Word from the Lord and sharing through the preached Word as well.  We also enjoyed some great chili thanks to several of you and thanks to the firefighters of Station 1 who judged the chili and brought two rigs to display too for kids of all ages!  Congratulations to Carolyn Grady, Cindy Janka and Cary McClellin who are the "Chili Champs" for 2015!

 

Thanks to those of you who supported the Pro Life and Pro Marriage Rally at our State Capitol last Sunday afternoon too!  Several Thousand were on hand to pray, celebrate, educate and seek ways to uphold God's standards in these crucial areas for our State as "We The People. "

 

In a time of prayer last week, I sensed from the Lord a desire to offer Holy Communion every Sunday in the month of November.  We are making plans now to offer the Sacrament in different ways every Sunday, as a way to remember Jesus' great sacrifice for our sins and to be thankful.

 

Also, personal thanks to those of you who expressed appreciation to Robin and me this last month for Pastor's Appreciation Month.  We feel humbled and blessed to be your Pastor and wife.

 

Looking forward to seeing you this Sunday!  Be sure to "Fall Back"  Saturday night and enjoy an extra hour of sleep!

 

Yours in Christ,

 

Pastor Mark

 

PS - Bring a dollar with you this Sunday to learn about "Bonus bucks."

 

PPS - Please pray for me as I run in my first ever 15K Race on Saturday!

 

WORTH THE EFFORT!

NOVEMBER 6, 2015


"Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus"(Phils. 3:13-14).

 

Last Saturday I did something I have never done before in my life!  I had prepared for it for weeks, practiced faithfully, anticipated the actual event and hoped for the intended outcome.  I ran in The Tulsa Run!  Now I have run in the OKC Marathon and The Tulsa Run for several years, but always the 5K (3.1 miles).  This year, with encouragement from my son Matt earlier in the spring, I signed up for and ran The Tulsa Run 15K (9.3 miles) which included running the hills of downtown Tulsa as well as running across The Arkansas River two times!  I had a small but great group of supporters including Robin and some close friends who helped cheer me on, as well as dozens of others along the route.  I actually ran faster than I had anticipated by about 10 minutes and came in at 1:49:55 at a 12 minute overall pace.  Not too bad for an old guy!

 

I ran the whole way.  Did I ever question if it would ever end?  Absolutely!  Did I wonder if I could finish the race? Sure, but I knew I wasn't alone.  Several thousand other runners were out there on the course, but most importantly the Lord was with me.  I spoke the name "Jesus" many times throughout the race and I had this scripture written out on my back -"Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint"(Isaiah 40:31).  I'm not sure "I soared on the wings like eagles," but I was sore! (I also lost my car key along the way, but that's another story!).

 

God was faithful to me and I was faithful to "finish strong" with His help.  I give "Thanks" to Him for "never leaving or forsaking me" along this journey we call Life.  Though the race is rough at times, He is always there!  Not only at the Finish Line, but running with you along the way.  He sent folks to encourage me (as He does all of us at times) and invited me to run this race in memory of my earthly father Bob J. McAdow, which was a blessing and an honor.  Our Father is worth the effort!  Paul writes, "I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received"(Ephs. 4:1).

Run First Church Run!

 

Yours in Christ's Great Love,

 

Pastor Mark

 

PS - Congratulations to our own Jason Soper who finished The New York Marathon last weekend!

PPS - Remember to bring your "bonus bucks" or pocket change every Sunday to support our foster care children here in Oklahoma!  Bless you!


FACETIME

NOVEMBER 13, 2015


What do you think of when I write, "face time?"  The technologically savvy think I'm speaking of Apple's FaceTime feature, where you can actually talk with another person while seeing them where they are and vice a versa. It's a truly amazing feature.  It's particularly nice when you can see someone ion another state or around the world that you don't often get to see.  I just got off FaceTime with Kris and Toby Nelson and Sarah Fletcher in Hawaii.  Though in this case, it certainly could make a person envious, it was also a great blessing too! (When our son Matt was traveling this summer in the Pacific Northwest and Canada, it was always great to actually see him to know he hadn't become bear food!).

 

When I was growing up I remember reading in our 1970 World Book Encyclopedia (younger readers can ask their grandparents what that it), about the possibility of large "picture phones" in the future  - decades before Skype was a possibility or even a real thought.  This was "pie in the sky"/ "Maxwell Smart type "dreaming but it has become a reality!  Before that, face time was the idea of speaking 'face to face" with someone or in the case of a woman, the time it takes "to put their face on."  Guys of course put on their "poker face' or "game face" as well!

 

How many of you engage in  "face time" with your spouse? Children? Co-workers? Neighbors? Your Heavenly Father?  Our First Church Staff spent a day this week sharing, praying and planning face to face off site.  It was a refreshing time to focus on each other and ministry together here at First Church.  We're playing "catch up" today, but I believe it was well worth it.  It's good to spend face time together.

 

I shared a new favorite verse with our Staff from Psalm 105:4 -"Look to the Lord and His strength; seek his face always."  We took a few minutes to meditate on that verse using the "vowel method" of meditation:

 

            A - Ask questions about the verse

            E - Emphasize a different word as you say the verse aloud several times

             I -  "In your own words" - paraphrase the verse for yourself

            O - Other references in the Bible that relate to the verse

            U - Use it!  Apply it to your life today!

 

I encourage you to set aside some "face time" with Jesus today.  You will be blessed as you gaze into His face and find "the things of earth will grow strangely dim."

 

Yours for a Closer Relationship with Jesus,

 

Pastor Mark

 

PS - This is Sunday November 15 is our Stewardship Banquet right after morning Worship.  Be sure to stay and enjoy a home-cooked Sunday Dinner of roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, greens beans, rolls and a delicious dessert by Mary!

I'm already getting hungry!  Blessings!

PRAYERS FOR PARIS

NOVEMBER 20, 2015


Just one week ago, we learned of terrorist attacks in Beirut and Paris on Friday the 13


th.  Coincidence?  Probably not.  The intent of the perpetrators of these heinous, cowardly attacks was to kill as many as possible and strike fear in those who remain.  ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks and has pledged to do the same in Washington, D.C. and other American cities. So what's our response?  We can live in fear and stay home from all restaurants, concert venues, football/soccer stadiums, basketball arenas, movie theaters and even churches.  Or we can live our lives to the fullest trusting the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom, keen observation skills and Divine protection.  We can live in fear or we can live with faith!

 

I was asked to offer a prayer this last Tuesday afternoon in a service at The

Survivor Tree and especially focus my thoughts and prayers on those impacted tragically last weekend.  I thought you might appreciate knowing how I responded (By the way, I was the only one who prayed on the Name of Jesus!).

 

Merciful, Heavenly Father,

            Thank You this day for the gift of Life.  Our world was reminded once again this past weekend that life is truly a gift to be honored by all.  Tragically, it has been cheapened by those who place no value on innocent lives or their own lives either.  As Oklahomans and Americans we know first hand the painful experience of unexpected and unwarranted violence toward others.

            We pray for the victims' families, survivors, first responders, and all those forever changed in Paris, Beirut, and around the world by the demonic actions of evil-inspired persons.  Though created in your image as we all are, they have believed and internalized hatred that has given birth to violent terror.  Bring each one to justice in this life, as we know You will ultimately do in the next.

            We ask that You wrap Your loving, strong arms around those who have suffered the most in these last days with the comfort only a loving Father can give.  Restore, renew and rebuild the lives of those now paralyzed with fear.  Offer them hope according to your word in Isaiah the Prophet:  "Do not fear, for I am with you, do not anxiously look about you, for I am Your God.  I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

            Thank you for not abandoning us in our darkest hour, but always offering us the light of our Savior Jesus Christ.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  But You, Jesus, come so we may have life and that more abundantly.

            Now may the God of Hope full us and the people of France and Lebanon especially with all joy and peace as we trust in Him, so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

            In Jesus' name I pray.  Amen.

 

According to God's Word, we must be "wise as serpents and gentle as doves." (Matthew 10:16)

 

Looking forward to worshipping with you this Sunday!

 

In Christ's Love,

 

Pastor Mark

 


PS  -Remember


Tonight is the national concert to Celebrate The Bible right here at First Church beginning at 6:30PM.  Come help us be great hosts and participants in this special event featuring Jamie Smith leading Worship and several excellent area choirs!

Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart

by Pastor Mark McAdow


This weekend is a great weekend to "stop and catch your breath" -another word for spirit - before the Christmas season shifts into high gear!  Just because the Big meal is over and the leftovers are stored away, don't miss the opportunity to "give thanks with a grateful heart" to our Heavenly Father (It might be especially good to do it before Bedlam!).  We are the most blessed people in the world.


 

My favorite Pastor of all time is Billy Graham -my "Birthday buddy."  This is what he wrote about "Thankfulness."

 

            Ingratitude and thanklessness are far too common in our world.  Children forget to thank their parents for all they do.  We take for granted the ways that others help us.  Above all, we fail to thank God for His blessings.  When we come to Christ, it is not the end but the beginning of a whole new life!  He is with us, and He wants to help us follow Him and his Word.

            In ourselves we do not have the strength that we need to live the way

God wants us to live.  But when we turn to Him, we discover that "it is

God who works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure" (Phils 2:13).  In many countries a special day is set aside each year for thanksgiving.  But for the

Christian every day can be a day of thanksgiving, as we are "giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ"(Ephs. 5:20).

            Thank God for His continued presence and power in your life.  Think of it:  always giving thanks for everything - no matter the circumstances!  A spirit of thanksgiving is always the mark of a joyous Christian.

 

 

Hope you are enjoying your Thanksgiving Weekend!  I look forward to being with you this Sunday as we begin the brand new Christian Year with The First Sunday in Advent.  (Thanks to each of you who came last Saturday morning and stayed Sunday after church to help us decorate for The Advent Season.  First Church is looking really beautiful thanks to you!).  We will begin a 3-week series called "Dr. Luke's Christmas" with the Christmas story found in the Gospel of Luke and serve Holy Communion in a special way this Sunday.

 

Yours in Christ,

 

Pastor Mark

 

PS - Thanks to each of you who made your 2016 commitment to Jesus and First Church last Sunday.  We had a good initial response and look forward to hearing from all our First Church Family in the next few weeks.  Be Blessed!


One Special Picture

By Pastor Mark McAdow


If you have ever stepped into my office, you will note several things right away! One is that I like Coca-Cola.  You will see Coke items on my walls, several bookshelves and on the floor as well!  My "corner office" is very crowded and not at all very neat.  You will see lots of books and you will also see piles of great magazines and articles yet to be read.  You will also see some pictures on my desk:  my beautiful bride, on my shelves of my wonderful children, and some framed commemorative stamps, scriptures, slogans, a large picture of Jesus and also a picture of a submarine and a young sailor.  That's the picture I want to share about today (see below).

 

 

The picture is of my father before he was my father serving on the USS Charr diesel submarine during The Korean War.  I don't know how I got the picture, but I must have asked my Mom for it after my father died in January 1988.  It has hung in each of my church offices over the years.  Not many people have noticed it or asked about it, but Michael Davis did not too long ago.  Though I never served in the military, I'm glad I had a dad who did.  I am proud of his service and the service of so many other military veterans in the First Church family and beyond.

 

What's my point of sharing this thought at the beginning of The Advent Season?

I read about a young son of a missionary who was asked years ago by his Principal at his Boarding School, "What would you like most of all for Christmas?"  The boy pointed to a framed picture of his father in a distant land and said, "I want my father to step out of that frame."  I do too!  I wish that I could have another face-to-face conversation with him.  I wish that he could meet his grandchildren and spend time with his beloved wife, my Mom.  I'd love to feel his embrace and firmly shake his hand man to man.  But...I'll have to wait until I arrive in Heaven.

 

"I want my father to step out of that frame."  Wasn't that the cry of all humanity before Jesus came?  We want God, our Creator and Father to step out of the frame of the universe, out of the distance to a personal relationship with each of us.  Immanuel--God with us.  That's what Advent and Christmas is all about!


Don't miss the true meaning of Christmas:  God with us and His Spirit within us! 

 

Yours in Christ's Love,

 

Pastor Mark

 

PS - Hope you all have your electricity back on!  We had a beautiful service of Word, Holy Communion and worship last Sunday, but many of you were missed.  Hope to see you all this Lord's Day!  Blessings!

 

PSS - First Church will be featured on the downtown historic Church Tour this Sunday afternoon December 6 from 3:30 - 4:00.  Bill Mullins will be our guide!


_____________ Sallie

by Mark McAdow

December 11, 2015


How would you fill in the blank?  Sister?  Silly? Sultry? Saint?  When I think of our beloved Sister-in-Christ Sallie Felton the first scripture that comes to mind is "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones" (Proverbs 17:22).  Sallie certainly had a most joyful heart and was able to share her joy with everyone she met.  The Grinch never met Sallie Felton or he would've never become a Grinch I'm sure!  When you think of Sallie, it always makes you smile!

 

Those of us who were privileged to know Sallie know how blessed we really are.  When life threw her a curve and she could've easily become become bitter she chose the high road and became "better!"  In fact, that high road led to her literally roads all over the world!  She visited over thirty different countries and led over 60 Mission trips after the age of 55!  She was truly an amazing lady.  I had the privilege of traveling with her and some other great folks from First Church to Mexico in January of 2008.  We had our share of adventures together including many trips to "el bano" after drinking "pastor approved" filtered water from a filter that wasn't hooked up properly.  Can you say "Cypro?"  It became my drug of choice!  Saltines and 7-Up never tasted so good!

 

Sallie of course was known for her cache of trademark "jokes."  She remembered every one and told them multiple times, often changing the punch time for the people she most wanted to impact or jab!  Her antics at the annual First Church Talent Show for Missions are truly legendary.  I often had to stand up and give a "disclaimer" regarding anything she might say or do!  This last year, it required 3 Sallie impersonators to take her place, though she was present as our "featured guest."

 

She was also a woman of The Word.  She loved to teach the Bible to Youth, young woman in prison and her faithful Upper Room Sunday School Class members to name a few.  As John Iwanski shared with me, "She could tell a joke and share a scripture in the next moment and both would be appropriate!"  How we miss our beloved Sallie but the good news is that we will see her again!  We may not recognize her voice because it will be healed, but I know we will know her without a doubt!

I can almost hear her now calling us to dinner -"The Blessing! The Blessing!"  Sallie was and is a blessing!


We will celebrate her life this Tuesday December 15 at 11:00AM right here at First Church.  Hope you can join us.  The family has asked any Memorial gifts to be directed to First Church Missions.  Thanks!

 

Yours in Christ,

 

Pastor Mark


Have a Mary Christmas 2015

December 18, 2015


Mary had the right idea about Christmas.  "But May treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart"(Luke 2:19).  Christmas is a time to "ponder."  What does that mean?  According to the dictionary, it means to "consider something deeply and thoroughly, meditate."  What are you meditating on this Advent Season? All you need to get done in the next seven days?  It is really true?  Only 7 days till Christmas! What about the Christmas story itself?  Have you taken time out to pray and thank God for His greatest gift to us - Jesus.  It may be a cliché, but it's not less true.  He is the Reason for The Season and our world desperately needs to know Him.  Here's something to ponder for a moment today.  Dreams are a big part of The Christmas Story.  Here's a piece called "Mary's Dream" - Author unknown.

 

            I had a dream, Joseph.  I don't understand it, not really, but I think it was about a birthday celebration for our Son.  I think that was what it was all about.  The people had been preparing for it for about six weeks.  They had decorated the house and bought new clothes.  They'd gone shopping many times and bought elaborate gifts.  It was peculiar, though, because the presents weren't for our Son.  They wrapped them in beautiful paper and tied them with lovely bows and stacked them under a tree.  Yes, a tree, Joseph, right in their house.  They'd decorated the tree also.  The branches were full of glowing balls and sparkling ornaments.  There was a figure on the top of the tree.  It looked like an angel might look.  Oh, it was beautiful.  Everyone was laughing and happy.  They gave the gifts.  They were all excited about the gifts.  They gave the gifts to each other, Joseph, not to our Son.  I don't think they even knew Him.  They never mentioned His name.  Doesn't it seem odd for people to go to all that trouble to celebrate someone's birthday if they don't know Him?  I had the strangest feeling that if our Son had gone to this celebration He would have been intruding.  Everything was so beautiful, Joseph, and everyone so full of cheer, but it made me want to cry.  How sad for Jesus not to be wanted at His own birthday celebration.  I'm glad it was only a dream.  How terrible, Joseph, if it had been real.

 

How can we keep Christ at the center of our Christmas celebration?  Take time to ponder, to pray, and to worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

 

Looking forward to this Sunday's Christmas Worship with "The Sounds of Christmas" directed by our Worship Leader Morgan Harper and performed by the various music groups of First Church, including our Advent Choir, Worship Band, First Kids Choir, Prime Chimers and The Janka Family Ringers!  It will be fun!

Please bring a family member, friend or neighbor with you!

 

Yours in Christ,

 

Pastor Mark

 

PS - Thanks in advance for your generous special Christmas gift to First Church by year's end. We've currently raised over $700 for the children in our Circle of Care foster care program through "bonus bucks!" Blessings to you and yours!

 

PSS - Christmas Eve Candlelight and Communion Service this Thursday December 24 at 5:00PM.  Merry Christmas!

Merry Balmy Christmas!

December 25, 2015


If the Weather predictions are true, we are experiencing an amazingly warm Christmas for Oklahoma!  This is a great year to receive a new bike, golf clubs, basketball goal, running clothes, etc.  You can actually get out and enjoy this Christmas Day!  What a blessing!

 

At Staff meeting a week ago, Sarah Baumann shared with us some thoughts she wrote down about Christmas and Easter and how they are so intricately related. 


You really can't celebrate one without the other.  Jesus was born in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago but He was born with a mission -to later die for each of our sins, so that we might have life with Him forever. Saint Athanasius said it this way, "He became what we are that He might make us what He is."

 

Here are the powerful heartfelt words Sarah shared with us...

 

An Advent Meditation

by Sarah Baumann

 

Advent and Lent, Christmas and the Resurrection, cannot be separated.  They are bookends of the same event:  the redemption of mankind by the Creator through the incarnation, life, teachings, miracles, death and resurrection of Jesus.  Thus it is that those who know the true meaning of Christmas experience it all at once:

 

We look for the angels singing to shepherds outside Bethlehem and meet instead one who says, "He is not here.  He is risen!"

 

We hurry with the shepherds to find the manger with its miraculous baby and find ourselves walking with a group of women carrying spices and oils to complete the burial rituals for their beloved Jesus.

 

We stoop to peer into a lowly stable and step into a borrowed tomb.

 

We seek a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and find a burial shroud that is empty.

 

We anticipate a tiny fist lying on hay in a manger and discover that same hand nailed against the rough wood of a cross.

 

The celebration of Jesus' birth and His death and resurrection should be a constant, unified theme in the lives of Christians throughout the year.

 

Thanks to Sarah and to each of you who have made this a special Christmas for us and so many others her at First Church and beyond!  God is good all the time and all the time God is good!  Remember, Christmas is just another reminder that what God says is true, "I have loved with an everlasting love"(Jeremiah 31:3).

Merry Christmas! 

 

It's a joy to serve as your Pastor and Brother in Christ,

 

Pastor Mark

 

PS - Wishing you and yours a very Blessed Christmas Day and a Happy and Healthy New Year!

CHRISTMAS DAY ... IS FINALLY ... OVER!


We can celebrate now that Christmas Day is finally over! I know what some of you may be thinking when you read the title and the first sentence ... "Okay, where is he going with this?!?" That's a fantastic question, and if you don't mind lending me a few minutes of your time I'll tell you exactly what I mean.


See, in the days leading up to the birth of The Messiah, Jesus Christ, there was great anticipation by many. There was no doubt anticipation from His Mother and Father (Mary & Joseph). Then there was the anticipation from all of the people, who for generations had been awaiting the arrival of this "King". The funny thing is that for many of those folks they didn't even know the birth of The Messiah was happening much less did they know that this "King" wasn't quite going to live up to their expectations. But nonetheless ... There was anticipation leading up to His Birth.


As a child there was always a very large amount of anticipation leading up to Christmas morning for obvious reasons ... Presents, gifts, toys ... you know ... THE LOOT! The sad thing is, for myself anyways, I can't remember one Christmas as a child when I lived in great anticipation of the day that I could finally celebrate the birth of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I mean, don't get me wrong, I knew what Christmas was "really" about but for me, as a kid, all I cared about was what was under that Christmas tree.


I'm 33 years old; I'll be 34 in a few months. I've been married for 13 years and we have two beautiful children. Our son, Jacob is 8 years old and our daughter, Harper will be 2 years old in March. I've vowed as a parent to remedy the mistake I laid upon myself growing up. I want my children to experience and enjoy the "Magic" of Christmas and I certainly want them to have "fun" with it all. However, there will never be a moment in my home where my children mistake any of that "stuff" for what Christmas is truly about. There are so many ways to do that and there's no one right way to do that. So, Amanda and I will learn and grow alongside our children each year as we strive to teach Jacob & Harper to live in anticipation of Christmas day. So that on that morning and the day after they can say, "Finally! Christmas Day is over! The Messiah is here! Our Savior has been born! We can praise His name, we can celebrate His arrival into this world, His life lived sinless and His death for each and every one of us!"


I want my children to always remember Christmas that way when they're grown with their own family.


And ... Lastly, I pray now that each and every one of you are able to do the same thing. I pray this year you've lived in anticipation of Christmas Day to celebrate the fact that our God was born into this world as a man. He lived His life on this earth without sin. His example was like none other. His love for all mankind was poured out on the cross. His resurrection set Him apart in a Holy way that is indisputable. The Season of Advent, leading up to Christmas Day is indeed finally over. The anticipation period has come to an end. We are able to celebrate now with each other that our God, Emmanuel has arrived and His love for you is immensely indescribable.


May you finish 2015 strong! May 2016 be a "New" Year! May you experience God's love in ways you never thought possible and may you surrender your heart to Him each and every day!


"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." - Isaiah 9:6 -