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