Family Night Highlights


If you couldn’t make it last night, here’s what you missed!

“Operation Beautification” Property Work Day and Pancake Breakfast – set for 8 AM, Saturday, March 21. Subdue the south wilderness beyond the playground and exercise dominion!

Financial Snapshot of 2014 – total income up 10% and $44,601 extra applied to mortgage debt. Praise God for His faithful provision for another year!

Capital Campaign Debt Snowball Plan – $500 per household per year given toward mortgage will turn, Lord willing, twenty years of debt into only thirteen and save a whopping $700,000 in interest!

Body Life – babies being saved at AWHC through compassionate signs, TLC Walk for Life set for 3/28, member’s sharing their faith and getting involved in ministries like Anchored Youth!

Submitting to One Another in the Church of Jesus Christ – devotional by elder Will Powell from the book of Ephesians finishing with this convicting notion from Church Membership:

Truth be told, people are not afraid to submit. They just want to submit to beauty, like the valiant hero who submits himself to rescuing the damsel in distress. What’s unexpected about Christianity is that its hero doesn’t risk all for a damsel but for what the Bible likens to a harlot. Then he calls everyone that he saves to submit themselves to this same harlot—the bride still being made ready, the church. Now, submitting to ugliness does scare people. And that’s what submitting to the local church can be. Churches are filled with other sinners whose visions of glory contradict our own. But this is how Christ loves us: ‘Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another’ (John 13:34). Christ’s love wonderfully transforms the ugly into the beautiful (see Ephesians 5:22-31). Our love for one another should do the same thing—help the ugly become beautiful. Who can love in this way? Only the ones whose eyes have been opened and whose hearts have been freed from the slavery of loving this world: ‘So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed’ (John 8:36).

Chef GabrielChili Cook-Off Champs – Chef Bob Travelstead (3rd place); Chef James Harvey (2nd place); and the Grand Prize Winner – Chef Mallory Gabriel (pictured right receiving his reward). Gentlemen, your recipes please!

Future Family Night Plans – aiming for once per quarter with additional ways to enhance our care for one another!

Thanks to everyone who worked so hard putting this together and pulling it off!

How Do You Spell “Family Night?”


God help me, I know of no other way.

F = Fun. That’s right. We’re going to have fun. Yay!

acrosticA = Adventure. Un huh. Working on it. Pray for my favor with a certain band of recruits I’m wearing down with pastoral guilt to coerce their participation.

M = Ministry. Hear about what God is doing in gospel work inside and outside the church.

I = Inspiration. We’ll do some singing and look into God’s Word for a bit.

L = Love. That’s what fellowship is all about – connecting and loving on one another.

Y = Yelling. Doesn’t every church member/business meeting have some of this? Just kidding. Couldn’t think of anything for the letter “Y”.


N = News. Updates on all kinds of things of interest to OGC peeps who want to be in the know. 

sam_chileI = Indigestion. Well, we are eating chili, aren’t we? Don’t forget the Beano. Can’t believe I wrote that.

G = Guidance.  Direction for where we hope to take these quarterly member meetings in the future for increasing ownership. You didn’t think I would leave that word out of this post, did you? No way.

H = Hospitality. Newcomers are WELCOME! We want you to get an up close and personal look at our church’s character and DNA.

T = Tales. Some of our covenant members will share true stories about the way God is working in their lives and using their gifts. Others of us will pray for them.


There you have it. That’s how I spell “Family Night.” This Sunday evening, February 22, 5 PM. Chili Cook Off in the fellowship hall followed by one of the coolest annual meetings you will ever experience. Childcare for all ages will be provided for the meeting portion of the evening.

Who cares about the Great American Race? That’s why God made DVRs. Just sayin.

Don’t miss FAMILY NIGHT at OGC!

The Keeper and the Kept


While on sabbatical my wife and I opted to visit the first church I ever served as pastor fresh out of seminary. I had only returned one time since we left in 1985. Nancy had never been back. On our road trip out west we traveled via Southern California for a spiritual blast from the past.

As one can imagine, lots of memories attended the visit. I only spent three short, illness-plagued years at Grace EV Free, but we engaged a lot of people and built some solid relationships. None of those connections proved stronger than the friendship made with Dave and Sheri. We stayed with them during our extended weekend. They showed us extraordinary kindness and hospitality. In the grace of God we simply picked up right where we left off with them. Our experience was at it always has been with them – saints in whom is all our delight (Psalm 16:3).


That Sunday we accompanied them to the church. So much has changed! Three services now. A thousand people. A new facility. Nancy and I both remarked how much it reminded us of our OGC building. But none of that struck me as much as something else. As we walked toward the entrance, we met a man who served on the board during my pastorate. Jim wears his 90 years amazingly well. He shared about his current ministry – caring for his physically failing wife.

Then, after service, came Sonny and his son, Phillip. Sonny used to preach for me when chronic fatigue sidelined me in those difficult days back in the ‘80s. His son, who attends Dave and Sheri’s community group on Sunday evenings, has adopted his Dad’s love for and proficiency in the Scriptures. Others we heard about who had since gone home to their rewards.


I found myself thinking about Jude 21 during the service – “Keep yourselves in God’s love.” It struck me as I reflected on our experience that these dear folks we reencountered had done that over the years, just as we have done. You can get that perspective over time when you have walked with Jesus for forty-plus years. The three disciplines contextually describing how to do this keeping in Jude 20 & 21 have been our experience. We have built ourselves up in our most holy faith. We have prayed in the Holy Spirit. We have waited and continue to wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring us eternal life. Oddly enough, the lead worshipper used this Jude text for the service benediction. I have never heard anyone do that in all my years as a pastor. I have never used it. That will change in the future as I return to ministry from this sabbatical, Lord willing.

Another related reflection caused me to praise and worship God that first weekend of our extended break. Believers do keeping things like building, praying, and waiting because God’s people are a kept people. Like fixed bookends to our persevering lives in Jesus, Jude 1 and 24-25 frame the security of our lives – “To those who have been kept” and “To him who is able to keep you from falling and present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy, to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” Our keeping ourselves in the love of God is subordinate; God’s keeping us in Christ is ultimate. The kept enjoy the keeping of the Keeper as they keep themselves in the love of God.

My thanks to the keeping people of my first church for pointing us so plainly and thoroughly to our great Keeper at the outset of my sabbatical. May the kept of God never stop keeping themselves in the love of God.

To Retreat or Not To Retreat?


That is indeed the question for this weekend. Another men’s retreat is upon us. The answer to the question for me is a no brainer. Retreat, of course. And not just because my role as pastor requires it. I would like to think I would make our men’s retreat a priority for a variety of reasons.

However, one stands out to me more than others. Proverbs 27:17 – Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Why invest twenty-four hours with a bunch of brothers from my church? Because isolation makes PC a dull blade. Before I skin a deer in Idaho, I sharpen my knife with a whetstone. Why? The tool works a whole lot better in an otherwise tedious process. The Bible says brothers hanging with brothers doing gospel life and talking gospel things makes men sharp for life. I’m dull enough without skipping a main means God employs for my sharpening.

Charles Bridges, in his classic commentary on the book of Proverbs explains:

ironsharpensiron“Man was framed not for solitude, but for society (Gen. 2:18). It is only as a social being, that his powers and affections are fully expanded. . . . Steel, whetted against a knife, sharpens the edge. So the collision of different minds whets each the edge of the other. . . . In the sympathies of friendship, when the mind is dull, and the countenance overcast, a word from a friend puts an edge upon the blunted energy, and exhilarates the countenance. . . . Gladly let us take up the bond of brotherhood.”

To retreat or not to retreat? How do you answer the question? Say yes this weekend and gladly take up the bond of brotherhood.

Moved by a “Moving Church”


One of my favorite ministries is Voice of the Martyrs. They offer a free subscription to their monthly newsletter describing the plight of the persecuted church of Jesus around the globe. You can subscribe here. I encourage you to do so. The perspective God will give your own suffering is something you will not regret. And you will know better how to remember your brothers and sisters in chains (Heb. 13:3).

This month’s issue contains a brief article entitled, A “Moving Church” in Central Asia.” It gives an account of a city in one of the most religiously restrictive nations in that part of the world where the Christian population shrank to just 70 people after many fled relentless government persecution. It then explains how believers there found a creative way to practice their faith.

One pastor who had been under intense scrutiny from authorities thought of an inventive way to provide for his congregation. They couldn’t hold meetings in a set location, and many believers were afraid to be seen attending a meeting. With assistance from VOM, Pastor “Ramil” purchased a minivan that soon became known as the Moving Church.

On Meeting day, Ramil picks up four to six believers in the van. They sing, pray, read Scriptures and listen to teaching by Ramil or one of his elders as they drive around the city. After two hours, he drops the group off and picks up another small group of Christians. He does this throughout the week so all the believers under his care receive spiritual nourishment, fellowship and encouragement.

This account of ingenuity under duress moves me on multiple levels. Among other things it inspires me to want to serve my own people with greater zeal and devotion. Pastor Ramil clearly understands what it means to shepherd well the flock entrusted to his care.

Additionally it makes me want to find some way better to help those living under freedom to give up a nonchalant attitude about meeting in community for worship and fellowship. More often than I care to admit I confront a take-it-or-leave-it mentality when it comes to church attendance. The Scripture exhorts us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Heb. 10:24-25). With texts like that it makes me wonder how professing believers can treat the Word and the Table as optional.

Are you reading this and must admit that you are AWOL on your covenant member commitments at your local church? Worse yet, that you don’t belong to any gospel-treasuring community of believers? May I encourage you to let the “Moving Church” of Central Asia spur you on to love and good deeds such that you get a move on toward joining/rejoining a body of believers? If not, you might as well take a knife and cut Hebrews 10:24-25 out of your Bible.

Friday Men's Night Out at PC's Place

I’ve wanted to do this for a long time. Time to try it.

Nancy left for NC today to visit her ailing Mom for a week. I’ve got Friday night open. I’m wondering if any of the OGC brothers care to join me for some grub and a night of fellowship.

I’ve got a ton of venison burger in the freezer so I am willing to grill as many quarter-pounders as necessary. If Bambi doesn’t suit your palate, bring your own meat to grill and we’ll throw it on the fire.

Also, bring your own beverage of choice. I’ll throw in the sides, unless this gets too out of control. Then I will have to start making assignments.

Thing is I need to know who’s coming so shoot me an email at so I can plan accordingly.

Probably shouldn’t do a blog post without throwing in some Scripture, so here is my biblical justification.

First Corinthians 16:13 – Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

Come prepared to share some little known truth about yourself and get ready to pray for and be prayed for.

Pass the word!

Who knows, maybe this will become a tradition.

The Blessedness of Making Beef Bourguignon with Your Beloved

Beef Borg 001

Sometimes a guy just has to take stock of how good he’s got it. Today is such a day. My 35th anniversary. That’s right. Thirty-five years ago today Nancy and I tied the knot. Don’t know what we were thinking getting married four days before Christmas but somehow we pulled it off. Definitely would have picked a different time of year if I had it to do over again!

I could reflect on a lot of aspects of married life with my bride that I treasure, some more spiritual than the theme of this post, but somehow it just seems fitting to camp out here for some reason.

On Friday, our day off, Nancy asked me what I would like to do with our day. I replied, “I would like to make beef bourguignon!” Not your average day off response from me, so let me explain.

Recently we saw the movie Julie and Julia. Twice. Yes, I admit it. Please, no mail or negative comments. I found the film so redemptive on so many fronts, not that it’s perfect, that I wanted us to see it a second time (at the dollar theater, by the way, on Tuesday for 75 cents). It is filled with substantive themes like living life with passion and purpose, sweet fellowship with friends, feasting with joy, blogging (the main character blogs about her making over the course of one year every one of Julia Child’s recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking), writing (a parallel theme is Child’s writing her cookbook), and, in many ways, marriage. Much of the movie concentrates on the relationships both women had with their husbands throughout the ups and downs of their writing experience. Beef bourguignon is one of the signature recipes in the story. It looked so mouth watering good I was dying to try it.

So sneaky me, I bought Nancy Mastering the Art of French Cooking at Costco for our anniversary (OK, it was really for me) and proposed on Friday that we tackle the recipe together. And we did! We wrote out the menu, shopped together, and spent two hours that afternoon following the recipe (man, am I glad I married a home ec major – talk about complicated) and popped it in the oven for three hours.

That night we sat down to a sumptuous feast of tender beef simmered in red wine with white onions and mushrooms, poured generously over egg noodles with a side dish of peas. And we just lingered at the table. We talked. We laughed. We listened to Christmas carols. We fellowshipped.

Little wonder Jesus describes the intimacy of fellowship with Him like coming for dinner in Rev. 3:20.

My marriage and its intimacy points me to a greater more permanent, more satisfying intimacy I will share with Jesus in the kingdom forever.

Man, am I ever grateful to get that truth and to share thirty-five years and counting with just the sweetest, most faithful woman on the planet. OK, I’m biased, but you have to admit, blessed, indeed, I am.

Nancy, OGC makes me want to be a better pastor. You are the only one who makes me want to be a better man. Thank you. I love you. Always will, by God’s grace. Here’s to our 70th, Lord willing.

Ten Questions to Ask at a Christmas Gathering

Don Whitney of The Center for Biblical Christianity has served well the church of Jesus Christ in recent years through a ministry of ten question downloads for various occasions and events. We will have the version for going into the New Year as a bulletin insert on Dec. 27.

Here is another helpful list for making meaningful conversation at a Christmas gathering:

Many of us struggle to make conversation at Christmas gatherings, whether church events, work-related parties, neighborhood drop-ins, or annual family occasions. Sometimes our difficulty lies in having to chat with people we rarely see or have never met. At other times we simply don’t know what to say to those with whom we feel little in common. Moreover, as Christians we want to take advantage of the special opportunities provided by the Christmas season to share our faith, but are often unsure how to begin. Here’s a list of questions designed not only to kindle a conversation in almost any Christmas situation, but also to take the dialogue gradually to a deeper level. Use them in a private conversation or as a group exercise, with believers or unbelievers, with strangers or with family.

  1. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you since last Christmas?
  2. What was your best Christmas ever? Why?
  3. What’s the most meaningful Christmas gift you’ve ever received?
  4. What was the most appreciated Christmas gift you’ve ever given?
  5. What was your favorite Christmas tradition as a child?
  6. What is your favorite Christmas tradition now?
  7. What do you do to try to keep Christ in Christmas?
  8. Why do you think people started celebrating the birth of Jesus?
  9. Do you think the birth of Jesus deserves such a nearly worldwide celebration?
  10. Why do you think Jesus came to earth?

 Of course, remember to pray before your Christmas gatherings. Ask the Lord to grant you “divine appointments,” to guide your conversations, and to open doors for the gospel. May He use you to bring glory to Christ this Christmas.