While on my morning run, I had the honor of observing a spectacular sunrise over the city of Tulsa.  At the same time the sun was coming up over the buildings, I happened to be close to a pond with an equally amazing reflection of the same sunrise taking place in the sky above.  I took note of how the colors of pond changed as the sun rose higher.  The pond became lighter and more colorful, reflecting the same red and orange hues of the sky.  I imagine that the water became a bit warmer in the areas that reflected the light and could even see more bubbles as the fish rose to the surface to take in the warmth.  You see, the pond never actually became the sun, just a mere reflection or image of its majestic beauty.

The same holds true for us and God.  In Genesis 1:27 God spoke and said, “Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature.”  So what does this mean for us?  Even before Christ walked the earth, it was in God’s nature to love, show forgiveness, exude peace,  reflect holiness, remain faithful to His word, and to offer goodness and gentleness.  The same characteristics that God has possessed from the beginning of time are the same characteristics that are weaved into the fabric of our being.  And just like the pond never became the sun, we will never become God.  We can, however, reflect an unforgettable image of who God is.

The Lord Is My Shepherd

I took this picture one morning while in Virginia Beach for business one weekend.  The calm I experienced that morning on the beach cannot be adequately described with words.  I wanted to share this image with you, as well as a scripture to calm your heart this Monday afternoon.  No matter where you are or what you’re going through, you can whisper just one word to God and he will rush in on you, and your situation, with peace.  I know he will because it’s happened to me today.  Try reading this scripture aloud and see what happens to the atmosphere around you as you say each word with purpose.  You are loved.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord

Happy Easter

We are delighted to be outside in downtown Tulsa this morning at The Fur Shop, 3rd/Frankfurt, preparing for service at 10:30am.  Our hearts are reverent and there’s smiles on our faces for the joy of being a part of this day.  We look forward to seeing you this morning! Come let us adore HIM!

Easter Eve?

“Easter Eve” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as “New Year’s Eve” or “Christmas Eve” does it?  This day feels blank, void, dead and perhaps that’s the way it’s supposed to feel as we remember Jesus’ body in the tomb while his loved ones grieve; while perhaps his disciples feel duped; while those who trusted what he said simply go about their daily routine with a twinge of anger; perhaps a taste of bitterness; perhaps disbelief that he actually died.  Oh how we can relate! Oh the pain and anger of believing in something only to be devastatingly disappointed when the promises don’t appear to come true.  While we stay in the grey suspension of this day and hold the pain of dashed hopes, may we look forward to the rest of the story, and trust that He doesn’t leave us in our pain.  Join House Church Tulsa tomorrow morning at 10:30 outside at The Fur Shop at the corner of 3rd and Frankfurt, downtown Tulsa.  The service will be approximately one hour; there will be bagels, donuts, juice and coffee; LIVE music and a sermon.  See you there!

Good Friday

Good Friday is similar to Black Friday in that the name suggests something on the surface that it is not, until we look a little closer.  Black Friday sounds ominous and bad, but actually it’s the day when retailers’ accounting books go from red to black because of so many sales, which is a good thing for them.   Good Friday sounds great on the surface, but actually it’s the day when we are compelled to look at the crucified Jesus suspended on a cross suffering a gruesome death bearing the weight of the sins of the world for all time, for all people…which is actually a good thing for us.  Join us as we reverence the awesome work of Jesus for us and for everyone today.  We look forward to celebrating the rest of the story with you this Sunday, outside at The Fur Shop at the corner of 3rd/Frankfurt in downtown Tulsa.  Service begins at 10:30.  See you there!

Holy Thursday

We reverence this week and reflect on the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus.   Yes, Easter is a man-made holiday in which people choose to celebrate, or not celebrate, in different ways.  We are not interested in whether or not it’s about The Easter Bunny, colored egg hunts, ham, or if it has roots in paganism (we love Easter egg hunts!).  We choose to celebrate this holiday because of the risen Christ and how he impacts our lives, today. May this Holy Thursday be a day of reflection on Christ and how his life is still speaking to us today.  God bless you on this Holy Thursday, and everyday, and join us if you are so inclined for the outdoor Easter church service at The Fur Shop concert venue at 3rd/Frankfurt downtown Tulsa.  See you there!

Homily From Rev. JoAnn Huber

Rev. JoAnn Huber is a dear mentor and loving minister from whom I glean spiritual and physical nourishment.  It’s my honor to share her homily from last Sunday which she delivered at The Forest of Peace.

Fifth Sunday of Lent, April 6, 2014, Written and Delivered by JoAnn Huber

Well, here we are the 5th Sunday. Today’s scriptures invite us to look more deeply – at ourselves, at God’s Word, at the modeling we receive from Jesus.”  From Ezekiel we hear God’s voice saying “I will open your graves and have you rise from them. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.” Important to recall that Ezekiel was preaching to a people in exile in Babylon. It was the grave of exile he was speaking of. Many were grumbling. The old wanted to leave for the “promised land”. The young wanted to stay put, as many had become prosperous and comfortable living in exile. God’s plan was to teach the people in long exile through struggles, mistakes and suffering. Nations, like people, cannot reach maturity without passing through the death of pride and their own ambitions.  Seems to me we are often much like that ourselves. So easy when we are comfortable to lose sight of what is important, to become blinded to what good may await us. It is also easy to get sidetracked by the seeming normalcy of injustice when we are comfortable. This section of Ezekiel is preceded by the bit about raising dry bones. It invites us to look at what we may have buried – placed into exile inside ourselves that we may avoid, or indeed, even refuse to look at.  Look we must, and look deeply if we are to have new life. God does not want us to remain in exile – stay dead inside.

In our Gospel Lazarus is raised from the dead and we go woo hoo! What a sight that must have been! Yet the point of the story is not the raising of Lazarus. It is about Jesus and what Jesus calls us to as well. This is the last of seven signs in  Sunday of Lent with next week being Palm/Passion John’s gospel. “Signs” were to be testimony to the presence of God in Jesus. (John did not call them miracles.) Shortly after this Jesus will be tried and put to death.  Jesus was told his friend was ill and delayed going to him

for two days. He arrives to find Lazarus dead and Martha and Mary grieving.  Mary and Martha – two sides of a single coin – one the worker, one the contemplative – each showing us how to live and love. Jesus hears Martha say she has come to believe he is the Christ, she then goes to get Mary who comes and kneels at Jesus feet. They deeply know him so you might think he would rejoice, yet, Jesus wept. For me this begs the question why did Jesus weep? The Word also says he became increasingly upset. How come? Some of the Jews in this reading say he wept because he loved Lazarus so much. Perhaps, yet, I wonder??

Jesus had been traveling and teaching for almost 3 years. He had offered many signs/miracles to reveal who he was and yet very few could see.  Perhaps he wept from frustration/sadness over that lack of vision. Many had yet to learn to see with their hearts and not just their eyes.  The raising of Lazarus convinced many to follow Jesus and put his life in fresh danger – this raising put Lazarus life in danger as well, as the chief priests made a plot to kill him as he, too, was turning people to Jesus. Perhaps Jesus wept because he knew what was soon coming for him. Mary and Martha “got” Jesus. They had looked deeply – saw with their Hearts – and so had new priorities. They believed. They didn’t need proof, though they did want their brother back and can you blame them?  As unmarried women in a culture that gave them little or no standing – indeed under the law they were children – ones with no rights. Yet they saw something bigger in Jesus and had responded to the call to new life.  Perhaps even, through Martha’s words of acknowledgement of Him as the Christ, and Mary’s willingness to sit at his feet they called Jesus – called him forth and supported him into the final stage of his ministry – the one leading to the cross. Could they have so deeply taken in his words that he must die? Indeed in less than a week Jesus would be back in Bethany sharing a meal. Martha would be serving and Mary would be washing his feet with expensive perfumed oil usually reserved for burial.

Why did Jesus weep?? For what do I weep?

During Lent each of us is called to look deeply into our own tombs. Many tombs stand open if we will only look. Tombs of loss, disappointment, devastation, wars.  Lazurus personifies the person, and perhaps nation, wounded by sin who is in the process of dying unless Christ calls forth new life. Are we not all in the process of dying one way or another?! We are each called to new life. Called to conversion from where we are to something new. Conversion to what?  Conversion from one religion or another is often how we look at that word and we even have folks joining the Catholic church at Easter, many of whom are said to convert.  Again, conversion to what?

In whatever religious form it takes, Jesus invites us to convert to lives of justice/compassion/courage and faithfulness – ultimately we are to convert to love – over and over again. Jesus went against or broke rules in many directions as he lived/modeled a life lived in love. Risky business this. Yet, have courage – go visit. What hurts, sadness, mistake are you hanging onto? What twinges have you left unaddressed? Go there, look into the tomb – look deeply! Do not be afraid.

God raises God’s people many times – and sometimes even daily!!

Ezekial 37:12-14 Psalm 130: 1-8 Romans 8: 8-11 John 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33-45


See You At The Fence

I was outside working in the yard when the neighbor’s dog, Max, came out to play.  With one loud bark, my three dogs, Fancy, Riley, and Butch jumped up off the couch and ran to the fence to greet their friend.  I watched as they ran up and down the fence, barking at each other with their tails wagging profusely.  I had to smile as I thought about what the conversation might sound like to them:

Riley:  We’re so happy to see you!  Where have you been?
Max:  I had to wait for my person to come home for lunch.
Butch:  I know we just saw each other this morning but it seems like forever!
Max:  I know!  Did you guys get any treats today?
Fancy:  No!  Our person is busy mowing the lawn.  I’ll bark really loud later and maybe she’ll share her lunch!
Max:  Good luck with that!  I have to go guys!  See you tonight!
Riley:  OK!  We’ll see you later!  Bye!

And with that, they all went their separate ways.

In our lives, there will be friends you see everyday and friends you see once every five years.  While we wait for the next time, we find multiple ways to keep in touch. Phone calls, text messages, cards, email, and social media become the “fence” we run to in order to greet each other.

I don’t know when we will see you next but until then, consider checking out our social media pages.  There you will find encouragement and the opportunity to experience life, love, and family with us!  We’d love to connect with you!

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All Wisdom From God

Proverbs 2:6-9 reads, “All wisdom comes from the Lord, and so do common sense and understanding.  God gives helpful advice to everyone who obeys him and protects those who live as they should.  God sees that justice is done, and he watches over everyone who is faithful to him.  With wisdom you will learn what is right and honest and fair.”

When I read these verses I’m both comforted and little concerned.  Am I faithful to God? Am I living as I ‘should’?  Do I obey him enough so that he will give me good advice?  These seem to be hard questions with no solid answers.  Obedience to one person may not be obedience to another.   Faithfulness to one may not be faithfulness to another.   And what does it mean to ‘live as we should?’

When we read passages like this it may seem impossible to know whether or not you meet the criteria to receive anything from God!  Having a lot of wisdom, common sense, helpful advice and protection sounds just like what I need, so how can I be sure I qualify?

I have really good news: Jesus qualified for us, on our behalf!  He satisfied all the requirements of obedience, faithfulness and righteous living!

We must remember, that we could never satisfy God’s requirements but Jesus could, and he did, and by believing in HIM we assume HIS right standing with God.  And now God gives us freely everything we need to live which includes but is not limited to: wisdom, common sense, protection, helpful advice.

That’s really good news.