Ablaze Church Update — September 28, 2009

Welcome to our weekly update. Helping everyone keep up with what’s new at Ablaze isn’t always easy. The most difficult aspect of that is finding time to report.

We have many wonderful things going on right now. The best is our home congregation, OSL, voted to allow $15,000 that was reserved for a land purchase to be moved in order to pay for Open Arms Institute to come in and do a Market Research Study. This in-depth independant study will provide us with clear cut answers as to whether or not Broken Arrow is indeed a viable area for our church plant and learning center. I think that is a positive step in the right direction. Once we receive the results of this study, our core team will have a better understanding of the road ahead.

Our voters meeting this past weekend helped clarify a lot of questions that did still exist in the minds of people at our home congregation. One of the questions was is Ablaze a Mission Start or a satellite/Daughter location? According to LCMS COVENANT CONGREGATIONS site, we are both. The words are really used synonymously through out synod. Which can be confusing to people, I know. OSL is a Covenant Congregation and has been since 2008. We are the only Convenant Congregation in the state of Oklahoma. I think that is exciting.

The good news is both locations, our home location at OSL, and our Mission location in Broken Arrow utilize the same staff, same resources, and are part of the same body.

Broken Arrow is growing to the point that we need a new facility to meet in. We need our own place. This is why, now is the time to begin researching our options within the community we serve.

Our youth that meet at Ablaze are now wanting to meet during the week for fellowship and Bible Study. Our leaders, Erric and Jen are looking into viable options for that.

Wonderful things are happening.

All Glory to God.

One Month Tomorrow

Can you believe that I dropped my oldest son off at college one month ago tomorrow? I didn’t think I’d survive the change. I mean part of me knew I would, and part of me was afraid I wouldn’t. You can read how it went HERE. I am happy to report that things have gotten easier for me. Even though I miss him a lot, I no longer cry at the drop of a hat.

I realized that I was treating the situation as if he had died. And he hasn’t. But I was treating it that way. Telling myself that Charlie would want me to be strong. What kind of mother am I if I just curl up and stop living because my son moved out? I’m better than this. And I willed myself through my first couple of weeks. God and I got really close again, trust me.

It’s not that I haven’t been planning for this. I have. My boys are a huge part of my life, and yet I have made sure they are not my total life lest I wake up feeling hopelessly alone when they leave. What I didn’t expect was the tidal wave of emotions. I didn’t expect to grieve.

But you know what? Grieving is okay.

We still facebook each other. He does call. And he has visited home once already. College is going great. He’s going to be just fine. And so am I.

She Did What She Could – Elisa Morgan

I am giving away a free copy of “She Did What She Could” written by Elisa Morgan this month. Please be sure to leave a comment on this post for your chance to win.

shedidwhatshecould_140What is the premise behind your new book, She Did What She Could?

  Most of us care deeply about the needs around us – poverty, injustice, everyday concerns of those in our families and in our offices and in our neighborhoods. But faced with the challenges of getting food on the table and children to and from activities and keeping up with our jobs etc, we feel more than a little overwhelmed. Who has the time or the energy to start another nonprofit or to participate in yet another celebrity-help-the-world-athon? We conclude we have to do something BIG to make a difference. Not true. We don’t have to do something BIG to make a difference. In a Bible story where Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus with a beautiful gift of perfume before his death, Jesus applauds her action saying, “She did what she could.” We can make a difference every day by simply doing what we could in the given moment before us.

  When did the idea for this book/movement come to you?

 I’d been reading what I call the “Girl Stories” in the gospels – stories where a woman is the main character. I was stopped in my tracks by Mary’s acting out her love for Jesus and by his pairing her action with the gospel. Mary lived loved. She acted out her faith by doing something with who she was and what she had in a moment that mattered. At the same time I was reading that story, I was suddenly overwhelmed by issues in our world like the HIV-AIDS pandemic and poverty and needs everywhere I turned. I began to think about the power of one of us acting and then another and another. I began to prayerfully wonder – what if I did what I could – just like Mary did? And then each of us did what we could? The whole world could be changed!

 What percentage of church members are active in ministry?

 It’s reported that 20% of the people do 80% of the work.

 What reasons do you think members have for not serving?

 Lots of folks don’t participate due to the busyness of life and the perception that unless we do something BIG it won’t make a difference. We feel guilty that we can’t do MORE. We feel inadequate because we aren’t more godly – or because of something hidden in our past. We feel incompetent because we aren’t trained. We’re tired and overwhelmed. And then there’s the fact that lots of us aren’t even “members” of a church. We’re not sure what to do with church – even though we love Jesus. We have a million struggles that keep us from “doing”. SDWSC gives a bite-size offering to everyone to participate in living out our faith and making a difference.

 Do you feel that many church members are intimidated by those who are very involved at church?

You bet. If you’re not in the “in crowd” or gifted with public gifts like teaching or are marginalized in some way, it’s WAY intimidating to step up and say, ”Hey, I’d like to help.” SDWSC welcomes ALL to join in and act. It refreshes those who are weary in well-doing as well.

 In the book, you point out that this message of everyone doing what they can is Biblical. What story are you referring to specifically?

 The story is told in Mark 14 but is also told in Matthew and John as well. Just before Jesus’ death on the cross for the sins of all humankind, Mary of Bethany took a jar of nard, a very expensive perfume, and poured it on Jesus – as a symbol of anointing his body before his death. In a moment when the gesture would mean the most to him. You get the impression that Mary hadn’t really planned out this action. It seems more spontaneous. And while the nard was expensive, that wasn’t the main point. Mary acted out of her understanding that Jesus really was the Christ and he really loved her. She wanted to give back. She took what she had – nard – and acted with it in a moment that mattered to Jesus and to the world. She did what she could.

 You’ve shared your message with the MOPS organization. What has the response been so far to the SDWSC (She Did What She Could) movement?

 Moms are passionate about being the best moms they can be. They’re also passionate to make a difference in their world. They know that they may not be able to do something GIANT in the day to day of raising children. SDWSC gives them a methodology for acting in a way that matters in their daily lives. With a neighbor or a coworker. With a child. To care for the earth. To reach out to someone who has less and needs more. Moms have pasted the SDWSC flare on their Facebook pages and are telling the SDWSC stories, encouraging others to do what they can as well.

 How do you hope churches and ministries will use your message to mobilize their members? 

 Those who’ve never served can be invited to join in with the practical – doable – message of SDWSC. And those who are weary in well-doing can be encouraged that Jesus doesn’t ask us to do EVERYTHING or ALL we could but rather WHAT we could do.

 How do you hope readers can change their lives with your message?

 She did what she could (SDWSC) is a mantra that rules my days as opportunities come before me. I run each through the grid of SDWSC. Is it something that I can uniquely handle? Is it a moment that matters NOW? Will I make a difference if I do WHAT I could – not ALL or EVERYTHING I could? I hope and pray that readers will do the same. She did what she could. When I do what I could and you do what you could and we do what we could – we can change the world. We can be the body of Christ in action, on the earth, demonstrating individually and together what it means to live loved.

 Morgan_Elisa_BT-transAbout the Author

 Elisa Morgan is a nationally recognized speaker and the author of more than fifteen books, including the best–selling What Every Mom Needs and Mom’s Devotional Bible. Elisa has served as CEO of MOPS International since 1989. She is also the publisher of MomSense and FullFill magazines and is a frequent contributor to Christianity Today. Elisa is married to Evan (vice president of strategic development for RBC Ministries, known internationally for Our Daily Bread, and founder of christiancourses.com). They have two grown children and one grandchild and live in Centennial, Colorado.

Ablaze Mission Start Broken Arrow 9/15/09

Our core team had a group meeting last week, and then a board meeting this week.  Ablaze Church is still running strong, and we are facing some very real blessings that are driving new needs.

Having a mobile church is taking it’s toll on our people and our equipment.

Moving things in and out of our trailer, and storing them in a non-climate controlled garage at Our Savior has caused breakeage. We have replaced $6,000 worth of equipment this year alone.

The team is getting tired. Our core team is there every Saturday from 3 pm to 10 pm, loading, unloading, sound check, teaching, praising, and packing it all back up. That doesn’t include the additional 10 – 20 hours during the week for planning, practice, and administration.

We’ve outgrown our facility. We feel like the Old Lady who lived in a shoe – we have so many kids we don’t know what to do. We’ve run out of space at our present location and our youth group has grown to the point they want to meet outside of Saturday night.

These are all good things, and we need prayers for a more permanent location. 

Having a 100% layminister/volunteer run mission start may work in the beginning, at some point though, paid staff needs to be hired in order to move forward. We are at that next step.

So my friends, please keep Ablaze Church in your prayers as our core team comes up with a plan for the future.




Chonda Pierce Prettyville coming to CMT

Alison, Chonda Pierce, and her National Turbos in Nashville
Alison, Chonda Pierce, and her National Turbos in Nashville











I quit ministry once, did you know that? Well I did. I joined the Christian Writers Guild and went to work in a church to pay for my classes. Within 12 months, I buried ten of my closest friends, lost the only school my kids had ever known (Bankruptcy), and my birth father showed up on my door step – homeless, jobless, and penniless. To call me pressed would be an understatement.

There were also relational conflicts with the people who were still living, and I’d reached my limit. So I packed up my little bag of sorrows, handed my hopes and dreams back to God and essentially told him, he could keep them. I was done.

I didn’t quit God, per se’ , I just quit ministry. It wasn’t worth it, the church wasn’t worth it, people weren’t worth it, and little old me just wanted to curl up in a hole somewhere and die. Not only was I throwing a pity party, I had hats, streamers, favors, and cake. Lots and lots of cake. – which would explain the 50 pounds I gained.

No one warned me about spiritual warfare. I wasn’t equipped. The truth is though, while I may have turned in my resignation to God – He didn’t resign on me. My gracious and wonderful heavenly father, poured out his Spirit into my wounded soul and blessed me with a rather unusual gift.

I had gone to Women of Faith just a few short months before bailing on ministry and while I was there, I had seen Chonda Pierce for the first time. I laughed until I cried. I was so impressed with what I saw that I signed some form of some kind saying “Sure, if Chonda comes to my town, I’d love to help.”

I don’t remember doing that. But lo – a few measly months later, I get an email from Chonda’s best friend Alison asking for help. Ali wanted to know if I would be a Lead Turbo for Tulsa as Chonda and Kenn Kington were coming to the Brady Theater that Spring.

Turbos are men and women who help coordinate volunteers at these comedy concerts as well as work with the promoters to get the word out to area churches about Chonda’s concerts. It’s a lot of work and it is so worth it.

I reminded God that I had quit ministry and He gently reminded me that I had signed up for this and should probably keep this commitment. Just this one then we’ll talk. So I did.

I coordinated volunteers, brought my bible study ladies to the show, worked with Bob at Trinity Communications, met Chonda and Kenn, shook in my boots, and promptly ran away. I was a mess. I couldn’t believe that God would allow me to do something like that. Why was he blessing me in the middle of a temper tantrum? Maybe he knew something I didn’t.

I’ve been volunteering as a Turbo now for almost six years or so. I don’t run away any more and I’ve made the most amazing turbo sister friends in the world. I’ve learned how to love and how to live again. Not because of Chonda, but through her and through God’s grace.

I didn’t know her story when I agreed to do this and now that I do, I wouldn’t stop. She is just too funny, too precious, and loves God in ways I can only imagine.

So… Turbo action here – The picture above is of a few of her national leads, myself included, in Nashville Tennessee in February 2009. We decided among ourselves to surprise Chonda and go to her video taping of This Ain’t Prettyville and help anyway we could. The taping was a pure blast as was finally meeting other turbos face to face.

Here is where you come in – CMT has chosen to pick up Chonda’s new video and air it as a Comedy Special. We need your help.

To Laugh and To Vote
by watching her CMT Special
“This Ain’t Prettyville”
 America’s funniest female comedienne Chonda Pierce on CMT!!!

 We need your TV tuned in to CMT for Chonda Pierce, This Ain’t Prettyville, CMT – September 15th!
7pm Central
8pm Eastern
8pm Pacific on cable
5pm Pacific on dish

 This is your chance to impact network TV. By simply tuning in, you are casting a vote through the ratings system for great family laugh-filled entertainment – which we all need more of.
Let’s do it!

 Be a part of the Chonda Team! Cast Your Vote!



Fearless by Max Lucado — Book Review


“Another fear has fallen victim to trust.” –

Max Lucado, Fearless

When I picked up Fearless by Max Lucado, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Fear is definitely an issue with me and everyone who knows me, knows that. My husband’s company downsized last Spring, cutting our income by 10%. My youngest son has epilepsy and my oldest just left for college.  There are a lot of things to fear in life these days, and yet Max Lucado doesn’t just write about the problem of fear, he tackles solutions and breaks them down into achievable steps.

Countless times, I have read books on fear and been left with a list of more things to be afraid of than what I started with. That just isn’t the case with this book. Max Lucado covers my real and imagined fears with such solid clarity and scriptural truth that my heart can’t help but feel lighter. This isn’t a feel good, don’t be afraid kind of book. Nowhere does Max over spiritualize the real issue of fear. Instead he meets me where I am, takes my hand and invites me to walk with him in an exciting journey of truth, faith, and hope.

This book gives real solutions to very real problems facing us today and it comes with a study guide in the back for those who wish to go deeper still. I definitely recommend reading it.

 To Preview Fearless – click here –

Be sure to check out these links:




 I am a member of Thomas Nelson’s Book Review Blogger program.If you are a blogger and would like to participate, check out http://brb.thomasnelson.com/ for more information.

Baby Steps for Mom

I’m looking for something profound to write, and I got nadda. I’m in the middle of learning how to let go of my oldest son, and I’ve discovered there is no easy solution. This is my child and I suddenly find myself swimming in a sea of what if’s and needless fears. That is not an easy path. Nor is it a path in which I am alone in. Mother’s all over the world struggle with letting go of their children when they want wings. They get wings, and we grow stronger as well. It’s all part of life.

God’s promises are true. The only way that I can let go of my son is to remember that he isn’t mine to hang on to. He belongs to God. So with every visit, every phone call, every email, I say a silent prayer and give him back to the one who created him to begin with.

That doesn’t mean I don’t care. I do care. That doesn’t mean I haven’t cried. I do. Even still, I also have to trust that God cares for him far more than I will ever be able.

I love listening to the college stories. I love hearing about the new things he’s learning – Broadcast Journalism. And I love seeing the changes that are already taking place.

My child is becoming a man. If I don’t let go, I’ll miss this new creation that God is molding. I’ll miss the beauty of life. I don’t want to miss that.

Chonda Pierce sang a song when her oldest left for college called “Hold on Tighter”. My boys were still in middle school the first time I heard it and I remember thinking what a pretty song. I cry when I listen to it today. I get it now. The solution in letting go of my child’s hand is to grab onto the hand of God. –” You just hold on tighter to a hand that stronger.” This parent is learning how to become a child again and hold on to my Daddy’s hand while he takes care of my son.

For more of Chonda see her web sight at www.chonda.org

Letting Go is never easy

august 2009 047Someone was at the door. I must have been napping. I woke up and went down to see my husband Jeff bringing our two sons home from school. Dillon was excited, jumping up and down telling me about his day. He must have been six. Close on his heels was Charlie at eight. I scooped both boys up in my arms and spun them around telling them how much I missed them. And then I woke up. My boys are no longer six and eight. They are 16 and 18.

It was just a dream.

Change is hard. Dillon laughed at my dream when I was telling him about it during the drive to school. “You are having a midlife crisis Mom. You wish we were still little kids and we aren’t.”

He’s right. I do sometimes wish that. I miss the little boy days.

Dropping Charlie off at college was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. We loaded up our pick up truck and his car and drove him to Oklahoma Christian University on August 23. I walked into the prison cell of a dorm room and almost cried. I stuffed down that impulse by giving orders, spraying everything down with lysol, putting stuff away and making note of what else he would need. Then we went to lunch.

I did pretty good. Right up until we got back and we had to say goodbye. I couldn’t go back in the room. I knew if I set one more foot in that dorm, I’d lose it right then and there.  Not wanting to embarass my child with Niagra Falls Ala Mom, I hugged him in the parking lot and let Jeff and Dillon walk him back to his room.

My hand reached out and touched the handle of my pick up truck. I opened the door, climbed in and cried my heart out. Jeff, Dillon and I drove the hour and a half treck back to Broken Arrow in strange silence. Dillon was hyper focused on his PSP and pretended that dust kept getting in his eyes. Dad drove. Mom cried on and off.

I wasn’t ready. I’m not ready. I blinked. And I cried. I cried the first time I set the table for three; when I walked past his room; when I folded laundry and his clothes weren’t in it; when I drove Dillon to school alone; when I went to a soccer game that he wasn’t playing in; when I stalk his page on facebook looking for an update; when I hang up the phone after he called on  my birthday. And I cried this morning when I realised it was Friday and he’s coming home for a visit this weekend.

He’s having a blast in college, and I know that we are still a family no matter where we all are and we always will be.

Letting go, is just part of life. And I know that while I let go, God hangs on.

I’m curious, how do you let go when it’s time to let them fly?