In my estimation, one of the greatest gifts that God has given us is the ability to remember. Because of this precious gift I will never forget what it was like to experience the birth of my children and the joy that Connie and I shared together in welcoming them into this world. Because of God’s gift of memory I will always treasure, not just the surroundings, but the feelings I felt when I stood before the preacher and said “I do.” Because I am able to remember I will always be able to have a laugh whenever I recall the Sunday that I gave the invitation for anyone who wanted to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior and a cat came running down the aisle, jumped through the choir, and landed right in the baptistery. I hope you were here to experience that one! Because of memory I will always treasure the friendships the Lord has allowed me to share and the blessings that each of you have been to my life. Because of God’s gift of memory I will always hold dear to my heart the way my mother and father made sacrifices so that I could have cleats to play ball, balls to play games, and clothes to go to school. I will always remember my mother and dad making cross-country trips in their little car when I was in college just so they could watch me play football. The ability to remember is truly one of God’s greatest gifts when it is used in the manner in which the Lord has intended.

The gift of memory can also be used as a divisive and destruction tool in the hands of those who choose to use it to hold things against others or as an instrument to forecast a future of doom based upon an negative experience in the past. We can choose to remember a time when we were hurt by someone who professed to love God and therefore come to the conclusion that we don’t want anything to do with God anymore. We can choose to remember a time when we took a risk and it failed and therefore choose to never take another risk again. We can choose to remember a time when we were taken advantage of by someone we forgave and therefore conclude that we will never forgive another person again. We can remember a time when we trusted someone only to be let down and therefore conclude that we will never trust again. We as a church could have chosen to remember a time when there were few of us here on Sunday and concluded that we will keep declining for the rest of our days. God didn’t intend for us to use our memory in these ways. He wants us to be forgiving, He wants us to be trusting, He wants us to be people who are willing to take a risk for the Kingdom, and He wants us to be people who are filled with hope of a brighter day rather than filled with despair.

There are many uses of the precious gift God has given us called memory, but the greatest use of the gift is for us to remember what God has done in our lives. When we choose to use God’s gift in this way, to remember what the Lord has done in the past, then it gives us great hope that He will act again. This is not some new idea that I’ve invented, it has been the practice of God’s people since time began. There are 166 places in the Bible where we find the word, “remember.” We are to remember the faithfulness of Almighty God, the mercy of Almighty God, the love of Almighty God, and the forgiveness of Almighty God each and every day of our lives.

For the next three weeks we are going to be focusing on the topic of stewardship. Stewardship is a fancy word, but really it is nothing more than our response to the memory of the mighty acts of God in each of our lives. This year I have chosen as our theme “Look What God Is Doing.” Last week when I was thinking of a theme for our time of study, prayer, and commitment I thought about several different themes. I kept coming back to “Look What God Is Doing” because I am convinced that this is the heart of what real, genuine stewardship is all about. When we truly take time to consider, to remember what God has done, how He is using us to touch the lives of others, how He has blessed, and how He has seen us through the difficult times of our lives then we can do nothing else but respond with hearts overflowing with gratitude.

Before we get into our study I want to take the time to make a confession to you. I know that each year when we go about the business of trying to put together a budget for the church there are folks who think “Why do we always have to talk about money?” The fact of the matter is we don’t always talk about money. We spent three Sundays out of 52 focusing on how we should respond to God’s many blessings given to us. We do that in order to be a church that lives within its means, good stewards of what God has entrusted to us. The fact of the matter is that you can come here every Sunday, you can go to Bible studies on Tuesday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday night, and Thursday night. You can get Bibles, study materials, and the like. You can play on the church softball team and volleyball team. Your kids can use the gym to play sports and have fun. You can do all of these things and more, never give a dime, and be greeted with a smile and a warm handshake every time you walk in the door. Where else can that take place?

Can you utilize the services of OG&E and they still greet you with a smile? Can you stop by the gas station, get gas, and have them wave at you with a smile as you pull away not having paid for the gas? Can you enjoy the benefits of the club you belong to, not pay the dues, and have them welcome you every time you arrive? Get real. The church is the only place on earth where you can enjoy everything the church has to offer, never give a dime, and still be treated like the person who gives the most of their time, their skills and ability, and their money.

With that said I want you to know that there was a time when I was as skeptical as they came. I didn’t grow up in the church. I drew every negative caricature of a Christian and of God that a person can draw. I was especially critical of how churches seemed to always have their hands out asking for money. Now that I have been walking with the Lord for almost eighteen years I have come to the conclusion that some of that skepticism is well founded. You can find story after story of Jim and Tammy’s air-conditioned doghouses funded by little old ladies who were living on a fixed income. You can tell tales of preachers who own multi-million dollar homes and a fleet of fancy cars. I could use my memory of those kind of stories and conclude that I am not about to give my money to the church because if one preacher or one church abuses folks and their generosity then all preachers and all churches do the same thing. If I chose to use my memory in that manner then I will be honest with you, I would not only not give any money to the church, but neither would I even attend such a hypocritical organization of folks.
There was a time when I wasn’t involved at all, I rejected God, and I didn’t want anything to do with folks who professed any commitment to God.
That was sheer insanity on my part, a ludicrous conclusion. It finally dawned on me that if I was going to judge all because of one or a few then I would have to pull my children out of school because I’ve heard stories of teachers who have abused their students. If one teacher is bad then they must all be bad right? Wrong! I would have to stop visiting doctors because I’ve heard stories of doctors who abuse their patients. If one doctor is abusing their position then they all are right? Wrong? I would have to stop allowing mechanics to fix my truck because I’ve seen stories on / about mechanics that dupe their customers. If one mechanic is a swindler then they all are right? Wrong!

I have learned that if I draw broad generalizations about the “bad” things that go on in our society, then I would simply have to drop out of society all together. The fact of the matter is that there are teachers, doctors, preachers, plumbers, mechanics and folks in every profession who are truly seeking to bring glory to God and then there are those in the same professions who are seeking to do nothing more than feather their own nest.

Once again we are talking about the use of our memory. Just as there are those in every profession known to man who are blessing God with the use of their abilities, time, and finances — so there are churches that are seeking the heart of to bless those of our community and the world with the Good News of Jesus through the use of their time, talents, and money.

I am convinced that Britton Christian Church is one of those churches. I have only known of your ministry for the past six and one half years, but in those six and one half years I have seen the hand of God move in a mighty way.

I mentioned earlier that throughout the Bible people are called to remember
the mighty acts of God. Not just to remember, but to pass on the
information to their children and their children’s children in order that
they will not forget Almighty God. I want to share with you an example of
what I am talking about before we take a few minutes to remember what God
has been doing among us. Take out your Bible and turn to Psalm 78 as we
begin our study this morning.

O my people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. {2} I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things, things from of old– {3} what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. {4} We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has one. {5} He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which
he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, {6} so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. {7} Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. {8} They would not be like their forefathers– a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him. {9} The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle; {10} they did not keep God’s covenant and refused to live by his law. {11} They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them. {12} He did miracles in the sight of their fathers in the land of Egypt, in the region of Zoan. {13} He divided the sea and led them through; he made the water stand firm like a wall. {14} He guided them with the cloud by day and with light from the fire all night. {15} He split the rocks in the desert and gave them water as abundant as the seas; {16} he brought streams out of a rocky crag and made water flow down like rivers. {17} But they continued to sin against him, rebelling in the desert against the Most High. {18} They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved. {19} They spoke against God, saying, “Can God spread a table in the desert? {} When he struck the rock, water gushed out, and streams flowed abundantly. But can he also give us food? Can he supply meat for his people?” (Psalms 78:1- NIV)

Verse 11 jumps from the page and challenges me at every turn. The verse reads, “They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them.” I don’t want us to forget. We look around our society today and it isn’t difficult for any of us to come to the conclusion that we as Americans have, by and large forgotten God. I recently heard of a judge who was displaying the Ten Commandments in his courtroom and the court system ordered him to take them down. The report stated that the case would probably make its way to the Supreme Court — the highest court in our land that by the way has the Ten Commandments carved into its very doors. How far we have fallen! Oh, how we have forgotten His mighty deeds done in our midst!

I don’t want us to forget. I don’t want our children to forget. If we forget God’s mighty deeds then we are doomed, if we forget then we will most certainly be people with no hope!

This morning I want to refresh our memories. This morning I want to chronicle for us God’s mighty deeds done among us to serve as a reminder to all of us that we have not been forgotten, that He is faithful, and that we have a great and glorious future as people and as a church as long as we will remember.

I well remember seven years ago when I was working at a church in Plano, Texas with my family. We were contacted by Harry Myers and asked if we would be willing to talk about coming to Oklahoma City and serving as pastor of Britton Christian Church. I told Harry that I appreciated the offer but that we were very happy where we were. Harry was persistent and so we came to visit. We were told that the church use to be strong, that there use to be many people at Britton Christian Church on Sunday morning, but that in recent years things had changed. People had left, the numbers had shrunk, and there weren’t hardly any children in the church anymore.

Long story short, Connie and I felt that God was leading us to come here and work with the church. When we arrived we found out that the denomination had spoken to the leaders of the church about selling the building to a black congregation since the neighborhood’s black population was steadily growing while the white population was slowly declining. Then we arrived there were about seventy something folks in worship, the nursery was locked because there were no babies, and many were wondering if we would survive.

Six and one half years later those seventy faithful folks who were willing to risk it all for the sake of being obedient to God’s call to stay and get busy spreading the Word are now more than 250 on any given Sunday! I came by to tell somebody this morning — Look what God is doing!

Shortly after I arrived we began praying for God to give us a vision for this neighborhood. We felt God speaking to our hearts about three specific needs in the neighborhood. First, there were kids who were not making it in school and we felt God calling us to get involved in their lives. Second, we began to notice that there were hungry people in our neighborhood and we felt God calling us to get involved in their lives. Thirdly, we began to see that there were many, many single parent moms who needed a break from the 24 hour responsibility of raising their kids and we felt God calling us to get involved in their lives.

Six years later Study Buddies is working with 35 kids from Britton Elementary School two days a week. These are kids that most people in our society say will not make it. It’s not that they don’t think they will make it to the corporate board rooms of American, they don’t even think they will make it out of high school. You believe differently and that is why you continue to reach out to these kids and with the hope that rests in Jesus!

There is an incredible footnote to the story that makes it even more remarkable. Back when we went to the principal with the idea she let us know that there was already an afterschool program in the Oklahoma City school system. The reason she was willing to allow us to work with her school was because when she asked us who we wanted to work with we told her, “We want to work with the kids nobody else wants to work with, the kids that you think aren’t going to make it.” The irony in the story is that today there is no afterschool program in the Oklahoma City school system, we are the only program for these kids. God in His infinite wisdom prepared us before the funding was ever cut so that His kids wouldn’t be forgotten. I came by this morning to tell somebody — Look what God is doing!

The second item that God brought to our attention, feeding the hungry people of our community, is going strong after five years of service. Today the Britvil Food Pantry feeds between 1800-00 a month! Today, the Oklahoma City Food Bank has called Britvil the most efficient and effectively food pantry in the entire state of Oklahoma. All of this has happened because of a vision that two precious little ladies, Ernestine Thomas and Winnefred Owen, were willing to pursue for the glory of God. Not one person who works at Britvil is paid a dime, every person is a volunteer, and God is receiving the glory for their devotion to seeing the hungry fed in Jesus name. I came by to tell somebody this morning — Look what God is doing!

Six years ago God gave us a vision to provide some kind of child care for moms who are worn out with carrying out their responsibilities of caring for their children. We’ve waited six long years for God to raise up His leader for this ministry. Two months ago Joelle Williams stood before the Board of this church and shared her vision for the Britton Christian Church Mother’s Day Out Ministry. Joelle wasn’t even in this church a year ago. She had no idea what God had put in our hearts six years ago, but He has been preparing her for this important ministry which will begin in September. What is God going to do through the ministry of Mother’s Day Out? I have no idea, but I can’t wait to see what happens because I remember what He had done in the past! I came by to tell somebody this morning — Look what God is doing!

Three years ago we were at camp with the kids when the director of the camp asked if we needed any clothes for the people of our neighborhood. It was right before school was getting ready to start and the thought came to mind that when our kids get ready to go back to school we normally get them a new pair of jeans, a t-shirt, or some new tennis shoes. Many of the parents in our community don’t have that option so we thought, “How cool would it be to open a store and allow parents to get their kids some new clothes to go back to school in?” We brought all of those clothes back and put signs around the neighborhood advertising “The King’s Kloset Back To School Special.” The people came by the droves and the place looked like Wal Mart! The King’s Kloset has been opened each Monday since providing quality clothes to the people of the community. All of the volunteers who work at the Kloset do so because they want to be used by the Lord to touch the lives of others. They are not paid a cent for giving of their time each and every week, but they receive much more than money could ever provide. I came by to tell somebody today — Look what God is doing!

A little over two years ago I began noticing that many of the people who were coming to the church for help during the week had small children with them. It seemed like most of the little ones had runny noses and were coughing like they had been smoking Camel no filters for forty years. I began to share what I was seeing with some of you and we started to pray about what we should do. Not too long after that the Lord led two doctors to our church and shortly thereafter I shared with them what I was seeing. One of them said, “Why don’t we start a clinic?” We began to put the word out and people who were already part of Britton Christian Church who were already working in the medical field began to come forward. I wasn’t even aware of what they did for a living, but God had already provided for the King’s Klinic before it ever opened its doors!

Footnote time: About the same time the bombing took place and there were tons of medical supplies which were donated to help the victims of the bombing. When there weren’t many that needed long term care the hospitals
recognized that they had a huge surplus of medical supplies. One of the hospitals donated truckloads of supplies to our clinic and we were in business! Today, the King’s Klinic is opened every Tuesday night meeting the medical needs of the people of our community and beyond! Before the Klinic was even an idea God was already preparing you for this incredible ministry. I came by this morning to tell somebody — Look what God is doing!

A little over one year ago I asked the Board of the church for permission to start a non profit organization to work with businesses, other churches, and government agencies who supported the kind of community services that we were doing. We were noticing that each of the ministries were going and growing fast and that we as a church wouldn’t be able to fund them in the future unless we got some kind of outside help. The Board gave me the go ahead and Urban Impact was born. We had no idea who would lead Urban Impact, but God already knew what we needed!

On May 9 of last year we were having a Promise Keepers retreat in Guthrie when God spoke to Pat Kelley’s heart about going into full-time ministry. God was also working on Eric Williams in Branson, Missouri and leading Eric and Joelle to plug into a ministry that was more community based than camp. I called Eric on the phone one day and we were talking about Urban Impact when I asked him if he would pray about moving to Oklahoma City and leading this new ministry. Eric and Joelle prayed and felt God leading them to move here and work with Urban Impact. The work that Eric and Pat are doing with developing Urban Impact is truly amazing. They met this past Wednesday with 30 leaders from across our city at the Urban Impact Network Luncheon, a luncheon they host once a month for people interested in urban ministry. A commercial development corporation in town working out a deal to donate eight acres of land in our neighborhood to Urban Impact on which the Urban Impact Community Center will be built in the future. Churches from across the city are learning about and wanting to get involved in this unique ministry. Once again, I came by to tell somebody here this morning — Look what God is doing!

God is busy at work through the ministries of Britton Christian Church! He is busy not just in starting new ministries, but He is busy in providing us with new, creative, and innovative ways to share the love of Jesus with the people of Oklahoma City. These ministries which have been started, and the ministries which are yet to come, have all been started to introduce people who would not normally come to church to the love of God found in Jesus.
The beautiful thing is that as they come to the Klinic, Tae Kwon Do, the Kloset, Britvil, Study Buddies, Son Life, and the other ministries they are finding themselves coming to church. Some of you are here this morning because you were first introduced to Britton Christian Church through one of these vital ministries.

Let me give you an example. A few months ago a lady who is a nurse at University Hospital heard that there was a “free clinic” on the north side of town. She had some time and wanted to volunteer. When she arrived at the Klinic the staff took time before seeing the patients to go into a back room and pray about the evening. She really didn’t know how to take the prayer since she was unaware that it was a “religious” clinic. The evening rolled along and she had a good time with the people so she decided to come back and volunteer again. After several weeks of volunteering one of the people at the Klinic invited her to come to church. She came the next Sunday and had a good time so she came back again. Several weeks later I gave an invitation at the end of the sermon for anyone who wanted to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. God was working in her heart and she came forward to accept Christ. After the service we set up a time so that we could get together and talk about baptism.On the following Wednesday she arrived at my office and when we sat down to talk she said, “Mike I have to be honest with you, I don’t even know what baptism is. The only time I have ever been to church is for weddings and funerals.” I told her that I didn’t grow up in the church either and I understood her lack of familiarity with the things of the faith. I explained to her the importance of baptism and a short time after that she stood before all of you in the baptistery and we all celebrated her newfound faith in Christ!

The Church has been led to believe that since we have churches on every
corner, Christian preachers on every television set, Christian music
floating through the airwaves, and Christian books in every bookstore that
there is not one single person in America who doesn’t Christ — we are
wrong! There are many folks in our city who do not know the first thing
about who Jesus is, what He has done, and what He desires for their lives.
We are seeing the Lord use this church to reach out to folks who have never
been involved in church before or who were involved as a child and left for
good only to now be coming home to the Father once again. I came by to
tell somebody — Look what God is doing!

I wish I had a week to tell you the stories that are in my heart. Stories of marriages being reconciled, stories of being finding the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, stories of parents and children being reconciled, stories of the sick being cared for, the hungry being fed, the naked being clothed, children who are at risk of not making it through school being encouraged and helped with their school work, stories of children being taught discipline and respect with Alonzo’s Tae Kwon Do classes during the week, and stories of God’s mighty acts among us! Look what God is doing! Look around, look wide-eyed, gaze into His majesty, peer into His glory, drink in His mighty power to bring hope to the hopeless, courage to the fearful, and purpose to those wandering around with no plan or purpose. As we begin our 1997 Stewardship Focus I wanted to take just a few moments out of your time this morning to show you what God is doing. For the next three weeks I want to encourage you to pray. Ask the Lord to show you what He is doing in your life and what He desires to do in your future. Also ask the Lord how He desires for you to respond to the blessings He has brought into your life so that He can use you and your family to touch the lives of many others who are still waiting to experience the lover, mercy, and grace of Jesus Christ.

I want to encourage you to be present with us for the next two weeks because we are going to see God move in a mighty way. Next Sunday night all of our leaders are going to get together for a time of prayer and commitment. At that time we will make our pledges towards funding the work of God through Britton Christian Church. The following Sunday everyone who feels led will have an opportunity to make a pledge as well as we watch God do what only He can do. Open your eyes and look what God is doing!

Look What GOD Is Doing!
Psalm 78
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