Dear friends at church,

Sometimes, life is a real pain in the neck.

Ever since I got back from my fall vacation I have had a pain in my neck.  I may have gotten it, while sleeping on the plane, or sleeping in unusual places on the vacation.  Regardless, I brought it home with me, and it has steadily gotten worse.

So, I’ve gotten some relief from a “K-lazer” treatment at the chiropractor’s office.  I got even more relief from an exercise that I received from the chiropractor.  But it hasn’t taken away all the pain.  I can kill it with Ibuprofen, but I don’t like to do that for too long.

I’m beginning to think the problem is compounded by stress.  So, it has become a spiritual problem.  I periodically have to “give things back to God.”  It’s almost a cliché that we’re all supposed to give responsibility back to God for the outcomes of our efforts on earth.  But it’s easier said than done.

We can try to remove the sources of the stress.  But for me, the biggest stress is trying to do too much or be responsible for events over which I have no control.  I need to give that control back to God.  In some degree, I have a pain in the neck because I take stress upon

myself that only God should bear.

Some truth from God’s word that helps me as I try to let go of unnecessary stress.

Matthew 7:10: Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  It’s God’s Kingdom, not mine.  I’m only responsible to be faithful in which I can do.  I’m not able or required to make the Kingdom come.

Psalm 46:10: Be still and know that I am God.  I should rest and sleep and take a day off, because God is still working, when I’m resting.

Psalm 127:1-3: Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain.  It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.  This encourages me to pray and dedicate what I do to God, leaving the results to God.

Matthew 6:25: Do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?  I need to work appropriately, but not to obsess about getting enough out of my work.

2 Timothy 1:12: I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.

The bottom line is to “trust God.”  Relax my shoulders.  Pray though the stresses of the day.  Thank God for all things—good and bad.  We’re connected to the eternal God through Christ.  Everything’s going to be okay.  In life and in death, Christ is ruling on His throne.  Regardless of our outcomes on earth, God is going to take care of us.

Rev. Don

Be not dismayed what ’er betide
God will take care of you
Beneath His wings of love abide
God will take care of you

God will take care of you
Through everyday

O’er all the way
He will care for you
God will take care of you



Dear friends,

Are you looking to deepen your spiritual life and joy?

You’re invited to grow with us as we reconvene the ALPHA FELLOWSHIP on September 1.

Meetings begin with a pot luck meal together at 6pm.  You have three groups to choose from this fall, each showing a video followed by discussion and prayer.

Table 1. A focus of the miracles of the book of John, based on the book and Bible Study video “The Grave Robber”.

Table 2. Learning transformational prayer in the congregation based on the inspirational video, “When God’s People Pray.”

Table 3. Encouragement to give your heart fully to Jesus based on the drama video, “Not a Fan.”

All three of these video series’ are wonderful!  So, don’t miss out on the growth and spiritual support we get at ALPHA FELLOWSHIP.

Please forward this email to anyone that you would like to invite to ALPHA FELLOWSHIP before we meet on the 1st.

We could use a pianist or guitarist for the worship time as well, if you know anyone.

I would love to see many new faces!

Please reply, if you need more information.  Thanks!

Rev. Don


Dear friends,

Thanks to the Outreach Committee for a very fun and successful ice cream supper last Wednesday.  I broke my one-week fast and had about a pint (of ice cream).

Notice the beautiful table of cakes below.  I counted nine amazing creations.  I prefer using cherry cobbler with vanilla and chocolate to make a Black Forest.  That’s when I can’t get licorice.



Marilyn and I estimated about 60 attended, including many people not from the church and several of our youth.  Kassedey and Averie serenaded us after the meal with their iPhones as backup.

On Tuesday, July 26th, Oak Park was blessed to have Dr. Pierre and Pauline Manya, Missionaries in the Central Congo UM Annual Conference.  It was really inspiring!  Dr. Manya is working for very low wages and is the only gynecologist serving an area with 600,000 people!  He is also regularly training doctors many of whom leave him and go to the African cities to make more money.  It is because of the sacrifices of people like the Manya’s that the church is growing in the Congo.  It was an honor to have them in our church.  Pictured below with Juan Distefano and other friends who attended.




In other news, the barn swallows that have been patiently raising their young at the church have pushed their young out of the nest.  Today, I saw both generations on the wire over the parking lot.  The adults are on the left and the adolescents are separate on the right, just like teenagers.

Finally, in light of the presidential election coming up, I would encourage you that there is One Ruler of all people, whether we acknowledge Him or not.  Jesus is the Lord of all creation, so let us join the millions at the throne of God who say with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”  Revelation 5:12

Give your heart to Him anew this wonderful day!

Rev. Don

Dear friends,

Hope you had a happy Easter Day and Holy Week!  Christ is risen indeed!  He is our hope and our salvation by grace through faith; and we have the assurance of our salvation by the inward witness of his Spirit based on His promises in scripture.  Our personal experience verifies God’s word from within.  As Revelation 3:20 says, Christ will “come in to us and dine with us.”  We are “in Christ” and have the hope of glory, eternal life!

Leaders of Oak Park United Methodist met today with Justin Tockey of the Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation, pictured here.  The brochure reads “Remember Your Church.”  Justin is our liaison to the foundation that manages the funds members have contributed to the church endowments.  Foundations monies have earned an average of 7% interest over the last 30 years.

If you need estate planning help that is not predicated on making contributions to the church, Justin will be holding meetings in Bartlesville in the next few months.  Oak Park plans to participate in these instructional sessions on how to make sure that your estate assets go to the places and people you desire.  Please let us know, if you are interested in solid, free planning help.

This Thursday, the Alpha Fellowship is offering you a chance to see the movie, “God’s not dead.”  God’s Not Dead is based on Rice Brooks’ book God’s Not Dead: Evidence for God in an Age of Uncertainty, the film follows a Christian college student whose faith is challenged by a philosophy professor who declares God a pre-scientific fiction. The film grossed over $62 million on a $2 million budget.

You will enjoy a movie that clarifies the strength of the Christian position on the existence of God I a world where some chose to suppress that truth or attack the faith.  Some and see this great film: The sequel of the movie is also in theaters, “God’s not dead 2”.  I would be quite worthwhile to see both films.  Alpha Fellowship begins with the meal and movie at 6pm.

As we are at peace with God, the church aims to equip people to live in the sinful world victoriously.  About 60 people came to the church for our “Active Shooter Training”.  Sheriff Rick Silver and his deputies came and presented a very important block of information to our community.  The heart of the lesson was “run-hide-fight”.

(more below)









Here are some highlights of what was taught, if you might be interested to know what is recommended in shooter situations:


Get out of the building

Incidents are commonly only 5-6 minutes long before police arrive

The longer one is in the incident, the greater chance of getting shot

Make exits by breaking windows

The Fatal funnel situation: hallways are bad escape routes

Have a rendezvous point for congregation outside

Every man/woman for themselves (except small children)

Tell kids to say “Bad guy! Run!”

All runners at the Aurora shooting escaped


Barricade a locked door

Breaking down a door is a waste of shooters precious time

Use your belt to jam door closer mechanism to barricade the door

Don’t open the door unless police slide an id under door

You can call 911 and get code word that only the police will know.

Getting under tables is not hiding

At the Va. Tech shooting everyone in a locked room escaped


Kill them and/or get their guns

Stick thumbs in eye sockets and blind him

You can’t shoot a wounded and disabled shooter without at least being sued

Don’t have your gun out until ready to shoot; police could kill you running around with it.

Know where bullets that you fire are going beyond the target

Police arrive

They often go past an injured person to engage killer

They want to see empty hands.

Victims will be pat down as a precaution.

They take guns and handcuff innocent people as precaution.


Have a church security team trained

Police prefer we have concealed guns, not open carry.  It makes us a target.

Concealed carry class is available at a Bartlesville Christian church and many other places in town.

Weapon retention class is recommended.

We may learn about guns in a session with the local swat team

Shooting for practice is illegal in the city limits

When practicing, shoot into a dirt pile


Overall it was a fantastic seminar.  Thanks to all who put it together.

Have a great day in the grace of our God!

Psalm 4:8: In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.

Rev. Don Jones

Dear friends

A lot is going on at church this week.  I really love our prayer stitchers.  Here are some of their latest creations.  We pray over them before sending them out to people who are covered with our prayers and the love of Jesus.  Sammie Clingenpeel puts a lot of leadership into this group.  But everyone works really hard and has a blast doing it!

I really appreciate Beverly Williamson for keeping the choir moving and singing a good variety of music.  Thanks to Edna for playing so faithfully too!  Hope everyone who sings will come forward for the volunteer choir.  Choir practices are only once a month and there are no tryouts required!






I hope you have thanked Katie Ellis for doing such a wonderful job with the children’s sermons week after week.  She is really warm and a great teacher and role model for the kids.  We are very fortunate to have her skills!


A lot has happened at the ALPHA FELLOWSHIP.  We are starting THREE NEW STUDIES in April.  Each table is doing a different study!

Group 1: Leader-Mike Robertson

Renewal of All Things and The Grave Robber lasting 8 meetings.

Group 2: Leader-Don Jones

Not a Fan lasting 6 sessions

Group 3: Leader-Barbara Turner

When God’s People Pray lasting 6 sessions

All of these studies have great video presentations that will inspire you.  Each has the potential to change lives!  That’s what the Gospel is all about!

Rev. Don

Dear friends at Oak Park,

Every week, we have doughnuts available through the Hospitality Committee.  Bonnie and EJ pick them up from Daylight Doughnuts, come to the church, and organize them for enjoyment on Sunday morning and beyond.

There are so many doughnuts, it’s really inspiring.  Linda Grounds takes a large number of the surplus and has doughnuts for Avant UMC and for their youth group on Tuesdays.  Americans are bad about wasting food, but this is on place, where extra food is well-used!

One of the least-appreciated activities in a church is the board meeting.  Committees are universally joked about.  But the board of a United Methodist church is called the “Church Council” and its work is potentially the most important in the long-term survival of the church.

A lot of churches are poorly lead due to lack of vision by the pastor and the congregational leadership.  But when churches go forward, it is usually because the Holy Spirit is working dynamically through the Council of the church.  The Council is also a place to learn more about applying the word of God than any other small group.  Here we should be using what we know of God in Christ to set the church on a path that will lead to making disciples of Jesus.  This, after all, is the grand mission of the church.

We had another round of fantastic blankets that the Prayer Stitchers group has made.  These amazing women pray for those in need and send gifts to the sick, elderly, newborns, and many others.  The blankets are always so colorful!  They are an inspiration.  What if the whole world was as giving as these ladies!

Please plan to attend our church dinner and youth talent show on Thursday night, March 17.  Dinner is at 6.


I’ve had a lot of requests for pictures of my new grandson, Kian Theymitha Gunathilaka.  He was born February 15th in Longview, Texas, and weighed 6 lbs. 13 oz.  He was born by Caesarian but is completely healthy and beautiful.

If you want to see pictures, here are some.  My favorite is a picture of Kian’s dad, Ashan, taking a proud picture of the two of them together.

Much love,

Rev. Don


Dear friends at church,

I’ve been piling up pictures that I take at church events.

There are trips to the YMCA with the older youth.

Charley working out on weights                                                                                                                                         Colten getting his aerobic workout

Here is a posed shot and some sneak peaks at the Lemon reunion.

Here is some amazing examples of the textile art created by the Prayer Stitchers:

Thank you all for praying for the youth group on Wednesday!  The 16 kids were especially well-behaved (to my knowledge).  This was about as rowdy as they got: Two boys playing a duet on the piano!  You prayed for this!

Have a great weekend!

Rev. Don


Dear friends,

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas.  I certainly did.  The Spirit did His work around and in me and I had a great season.  Part of that is due to you.  I am honored by your willingness to participate in ministry, by your generosity to fund ministry, and by your love for me by sharing and not asking much in return.  I try to give my all.  But no one person can do what Christ calls a church to do.  It is a team effort: A lot of people with different personalities and gifts combining their talents to do so much more than we can do alone.

You are making a difference!  I believe you always have, in different ways guided by different pastors.

And take hope!  Christ’s Kingdom is growing, not shrinking.  The institutional church, as always, must change in Christ’s biblical way or be replaced by a new manifestation of the Kingdom.  And that is happening all around us, in small, heartfelt ways that get no publicity.  Many people are becoming increasingly aware that the way the nation is going is not good or sustainable.  There has been no improvement in the standard of living for the average person in the last few years.  Part of the reason is a profound, spiritual darkness.  Christ’s Spirit is always working to fill that void and the Lord will do so.  Revival is happening!

But beyond what we DO, the Lord is most concerned with who we ARE inside.  May your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and self-control be magnified by thanksgiving to Christ for His own love implanted in your heart.  May the Holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas joy, and New Year’s hope combine to make a determination in your heart that all is well right now because of “Christ in you the hope of glory.”

Merry Christmas.

Rev. Don

Oak Park United Methodist Church     (Fall leaves make Oak Park                                           a great name of the church and subdivision!)

Building God’s people to thrive in today’s world!


Visit us at 601 Brentwood Road

Sunday Worship at 10:00 am

Alpha Fellowship every other Thursday at 6:00 pm


Dear friends at Oak Park!

It’s been an exciting week at the church.  We had Charge Conference at First Church last Sunday.  It was a fun meeting, actually—for Charge Conference.  The talks from Nowata, Delaware, First, and Ochelata were interesting.  Barbara Turner gave the most interesting talk, of course, on behalf of our church, giving a summary of the many activities of our last year.  She really didn’t have enough time!

It was also the first Charge Conference in my memory to have a live goat in attendance.  I’ve had some people I might “call” goats attend over the years, but never a real, live goat (pictured with Oak Park’s premier animal lover).  The goat was at Charge Conference, because First Church has a petting zoo on site.  So, he came for the publicity.

This was the second week of practice for our Christmas Play, directed by Katie Ellis.  It’s a real play too, with lots of lines for lots of kids, called Operation Christ Child.  We’re doing costumes, props, and sets like I haven’t been a part of since, probably, 1995.  Thank you to Katie and the youth leaders for directing the scenes of this play during youth group.

I hope everyone will plan to attend our Children’s Christmas Program on Wednesday, December 23, at 7pm., as well as the Christmas Eve Service the next, holy, night!  Please invite and possibly bring your friends to the Christmas Eve Service.  It may be the only Christian experience they have during the holiday season.

On Thursday, we had a good crowd of Christ-followers for the wrap-up of The Alpha Course combined with the Alpha Fellowship at the church.  Thank you to all who cooked, especially Tom Clark, who grilled 22 steaks, including separately beating each one of them to death, so they would be tender. (The steaks, not the cows…)

Also, we had several good desserts.  But the most amazing one was Barbara Kelley’s surprise cake (pictured here) with ten layers, an “A” for Alpha, and the Methodist cross and flame on the top.  The comedy was me trying to cut this cake.  It and everything people made was delicious!

Have a great weekend in the Lord!

Rev. Don


Dear friends,

Thanks for the great Veterans’ Day Ceremony last week!  I was especially touched by the testimonies of EJ Walker and Bob Hundley.  Thanks to Marilyn and Beverly for their usual devotion to making our worship services a reality.  Oak Park looks so great with our 1000 flags for the holiday.

With the attack in France, we realize how much we depend on our military and law enforcement personnel to enjoy our freedoms.

Linda’s youth program continues to go well at Avant.  Here is a little guy dressed up like Joseph in the coat of many colors.

Our Senior youth group goes on a monthly trip working out 10working out 5to the YMCA.  They had a working out 6lot of fun working out on the exercise equipment this month.  Having a relationship with the kids helps them trust in God and receive Christ.

Did you know one of our light poles has been bent for several weeks?  The Trustees got it fixed this week.  Can you remember which one was bent? :)

I would enjoy being at Charge Conference with you this Sunday at 2pm at First (United Methodist) Church, Bartlesville.  Charge Conference is the annual meeting of each local Methodist congregation.  We formally elect our officers, set pastoral salaries, and sometimes remove inactive members from the church roll!

Lately, Charge Conference has been held in conjunction with four other UM churches: First Church, Nowata, Ochelata, and Delaware.  It’s fun to hear the report from each church about what is going on there.  We eat and celebrate the year of ministry with our sister churches.

Have a great weekend.  See you at church!

Rev. Don

Rev. Don

Oak Park United Methodist Church

Building God’s people to thrive in today’s world!


Dear Friends at Oak Park,

Join us this Sunday for our annual Veterans Memorial Sunday!

We will have special speakers, E. J. Walker and Bob Hundley giving their reflections on military service.  If you are a veteran, we encourage you to bring important items from your military past for display on the tables in the narthex of the church this Sunday.

I thank God for our armed services that keep us free.  I am one of the millions of people who have enjoyed the joys and benefits of a free society because of the wall of security provided by our faithful service men and women.

These are the service men and women for whom we have been giving records.  Thanks for the use of your photos!

William H. Clopton – US Army

Dean Collins – US Army

John Forbes – US Navy

Lewis Hayes – US Navy

Richard Johnson – US Army Air Corps

John W. Jones – US Navy

Harry F. Robertson – US Army

Lyle D. Sallee – US Army

Rowland Emerson Smith – US Air Force

Bob Strode – US Army

Ken Walker – US Navy

Henry Weigel – US Air Force

Vi Weigel – Women’s Air Corps

Chelsea Prufer – US Navy

Eric Prufer – US Coast Guard

Art Boyle — US Navy

Thomas Bullen US Army

Craig Chandler – US Navy

Merlin Clark – US Navy

Jim Clingenpeel – US Army

Richard T. Cole – US Navy

David W. Cunningham – OK Air National Guard

Bill Dennis US Army

Renee Fallon – USMC

Loyd V. Harris – US Army

Chuck Hemke – US Army

Gary V. Holland – US Army

Bob Hundley – US Army

Josh E. Lee – National Guard

Larry D. Minor – US Navy

Shawn Prufer – US Marine Corps

Ed Ririe – US Air Force

Jimmie Rupe – Ok National Guard

Brian Walker – US Army

Edward J. Walker

Luke Walker – US Army

David Wooddell – US Air Force


Here are some pictures of our precious veterans.  We will have others at our service.  Do you know these guys?

In a season of increased lawlessness abroad and a trend of disrespect for law enforcement, I believe it is important for us at Oak Park to show our unquestioned support for what our military stands for.  They deserve our respect and recognition.  Come and show your personal support this Sunday!

Rev. Don


Oak Park United Methodist Church

Building God’s people to thrive in today’s world!

Visit us at 601 Brentwood Road

Sunday Worship at 10:00 am

Alpha Fellowship every other Thursday at 6:00 pm


Dear friends,

The Protestant Reformation began with Luther’s 95 Theses nailed on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany, on October 31, 1517.

My message this weekend comes through Mike Robertson who passed on this text, which needs to be reviewed and appreciated.  It’s hard to understand in translation, but it is referring to justification by faith rather than works through the Roman Catholic Church.  I have highlighted some of the key theses.

The doctrine of Justification by faith alone underlies this document.  The rediscovery of that doctrine changed history and helped create the modern world.

Rev. Don


Happy All Saint’s Day!


Disputation of Doctor Martin Luther
on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences

(Indulgences refers to the Catholic practice of dispensing forgiveness of sin, when receiving payments or acts of penance.)
by Dr. Martin Luther (1517)

Published in:

Works of Martin Luther: Adolph Spaeth, L.D. Reed, Henry Eyster Jacobs, et Al., Trans. & Eds.
(Philadelphia: A. J. Holman Company, 1915), Vol.1, pp. 29-38


Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed at Wittenberg, under the presidency of the Reverend Father Martin Luther, Master of Arts and of Sacred Theology, and Lecturer in Ordinary on the same at that place. Wherefore he requests that those who are unable to be present and debate orally with us, may do so by letter.

In the Name our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

1. Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite (i.e. make confession), willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.

2. This word cannot be understood to mean sacramental penance, i.e., confession and satisfaction, which is administered by the priests.

3. Yet it means not inward repentance only; nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work divers mortifications of the flesh.  (Real repentance results in a change of actions.)

4. The penalty [of sin], therefore, continues so long as hatred of self continues; for this is the true inward repentance, and continues until our entrance into the kingdom of heaven.

5. The pope does not intend to remit, and cannot remit any penalties other than those which he has imposed either by his own authority or by that of the Canons. (The Pope has no authority to remit sins except through personal faith in Christ’s sacrifice.)

6. The pope cannot remit any guilt, except by declaring that it has been remitted by God and by assenting to God’s remission; though, to be sure, he may grant remission in cases reserved to his judgment. If his right to grant remission in such cases were despised, the guilt would remain entirely unforgiven.

7. God remits guilt to no one whom He does not, at the same time, humble in all things and bring into subjection to His vicar, the priest.

8. The penitential canons are imposed only on the living, and, according to them, nothing should be imposed on the dying.

9. Therefore the Holy Spirit in the pope is kind to us, because in his decrees he always makes exception of the article of death and of necessity.

10. Ignorant and wicked are the doings of those priests who, in the case of the dying (i.e. already physically dead), reserve canonical penances for purgatory.  (i.e. prayers to release a dead person from purgatory)

11. This changing of the canonical penalty to the penalty of purgatory is quite evidently one of the tares that were sown while the bishops slept.

12. In former times the canonical penalties were imposed not after, but before absolution, as tests of true contrition.

13. The dying are freed by death from all penalties; they are already dead to canonical rules, and have a right to be released from them.

14. The imperfect health [of soul], that is to say, the imperfect love, of the dying brings with it, of necessity, great fear; and the smaller the love, the greater is the fear.

15. This fear and horror is sufficient of itself alone (to say nothing of other things) to constitute the penalty of purgatory, since it is very near to the horror of despair.

16. Hell, purgatory, and heaven seem to differ as do despair, almost-despair, and the assurance of safety.

17. With souls in purgatory it seems necessary that horror should grow less and love increase.

18. It seems unproved, either by reason or Scripture, that they are outside the state of merit, that is to say, of increasing love.

19. Again, it seems unproved that they, or at least that all of them, are certain or assured of their own blessedness, though we may be quite certain of it.

20. Therefore by “full remission of all penalties” the pope means not actually “of all,” but only of those imposed by himself.

21. Therefore those preachers of indulgences are in error, who say that by the pope’s indulgences a man is freed from every penalty, and saved;

22. Whereas he remits to souls in purgatory no penalty which, according to the canons, they would have had to pay in this life.

23. If it is at all possible to grant to any one the remission of all penalties whatsoever, it is certain that this remission can be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to the very fewest.

24. It must needs be, therefore, that the greater part of the people are deceived by that indiscriminate and highsounding promise of release from penalty.

25. The power which the pope has, in a general way, over purgatory, is just like the power which any bishop or curate has, in a special way, within his own diocese or parish.

26. The pope does well when he grants remission to souls [in purgatory], not by the power of the keys (which he does not possess), but by way of intercession.

27. They preach man (i.e. preach falsely) who say that so soon as the penny jingles into the money-box, the soul flies out [of purgatory]. 

(This was a claim by the sellers of indulgences: That giving money to the church immediately freed people’s souls from


28. It is certain that when the penny jingles into the money-box, gain and avarice can be increased, but the result of the intercession of the Church is in the power of God alone.

29. Who knows whether all the souls in purgatory wish to be bought out of it, as in the legend of Sts. Severinus and Paschal.

30. No one is sure that his own contrition is sincere; much less that he has attained full remission.

31. Rare as is the man that is truly penitent, so rare is also the man who truly buys indulgences, i.e., such men are most rare.

32. They will be condemned eternally, together with their teachers, who believe themselves sure of their salvation because they have letters of pardon.  (The church gave letters of pardon after people gave money.)

33. Men must be on their guard against those who say that the pope’s pardons are that inestimable gift of God by which man is reconciled to Him;

34. For these “graces of pardon” concern only the penalties of sacramental satisfaction, and these are appointed by man.

35. They preach no Christian doctrine who teach that contrition is not necessary in those who intend to buy souls out of purgatory or to buy confessionalia.  (Confessionalia is religious paraphernalia that, when bought, could be used to forgive sin.)

36. Every truly repentant Christian has a right to full remission of penalty and guilt, even without letters of pardon.  (Through true repentance of sin and faith alone)

37. Every true Christian, whether living or dead, has part in all the blessings of Christ and the Church; and this is granted him by God, even without letters of pardon.

38. Nevertheless, the remission and participation [in the blessings of the Church] which are granted by the pope are in no way to be despised, for they are, as I have said, the declaration of divine remission.

39. It is most difficult, even for the very keenest theologians, at one and the same time to commend to the people the abundance of pardons and [the need of] true contrition.

40. True contrition seeks and loves penalties, but liberal pardons only relax penalties and cause them to be hated, or at least, furnish an occasion [for hating them].

41. Apostolic pardons are to be preached with caution, lest the people may falsely think them preferable to other good works of love.

42. Christians are to be taught that the pope does not intend the buying of pardons to be compared in any way to works of mercy.

43. Christians are to be taught that he who gives to the poor or lends to the needy does a better work than buying pardons;

44. Because love grows by works of love, and man becomes better; but by pardons man does not grow better, only more free from penalty.

45. Christians are to be taught that he who sees a man in need, and passes him by, and gives [his money] for pardons, purchases not the indulgences of the pope, but the indignation of God.

46. Christians are to be taught that unless they have more than they need, they are bound to keep back what is necessary for their own families, and by no means to squander it on pardons.

47. Christians are to be taught that the buying of pardons is a matter of free will, and not of commandment.

48. Christians are to be taught that the pope, in granting pardons, needs, and therefore desires, their devout prayer for him more than the money they bring.

49. Christians are to be taught that the pope’s pardons are useful, if they do not put their trust in them; but altogether harmful, if through them they lose their fear of God. (People were buying the pardons and feeling free to sin.)

50. Christians are to be taught that if the pope knew the exactions of the pardon-preachers, he would rather that St. Peter’s church should go to ashes, than that it should be built up with the skin, flesh and bones of his sheep.  (The money for pardons was going to build St. Peter’s cathedral in Rome.)

51. Christians are to be taught that it would be the pope’s wish, as it is his duty, to give of his own money to very many of those from whom certain hawkers of pardons cajole money, even though the church of St. Peter might have to be sold.

52. The assurance of salvation by letters of pardon is vain, even though the commissary, nay, even though the pope himself, were to stake his soul upon it.

53. They are enemies of Christ and of the pope, who bid the Word of God be altogether silent in some Churches, in order that pardons may be preached in others.

54. Injury is done the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or a longer time is spent on pardons than on this Word.

55. It must be the intention of the pope that if pardons, which are a very small thing, are celebrated with one bell, with single processions and ceremonies, then the Gospel, which is the very greatest thing, should be preached with a hundred bells, a hundred processions, a hundred ceremonies.

56. The “treasures of the Church,” out of which the pope grants indulgences, are not sufficiently named or known among the people of Christ.  (I believe this refers to the supposed authority of the church to dispense forgiveness, etc.)

57. That they are not temporal treasures is certainly evident, for many of the vendors do not pour out such treasures so easily, but only gather them.

58. Nor are they the merits of Christ and the Saints, for even without the pope, these always work grace for the inner man, and the cross, death, and hell for the outward man.

59. St. Lawrence said that the treasures of the Church were the Church’s poor, but he spoke according to the usage of the word in his own time.

60. Without rashness we say that the keys of the Church, given by Christ’s merit, are that treasure;

61. For it is clear that for the remission of penalties and of reserved cases, the power of the pope is of itself sufficient.

62. The true treasure of the Church is the Most Holy Gospel of the glory and the grace of God.

63. But this treasure is naturally most odious, for it makes the first to be last.

64. On the other hand, the treasure of indulgences is naturally most acceptable, for it makes the last to be first.

65. Therefore the treasures of the Gospel are nets with which they formerly were wont to fish for men of riches.

66. The treasures of the indulgences are nets with which they now fish for the riches of men.

67. The indulgences which the preachers cry as the “greatest graces” are known to be truly such, in so far as they promote gain.

68. Yet they are in truth the very smallest graces compared with the grace of God and the piety of the Cross.

69. Bishops and curates are bound to admit the commissaries of apostolic pardons, with all reverence.

70. But still more are they bound to strain all their eyes and attend with all their ears, lest these men preach their own dreams instead of the commission of the pope.

71. He who speaks against the truth of apostolic (i.e. forgiveness as described in the Bible) pardons, let him be anathema and accursed!

72. But he who guards against the lust and license of the pardon-preachers, let him be blessed!  (Clergy in Luther’s time were known for tolerance to overindulgence and immorality in their own ranks.)

73. The pope justly thunders against those who, by any art, contrive the injury of the traffic in pardons.

74. But much more does he intend to thunder against those who use the pretext of pardons to contrive the injury of holy love and truth.

75. To think the papal pardons so great that they could absolve a man even if he had committed an impossible sin and violated the Mother of God — this is madness.  (One priest, Tetzel, is claimed to have said this in a sermon promoting indulgences.)

76. We say, on the contrary, that the papal pardons are not able to remove the very least of venial sins, so far as its guilt is concerned.

77. It is said that even St. Peter, if he were now Pope, could not bestow greater graces; this is blasphemy against St. Peter and against the pope.

78. We say, on the contrary, that even the present pope, and any pope at all, has greater graces at his disposal; to wit, the Gospel, powers, gifts of healing, etc., as it is written in I. Corinthians xii.

79. To say that the cross, emblazoned with the papal arms, which is set up [by the preachers of indulgences], is of equal worth with the Cross of Christ, is blasphemy.  (This was a motivational display set up during the service to collect money.)

80. The bishops, curates and theologians who allow such talk to be spread among the people, will have an account to render.

81. This unbridled preaching of pardons makes it no easy matter, even for learned men, to rescue the reverence due to the pope from slander, or even from the shrewd questionings of the laity.

82. To wit: — “Why does not the pope empty purgatory, for the sake of holy love and of the dire need of the souls that are there, if he redeems an infinite number of souls for the sake of miserable money with which to build a Church? The former reasons would be most just; the latter is most trivial.”

83. Again: — “Why are mortuary and anniversary masses for the dead continued, and why does he not return or permit the withdrawal of the endowments founded on their behalf, since it is wrong to pray for the redeemed?”

84. Again: — “What is this new piety of God and the pope, that for money they allow a man who is impious and their enemy to buy out of purgatory the pious soul of a friend of God, and do not rather, because of that pious and beloved soul’s own need, free it for pure love’s sake?”

85. Again: — “Why are the penitential canons long since in actual fact and through disuse abrogated and dead, now satisfied by the granting of indulgences, as though they were still alive and in force?”

86. Again: — “Why does not the pope, whose wealth is to-day greater than the riches of the richest, build just this one church of St. Peter with his own money, rather than with the money of poor believers?”

87. Again: — “What is it that the pope remits, and what participation does he grant to those who, by perfect contrition, have a right to full remission and participation?”

88. Again: — “What greater blessing could come to the Church than if the pope were to do a hundred times a day what he now does once, and bestow on every believer these remissions and participations?”

89. ”Since the pope, by his pardons, seeks the salvation of souls rather than money, why does he suspend the indulgences and pardons granted heretofore, since these have equal efficacy?”

90. To repress these arguments and scruples of the laity by force alone, and not to resolve them by giving reasons, is to expose the Church and the pope to the ridicule of their enemies, and to make Christians unhappy.

91. If, therefore, pardons were preached according to the spirit and mind of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved; nay, they would not exist.

92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Peace, peace,” and there is no peace!

93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Cross, cross,” and there is no cross!

94. Christians are to be exhorted that they be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, deaths, and hell;

95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven rather through many tribulations, than through the assurance of peace.  (This is a summary: That heaven is gained by following Christ through tribulation, not by a grant of pardon secured by money.)


Rev. Don

Oct. 10, 2015

Dear friends at Oak Park UMC,

News from Avant UMC, my wife Linda’s church: They had their first youth program last week and had 14! Veterans Day is coming.  At worship on November 8 we will recognize our veterans and have special messages from two of them!  It’s one of the biggest services of the year.  If you are a veteran or know of one who might attend the service, please send the church office an “in-the-service picture” of the veteran to be included in the power point recognition service on November 8.  Colton Roop was baptized Wednesday at our youth group.  It was amazing!  Thanks to all of you for doing your part in the ministry for Christ here.  You are doing His Kingdom work! :-)   We are scheduled to have another baptism this Sunday.  Saturday, October 10, will be the “Parking Lot Pizzazz TWO”.  We had the first one last March.  Please PRAY, PRAY that the Spirit will move powerfully over the kids and adults of Oak Park subdivision all afternoon Saturday.  Ask that people will 1) COME to the rally, 2) be RECEPTIVE to God’s leading, and 3) RESPOND to the music, the message, and the blessing of free snacks and door prizes.   No Wednesday youth group next week! We’ll have Fall Break with the schools and be back in two weeks.  We will have both Alpha’s and the Tuesday Sr. Youth Ministry.  The Alpha Course was held at Ahava’s Restaurant in Dewey this week.  We had excellent sharing time and look forward to the Alpha Retreat on October 23 and 24.           After church, and after the baptism, and after the Council Meeting on Sunday…  I am going all alone to the Green Country District Conference in Claremore.  :-(    I wish someone could go with me.   The Panther Party is coming up on October 17.  Hope to see many of you neighbors there!

Rev. Don


Oct. 3, 2015

Dear friends at church,

Two children prayed to receive Christ in small group Wednesday.  I will try to pull together the details about having an immersion baptismal service after the teaching time next Wednesday.  You are invited to come to youth group at 6:30 in the sanctuary to share in this life-changing experience.

One of the little boys was excited, when he prayed for the Lord.  Right away, he said, “I felt something!”  It made me feel great that God is moving before us.  Thank you for supporting the ministry in all aspects at Oak Park!  We get the privilege of seeing God work in response to our efforts!

I noticed our worship attendance reached 50 last Sunday.  It’s been a long time!  If you haven’t met them our newcomers, they are Andrew Perrigo and his kids Jordan and Abbi, along with Mike and Katie Ellis.  Katie has graciously agreed to help with the children’s sermons and plays a major role in the youth group on Wednesday.  You may have already met our new attenders earlier this year, Dan and Dotty Miller and Linda Teague, who are involved in youth group and Alpha.

Another ministry opportunity is choir which practices the first Monday of each month.  I love it when a crowd comes up for volunteer choir.  Maybe some of you can join the regular choir as well.  The songs aren’t hard and choir glorifies the Lord!

At right is a late picture of one of our kids at the lock in. It was about 5am.  When kids fall asleep, it doesn’t matter where they are!

Have a great day!

Rev. Don




March 2012 Newsletter

April 2012 Newsletter


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