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My two-week hiatus has concluded! I’ll share more about my time away, but I thought it was interesting how many hot topics came and went while I was in vacation mode. Fortunately, there is still many topics to discuss this week.

Let’s get to it!

  1. Facebook fears faith-focused features

I’m not happy with Facebook right now. Of course, it’s probably because of Facebook you were able to find my blog, so I do understand its value. But I’m still not happy with the social media source.

Three different news stories have been removed from the Baptist Messenger Facebook page in recent weeks, including two in the past few days. A few months ago, a Messenger Insight video podcast featuring Dennis Jernigan being interviewed by Brian Hobbs and myself was deleted off the Facebook page.

This week, Baptist Messenger shared the news story by Baptist Press about President Trump’s military policy against transgender individuals. That was taken off the Messenger Facebook page.

Three times we tried to share on Facebook this week’s cover story about Laura Perry who left the transgendered lifestyle, restored her relationship with her family and is now teaching Sunday School at Bartlesville, First. I have personally shared the story on my Facebook page, but every time the link is posted on the Messenger Facebook page, it is removed soon after.

It angers me that Facebook is refusing to allow this story to be shared. I hope you will read about Laura and her mother Francine. Both shared how they needed to grow in their faith in Christ, and it’s a great testimony for everybody.

Our web tech friends are looking into how to reverse this Facebook banning, but I also appeal to you to consider sharing this story on your Facebook page and through other social media sources. The Messenger’s Facebook page is easier to target for opposition to file complaints, but if more individuals share this powerful story of the Gospel, it will be harder to have it removed.

  1. My Irish eyes are smiling

Karen and I had a magnificent experience touring Ireland last week. The weather was perfect. The scenery was beautiful. People were awesome. We enjoyed all of it.

We also had the opportunity to meet some people who are serving in Ireland. Because of security reasons, I can’t say who they are, but I was happy to connect with them and learn about their ministry. We also had the chance to attend St. Catherine’s Church, which is affiliated with the Church of Ireland but is very evangelical. It was great to worship with them. The associate pastor who spoke that morning is named Sean, and he will be in Oklahoma this fall serving with a church in Stillwater. It was a serendipitous moment to meet him.

I have many pictures of my trip. You can check them out on my Facebook page.

  1. Snippet from Wax’s “This Is Our Time”

I took Trevin Wax’s new book “This Is Our Time” on the trip with me. I plan to do a full review soon. This is an excellent read for Christians in sharing the Gospel in modern times, especially with moral concerns involving “our rapidly changing world.”

In the first chapter, Wax tackles the social media craze, identifying many concerns and offering suggestions on how Christians should practically use their smart phones and engage in social media with the Gospel in mind. Of course, one suggestion I personally offer is tell your friends about and the site’s award-winning weekly blog “Doyle’s Half Dozen” (shameless plug!).

Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter of “This is Our Time” that stood out to me:

“The gospel frees us from the need to do reputation control online all the time.

God sees through selfies.

“And so there’s a better story, a better way. The gospel affirms the deepest longings that drive us to our phone – the longing to know and to be known – but it exposes the lie that the phone can truly fulfill those longings.

“So now our focus must shift. The way forward is to cultivate practices – counterpoints – that offset the myths coming from our phones.”

  1. Sat down with Shane

Shane Hall was the camp pastor at CrossTimbers Children’s Mission Adventure Camp this week. He is the pastor of Del City, First Southern and has been on the hearts of many Southern Baptists recently. For the past three years, Shane has been battling stomach cancer.

I had the chance to interview Shane at CrossTimbers this week for a story that will run in the Aug. 3 Baptist Messenger. We discussed his recent experiences, how the cancer has returned, how both his family, especially his wife Misty, and his church have been extremely supportive.

Shane said he rarely misses a Sunday being in the pulpit at First Southern, with exceptions to being in the hospital late May-early June. However, because of health reasons, he has cancelled many other speaking engagements, except for three. He said he spoke at Kingfisher, First earlier this year, and he kept his commitment to speaking at CrossTimbers this week.

The third event was at the Pastors’ Conference that preceded the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix, Ariz. I’ve watched Shane’s sermon on Phil. 4:13 three times. It was an historical experience.

Though his body is weak, Shane’s spirit is strong. It is evident that God’s Holy Spirit is working through him as he preaches. He also knows many people are praying for him, and said he is grateful for the many who are supporting him through prayer. He also said he has kept every letter and prayer card people have sent him.

“We have been overwhelmed by the prayer support,” he said, “not just in the state but across the country. It’s not something I have a right to. I know there are people who are going through the same circumstances that I am or even in worse shape. There are people I don’t even know who have rallied around us in prayer. That’s just so humbling.”

God continues to do amazing things through Shane in his feeble condition, and as Shane pointed out, “God expects us to steward our blessings as well as our sufferings.”

  1. Continued praise for James Lankford

Oklahoma Senator James Lankford has been heavily involved in multiple national issues this week, but his biggest issue is helping the Senate repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

He spoke for 15 minutes late last night on the Senate floor in support of this action. However, the Senate voted it down by two votes, 49-51. At 1:58 a.m., I received an email from Lankford’s office expressing his disappointment.

He concluded his statement saying “We should not stop working to find solutions to a law that has caused so much damage to our economy and our healthcare delivery system.”

I applaud Senator Lankford in spite of this disappointing vote.

  1. Falls Creek decisions

This morning I received an email giving the recent report from Falls Creek summer youth camp of how many spiritual decisions have been made. The final week of camp concludes this evening, and for the week, there have been 731 total decisions with 307 professions of faith in Christ. The eight-week total so far is 6,362 decisions with 2,521 professions of faith in Christ. Tonight will be the final night for the 100th summer at Falls Creek. May God continue to work in the lives of many young people.