Pastor's Pen
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August 27, 2015, 10:38 AM

Sacred Hoops


Sacred Hoops


   One of the most enjoyable books I read this summer is Phil Jackson’s Sacred Hoops. Jackson was the famous coach of the Chicago Bulls basketball team and coached numerous other teams. Sacred Hoops is a biography of Coach Jackson’s life including the people who most influenced him in his philosophy of life. Of course, his parents are at the top of the list along with other coaches and some professions in the area of psychology and sociology. Jackson coached some of the most well- known players of our generation including Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman and other members of the Bulls.

   In the area of leadership, Coach Jackson believed that when he would back off and listen to the concerns and desires of the players he got much better results on the court. I like that! Most of my business books, especially those written by Jim Collins, focus on how good companies become great companies. Most of these authors and researchers believe that a wise leader is one who is receptive to others contributions and do not have to be dictatorial. A good idea for any leader! For example, Jim Collins, in his book, Good to Great, discovered that what makes a good company become a great company is the leader surrounds himself/herself with people better than he/she is at different skill levels.

  Phil Jackson quotes John Heider, author of The Tao of Leadership, who writes: “The wise leader is of service: receptive, yielding, following. The group member’s vibration dominates and leads, while the leader follows. But soon it is the member’s consciousness which is transformed. It is the job of the leader to become aware of the group member’s process; it is the need of the group member to be received and paid attention to. Both get what they need, if the leader has the wisdom to serve and follow.”

   Part of Phil Jackson’s effectiveness as a coach and in life was his ability to listen and be receptive to others and to teach players that basketball is about five people on the court and not just one super-star. He developed something called The Sacred Hoop.  What that means, he says, is that before and after each practice they started in a circle to symbolize that they were forming a complete hoop, and each person is important.

   Isn’t all of this true in the church … no Lone Rangers, but everyone is important? Kind of like we are stronger together than our individual parts! We are called to serve together to the glory of God, not the glory of any certain church or denomination or preacher. Wow! This reminds of something Jesus said, and what I have come to believe is the central hinge verse of Mark’s Gospel … Mark 10:45 “For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.” Something to think about. 08.23.2015

Dr. Rick Baggett is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Ardmore (the church with the bells) and can be reached at:





August 27, 2015, 10:33 AM

That Little Voice Within

                                                                                                      THAT LITTLE VOICE WITHIN

   It was a car wreck about to happen. At the City Park, across from the Methodist Church, I’m ready to turn right on Main Street. I had already been to an 8:00 A.M. meeting and on my way to the office around 9. Most people are at work by 9 but here comes this white SUV on Main Street going at least 50 MPH (maybe?). He was coming in on my left, and coming fast, which I guess is what got my attention.

   My light turned green and I took my foot off the break and started to move out and it was like a Voice spoke to me: “Stop. This guy is not going to stop for his red light. He’s coming too fast.” So I stopped and the Voice was right. He sped too quickly to even see a light, no matter what color it was! I needed a few seconds to recover before making my turn and a driver behind me honked, one of those sarcastic honks that says: “OK, the light’s green and that means go.” So I went.

   If that SUV had hit the driver’s side door of my car, I can only imagine how far across the inside of my car the grill of the SUV would have traveled! Have you ever heard the noise of a wreck … the metal parts sliding across the asphalt … and then that spooky silence, until the shouts of witnesses begins?

   This little experience has made me think about the way we move around daily in Ardmore and how we bet our very lives that drivers are going to observe traffic lights. We stop on red and use the waiting time to think about what we’re going to be doing at the office, or if I’m going to get a swim or bike ride in today. And when the light turns green, we pull on out. It’s safe, isn’t it? If I’ve got green, the other person’s got red and he’ll stop for it. Right?

   But what if he or she doesn’t? The driving instructors taught us to wait when the light goes green and look both ways before we move on out. And if a Voice speaks to you and says “Stop,” listen to it.

   More about this “Voice” next time.

Part 2

   Last week I talked about how I avoided an auto accident by listening to that little “Voice” within that told me to “Stop, the car coming from your left isn’t going to stop and he’s going really fast for Main Street.”  What is that little “Voice” within that gets our attention? Some people would say that Jesus promised that the Father would send another Advocate to be with us forever. And He also said that this Advocate, or Spirit of truth, would abide with us and be in us (John 14:15-17, 25-27). So that means that the Spirit of Christ abides with and lives within those who follow Christ as their Lord and Savior!

   You know people and so do I who see Jesus as distant, sort of abstract. Jesus is like a piece of modern art that you have trouble relating to. I don’t see this as the Jesus in the Gospels nor of the early church tradition. Jesus is right here, now, and that idea can renew your life. Most Christians that I know, especially those of the Protestant tradition and most Catholics, believe that Jesus is fully human and fully God … and if you believe that, everything in your life changes!

   In the moment when God became flesh, God is with us in a more profound way than ever before. Jesus took on the form of a person in order to forever unite the spiritual and physical – to bridge the gap sin had created. The Bible says, “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means, ‘God is with us’” (Matthew 1:23). John’s Gospel has a rather unique way of saying the same, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen His glory, the glory as of a father’s only Son, full of grace and truth” (1:14).

   Can you imagine the image of God the Father becoming flesh in His Son, Jesus, and sitting beside you … and can be in you … through the Holy Spirit. Take a minute and read John 16:13-15. Jesus is talking in these verses and says that when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth and will be with you. Wow! Jesus sitting beside you, in conversation!  It’s a wonderful picture and is the type of relationship He envisions through the Holy Spirit in us.

   I heard that same little Voice within years ago while playing golf in South Carolina. My good friend, Raymond, and I were on a hole that went down a hill and turned left. Raymond had a perfect drive down the right center of the fairway and I was on the left a few yards further down the fairway about twenty yards away from Raymond. Remember, the hole turns left on your second shot. Raymond had a three-wood and way ready to swing when that little Voice within said to me, “Turn, now!” I did and Raymond’s shot hit just below the back of my left knee on the top of my calf. A quick visit to the hospital and weeks of recovery followed. We believe that little Voice within saved my knee! Do you have a story of the Voice within helping you with something in your life? Share it in your Sunday school class this morning or email your story to me. 08.09.2015

Dr. Rick Baggett is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Ardmore (the church with the bells) and can be reached at:



July 20, 2015, 2:32 PM

Two Things


Two Things


      The Christian churches downtown Ardmore that I know about would agree on at least two things: first, we have the same Lord (I’m pretty sure); and second, just about every day of the week when the church office is open, someone comes through our doors looking for some kind of assistance. Recently, Larry (I’ll call him) came into our office and “needed” to speak to me (not with me) and wanted the door to my office closed. Long story short, it didn’t go well and we had to dial 911. The quick responding Ardmore police department arrived in a matter of minutes. We were going to purchase a bus ticket for Larry to move on, but something happened and Larry needed to spend a few nights at our local county hotel. After a few days, we were invited to purchase a bus ticket and now Larry is on his way to Iowa, I think!

   In a couple of days, Lonnie came in and said to the same secretary, “I need help. I need gas for my car and I need prayer because I just got out of a mental facility because I tried to kill myself.” “Dr. Baggett, can you come out here for a minute?” Lonnie and I got in my office and had a chat. He had a cross on a rope necklace and we talked about what that cross meant for his life and the life of his loved ones. We held hands and prayed that God would comfort him and bring into his life the resources he desperately needed the most.

   Two things! We have the same Lord and we are here, among other things, to help those who need help, as often as we can!

   But, what do you think is the task of the church and its people. These two things are important … but the task of the church and its people is to tell the Good News of Christ and His coming. But “evangelism” is more than telling the Good News: it is acting upon that Good News.  I believe we are operating today within the context of a great desire. Some people, in dealing with the stresses, strains and challenges of contemporary life, have found a vast emptiness inside. Some folks may have all the things money can buy, but none of those things are of real value.

   At the other end of the spectrum are those who are trapped in cycles of deprivation, cycles that perpetuate themselves.  They are experiencing increasing alienation and anger.

   If we give people hope who had no hope, then you change everything that follows! The Bible says that “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose … For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:28, 37-39)

Dr. Rick Baggett is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Ardmore, (the church with the bells) and can be reached at:

July 20, 2015, 2:25 PM

A Recipe for Being Happy




    A Recipe for Being Happy


   Every Wednesday I take the “Mini” page from the Ardmoreite, cut out the cartoon that contains about a dozen items to find, and I send it to our grandson over there in Florida. He is six-years-old and has been receiving these letters from me for about 3 years. I write a letter and include a one dollar bill and it has brought me great happiness to be able to have this kind of long-distance communication with him! About a year ago I asked our grandson to count out ten of those dollar bills and give them to his litter sister and after a pause on the phone, he said: “Papa, I don’t think I can do that!”

    Now our son and daughter-in-law are telling me that the three-year-old sister is watching her big brother open letters every week and they can tell that she wants to get in on the act. So, last week I started sending a letter, dollar bill, and a less busy picture for her to color. And our daughter and son-in-law in southern Florida have a three-year-old also. So, now I’m sending her the same as her three-year-old cousin, except, of course, the letter is personalized. Three letters, three dollar bills, three different people every week … what happiness that brings to all of us!

   I know our children spend as much time as they can with their children and I can only hope that these letters are one way of helping them spend time together, especially reading my letters doing the cartoons together! I also believe that if you want to hit a home run with your family, you need to be open 24/7. That means you are available anytime and every time your kids want to interact with you. It also means that you stay open-minded and your ears are tuned to listen. I might be “out on a limb without a paddle” as my daddy use to say, but if more parents would stay open-minded and had ears that are tuned to listen, we might have less problems with some of our youth and young adults in this country!

   I found a recipe for being happy in my daily Bible reading that other day that includes the title for this article. It’s from the Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Philippians and it says, “I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am” (Philippians 4:13, The Message).  Give that One a try in the warp-and-woof of being family.

Dr. Rick Baggett is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Ardmore (the church with the bells) and can be reached at:

July 20, 2015, 2:25 PM

Is Your Heart Warm?

Is Your Heart Warm?


   As I write today, I’m thinking of a friend of mine, and ours, who lies in bed at a Hospice Home in Oklahoma City. She had what is called a stroke that kills … the brain is practically shut down and her body no longer needs the nourishment that you and I need. But she keeps breathing … even in her peaceful sleep. Her sons and I watch her chest move up and down and we hear the soft sounds of the air as it passes through her nostrils. And her heart remains warm.

   I am amazed at the number of people I know who HAD at one time in their lives warm hearts. Something happened and “Healing Touches” never seemed to come their way. I am reminded that some, and at times I could be in this group, but some folks have blocks in their minds and hearts that need to be released if we want to be healthy! I’m beginning to realize that my heart is a very sacred inner garden and as I place my hands over my heart, I can feel warm energy being released.

   Maybe there is a correlation between my heart and planting and working a garden outside our home. My wife does the gardening work, mostly potting plants and herbs and tending to a “Fairy Garden” outside our kitchen window. She takes care, tender loving care as she places plants and seeds in the warm soil. I know that I can give the same tender care to my heart’s garden and so can you. What if our hearts were the most beautiful place in our bodies? Let me share a few suggestions that may help this to happen:

  • Plant positive action and pull out the weeds of negative thoughts and anger.

  • Plant forgiveness and gentleness.

  • Encourage diversity. The most beautiful gardens have a variety of color and plants of different heights.

  • Fill your heart with kindness so that the blood, as it travels through your body, nourishes every single part.

  • And finally, love your heart tenderly. As you breathe deeply, feel your heart expand with openness and joy as you release those blocked-up emotions you don’t need anymore.

   Let’s give it a try … who knows, if you are an organ donor a good healthy heart might be given to someone who needs a new lease on life! In the meantime, you have given your own body the priceless gift of a heart with healing energy.

Dr. Rick Baggett is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Ardmore (the church with the bells) and can be reached at:

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