Gratitude

by Pastor Kent Carlson

30yearbash-54

I absolutely loved our church’s 30-year anniversary celebration weekend. I’m not completely sure why it was so profoundly satisfying and fun for me. I just know that it was perhaps the most enjoyable time I have had in thirty years of ministry at Oak Hills Church. Maybe it was because we were so very relaxed going into that weekend. Maybe it was because we weren’t really using the celebration for much of anything other than to have a party together. Maybe it was the amazing performance of the Oak Hills Rewind. Maybe it was seeing Rick Leary in long hair. Whatever it was, I had a blast.

The predominant feeling I have coming out of this celebration is gratitude. Thirty years is a long time to be in one place. In one church. There are so many stories, so many beautiful people, so many experiences of God’s grace and transformation. So many people who have sincerely sought to follow Christ in the midst of what seemed like impossible situations. And all these stories flooded over me, and I was, and continue to be, deeply grateful to God and to the people of Oak Hills Church, for all this goodness, all this beauty, all these stories that are a part of God’s great story of redemption. This Thanksgiving, without any effort at all on my part, but simply as the natural result of being overwhelmed by the goodness of God and the people of Oak Hills Church, I am deeply grateful. It’s a good feeling.

Now, on to the next thirty years!

I want to highlight two events to help us bask in the sheer delight of our 30-year celebration. First, we have our Annual Congregational Meeting and Vision Night on Thursday, November 20. We will worship together, meet our elders and vote to affirm them. We will talk about some of the challenges and opportunities in our future and have a time for questions and answers. We will have a scrumptious dessert. And most wonderfully, we will have a repeat of our Oak Hills Rewind. For those of us who have already seen it, we will be able to laugh all over again. For those of you who have never seen it, well, you are in for a treat. Please try to make this night a priority and let’s keep the celebration going!

Second, I want to encourage us all to come to our annual Thanksgiving Eve Service. We will worship together “in the round” and we will share together the Lord’s Supper. There will be ample opportunity to share with each other our deep gratefulness to God for all that He as done for us. I hope to see you all there.

With deep thankfulness,

Kent Carlson

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December 3 Men’s Breakfast: A Different Kind of Experience

Your breakfast might look like this.

by Pastor Mike Lueken

There is an interesting story in the life of Joshua where he is praying and seeking God’s help and God says to him, “stand up, what are you doing down on your face?” (Joshua 7:10). Joshua’s confusion over a recent military defeat led him to pray. This makes sense. But God’s response was essentially to quit praying and take action. “Get busy living, or get busy dying” in the words of Andy Dufrane of Stephen King’s Shawshank Redemption. Joshua then learned that one of the Israelites (Achan) had secretly sinned and this was the reason why the Israelites lost the battle.

It intrigues me to think that there are times when God grows weary of our praying and commands us to get off our knees and do something about the situation.

Recently in our Men’s Ministry we’ve been talking about this principle. We don’t need to hear another message on the kingdom of God. We don’t need to sit through another sermon. We don’t need another worship experience. We don’t need another small group discussion. The vast majority of us have ample knowledge about God and the way of His kingdom. We need, if you will, to stop praying and start doing. The time has come to engage the world in the power of the kingdom of God and see what happens. Perhaps (and I suspect so) the faith required to take concrete action in his name and the dynamic adventure of what follows will school us in the ways of the kingdom far more thoroughly than can be acquired in another “classroom” setting.

I’m excited about this principle turned loose in our Men’s Ministry. As we talk about this in our leadership meetings and at a recent men’s breakfast, my sense is that guys are ready to go out and “do something” for the sake of the kingdom. Obviously we can do this individually and many do so on a regular basis. But there is something fun and invigorating about bonding together with other guys and launching out in service for His sake.

Our Men’s Breakfast on December 3rd is going to be a different kind of experience, and I want to challenge any man who is reading this to take the risk and show up. We are going to do what we generally do at these breakfasts – eat. But then we are going to venture out in small teams and help some women in our church who live alone or who have lost their husband. In many ways, they are “forgotten” people in our midst even though they may not look like it. We are currently in the process of organizing teams and planning the projects we will complete at each home. Currently, we have about 40 men who have signed up to help. You don’t have to be an effective handy man to contribute. You don’t have to know what a hammer is. You simply have to be willing to carve out a few hours on Saturday, December 3rd to put your faith in action and serve someone else in the name of Jesus.

If anything in this piques your curiosity, send me an email at mike.lueken@oakhills.org or give me a call, and I will help you become part of one of these teams. I am confident the sense of “doing something” in the name of Jesus will far outweigh the cost of time required.

Where’s my crash helmet?

by Senior Pastor Mike Lueken

“Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.”  Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

If you have never read anything from Bonhoeffer, before doing so buy yourself a well made crash helmet. Not the plastic Harley Yarmulke some guys wear to look cool, but a genuine, Department of Transportation crash helmet. I’ve been reading a biography of Bonhoeffer and have been struck again by his ability to hone his sentences so they cut with precision to the core of the matter. He wrote during a time when the Lutheran church of Germany was slowly being hypnotized by Hitler’s lunacy. They believed Hitler’s mad ravings could co-exist with Christ’s teachings in an idealized Germany. Bonhoeffer’s main message through his many writings is captured by the quote above. To profess Christ meant to follow Him. To believe in Him meant to live for Him. To accept Him meant to live according to His teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. It’s a disturbing challenge to only call ourselves “Christian”  if we are willing to take up our cross every day and live like one. And something about Bonhoeffer’s clear, unqualified, in-my-face style calls out to a desire in my heart to live my one life well under God.

It’s tempting to equate talking about spiritual formation, with actually being spiritually formed.  But they are not the same thing. It’s tempting to equate reading the Bible, praying and serving with spiritual formation. But they are not the same thing. It’s tempting to equate believing the right things with spiritual formation.  But they are not the same thing. Spiritual formation is the process of becoming more like Jesus.  It is driven by the Holy Spirit but our cooperation is crucial. And at the end of the day, after all the thinking and talking, it boils down to our willingness  to take concrete action in the name of Jesus, in faith that He will work through our action to form us into His likeness.

This year’s men’s retreat is about the particulars of that action. What can we do as men to tap into God’s power and see our lives change? We aren’t going to explore much theory at this retreat. Rather we are going to press into the practical stuff that helps a person tap into God’s power and become more like Christ.

I meet with men all the time who are frustrated with life and who are experiencing some level of turmoil, chaos or trouble. They are looking for hope in the form of a better way of living. Whether they realize it or not, they are looking for the Kingdom.

It’s our hope over the weekend of the retreat to learn together how to practically make progress in the fascinating journey of discipleship. I hope you will carve out the time to come. I think our souls will expand for having been together in the mountains.

If you’d like to find out more about our Men’s Retreat (March 4-6, Zephyr Cove in Lake Tahoe), contact Pastor Rick at 983-0182 x12 or rick.leary@oakhills.org.

Men’s Steak Night – September 11 @ 6:30 pm

Before the coin toss, before the kickoff, before 15:00 turns into 14:59, there is the “moment.”  Regardless of the situation, this moment creates more goose bumps and has a greater impact than any other moment of the game.  It’s the moment where the team runs out onto the field.  This is the moment where everyone is together — starters, benchwarmers, coaches, trainers, and even that guy that isn’t going to play if everybody gets hurt and he’s the last one on the bench.  The tunnel moment is everybody’s moment.  From Turkey Bowls to Super Bowls, how you run out of that tunnel makes a huge difference.  And it’s that time for Men’s Ministry here at Oak Hills.

As we approach the beginning of the ministry year, the Men’s Ministry at Oak Hills is gearing up to run out of the tunnel.  Steak Night  is our tunnel moment.  It’s where we bang helmets, it’s where we remind ourselves who we are doing this for, and what our goal is.  It’s our chance to take the field together, screaming and jumping and ready to do whatever God calls us to this year.

Steak Night 2010 is approaching quickly, and we have some great things planned for the evening:  a number of men have been praying and working on the program for a couple of months now, so we believe there are some God-led challenges in store for all who attend. We are planning an evening with a time for lively worship, a challenging message and a time for response around the tables. Three of our own men who have been part of the prayer process will be sharing what God has been teaching them about  Men’s Ministry and how it has impacted their lives. The message is coming out of things God has challenged them with and the things they have learned about the transformation process. Don’t miss what these guys have to say.

The other key aspect of the evening is gathering small groups together and seeking to reach the men of Oak Hills. If you attend Oak Hills and have not been invited yet,  let me encourage you to come by the Welcome Center this Sunday (September 5) and get a ticket. This is an invitation for you to learn more about  Men’s Ministry and get acquainted with other men.  This will be a great opportunity to meet other men and make a connection. Small group leaders, the pastors, and members are reaching out to encourage every man who calls Oak Hills home to come on September 11 for this timely message.

The menu will include a great steak, potato, corn, and assorted other fixings cooked by Jim Wilkes and his team. For those who do not eat steak, we will grill chicken to provide an alternative. The evening is open to all men high school age and up.  Tickets are $10 and can be purchased in the lobby on Sundays or e-mail rick.leary@oakhills.org.   So sign-up now!  They’re singing the National Anthem, our moment is almost here.