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

New Series: Out Of The Box

boxWhy are there so many religions and so many denominations? Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? What about the Big Bang (the scientific theory, not the TV series)? What is going on in the middle East? Will my dog go to heaven?

At Oak Hills, we don’t pretend to know all the answers. But we do know that there are a lot of good questions. Beginning on July 27 through August 31, Oak Hills will begin a six-week series that seeks to answer some of your questions about the church, about God, about life. We’ll be collecting your questions, putting them in our Big Question Box, and then attempting to answer them during the sermons on six consecutive Sundays through the summer.

No question is too small or too big for this series, so we encourage everyone to submit questions (either written and submitted on Sunday during our services or via email to the church at susie.worthington@oakhills.org) and let us know what you think. And we’ll do the best job we can of sifting through them, finding the commonalities, and attempting to give you a Biblical, real-life answer.

This is a great summer series to invite your friends and neighbors to, as we also encourage you not to miss a single Sunday through the series. Got a question? We’ll be thinking Out Of The Box!

NEW SERIES: Beyond Our Fences

FB beyond our fencesby Manuel Luz, Pastor of Creative Arts

One of the sayings we repeat to one another often at Oak Hills is this: “The church is for discipleship, and discipleship is for the world.” What it means is that we, as Oak Hills, don’t exist simply for the purpose of helping one another in our journey toward following Christ. We follow Christ because we are God’s incarnational expression of the Gospel to the world.

The word incarnation comes from a Latin word that means “in the flesh.” And Jesus is the primary expression of this. God’s love for us was so great and so astounding that the Son voluntarily entered into His creation, being born an unassuming baby, entering the gritty and often difficult life of a normal human being, living and laughing and loving and dying, so that His redemptive purposes could be fulfilled. He came to live among us, clothing himself in mortal flesh, in order to love us and save us and invite us to a better way.

Jesus called us, His church, to go and make disciples. In John 20:21, Jesus says, “as the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” So in a very real sense, we are the enfleshment of His continuing purposes in the world. We are called to be flesh-and-blood examples of His love and grace.

We have and continue to emphasize spiritual formation at Oak Hills. And we think we have done of good job of teaching and modeling and living out lives that are continually surrendering to God’s reign and rule. And the result of living in the Kingdom of God is the transformation of our character to be more like Jesus. But our mission statement is “Oak Hills Church exists to invite people to experience the reality of life in the Kingdom of God.” Spiritual formation is not an end unto itself. Discipleship is for the world.

Frank Laubach stated, “The simple program of Christ for winning the whole world is to make each person he touches magnetic enough with love to draw others.” In other words, it is the transformation of our lives by God into something “other than” that will draw others to Him. Jesus said it this way:

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

This is why we’ll be exploring the various aspects of what it means to live out our Kingdom lives to the world. We invite you to attend each Sunday through the months of October and November, as we explore the nature of God’s mission, who we are, our culture, and how to practically live out God’s grace in Folsom and beyond. We’ll even have a Sunday to answer your questions. Join us as we learn together how to live “Beyond Our Fences.”

10/6 Our Missionary God

10/13 Who We Are Matters

10/20 Our Post-Christian Culture

10/27 Love Your Neighbor

11/3 Making Room

11/10 Third Places

11/17 Life Together

11/24 Q&A