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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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.