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by 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
by Brian Robertson, Pastor of Student Ministries
There is something interesting emerging in our culture that has caused us to rethink how it is we approach the concept of nurturing faith in the future generations. For years we have assumed that the best way to teach/lead young people is to provide specialized programming especially for them. The adolescent stage of life is full of young people seeking to understand their own identity, sense of autonomy and find a place of belonging. There is a natural pulling away from adults in their life during this stage – you may have experienced this. As adults, we have taken this as a hint to give them space and leave them alone. In our best efforts, we provide various places/programs where they can be with others their own age and explore their faith.
What is interesting is that most young people voice a desire to have deep relationships with adults in their life but don’t feel as though the adults really want them around. Yet for years we have operated as if the most effective way to reach/lead/teach young people was in providing a place away from most adults. We have intentionally separated from each other believing that this would allow young people to own their faith.
Recent studies seem to point to a different reality. The main factor we can see in a young person having a growing and developing life with God post-high school isn’t having specific programs, camps, mission trips just for them but in developing relationships with 5-6 caring adults who are a part of their faith community. In an interesting study, the Fuller Youth Institute followed graduated seniors through their college transition and found that the majority who were highly involved in a youth ministry left the church and their faith within 18 months. The common factor in the stories of people who grew in their faith was a sense of integration into the church body. In other words, they felt as if they belonged to an extended family. It is increasingly becoming evident that what young people need more of is a network of caring adults who make room for them in their life and invite them to sit alongside as we explore a life of faith together.
In recognition of this, we are making some changes in the way we structure our youth ministries. InSight Middle School will happen on Sunday mornings from 11:00-12:30. On the first Sunday of the month, we will continue to invite students to join the rest of the church family for worship and communion afterward we will gather with whomever would like to and go out to lunch. We are creating space on Sunday evening to encourage families to connect with other families in the church and help facilitate cross-generational relationships. In addition, we will be hosting a number of workshops for adults who have teens in their life.
With these changes, we still feel that it is important to have a place that is unique for students. We will still take students away for camp, special events, activities, mission trips, etc. The big recognition is that while these events/programs are important, they cannot replace the importance of cross-generational relationships and a network of supportive adults within the faith community.
Our high school group, will in many ways, stay the same. Most of the changes will occur in our middle school group.
How does this affect you? A couple of ways. If you have a teenager…
1. Please commit to coming each week to the 11am service and give a little grace for us as we will end closer to 12:30.
2. Encourage your son/daughter to continue to come to church on Communion Sunday. I realize they may push against this and even fight you on this, but it is important for them to begin to develop cross-generational relationships and see others worshipping together.
3. Find other families within the church whom you can have over for dinner – share a meal and play together.
4. Participate in the upcoming seminars/workshops that will be offered to help facilitate ongoing conversations.
5. A couple ways to stay informed on what is happening around InSight Youth Ministries:
a. Subscribe to the blog: http://www.insightyouthministries.wordpress.com
b. Join the Insight Youth Ministries Group on Facebook
c. Ask to be added to either the Middle School or High School email list (send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you don’t have a teenager living at home…
1. Would you take the risky step in approaching one before or after the service and simply seek to get to know them a little? Ask them if you will see them the following week and seek to remember their name … don’t overwhelm yourself, just ONE will do!
2. Seek ways to connect to a family of teenagers – invite them to join you in something.
3. Find a young person in the service and find out a way that you might encourage them to continue to seek first the Kingdom of God – ask them if you might pray for a certain area in their life.
4. Serve alongside a young person – go on a mission trip, serve in ARTS Camp, invite teenagers to join you as you serve in the community
Thank you, Church Family, for loving the next generation. Together we can help young people have a faith that is dynamic, growing and life-giving.
I’m excited for these changes and if you have any questions about them, just let me know.
by Creative Arts Pastor Manuel Luz
One month a year, Oak Hills takes the time to emphasize the arts during our services and in the many other activities of the church. We have visual artists participating in the worship time, musicians performing between services, and other artistic elements like dance and art gallery. And the reasons for this are straightforward—we believe that we are made in the image of the All-Creative God, and part of our journey as disciples of Jesus includes understanding and expressing who He made us to be.
While it seems obvious to us, it is not something often found in many churches. The arts in the evangelical church are somewhat misunderstood and often commodified. And that goes for the artists in many churches as well.
Thankfully, we understand the arts to be more than a medium for a message. It is who God made us to be, and how we can express our lives in Christ to one another and to the world. So during the month of July, if you see a painter or a dancer on stage, understand that they are painting or dancing as an expression of worship, and in a sense, they are worship leaders, just like the people singing and playing instruments. When you see musicians performing between services, understand that they are expressing a unique and God-given gift which needs to be celebrated in the church. When you pass by the art gallery (which features art from our Arts Camp children), understand that the artwork is an expression of young minds who are learning about God and his love for them.
Our scheduled artists for the month include: Jacquelyn Venter (harpist), Mary M. Fong (visual artist), Ashley Hansen (dancer), Artistic License (Vocal Quartet featuring Jason Dyer), Allison Carlos (painter), Anna Agundez (sculptor), Pneuma (Dance Troupe under the direction of Kelly Archer), Michaela Nasello (songwriter), Melinda Word (painter), and Bill Walsh (guitarist/vocalist). Most all of these people are from Oak Hills too! We’re excited, and we hope you will be too!
[Note: Many of you don’t know that Pastor Manuel has written a book on faith and the arts, entitled Imagine That. We recommend it if you’d like to know more about living in faith and expressing the arts.]
“Meet the ….” is an occasional feature where we pull back the curtain on Oak Hillians so we can get to know them a little bit better. Today, we meet Ted & Ashley Hansen. You’ve probably seen them around. Ted is our Choir Director; Ashley is the Director of our Dance Ministry and also volunteers in the church office as Manuel’s admin. Read the article to learn more about them and their story. And, the next time you see them, introduce yourself.
How did you hear about Oak Hills? My husband Ted and I were looking to visit another church and I went through several search engines and found myself on http://oakhills.org/. I couldn’t retrace my steps even if I tried. I feel like God was leading my clicks.
How long have you been attending Oak Hills? I will hit two years in July 2013.
What was your first experience at Oak Hills like? My first experience was so wonderful. Everyone was so friendly, the music was amazing and I really enjoyed the sermon (Pastor Kent was preaching). It was a breath of fresh air and such a joy to be a part of. That service helped me realize what I was missing in both worship and teaching. I thought that the church was so great and a place that I could see myself really falling in love with. (big surprise… I totally have)
When/how did you make your decision for Christ? I grew up in a Christian home. Both of my Grandfathers were pastors. I was homeschooled, and the curriculum I was working in was Christian based. During one of my lessons I came across the question in my book, Have you every accepted Christ as your savior? I couldn’t answer the question. I started crying and told my mom that I didn’t know the answer to that question. She asked me what I wanted to do. I asked her to call my grandmother and right there on the phone, my grandmother helped me pray the prayer to accept Christ. I do not know the exact date but I know that I was 6 or 7. I was baptized Easter Sunday the following year by my Grandfather. I later rededicated my life to Christ at age 16 with the help of a Christian youth choir that I was involved in. It has been an wonderful journey and one that has been the ride of my life.
Where were you born and raised? I was born in Reno, NV and lived in a little town called Washoe Valley. I moved to Rio Linda with my family in November 1995. I lived in the same house until 2008 when I married Ted.
Family Info: My Father, Craig; mother Julie, older sister Becky who is married and has two amazing kids, and a younger brother, James.
My hubby is Ted (I like to call him Teodore). We do not have any human children but three fur children — our kitties Ellie (big fat Calico), Simba (my love bug orange tabby) and Cordy (We call her Tordy because she likes to get into trouble. She’s a grey tabby.).
What are you currently reading right now? I am currently reading the bible in a year. (New Year’s Resolution). I am also reading a book by Steven James called Opening Moves. I am a big Ted Dekker fan and will read any of his books I can get my hands on. Hubby Ted got me into Ted Dekker.
If you could be anywhere right now, where would it be? Cabo Azul Resort in San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico with Ted. My favorite place to vacation. Maybe even England or France… I have never been there and would love to visit.
Tell us something people would be surprised to know about you? Hmmm…I love to do handstands on things (some people know this), I was homeschooled my entire school life, I was born with a cleft lip and had two surgeries to repair it, my favorite PJ pants are men’s NINJA TURTLE fuzzy pants!!!!, I get REALLY silly when I am tired and can laugh at almost anything. I love to run. I have this silly child likes voice that only Ted hears…my silly voice.
What is the thing you are most proud of? I am most proud of my husband Ted. He is so strong and supportive of me, and he works so hard to make sure that we are taken care of. He is so great at being there for me, and he listens to me when I need an ear. He is very loving and so much fun to be around. He is my favorite person on this earth. He is doing an amazing job with the Oak Hills choir, and I am so proud to be a part of that journey. I am so blessed to be married to him. Oh, and my new dance team…I am so blessed to get to work with those amazing women!
Your fifteen minutes of fame occurred when? I haven’t had fifteen minutes of fame that I can really remember as that…still waiting ;-). I have had 30 seconds of fame when Brea Lee came up to me after the 2012 Mosaic service at Oak Hills and asked for my autograph because she really liked my dance piece.
Any Fears? Ok, so I have an irrational fear of being home alone at night. Every small sound just creeps me out. I have to lock all the doors and windows, set the house alarm and I sleep with the TV on, in the middle of my bed. I can’t stand spiders or sock monkeys they creep me out. I am not scared of heights but scared of falling from them. Haha go figure. Oh then there is the fear of Ted growing his hair out again…it just grows up, and up, and up.
My favorite verse: 1 Corinthians 13 and Hebrews 12
Goal: I want to get Pastor Kent to be a guest dancer in one of my dance pieces!
How did you hear about Oak Hills? On a Saturday night the week after Easter 2011, I suggested we go visit some random church we had never been to before…through some online church index hopping, my wife landed on oakhills.org, and we loved everything we encountered with the church. By July, we were attending regularly and the rest is history.
What was your first experience at Oak Hills like? Powerful, moving, spiritual, encouraging & Kent was preaching, he was ok. 😉
When/how did you make your decision for Christ? July 12, 1990…I went to a Christian Camp in California called, “Camp Good News.”
Where were you born and raised? Born in San Francisco and lived in the area until I was 14, have lived in the Sacramento area ever since.
Family Info: My wife, Ashley, and I have been married for 5 years last January. My mother, Sharon, lives in Salem, OR with my stepdad, Dave. I have one brother, Ken, who is married to his high school sweetheart, and they have 2 beautiful daughters. My father, Duane, passed away in 2008 from Lou Gehrig’s disease.
What are you currently reading right now? My tax return documents and choir music.
If you could be anywhere right now, where would it be? Anywhere??? J I would be at the Super Bowl victory ceremony accepting the MVP trophy for my performance leading my team, the 49ers, to a win!!!
Tell us something people would be surprised to know about you?
· During the summers of 2003-2006 I traveled to 10 different countries on a music ministry mission team…I do love to travel.
· I really like the HISHE (How It Should Have Ended) cartoon videos on youtube…HILIROUS!!!
· I like to play tennis, both the table and court versions.
· I am a Movie Box Office Nut/Fanatic/Guru…and I am pretty good at remembering how much a movie from the last 15-20 yrs earned…go ahead & quiz me, but have the answer ready so we know if I’m right. J
What is the thing you are most proud of? My wife, she is so amazing with her ability to take the bull by the horns and find success through her diligent efforts. She has the wonderful ability to inspire and encourage in just being herself.
Your fifteen minutes of fame occurred when? Summer of 2004, I was in Hong Kong with the music ministry team and we had just finished a street performance. Then we went out into the crowd to meet people and potential share the gospel, but instead I just had dozens of people come up to me wanting to be in a picture with me…this went on for about 45 minutes. So maybe it was a little longer then fifteen minutes of fame, it was pretty fun.
Any Fears? My wife trying to get me to be in another one of her dance pieces…I just want to spare the congregation to my horrific display of grace and fluid movement. L
My favorite verse: Isaiah 44:6-8…love the rock reference in Verse 8.
His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come and has redeemed his people.
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
(as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.
So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.