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"State of the Church"

Dear Church Family,
        I hope each and everyone of you had a very merry Christmas.  Thank you for all the cards and gifts.  You are such a blessing to me.  I’m so thankful the Lord has given me the privilege to be your Pastor.
        God sure was good to us in 2014.  On January 10, in the morning service, I will give my annual “State of the Church” message.  I will tell of our accomplishments for 2014, and lay out our plans for 2015.  Please make plans to be at church that Sunday.  This may be the most important message I’ve preached to date.
One thing I always do at the end of a year is to reflect on my spiritual journey for that year.  It usually starts with a conversation with God.  I want to know if I did everything He asked me to do.  I reflect on my spiritual growth, what I read, what I studied, how I shared my faith, my attitude, my willingness to give to help others, just to name a few.  Why do I do that?  I want my life to count.  I want to obey God.  I want to be faithful to Him. Life is too short just to go through it never evaluating how it’s going. 
Then I ask God to show me what He wants for me in the next year.  All of this takes time, but it is worth it.  It gives life purpose and fulfillment.
I want to encourage you to do it.  Take some time to reflect and plan.  I’m convinced your life will be rewarded if you do.  May God accomplish all He wants to in your live and in mine in 2015.

Serving the Savior,
Pastor Mike
 

Christmas

Dear Church Family,
       As long as we keep Christ central in our celebration of Christmas, is there anything wrong with celebrating Christmas using the traditions of our culture? 
       In his book, “the Five Love Languages,” Gary Chapman describes ways people communicate their love toward one another.  “Words of affirmations, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch” are the five love languages.
These are also the elements of our Christmas traditions. We speak words of affirmation and share love with one another.  We spend quality time together.  We give and receive gifts.  Many are  chosen after great labor and thought have gone into them.  We do acts of service, such as putting toys together or preparing the perfect meal.  In doing these things, we express our love to one another.  We hold children, hug one another and even say, “I love you”.
I will join the critics of Christmas and say it is possible to over-shop and over-spend, but I must look at the intent and realize that its is impossible to over-love. 
Some will miss the mark and spend all their time and energy following traditions and miss the wonder of Christmas.  That’s a tragedy when Christ is left out of Christmas. Others, on the other hand, will remember the mystery of God becoming man and ponder the love of God who gave the best gift of all, salvation through Jesus Christ.
Enjoy your family, enjoy your traditions, and enjoy the wonder that God became man to save us from our sins. 
“Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you, He is Christ the Lord.”  Luke 2:11 
Merry Christmas!

Serving the Savior, 
Pastor Mike
 

One more thing...

Dear Church Family,
        Harvest Fest was such a success.  Many thanks go out to Cristina Alarcon and Cynthia Tsusaki for heading this event, and to all of you who helped in setting up, baking for the Cake Walk, decorating cars, working games, serving food and drinks, and clean up.  The greatest thrill for me was watching many of you talking to people about the Lord and church.  I had the opportunity to talk to a number of people about the Lord.  God truly used this event to minister to people.  Great job, church!
Some voiced that our Tuesday Thanksgiving meal together was too close to Thanksgiving Day, so we have decided to have a Spaghetti Supper, Sunday night, November 23rd.  We want to ask some of you who have great spaghetti sauce recipes to make a batch and bring it that night.
Or you can bring a dessert if you would like.  Everything else will be provided.  This will be a great time together.  Invite a friend to join you.
In January, we will launch a “Pastor’s Prayer Partner Ministry”.  I want to encourage each member to consider joining this ministry.  Did you know that 81.5% of the top evangelistic churches pray for the lost by name?  I need your prayers; our ministries need your prayers; the lost need your prayers; missionaries need your prayers; our country’s leaders need your prayers.  I will talk more about this ministry in the days to come.
One more thing, our plans to the multi-purpose building are almost complete.  In 2015, we will have a building campaign to raise money for this building.  Be praying about what your sacrificial commitment might be over a three year period.  As we commit to the Lord in this, He will commit to us.

Serving the Savior,
Pastor Mike

Rising Temps

Dear Church Family,
       The air is changing.  I’m not talking about the cool mornings and cooler days, I’m talking about the temperature that’s rising in our hearts.  The Lord, in Revelation 3:15, says, “I wish you were hot or cold.”  Well, I don’t know about all of you, but I know some of you are becoming spiritually hot.  God is doing a work in many hearts, and I am so grateful to Him for that.  That is what the Christian life is about.  It’s about God showing us new things, and obeying.  It’s about hearing the Word of God and doing what it says.  It’s about being strengthened in our inner man , in our spirit.
I have talked a little about a new ministry called “Next Step”.  I have started two discipleship groups, one for the men and one for the women.  It is the fist step in the “Next Step” ministry.  It will start off slowly but will multiply quickly.
Can I ask you a few questions?  First, are you saved?  If you are not, then your next step would be to trust Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.  If you are saved, but there is no activity toward Christ in your life, maybe your next step would be to read one verse a day and pray a short prayer.  Maybe you are saved and read the Word of God every day, but you have never really got into studying the Word of God.  You may want to pick a subject or person or book from the Bible and dig deeper in the Word.  The point is this, no matter where you are with your relationship with Christ, it can always improve.  The way for that to happen is to take the NEXT STEP.

Serving the Savior,
Pastor Mike
 
 

Next Step

Dear Church Family,
     Wow, what an August!  We had great attendance in Sunday School, the new speak system was installed, we gutted the restrooms in the main building and installed everything new, we stripped and re-waxed the floor and painted the walls in the youth room, AWANA clubs started back, Josh and Becky Simpson started a new youth ministry on Sunday nights called Y.E.S. (Youth Evening Service), we moved Sunday School classes around to accommodate the people attending, we had a good many visitors attend and many have shown an interest in joining.  The architect is working on the plans for the new building, the Long Range Planning Committee has met and is working on plans to help see this building go up.
September, I believe, will be an exciting month as well.  We have two people to baptize, our Revival Meetings will be September 14-16.  I’m believing that God is going to meet with us in a very special way during these days.  Our part is to be faithful in attendance each and every service.  Let’s kick it off by having a record attendance in Sunday School on the 14th.  Think of those you can invite to attend with you and begin praying for them and asking them to join you on that day.
I will launch a new ministry in September called “NEXT STEP”.  It is a discipleship ministry to help believers move beyond where they are with Christ.  No matter where you are with Christ, you can take the next step.

Serving the Savior,
Pastor Mike
 

Spiritual Awakening

Dear Church Family,
             At the 2014 Southern Baptist Convention, Ronnie
Floyd was elected president of our convention.  In his message to the convention, he challenged the people to pray for spiritual awakening.  He asked every believer to pray.  Will you join thousands across this land to pray for spiritual awakening in our personal lives, in our families, our churches and our country?
 What is “spiritual awakening”?  John Piper calls it “A hunger for God.”  J. I. Packer calls it “A passion for faithfulness.”  Ravi Zacharias calls it “Recapturing the wonder.”  The Bible calls it coming back to your “first love”.  Spiritual awakening is simply “Revival”.  We need personal revival, family revival, church revival, and we need national revival.  It begins with prayer, surrender, and obedience to the will of God.  
 Friend, we need to fall in love with Jesus all over again.  I don’t mean being saved again, but I mean we need to have our passion restored, our joy restored, and our spirits full of Jesus.  Begin now praying for our Revival meetings with Bucky Kennedy, September 14-16, 2014.  Bucky pastors First Baptist Church in Vidalia.  He is a man of God that God is using.  He loves church folks and I believe God will use him, here,  at Oakland.  He has a policy not to be gone from his church, so he will only be here Sunday night through Tuesday night.  Make your plans now, so you can be here each night to here this man of God.
Serving the Savior, Pastor Mike
 

3 choices

Dear Church Family,
 Have you ever noticed that when you hear the Word of God you always respond in one of three ways?  You will rejoice because you have done, or are doing, what the Word of God says; or secondly, you will repent because what you heard brings conviction and you want to be right with God.  The third and saddest choice is you run from God’s Word when you hear it because it is identifying something in your life that needs to change, but you refuse to surrender to it.  Naturally, the first two are the best responses.  Those that run or are not willing to face the problems in their lives are most miserable.  Remember, the Lord Jesus loves us beyond measure and His goal is to bring peace and joy and fulfillment to your life, and that can only take place by us cooperating with Him. Don’t let Satan win in your life. Submit to the Lordship of Christ and enjoy the victory that is yours in Him.
 II Timothy 3:16 says, “ All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (or right living).”  The Word of God is for our benefit.  Read it, meditate on it, memorize it, live it, so you may rejoice in it.

Serving the Savior,
Pastor Mike
 

Church Decline

Dear Church Family,
 The church is in decline across this land.  Why? Don’t we have the greatest message known to man?  Sure we do.  Maybe the answer lies in this survey done by Brad Waggoner.  He asked 2,500 Protestant churchgoers of all ages this question, “In the past six months, how many times have you shared your faith with someone?”  Twenty-nine percent said they had shared with someone twice or more and fifty-seven percent said they had not done so at all.  We are not inviting people into God’s movement, so why should we be surprised that the church is shrinking?
 Billy Graham was asked in 2011 by a reporter from Christianity Today, “What are the most important issues facing evangelicals today?”  Billy Graham said, “The most important issue we face today is the same the church has faced for centuries.  Will we reach our world for Christ? Or will we turn increasingly inward and become comfortable with the status quo?”  He said, “The central issue of our time is not economic or political or social, but the central issue is moral and spiritual.  Our calling is to declare Christ’s forgiveness and hope to a world that does not know Him.” He said, “May we never forget this.”  May God burden our hearts for people who need Jesus.  May the church stand up and be the church in this day.  May God not find us in the fifty percent who are not telling.  I’m believing God, how about you?  Remember….”We can.”

Serving the Savior,
Pastor Mike
 

Cloud 9

Dear Church Family,
 Have you ever been up on “Cloud 9”?  That is where I find myself this morning.  I am encouraged beyond measure.  Why, you might ask?  Because churches across this land fuss and fight their way through a church business meeting.  Last night, in our meeting, we had clapping, laughter, encouraging words, a togetherness of spirit.  The church voted to replace the speakers in the Sanctuary.  They voted to move forward with the building project by allowing the architect to draw up the plans for the building.  A number of policies were put in place to help protect us as a church related to finances.  Over all, it was a great meeting. Thank you, church, for being the church that wants to honor God.
 I also talked briefly about “faithfulness”.  God is looking for His children to be faithful.  Some of the ways we can do that is by being faithful in our prayer life, Bible study, praise, and service to Him.  One other way is by being faithful in our attendance to church.  As I said in my message, we miss you when you are not here.  I miss my family when I don’t see them, and the church family is no different.  Our consistency has gotten slack lately.  Be an encouragement to your church by being here regularly...Sunday mornings, Sunday nights and Wednesdays.  One last thing...invite, invite, invite!  Ask people to come to church with you.  Make it personal.  Let’s be God’s hands and feet and voice.  This world needs Jesus.
Serving the Savior, Pastor Mike
 

The Story of Easter

Dear Church Family,
        The story of Easter begins in a candle-lit room somewhere in Jerusalem.  Jesus and His disciples are celebrating Passover.  They are remembering the night their ancestors, the Israelites, escaped death and slavery by smearing lambs’ blood on their doorposts.  Jesus is well aware that He is about to become the final Passover lamb.  Jesus goes to the garden to pray, the guards take Him, He is crucified on an old rugged cross, buried in a borrowed tomb.  As Easter morning dawns, an empty grave reveals a dazzling triumph.  Praise God!  Jesus is not there!  He’s alive!  The blood of the final Passover Lamb has done its work.  The price for sin has been paid.  Death has been defeated.  Salvation has been made available to all that will believe.
People from every walk of life need to hear this story, this truth.  Would you invite people to come with you to our Easter Sunrise Service and our morning Worship Service?  Invite your family, friends, neighbors, and associates to the greatest day in church life...Easter.
Friend, God is working at Oakland and I believe the greatest days are still ahead.  Let’s set our sails and catch the wind of the Holy Spirit.  I’ll see you Sunday with a word from the Word.

Serving the Savior,
Pastor Mike
 
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