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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
 

Rabbi

Dear Church Family,
 There is an old story about a Jewish Rabbi, centuries ago, who consented to take a weary traveler into his house for a night’s rest.  After they had eaten together, the Rabbi said, “You are a very old man are you not?”  “Yes”, the traveler replied.  “I am almost a century old.”
 As they talked, the Rabbi brought up the matter of religion and asked the visitor about his faith and about his relation to God.  “Oh, I do not believe in God,” the aged man replied.  “I am an atheist.”
 When the Rabbi heard this, he was infuriated.  He rose up, opened the door, and ordered the man from his house.  “I cannot keep an atheist in my house overnight,” he reasoned.  The weary old man said nothing, but hobbled to the door and stepped out into the darkness.  The Rabbi again sat down by his candle to read the Old Testament.  Then he seemed he hear a voice saying, “Son, why did you turn that old man out?”  “I turned him out because he is an atheist and I cannot endure him overnight!”  The Rabbi heard God’s voice saying, “Son, I have endured him for almost 100 years, don’t you think you could endure him overnight?”
 The Rabbi leaped from his chair, rushed out into the darkness and found the old man, brought him back into his house and treated him like a long lost brother.  If it were not for the mercy of God, so go we.  How many years did God put up with you before His mercy reached you?  People need the Lord.  Let’s reach out to them, not turn our backs on them.  David said, “The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” Serving the Savior, Pastor Mike
 

Growth

Dear Church Family,

 Have you ever thought about growing?  Let’s think about it.  Everything that is alive grows.  Recently I pruned my trees because they had grown.  Have you ever seen someone’s child and then you didn’t see them for a while? The next time you saw them you might have said, “Oh, you have grown a foot since the last time I saw you.”  Parents put marks on walls to mark the growth of their children.  Even adults grow.

We are all growing older.

 Growth happens because we are alive.  Every person that has been saved has been brought from death to life.  The Word of God has a lot to say about growing to those who have been saved.  In the Book of Mark, Jesus tells the parable of the kingdom.  He talked of seeds being planted and springing up and bringing forth fruit.  The seed of God’s Word was planted in us and we sprang up into life.  God wants us to grow to full maturity.  Just as we have grown up physically, we are to grow up spiritually.
 Can I ask you a question?  Where are you on the growth chart?  In order for something that is alive to grow, it must be fed.  Can I encourage you to feast on the Word of God?  Make it a point to be in Sunday School each week.  Attend as many of the Worship Services as possible.  Whatever you do, grow in the Lord...your quality of life depends on it.

Serving the Savior,
Pastor Mike

 

Revival

Dear Church Family,

Have you ever been hungry for something?  Sometimes I crave something my mother fixed when I was growing up.  I can almost taste it, I want it so badly, and nothing else will satisfy that craving.  Maybe you have or haven’t had those cravings.  Well, there is another craving that I have and that is a craving for revival.  I mean a God-sent revival.  I know it will cost to have such a revival.  Lives will be broken and surrendered, and filled with God’s power and praise.  But, again, there is nothing else like it.
As much as I want so see God do something in your life, I want to see God do something in my life.  You see, I believe revival is personal and I must seek God for me, and you must seek God for you.
Here is my prayer:  “God, I submit myself to you for you to do whatever you need to do in me, that you can do everything you want to do through me.” 
I want God to change me into His image.  How about you?  Please do everything you can to clear your schedule so you can be at every revival meeting with Bob Pitman November 3-6.  All of the evening service, including Sunday will be at 6:30pm.  I look forward to seeing you there.
 
Serving the Savior,
Pastor Mike
 
 

Statistics

Dear Church Family
        I recently read some statistics that were given at this year’s Southern Baptist Convention.
· 1500 Pastors from all denominations resign every month.
· 9 out of every 10 who begin the ministry don’t finish.
· Only 1 in 5 seminary graduates are still in ministry after 8 years.
· Last year, more churches in America closed their doors than at any other time in history.
· For 13 years in a row, baptisms in SBC churches have been in decline.
· Last year, our SBC Convention had the lowest number of baptisms since 1948, yet in 1948 we had 6 million members and today we have 16 million members.
· 75% of the nations of the earth are hostile toward Christianity.
Let me give you one more...Out of those 16,000,000 members, less than 40% will be in church on any given Sunday.
Can I give you some good news?  I’m not one of those Pastors that’s resigning!  Our baptisms are up.  Our attendance is growing in Sunday School.  That does not mean we are where we need to be.  None of us are complete and we won’t be until Jesus comes back. 
Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”  I believe that God not only has good things in store for us, but I believe God wants to do exceedingly above all we can ask.  Let’s not become one of the statistics.  Let’s be a church that is the exception to the rule.

Serving the Savior,
Pastor Mike
 
 

Can I encourage you....

 
Dear Church Family
        It’s hard to believe that six months of this year have passed already.  Can you remember back to January?  I know that will be difficult for some of you, but try hard.  It was the month when you made New Year Resolutions.  How are they going six months later?  January was the month many said they were going to read the Bible through in a year.  I really hope this is going well, but if you have gotten a little slack, just pick it back up and get back to it again.
Many times we are good at starting things, but poor at completing them.  God knew that so He said, “encourage one another”.  Can I encourage you in a few things?
· Can I encourage you to be faithful to the Lord’s house for Sunday School and Worship.
· Can I encourage you to be faithful in giving of your time, talents and treasures to the Lord.
· Can I encourage you to invite people to come to church with you that the Lord’s house may be full.
· Can I encourage you to pray for God’s power in our services.
· Can I encourage you to be faithful to share Christ with others.
It’s easy to slack off or slow down.  Remember, the Lord never sleeps nor slumbers.  He is always working and wants to work through us.  Let’s keep our hands to the plow and don’t look back. I love you folks and I am thankful to be your Pastor.
Serving the Savior,
Pastor Mike
 

Today

Dear Church Family

   Have you ever thought about the words “day” or “today”?  What does the Bible say about it? In Matthew 6:11 it says, “Give us this day our daily bread”.  Matthew 21:28 says, “ Son, go work today in my vineyard”.  Today is the day we have to work, for tomorrow may never come.  Mark 1:35 says, “and in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out and departed in a solitary place, and there, prayed”.  We have today to pray.  In Romans 13:12  we find: “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness and let us put on the armor of light”.   Today we can walk in the light. 

   There are those who need the Lord.  Listen to what II Corinthians 6:2 says: “For He saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation”.

   We can plan for tomorrow, but today is all that has been given to us.  Don’t waste the day.  “Redeem the time, for the days are evil.” Ask God to direct your day..every step of it.  There is no greater day than the day lived for Him.  Do something kind for someone else.  Tell someone about Jesus.  Invite someone to come to church with you.  Encourage someone while it is still today. 

See you Sunday with a word from the Word.

Serving the Savior

Pastor Mike

 

"Autopsy of a Deceased Church"

Dear Church Family,

   Recently I read an article by Thom Rainer, CEO of Lifeway Resources. It was entitled "Autopsy of a Deceased Church". He tells of a church that had peaked at 750 in attendance in 1975. He was asked to come to the church as a consultant because it had declined to 83 in attendance. He worked with the church for three weeks.

   Mr. Rainer says in his article: "The man who invited me to come asked me, 'What do you think?'" I replied, "This church will be dead in five years." I was wrong. It took 10 years and now the doors are closed.

   There is a prediction that 100,000 churches are on this same course. What can we learn from this church? What was the cause of death? Tom Rainer gives eleven things as the cause.

  1. The church refused to look like the community. They had no desire to reach those in the community.
  2. The church had no community-focused ministries...Nothing to let people know the church was there.
  3. Members became more focused on memorials. Memorials are not bad, but they were an obsession for this church.
  4. The % of the budget for members' needs kept increasing. At it's death, it was at 98%. No money for missions, outreach or staff.
  5. There were no evangelistic emphases. They had lost their passion for the lost. That is why we exist.
  6. The members had more and more arguments about what they wanted. Their focus turned inward on themselves.
  7. With few exceptions, pastoral tenure grew shorter and shorter. They had 7 pastors in their last 10 years.
  8. The church rarely prayed together. When there was prayer, it was all about them.
  9. The church had no clarity as to why they existed. There was no vision, no mission, no purpose.
  10. The members idolized another era. All they could do was look back to waht they used to have.
  11. The facilities continued to deteriorate. They failed to look at their facilities with outsider eyes.

   As sad as this report is, I thank God that we are not headed there. We must be aware of what causes a church to die and avoid those things like we would a plague! Let's pray for churches that are headed down this road. Let's be aware of all God wants us to do, and do it.

Serving the Savior,

Pastor Mike

    

New Life

Dear Church Family

        I want to give a great big thank you to Tom, the musicians and choir for the great job they did on the Easter musical, “O what A Savior”.  It could not be done without the video and sound crew.  A big thank you to you as well.

        I love Spring, don’t you?  To me it represents new life.  All the plants have been dormant for the winter, but now they are bursting forth with life.   Easter reminds me of that for believers.  We are reminded of the life we have in Christ.  We can become dormant in our Christian lives, but just one look at the empty tomb reminds us of what He did for us.  Not only was Jesus resurrected, but He has given us His resurrected life.  Don’t miss this Sunday!

      Hopefully this will launch us into April with a new outlook on life.  Let’s make April one of the greatest months we have had yet by being faithful to Sunday School and worship.  Invite someone to come with you to church.  On April 14th, during the evening service, I will share an update on the plans for our new building.  I have been praying and seeking the Lord on this matter and I believe He has given clear instructions.

      Let’s be faithful to give as we believe God for great things.

Serving the Savior,

Pastor Mike

 

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