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Pastor's Point - August 2023

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Dear Church Family,

In October we will be celebrating sixty years of ministry as a local church. That is amazing and a blessing! Our church has been blessed throughout the years by faithful people who invested their lives here at Oakhill. And it is upon their love for the Lord and sacrificial investments that we continue to build the legacy of the Gospel right here on Oak Hill Road.

Our most recent former pastor is Rev. Glen Flowers, who is an active member in our church to this day. He and his sweet wife Naomi are here almost every Sunday praising the Lord and supporting me as their Pastor. I cannot tell you how much this encourages me. I love this precious couple because before I came to Oakhill they served this church faithfully for twenty-one years! I am so thankful that when Glen retired, he gave the pastor search committee my information for them to contact me about praying about coming to Oakhill. I was not looking to leave where I was, but God was moving in the details. I found myself being called to Oakhill and God has blessed me and my family for the last seventeen years. Between Glen and I, we have served thirty-eight years of the sixty years this church has been established. I think he would agree with me that the only way you can stay around in a church for that long is when you have others who stick with you faithfully through the years.

Planting yourself in a local church for the long term produces good fruit in your life and in the life of the church. No church is perfect, and for sure no pastor is perfect. But if we can stick together and keep our eyes on Jesus, we can build a legacy of faith together. Please consider this article I found on this topic and consider the points that the author makes.

7 Advantages of Long-Term Church Membership by Karl Vaters
The best things in life don’t come in a hurry. They take time. But they’re worth the investment. Sometimes it seems like everyone is leaving the church. But that’s not the case. While we’re right to be concerned about church-hoppers and church-droppers, people don’t typically go to a church with the plan of leaving soon. Most want to put down roots and stay committed for the long haul. There’s always a core group of faithful people at the heart of every healthy congregation. Our lives and our churches are better because of them. Here are just a few advantages of staying put in a congregation through the good times and bad:

  1. You develop deeper relationships: While it’s always nice to meet new folks (and it’s God’s work on earth to help them connect with your circle of friends)
    there’s nothing like knowing and growing with a group of people over a lifetime, or a major segment of your lifetime. There are so many life lessons that simply
    take time to learn. No matter how smart we are or how hard we work, nothing can replace living life with people who know, love and watch out for each other
    year after year and decade after decade. There are no shortcuts to deep relationships. You have to put in the time.
  2. You’re less likely to repeat the same cycles: If we move from church to church we can stay spiritually stuck and not know it. Everything around us has changed,
    so we don’t have to. If we move from church to church we can stay spiritually stuck and not know it. It may feel like we’re growing deeper, but we may be doing nothing but repeating the same cycles in a new environment. And there’s no one in that new church who’s known us long enough to spot it, call us on it, or help
    us get past it. We can also get stuck when we stay put, of course. But the repetition is more noticeable, which might provide an incentive to grow deeper. Some
    of the people I most admire are longtime friends who might seem like little more than everyday churchgoers to everyone else, but I’ve watched them grow
    deeper, wiser and kinder year after year.
  3. You can be part of the foundation that others build on: Every church needs a foundation to build on. But it’s hard to do that when the ground either grows
    hard (through stubbornness) or keeps shifting (through constant coming and going). One of the reasons we honor the giants of the faith who came before us is
    because they laid a foundation when they encouraged, supported and even funded our new, crazy ideas. We honor them when we do the same for those who come after us.
  4. You can be a great champion for both stability and change: When a newcomer or young person promotes change in the church, that’s expected. And it can be
    easy to ignore. But when a long-time member champions change, it carries a lot of weight. In addition to being a landmark of stability, as we saw in the previous point, long-time members can be among the strongest proponents of necessary changes. Whenever our church has needed to make significant jumps forward, we’ve relied as much on the stability, wisdom and support of our older, longtime members as we have on the enthusiasm, energy and passion of those who are young and new. There’s so much concern about the generational divide in churches today. When we stick around a while, we can become the glue that helps bridge that divide.
  5. You can help a healthy church become healthier: The strongest, healthiest churches are the ones that have been around a while, have learned the hard lessons over time, and have adapted to changing circumstances while keeping solid on the essentials of the faith. That can’t happen when there are no long-timers
    around, or when the long-timers grow hard and stubborn about getting their own way. But when a healthy church has a mix of newcomers and long-time
    members all working together for a common vision of the future … well that’s about as good as it gets.
  6. You can spot and help fix problems before they get too big: There’s no substitute for the eyes of wisdom and experience. If you’ve been around a while and are paying attention, you’re often able to spot potential problems that the younger, busier church members might not see. Yes, there will always be stubborn old
    coots who see problems with everything, and there will always be flighty young people who ignore the sage advice of their elders, but that doesn’t have to be the norm. If you stay steady, supportive, adaptive and kind, young people today are more willing to listen to the advice of their elders than many previous generations were. The key is to keep positive, be available and pick your battles carefully.
  7. You get to see and participate in generational progress: We hear a lot about churches that have grown from small to big in a short period of time. But those churches are few and far between. The typical church grows slowly and steadily. Over decades, not just a few years. The typical church grows slowly and steadily. Over decades, not in a couple years. If you invest a lifetime into a healthy church, you’ll get to see a depth of growth that few others will ever have the chance to appreciate. As believers in Jesus, we’re dealing with a timeline that’s eternal. The best things in life don’t come in a hurry. They take time. But they’re worth the investment.

I love you and I love being your pastor!


Posted by Alan Scott with

Spare Change - August 2023

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The Mark of a True Believer

What is the mark of a true believer?  One of the marks is our eagerness to serve those in need. Jesus makes it clear in Matthew 25 that He is very concerned about the outworking of our faith, especially in how we serve others.  Jesus takes time in Matthew 24 and 25 to speak prophetically about the future. He gives straightforward teaching about the end times punctuated by parables.  As He wraps up this speech, Jesus speaks about the final judgment (Matthew 25:31-46).  

In this judgment, all people will be separated as one divides sheep and goats.  The sheep in this section refer to believers, and the goats to unbelievers.  The primary difference between these groups is whether they ministered to the Lord by serving others.  Each group seems surprised that this is the criteria the Lord is using to separate His followers.  They do not seem to understand at first that by helping others they were actually serving the Lord.

At first glance, one might think that Jesus is speaking about a works-based salvation, but as we consider the whole of scripture, we understand that salvation comes only by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-10).   Jesus is speaking about works in the same way that James does in James 2:18. Our works display our faith; they are products of true gospel transformation.  In other words, a true follower of Jesus will desire to serve others because they are saved. They don’t desire to do it for an earthly or heavenly reward.  The true believer’s heart is transformed, and the outworking is to look for opportunities to help others in hard circumstances.  The pure motive of a believer does not desire a reward for good works; however, as Jesus says, they will receive a great reward -- the kingdom of God.

The goats seem equally surprised when they are told to depart and go forever into the eternal fires of hell.  They are wondering, when did they see the Lord in these desperate circumstances?  It is implied that they surely would have helped had they known.  I am sure they were confused when it is clarified that by serving others, they would have been serving the Lord; however, they chose to ignore their fellow man.  Their selfishness proved that they had no gospel transformation. They would have only done good deeds to receive the reward and not be punished.  The goats were not repentant of their sin and most certainly were not redeemed by the blood of Jesus.

What both groups seemed to miss is that by serving others they are serving the Lord.  It did not matter for the sheep because the gospel had changed the priority of their hearts to that of Jesus.  What is Jesus's priority?  He told us plainly in Luke 19:10 that He came to seek and save the lost.  Jesus's priority was people!  It is so plain that He loved mankind, His whole mission revolved around helping others.  He helped with their physical needs, all the while driving at their greatest need: salvation for their eternal souls. The same love was transferred to His followers through the gospel.  True believers should have the same desire to help others.  That is why Jesus can identify His followers very easily. The criteria is simple: Jesus’s followers show their love for Him by how they love others through service.

A believer should be a willing, zealous servant.  They see the plight of others and seek to ease their suffering.  If you notice, these acts of love in Matthew 25 are not extravagant; it is things like offering a drink, welcoming a stranger, visiting a sick person, clothing someone, etc.  These are simple acts that don’t cost a lot of money; however, they do cost something that many of us deem more valuable than money – TIME!  To accomplish these simple acts of service you must take the time to notice others, then take the time to serve them.  In our modern, fast-paced, self-focused life, are we willing to give up our most precious commodity?

From this passage, a mark of a true believer is someone that serves others simply because they love Jesus.  Is this you?  Do you serve others?  Do you take the time to notice others around you that are hurting?  If not, and you call yourself a believer, you need to repent and ask God to help you have a love for Him that is displayed in serving others.  Then, just look around! There are hurting people all around us. Let's commit to do the simple acts of service which show that we belong to Jesus.

Posted by Bryan Gotcher with

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