Dear Church Family,
This past month, Pastor Bryan, myself, and our wives went to the annual Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans, Louisiana. As we met, we heard wonderful worship
with challenging messages and took care of important items of business as a convention of churches.
One of the highlights was the commissioning service of seventy-four new International Missionaries who were sent out to the nations of the world. There were quite a few of
them who could not show their face or reveal which country they were headed to because the country is closed/hostile to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was so inspiring to see the willingness of so many ready to go to wherever God was calling them. This commissioning service is a highlight every year at the convention because it helps to practically remind Southern Baptists of the great mission work we do together as we faithfully give to the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas offering.
We also had to deal with a matter of a few of our churches who were no longer in friendly cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention. We have a confessional
statement of beliefs that we call the Baptist Faith and Message. In it, it makes clear where we stand on key theological understandings. One of those areas is that we believe the office of Pastor in the local church is to be filled by God-called, qualified men to serve our churches. This is not a new understanding that our convention of churches holds. But over the course of time, these churches ordained women to serve as pastors in their churches. As autonomous churches they can do this, but by doing so they were functioning outside the parameters of the Baptist Faith and Message. So, the convention voted to remove them from membership with our convention of churches. Having a common statement of faith that we organize ourselves around is vital for the ongoing spiritual health of our convention.
One other wonderful benefit of going to the convention is that it allows you to fellowship with other believers from around the country. As a part of that fellowship, we were able to spend time both with Jared Mitchell, a former Worship Pastor here at Oakhill, and we also got to spend time with Brian Van Doren, who just recently left us to go to Texas to pastor a church. It was so wonderful to fellowship and catch up with these two great men!
Next year, the convention is in Indianapolis, Indiana! We are hopeful that we can take a group from Oakhill up on the weekend of the convention to do some mission work in the Indianapolis area. Start praying about that possibility and your availability to go!
We need to keep praying for our convention of churches. Please pray that churches will grow, that pastors will shepherd their churches effectively, and that more of us would look for opportunities to share our faith with the lost and hurting world that is all around us.
I love you and I love being your Pastor!
Dear Church Family,
The Joy of Children
Part of my job and calling at Oakhill is to be the Children's Pastor. I love this part of the job because I love kids! Kids are so much fun! From squishy babies to precocious toddlers to funny older children, they are all a marvel of God. I love to see them learn and grow, especially in the context of growing in the Lord. This is a special blessing of being involved in the children's ministry. I am positive the other volunteers at Oakhill feel the same way.
I am thankful that at Oakhill we love children. Our love is modeled after the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ. I am so thankful that the gospel writers inspired by the Holy Spirit
included the story about Jesus interacting with children in Mark 10:13-16:
“And [Parents] were bringing children to [Jesus] that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.”
At this time in Jesus’ ministry, He was ministering to a great many people. I can imagine a long line of people waiting to speak to Jesus. This group of parents, knowing that their children were a most precious gift, brought them to Jesus to be blessed. The disciples saw this as a waste of Jesus' time. They probably thought, "look at all these people that need Jesus' help, these children are just taking up his time". As I said, I'm thankful we get this glimpse into our Lord's thinking about children. He rebuked His disciples and pulled the children in close. We get the picture that Jesus might have put them in His lap as He blessed them. This shows us that our Savior loved children!
First, he knew that these were potential future followers. If these parents believed in Jesus and taught their children to do the same, then these children would be the future for the church. He wanted them to feel welcome in His church. Second, Jesus wants us all to approach Him with childlike faith. This type of faith doesn't mean immature or devoid of theological thinking. It means that we have simplicity in our faith. We need to trust Jesus like a child trusts a parent. Children with loving parents don't have to wonder if their parents will take care of their needs. They know their parents are going to protect them. They just simply trust, it's almost thoughtless, like a reflex. We need to have the automatic reflex of faith in every stage of life.
I am sure that this experience with Jesus left an indelible mark on the children He blessed. I hope that many of them followed Jesus and learned to obey all that He taught. Children are a great example of how we need to live in awe and wonder of our Savior. As children grow in faith, they are like little sponges that are constantly amazed by all they are learning. I pray we can all retain this attitude into adulthood. We should continue to approach Jesus daily with awe and wonder.
If we want to honor our Savior, then we will be like Him and make room for children in the church. We will seek to love and disciple them. Most of all, we will bring them to Jesus. We will share the good news of the gospel. We will be living examples of the gospel to the children. I'm thankful that Oakhill is a church like this!