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Spare Change - August 2021

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Recently I was given the opportunity to fill the pulpit while Pastor Alan was on vacation.  There was a part of the sermon that I had to cut for time.  I know you probably thought I could have cut more for time...just kidding.  I really enjoyed getting a chance to preach and was honored to bring you a word from Galatians 5:16-25.  In this sermon I spoke about how we can walk in the Spirit.  We do this by participating with the Spirit in killing sin (mortification), seeking to place Christ first so we could live in a new spirit filled life (vilification), cooperating with the work of the Spirit by feeding our souls the right kind of food (focusing on spiritual disciplines, specifically reading and studying God’s Word).

There was one more helpful thing about walking in the Spirit that I was going to mention but cut for time.  This is the idea that when we walk in the Spirit we must realize we are free from our past; but that doesn’t mean our past shouldn’t be acknowledged.  We are not supposed to forget our past sins but we are also not supposed to be held captive by them.

One of Satan’s biggest spiritual devices is to accuse us or pile on guilt after we have sinned.  It works like this: he often tempts us to sin, then we make the choice to sin and he turns around to accuse us.  He tells us how bad we are and how we will never amount to anything.  This shouldn’t surprise us, his name means accuser!  Living within this guilt forever will severely hurt our walk with the Spirit.  Some Christians have let their past sins cripple them.  Now I’m not saying that recent sins or sins that have great consequences don’t need to be dealt with.  There is a time of healing and repentance that must occur, but past sins do not put a black mark on you forever.  If so, the grace of God is not worth very much, is it?

So how do we deal with our past?  We must acknowledge it, learn from it, use it as a testimony, and move on to live for the Lord.  We can not let the ghost of our former self haunt us today.  This makes me think of that oak tree out in the front of our church that I mentioned during the sermon.  Remember how I talked about it being infested with oak galls?  I used it as an illustration of how we need to take in the right spiritual food to grow.  The oak tree has been injected with a special mixture of insecticide to kill the bugs and fertilize the tree over the past couple of years.  To give it the mixture the tree experts have to drill little holes all around the base of the tree.  The tree has recovered beautifully but there is some scarring at the base of the tree where they inject the mixture.

This got me thinking about the scars of our past.  In the spirit filled life we will have the scars from our sinful past but that is not who we are today.  A scar doesn’t mean you are not healthy, it shows a past trauma that you have overcome. The sins of our past scar our lives but they do not define who you are….you find your spiritual health, your identity, new life, your everything in our Savior, Jesus Christ, not your past.  Instead of being held captive or discouraged about your past, be in awe of all that God has brought you through.  Your past scars give glory to God, let them be a testimony of His grace in your life.

Do not let your past keep you from doing ministry and following God’s will in your life.  Walking in the Spirit means following God to do whatever and go wherever He calls you to go.  God has redeemed me from much brokenness in my past, I bear the scars of many mistakes but that has not stopped me from following God in my life.  Everything good that I have, everything that I have is all because of God and it is all for His glory.  It is the same with you!  So live in the freedom that Christ gives us and walk by the Spirit!

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Spare Change - July 2021

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I am writing this article right in the middle of the VBS week.  This week is often full of long days and short nights.  There isn’t much rest to be had but there is other nourishment that we get along the way to keep us going.  Things like serving the Lord, discipling children, connecting with families, sharing the gospel, and fellowshipping with other volunteers are just a few of the spiritually nourishing things that help us endure.  While it is a crazy, busy week it is also a very special week.  Children get to hear the life changing truth of the gospel and that is what it is all about.

VBS is totally worth all the manpower and resources that we put into it.  Last year, even during the Covid year, we were able to pull off VBS and 16 children became followers of Jesus.  That just blows my mind! Our church was faithful to do VBS and God, out of His abundant mercy, saved 16 children.  Again, this is what it is all about.  This year we have many more children which means we have an even greater potential for gospel impact.  We are praying that God would do an amazing work through the gospel presentation and our Bible study leaders.  By now you know the results of VBS, and I hope that together we are praising and thanking God for the children He has saved!

The other aspect of VBS that encourages me so much is our volunteers that work tirelessly to make VBS happen.  We have 90 volunteers this year!  90 adults and teenagers that invest a week of their life in this kingdom work.  Many of them work all day, rush to the church and find the energy to lead and teach the children.  I am always amazed by their dedication.  People always ask me if I feel stressed and overwhelmed and honestly I can say, "No", because we have such great volunteers.  VBS at Oakhill is a fun and enjoyable experience because we all share the load.

If you are a volunteer, I want to say with all sincerity, THANK YOU!  There is nothing I could do or say that would be enough, but I know you don’t do it for the praise, you do it because you love the Lord and want to serve Him.   You have blessed your church and community with your service, and I pray the Lord will bless you as well.

I also want to say a thank you to the church at large.  There are many of you that are not able to help with VBS but you lift us up in prayer leading up to VBS and each night of VBS.  I know God hears your prayers and we are blessed because of them.  There are also many that give financially to the ministry of the church.  VBS costs money, that is the bottom line, but we never have to worry because our church gives to the budget and takes care of that need without even a thought.  It is a blessing to be a part of such a supportive church.  You do not balk when we take over the church for a week, put out decorations, take over your Life Group class.  You allow us to do all of this because you love the Lord and want to serve Him.  To all of you that silently support through prayer, giving financially, and giving us space, we say thank you!  You share in the blessing that God brings to our church!

We leave VBS physically tired but spiritually full!  We know God loves to work through His faithful people that want to serve Him with a pure heart.  That is the exact thing we have at Oakhill, faithful people!  Thank you for everything!  I am so blessed to be your Children’s Pastor!

 

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