Signs of Life

Signs of Life” is a forty day devotional by Dr. David Jeremiah. In the book we are given daily examples of the signs of life that should be found in an authentic Christian. It is a powerful study which reminds us that Christianity is not just about attending church. Christians are a new creation, a new life, a bright light, and an example of Jesus to the rest of the world. “Signs of Life” gives us explicit reminders of what this new Christian life is supposed to look like. After all, most people can tell when someone is physically alive or dead; so doesn’t it stand to reason that they can tell when a person is showing signs of the Christian life or not?

Each day the book starts out with a short thought. Day seven begins with these words, “We don’t stay on earth forever; but after we’re gone, our imprint remains.” Then, on day thirteen we read, “If you were a walking advertisement for the Lord, what would people learn about Him?” These two thoughts together can be very convicting depending on what it is you are advertising every day. Are we a commercial for Jesus Christ which demonstrates the reality of this new life? Is our new life influencing others toward Christ? How large of an imprint are we leaving? Will those who come behind us find us faithful?

Sunday morning we will be looking at the life of a man who left a giant-sized imprint on the landscape of his time. In fact, his advertisement for Christ was so large that we are still following his example today.

Saul of Tarsus was a man who hated the blasphemous, demon-possessed, false teacher Jesus of Nazareth. His hatred was so great, he set out to find, arrest, try, convict, and then kill anyone who would not recant their faith in the man who had died by hanging on the cross.

I would like to invite you to Living Oaks Baptist Church as we look at this man’s life. We will see why he had such a passionate determination to destroy the followers of the Way. Then we will witness the miracle of his life being turned completely around. What could possibly make so drastic a change in someone’s life? Be sure to attend LOBC at 10:45 tomorrow morning to find the answer.

What’s In It For Me?

If you do not attend church on a regular basis you’ve probably wondered what church has to offer. There are so many things in this world to enjoy, and cutting your weekend short for church just doesn’t seem right. You may even wonder about friends who get home early on Saturday night in order to get up and go to church on Sunday.

What is it about Christianity that would cause someone to want to give up part of their weekend and spend time with a bunch of people singing and listening to a preacher. Personally, I think that is a fair question. When you look at the church from the outside it appears to be nothing but rules to keep you from having fun. So, what is it that makes church so special that people would give their time, money, and their very life to their faith family?

Tomorrow at Living Oaks Baptist Church as we look at Acts 8.4-25 we will see some of the reasons people choose Christianity over their former life. I hope you will join us at 10:45 a.m. as we gather together to encourage one another in fellowship, worship, and study.

Thriving In Storms of Persecution

Have you ever had a time in your life when it seems wave after wave of oppression, affliction, and persecution are crashing around you? Have you ever felt as though the relentless waves of torment have drained you of strength? Are you fearful that the next wave may be the one that sweeps you out to sea with no hope of ever finding yourself safe on shore again?

If we do not take the proper precautions as Christians, it is easy to find ourselves floundering in a sea of spiritual uncertainty.  We struggle to stay grounded as the waves hammer against us.

In Acts 5:12-42, we will learn a few lessons on Thriving in Storms of Persecution. Please join us at Living Oaks Baptist Church Sunday, January 15, at 10:45 a.m. as we study to become better equipped to endure the storms of life.

Things to Remember When People Leave the Church

http://gracewaymedia.com/_Journey_with_Jesus_b-5731.htmlOn Tuesday of this week I posted an article “Benefits To Not Changing Churches.” It was written by Dr. Dean Shriver, Pastor of Intermountain Baptist Church in Salt Lake City, Utah.  He gave us six benefits for staying in our current church.

Today, I want to post an article I found at Sermoncentral.com by Gregg Surratt entitled “When People Leave: 4 Lessons in Rejection from Jesus.” It is great advice for pastors, as well as church members, to keep in mind when your friends and family move on to another church.

I was reading John 6 the other day and the headline above verse 60 screamed out at me: “Many disciples desert Jesus.” I wondered how that made him feel. Seriously. Go with me there.

I know he was God. And I know he knew in advance who would be staying and who would be leaving. But I also know he was human like me, capable of human emotions even when he knew the outcome. Like when his friend Lazarus died. He knew that he was going to raise him from the dead, but the shortest verse in the Bible says that “Jesus wept” anyway. He cried. Like I cried when my best friend died in a car wreck. It makes me feel better to know that he was capable of feeling what I feel.

So how did he feel when disciples started bailing?

You get the feeling that these weren’t just faces in the crowd. By this time, the crowds had grown extremely large. He has just finished a miracle of feeding at least 4,000 people. That’s the second time he’d done that one. People were so desperate to see him that they literally chased him across a lake. When some of them misunderstood something he taught, they started grumbling about it. Some of the crowd decided that he was getting a little too full of himself, and they started to leave. The murmuring grew until many of those close to him, his disciples, decided to quit following. They weren’t just faces, and you get the feeling that they didn’t go quietly.

How did he feel? How did he process it?

At that point, he turned to the ones that he is closest to, the Twelve, and he asked, “Are you going to leave, too?” Hit the pause button. What are the emotions of those words? Words are never spoken in a vacuum. There is always texture and feeling and context. What were his? What was he thinking?

Honestly, we don’t know. He’s God, and we are not. But I think we can learn some things from Jesus about a healthy process when people leave.

Be secure in the Father’s love.

There was never any doubt in Jesus’ mind about whether or not the Father loved him. I’ve got to believe that he knew his worth had nothing to do with how many were at the synagogue this Sabbath as compared to a year ago. The echo of the words of his baptism,“This is my son, and I am really pleased with him,” can’t be underestimated. A friend told me recently that our first thoughts every morning should focus on how much our Father loves us. Everyone else may think you are a jerk, but hey, what difference does it really make if God loves you?

Try to play for an audience of one.

Jesus says in verse 38, “I have come to do the will of God who sent me, not what I want.” There’s a lot of pressure in trying to please everyone. As the crowd grows, there will be more voices clamoring for your attention and potentially becoming offended if you don’t play their hand. One is a much less stressful number.

Learn to process it with your inner circle.

Even Jesus didn’t go at it alone. In response to his question, Peter says, “Where are we going to go? You have the words of life.” You need people like that. “I’ve got your back” type of people. Sure, you need some who will tell you when you’ve got spinach in your teeth, but you also need a few “I’m not going anywhere, boss” types for situations like these. Do you have people like that in your inner circle? Do you have an inner circle?

Trust in God’s sovereignty.

Jesus knew ahead of time who would leave and who would stay. You and I don’t. It would be a great gift to have. It would certainly save time and a lot of grief. You may not know, but God does. And according to Romans 8:28, he’ll weave it into the plan in a way that serves both his and your best interest.

The bottom line: When people leave for whatever reason, God’s got your back. What else do you really need?

Question for pastors: How does Jesus’ example help?

Question for church members: Does your pastor know you’ve got his/her back?

To read the article from the original site follow this link: “When People Leave”

America’s View of Southern Baptists

I have been a Southern Baptist since my first day in church when I was enrolled in “Cradle Roll.”  I have had many opportunities to attend churches of other denominations.  I have spent a great deal of my life searching the Scriptures to ensure what I was being taught is truth. So you will understand if I tell you I have a special place in my heart for the Southern Baptist Convention.

This week I read an article about “America’s View of Southern Baptist” that was especially surprising. It talks about how people are turned off from attending a church when they see it is affiliated with the SBC.  Most of those who felt this way were those who are not currently attending a church anywhere. How does this happen? How can a group of individuals who pool their time, money, and lives together have such an effect on those for whom they are trying to reach? If the church is to continue to fulfill it commission given by Jesus we must resolve this issue immediately!

In my personal opinion, this has happened because individual churches are seen as a denominational church and not a community church.  I love being a part of the SBC; however, as a pastor my aim is to constantly keep the spiritual needs of our community in front of the church members. We are to be salt and light to the world. Our world just so happens to be in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It is easy for the people in the community to see us as just another Southern Baptist Church if we have the mentality of opening the doors and waiting for people to come in and see how special we are. This was never what Jesus intended. Christians are to go out and engage the community one individual at a time. We are to share that they are so special to God that He sent Jesus to die for them that they might spend eternity with Him.

Please understand, this has nothing to do with whether you need the word “Baptist” or “SBC” on your church sign. What I am saying is this, our communities need to know that we are reaching out to them with the love of Christ. We are not a denomination. We are the bride of Christ. We are the body of Christ. We are to be the heart, hands, and voice of Christ to those who are hurting. As Christians, we are to leave our homes every day knowing that God is going to use us to reach out to others that they might have an opportunity to believe in Jesus Christ.

Come on, Christians—let’s demonstrate to the world that we are not just a denomination or a church building. Let’s show them we are people so filled with gratitude for what Jesus has done for us we want to share it with everyone! Let’s change the opinion of those who don’t know us by getting to know them!

If you would like to read “America’s View of Southern Baptist” please click here.

Searching for the King

I want to invite you to Living Oaks Baptist Church this Sunday as our choir presents, “Searching for the King.”  Our worship service starts at 10:45 a.m. and we would love to have you as our special guest.

I hope to see you Sunday!

Karachi

In our Week of Prayer for International Missions, we are looking into the life situation of missionaries serving around the globe—today we are going to Karachi, Pakistan.  We will read the story of a man who came to Christ and set his heart to win his homeland for Jesus.

Aadam Channar* was only a boy when Baptist missionary Hu Addleton first brought the Gospel to his province in Pakistan. Today he is an evangelist trying to reach Pakistan’s largest city.

“Karachi is the largest city in Pakistan. When we arrived there [in 1956], it was 1 million population. Now it’s 17 to 18 million,” said Addleton, who retired after serving 34 years in Pakistan with his wife, Bettie. “It is a picture of the whole country, because you have every ethnic group living in Karachi.”
About 97 percent of Karachi follows Islam. Christians make up only about 2 percent of the city’s population, according to the US State Department.

Channar grew up in a tiny Hindu village very different from the bustling hub of Karachi, but that did not keep him from approaching the city with the intention of sharing the good news of Jesus among its many people groups.
“God gave me this vision: ‘Go [to] Karachi. Leave your home, area, village.’ So God sent me here,” Channar said. “That’s why I am in Karachi.”
Addleton, who discipled Channar, encourages Southern Baptists to continue giving through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.

“We ought to continue to pray for [Pakistani Christians] and to challenge people to go,” Addleton said.

Please pray for Channar as he represents the Lord as His heart, His hands, His voice in the city of Karachi, and ask that more Pakistani Christians would respond to God’s call to do the same.
*Name changed

If you would like to follow all of the testimonies from the International Mission Board you can click here.

If you would like to contribute to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering to help support missionaries all around the world, please send a check to:  Living Oaks Baptist Church, 8855 East 91st Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma, 74133.  Please write “Lottie Moon” on the memo line. One hundred percent of all the gifts we receive will go to help missionaries share the good news of Jesus.