Dear Church Family,
I hope this blog finds you well this morning. Many of our activities are beginning again here at the church and I could not be more excited. I trust that you will make every effort to come and support The Oaks and our ministries as we do our best to serve the Lord.
My sermon Sunday comes from that poignant text in the Gospel of Matthew. It is Matthew 16:13-20. Jesus is in Caesarea Philippi, some 25 miles north of Galilee. While there, Jesus asks His disciples a question. "Who do men say that I am?" They quickly respond, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, others say Jeremiah or one of the prophets." After having seemingly passed the pop quiz, Jesus gets personal--"But who do you say that I am?" Well that is a different question entirely.
You see church, it's not enough for us to know about Jesus. It is not enough for us to claim that we are Baptist, or Methodist or Catholic. It's not enough to say I was reared in a Christian home or my mom was the WMU director or my dad a deacon. All of that fails in light of Jesus' question. Jesus' question is directed at each of us personally, and we must respond.
Peter's answer/confession to Jesus' question was "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." That is the first time in the scriptures that Jesus is given such a title...the first time that someone truly recognizes who He is. So with that said, I ask you, "Who do you say Jesus is?" What is your confession of faith? And once you decide what your confession of faith is, answer this question--how do you live out your confession on a day to day basis?
Think it through...but answer. Answer Jesus' personal question not only with words, but with deeds.
I'll see you Sunday,
Dear Church Family,
It is so good to speak to you again as we prepare to celebrate our 11th anniversary at The Oaks. When The Oaks began, we gathered in homes and hotel rooms, and now we worship in a beautiful multi-purpose building. When The Oaks began, there were no full-time staff members, and now we have two, plus several part-time staff who make our worship services meaningful each week. When The Oaks began, there were about 60 charter members with very few children. Today, we are averaging over 100 in worship with children running everywhere on Sunday mornings.
I remind you of these great achievements to say this: God has blessed us at The Oaks, and every good and perfect gift is from above. May we never forget how we began, and may we never take for granted where we stand today.
I eagerly anticipate hearing Rev. Doug Ivey's message of both hope and challenge this Sunday. Please be there with your family and your friends as we worship together, and as we gather around the table immediately thereafter.
May God continue mold us and make us into His people, after His will, and for His Glory.
See you Sunday,
Dear Oaks Family,
It is finally here: We are celebrating our 10 year anniversary this Sunday. Who could have imagined that a church coming from such humbling beginnings, would be such a vibrant indispensable piece of this community? Please invite your friends and neighbors. Also, bring your covered dish (or two) to share for our meal after the service.
There are no words to adequately express our gratitude to those who have given so much and worked so hard to turn the anniversary celebration into reality. You are all integral to the welfare of the church and your time and talents shared in this endeavor are deeply appreciated. I would be remiss not to specifically say thank you to Charlene, Derrell, Shirley, Laura Kate, Celeste, Eugenia, Nan, Chris, Jackie, Robin, Ginger, Rita P., Rita H., Denny, Joanie etc.,. I am certain I have forgotten some, so please do not be mad at me this week. :)
Keep in mind that next week, we will have our Deacon Servant Ordination Service. We will ordain Chris Rustin and we will install Derrell Lynn as deacon servants. I want to say thank you to Eugenia McDilda and Shirley Odum for their hard work in this role the last two years.
What I am most excited about when I think about The Oaks is not just what God has done here in the past, but what I fully expect God to do in the future through our ministry to this community. By being personally devoted and congregationally active, we can fulfill the calling He has laid before us. May we serve God boldly, and may we walk in faith this week.
In His love and grace,
Hello Church Family and Friends,
Thank you so much for your cards, gifts, food, and generous welcome to our family. Ella Grace is absolutely wonderful, beautiful, and all around superb. I hope to have some new pictures of her posted soon, and maybe a video as well. (Let's be honest, Lucy will have to do that part in as much as I know nothing about technology). I appreciate your patience with me lately; it has been difficult getting back into the swing of things, but things are going more smoothly everyday.
The text for Sunday is one you should all be quite familiar with...it is the "Greatest Commandment" question posed to Jesus by the Pharisees. Jesus answers the Pharisees' question by saying the greatest commands are, "to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. All the other commandments and prophets hang on these."
These commandments are the very core principles of Christianity...so much of our faith is informed not simply by right doctrine, but right relationships with God and humanity. Perhaps we have made faith too hard, focusing on things that are inconsequential in light of these precepts that Jesus deems as the most important commandments in the scriptures. Have you ever fallen into that trap where you miss the forest for the trees?
It is time for us as a people of God to get back to the basics...to love God and love our neighbor, for if you have ever tried to follow those teachings, then you know how difficult it is to be Jesus' disciple.
I have had a pretty good run, but now is when football really starts to become difficult to predict. We are in the heart of the season, and this is where the cream rises to the top.
GA Tech was humbled last week by lowly Virginia. Everyone was shocked by this loss. Tech begins a trying run beginning this week. They face "The U" at Miami at 3:30 in a nationally televised game. Which Tech team will show up? The dominant team of the first 6 weeks, or the mediocre team of last Saturday? Now you UGA fans may not want to hear this, but I believe Paul Johnson is a good coach. I believe you see Tech come out with a fire and frenzy they did not have last week. While they were somewhat exposed by a poor run defense, they will beat Miami by 6.
GA Southern played very well last week in routing Furman, and I believe the same holds true this week. They play Presbyterian College, and I believe the Eagles will simply overwhelm "The Blue Hose." GA Southern wins big, 21+.
UGA is off this week but they were given a fit in a close victory by Vanderbilt last week. James Franklin has those Commodores on the rise. Let me say this about the extracurricular activities after the game between the coaches--I appreciate sticking up for your players, but you have to rise above the fray. The headlines should be about the game, not the post game skirmish between 40 year old men.
The Falcons play the upstart Lions on the Road at Ford Field in Detroit this week. Detroit has only lost one game (last week), and they are led by UGA standout Matthew Stafford and GA Tech All-American Calvin "Megatron" Johnson. The Falcons have to be able to run the football, and I think they can. The question, however, is if those Falcons can stop the vaunted passing attack of the Lions. This score could get ugly, but I believe the Falcons win in an upset this week by 3.
Thanks for reading and as always, may God bless you and keep you.
Growing up, I had the unfortunate opportunity to have several "Come to Jesus Meetings" with my parents. Now, I am not talking about a revival at the church, I am talking about an attitude adjustment that often ended with my inability to sit down for extended periods of time.
In our text for Sunday, Philippians 2:1-12, Paul encourages all followers of Christ to have a spiritual attitude adjustment. He says, "Your attitude should be that of Christ Jesus." That is a tall order because having the attitude of Jesus demands significant changes for all of us. It means we have to rid ourselves of selfish motives. It means we have to embrace servanthood. It means that we have to humble ourselves and become obedient to what Jesus commands every minute of every day. This radical change is the evidence of God working within us as His people.
On our own, this kind of adjustment is impossible, but with God, all things are possible. So as we prepare our hearts for worship this week, now is the time to begin taking these steps...what are you going to do?
I want to also take this opportunity to say thank you to all of those who gave us the shower last week. Ginger and I were humbled and frankly overwhelmed at the outpouring of incredible generosity that you displayed to us yet again. We cannot tell you what it means to us to have you as a church family. I am confident that our baby girl will be the most spoiled child to ever live with you in her life. May God bless you as richly as you have blessed us.
Josh and Ginger
Ga Tech surprised me last week with an incredible win vs. Kansas. A tight game quickly became a blowout when Tech completely owned the third quarter (4 touchdowns). Tech has the #1 rushing attack, the #1 scoring offense, and the #1 total offense in the nation. Perhaps this is their year to be special. "But to be the man, they have to beat the man" (Ric Flair enthusiasts know that line), WOOOOOOOO! And it starts with UNC. North Carolina is also a top 25 team and will pose a stiff test. This is a home game for Tech, and that helps. Tech wins a close one.
GA Southern did not play last week...(sorry, forgot about the bye). So I carry over my prediction from last week. GA Southern faces an angry foe in Western Carolina (this is who Tech beat in game one). The Eagles look dominant, #1 ranking in I-AA, and the trend continues. Eagles win by 10.
UGA travels to "The Grove" in Oxford, MS to play Ole Miss. Ole Miss has been a train wreck lately (they lost by 30 to Vanderbilt last week). UGA should dominate this game from start to finish. UGA by 13.
The Falcons pulled the shocker last week with a win over the Eagles. The Falcons seem to lack the identity they need on offense (as well as a starting LT who does not get pushed back in the back field every snap). They face a rekindled Bus team in Tampa. Falcons are getting better and will prove it this week. They win by 7.
I have officially been welcomed into the information age, and I must admit that I am frightened, yet intrigued. I hope that this blog contains important thoughts/musings about church, scripture, and our relationship with God; though it may have a sports blurb or two depending on the state of the GA teams.
I would appreciate any comments and questions...perhaps there is a topic that you would like to discuss, and I would hope to accommodate those requests.
For what is on my mind right now, consider this...we as a church will go and visit Dr. New tonight. He is an integral part of our church and our history...to put it mildly, we would not be here as a church body without his strength, his heart and his leadership. May God bless us in our visit as Dr. New has blessed us all with his life.
Rev. Steve Ayers, Jr. began serving as pastor for The Oaks Baptist Church on June 27, 2016. He and his wife Rebekah along with their two twin boys Luke and Silas have become an important part of the church. Their warm and loving spirits as well as the boys have captured the hearts of many at the church.