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What Are You Thankful For?

The blessings of the Lord are ever present and new every morning. The question is are your eyes open to see them? Sure, it is easy to focus on the obstacles that lie before you and a challenge to turn your eyes to your heavenly Father. But when your perspective shifts from yourself to the Lord your eyes are open to His active hand in your life. 2019 has been a monumental year in the life of our church and we want to share what we are thankful for as we look back. 

The Lord has been performing miracles within our midst all year! We have scene renovations to: three bathrooms, a breezeway, our gym, and our kitchen! Also our Children’s Wing, Youth rooms, and College room have been updated, renovated, and cleaned up! God is truly at work within our facility which we are very thankful because each space helps us better serve our Lord and community!

God continues to open doors for us to better serve our community! As a church we are knee deep in the midst of revitalization and have sought to consolidate within our campus as much as possible. The Lord worked through this process for our church to house a food pantry! God continues to bring ministries to our church to serve along side of us as we seek to reach our community. God is so faithful.

As the pastor of Exchange, I could not be more thankful of our congregation! The faithfulness they embody as we continually step out in faith to follow the Lord is inspiring. The heart of our congregation is to love God and love our neighbor for the glory of God! This is not just a saying but a way of life at Exchange. God is working through our church in remarkable ways and it is fun to look back and see the wake of His mighty hand. What a blessing. What an honor. And what a joy to serve and shepherd this flock of believers. 

-Jon Johnston, Senior Pastor

The definition for thankful is “conscious of benefit received; expressive of thanks; well pleased.”

I am thankful for the people who are called to work in our Children’s Ministry, who love the Lord and who love working with children, and I am thankful for the children He has blessed us to love.  Thank you for the people who love the Lord and want to serve Him by making updates to our Children’s area.

Another area to be thankful about is Whiz Kids. We have two other sites besides ours that meet in our facility. He has provided people who love the Lord and want to help the children learn to read. He has also provided people at each site who minister to the kids by teaching the Bible to the kids each week.  Not only are they receiving help with reading but they are learning about Jesus. We reach over 50 kids each week through this ministry.  

Some days such as today when my computer is not cooperating and I get frustrated, I forget that God has provided me with a job, a computer to use and great people to work with.  Thankfulness is an attitude no matter what our circumstances are. So during this season of Thanksgiving, let’s have an attitude of gratitude and be thankful for everything around us which includes family, friends, coworkers, and everyone that we come in contact with so they can see Jesus in us. It’s much easier to smile than it is to frown and more rewarding to be nice and considerate to others than to be a grouch, even though sometimes that’s exactly what we feel like being.   

May this season of the year remind you of all that you have to be thankful for and that others will see Jesus in you as you interact with them.

-Billie, Children’s Director and Financial Secretary

I am incredibly thankful for the provision of God in our Church and in my life. Throughout 2019, there have been blessings that couldn’t be counted both within our family and within our Church. For our Church, God continues to provide new ways for us to reach our community and unexpected blessings that remind us of His glory. I am thankful for the unique ways God is using our resources for His good. 

In 2019, our student ministry was able to have our room renovated, take leadership students to Super Summer, build community with one another through the launch of a girl’s Bible study, and solidify a core group. It has been an incredibly exciting year in this ministry. The Lord has provided the ability to launch a brand new college-age ministry at Exchange, the Collective, and we have also been fortunate to add members to our musical worship team. These moments in 2019 have displayed God’s character and His passion to see the Church built. 

And personally, I am also incredibly thankful this year that God has blessed me with a wonderful wife. I see God’s faithfulness through her kindness and the example she displays for others. She has been supportive of every step of our work in ministry, even in the launches of new ministries, and continues to be an encouragement to me every day. 

Even the small things in life can be examples of God’s provision. For you, maybe it is your family. Maybe it is the friend of yours who is always there to lift you up when you need it. This year, I pray that we would seek God’s provision, and have faith that He will provide. It might not always be provided in the way we hope or think of, but His provision is perfect. As the season goes by, let us recognize that, praise Him for it, and seek out ways we can bless others in this time of thanksgiving. 

-Preston, Student and Worship Director

Happy Thanksgiving from the staff of Exchange Avenue Baptist Church!

Come Serve With Us

Jesus, the Son of God, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords did not come to this earth to be served but rather to serve.  The heart of our Lord was that of a physician who sought the sick, poor, and needy. The greatest act of service is seen in His death where He paid the ultimate price for a sin debt that only He could pay and in doing so paved the way for sinners to unite with a holy God.

The heart of Jesus’ earthly ministry was one of service and seeking out those who needed help. Exchange Avenue Baptist Church is in downtown Oklahoma City where there are many who are in need. God is moving through our church as we are seeking to be the light of life to a dark and hurting part of the city. God has opened the door for us to serve our community by meeting practical needs and providing the opportunity for love to be shared through food, a hug, remembering someone’s name, prayer, and sharing the gospel. A small church in downtown OKC is now having a significant impact for the Kingdom of God and we are seeing our community respond in mass. On a monthly basis we serve 1,200-1,500 people who step foot on our campus, in our door, and into our lives. 

As God continues to move within our midst, I want to invite you to join us on mission. Join the work that God is doing! Please pray for us as we are on the frontlines of ministry serving all who come our way. Please pray that God would give us His wisdom and discernment. Pray that God would send His Spirit that we might see an awakening in our community by God drawing people to Himself. Please pray the gospel ministry of Exchange would push back the darkness within our community that enslaves. Please pray!

You could also join us on mission! We need you! There are weekly and monthly opportunities to serve! God is moving within our midst and I would love to have you take part it what He is doing!

For gospel advance,
Jon Johnston

Opportunities to Serve

Weekly: 
Monday Night Community Dinner: 6pm-7pm

Monthly:
Food Pantry: 2nd and 4th Monday of each month 3:30pm-5:30pm
Mobile Market 2nd Wednesday of each month 1pm-2pm

How Great is the Love of God

“See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children – and we are!” -1 John 3:1 (CSB)

Over the past two months, our student ministry has been walking through the book of 1 John. This book is often overlooked when it comes to our view of what real love is, especially in the world we live in today. What exactly is this love 1 John speaks about? What exactly does this love – that is so heavenly and so divine – do for us?

For many, especially students, it is hard to grasp that this Godly love is not simply a feeling we work to receive through a relationship or through romance. Rather, this divine love calls us to live a transformed life. Below, I’ve spelled out a few significant reminders of God’s love. Today, I hope this encourages you to live a life with a heart fully and completely transformed by the perfect love of God.

1.      God’s love is perfect

“There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear…” -1 John 4:18 (CSB)

I always sought out perfection in elementary school, whether I recognized that or not, and in elementary school math, that wasn’t hard for me. Math was fun! I would gain enjoyment from completing all of my multiplication tables and getting that ‘100’ on the assignment. In my elementary school mind I had achieved perfection – the endgame. Perfection, which is not only something we cannot achieve – the endgame for some – is something God has always had and always is.

His love is perfect. It is as complex yet as simple as that. We cannot achieve perfection. Even those of us who claim “I love everybody,” cannot have a love that is so perfect. Even so, the things (and people) in this world that drive us so crazy or harm our attitude, cannot stand against the perfect love of God.

But even better than that, His love actually casts out fear. The things of the world that scare us, or simply make us worry, can be driven out by the perfect love of God. This verse explains why fear grips us so much, as well.

“…fear involves punishment.” -1 John 4:18 (CSB)

The difference between math in elementary school and math in high school is significant. It is a lot more complex, easier to mess up, and for me much more confusing. When I took a math test in high school, I would actually fear it – a long cry from my attitude towards math tests in elementary school. I feared getting a bad grade. Why did I fear this? Because fear has to do with punishment. I knew that if I consistently got 65s on my math tests, I would ultimately receive punishment.

That is one of the mesmerizing things about God’s love – it doesn’t instill fear in us – it instills a peace, because that fear has been driven away. Punishment no longer exists for us because of Christ!

2.      God’s love shows that we belong to Him.

“Dear friends, we are God’s children now…” -1 John 3:2 (CSB)

God’s love is an other-worldly, divine, perfection. And that is the love that is displayed for us – His children.

One of the most gut-wrenching things to see in student ministry is when a student is struggling to find belonging in their life. Whether that is belonging in school, a friend group, or even in their own families, teenagers spend a lot of time growing up searching. We are all no different. We want to belong. We want to find meaning. We long to belong to someone or something.

Yet, our God’s love is so perfect, that it not only provides us with this meaning and purpose, but it also provides this supernatural love that brings us peace, joy, and a Heavenly Father to belong to. Church, may we rest daily in the simple truth that we are His – and we can have great joy in the love of God.

We receive this perfect love, but when we are saved, we also receive a family, the family of God. How great is that? That the love of God is not only perfect, it doesn’t just help provide meaning, but it actually gives us a family of believers to lean on and belong to! This is something to rejoice in.

3.      God’s love is seen through action.

“If anyone has this world’s goods and sees a fellow believer in need but withholds compassion from him – how does God’s love reside in him? Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in action and in truth.” -1 John 3:17-18 (CSB)

Not only is living out our faith by way of our actions a command from Scripture, it is the proof that the Holy Spirit is working through us. This is incredibly important when it comes to our relationships with other believers, yes. But, even more than that – it is evidence of God working through us to those who don’t believe.

When there is a claim you don’t quite believe, maybe a news story without any sources, or an academic paper using Wikipedia for information – you naturally want reliable evidence to back up the claim. I often ask our students, if we are not practicing putting the love of God into action, what, then, truly makes us different from those who do not believe? God’s love in us is proof to those who might not believe. If we have this claim that Christians are different and are filled with a divine love, we should be displaying real proof by our actions, not a Wikipedia-esque mostly true love. May we strive to display proof of God’s love through our actions and not simply just in our words and speech.

As our student ministry has been walking through 1 John, it has convicted me to live out God’s love in a real and tangible way through my actions. May we treat God’s love as though it is perfect and share this love with others as though it has truly transformed our hearts. Oh, how great is the love of God.