Why I have a Passion For Middle School Camp

Wayyyyyyy back in 2000, Sarah Loftin, me, and Laura didn’t know that we would be leading students together in 2017!

The amazing Spring growth combined with the consistent rain reminds me that God can do amazing things in His perfect timing and in the right season. Right now, my season of life involves two amazing kids, my wife, and all the fun as well as stress that comes with it.  As the Middle School Pastor, I also find myself reflecting on my Middle School and High School season of life.  I ask myself, what was vital to my Spiritual Growth at that stage of life?  One major part of my Spiritual Growth was Summer Camp.  I still remember my 8th grade Summer as I made public the decision to follow God’s call into ministry.  God had been planting so many things in my life up to that point, and during that season, He sprouted a passion for spending time in His Word daily.

It was not by chance that God led me to Pacesetters Camp at Dallas Baptist University my Junior Summer.  I had many thoughts about my life in Christ, but for some reason Pacesetters was like the fertilizer to the passion God had been placing in my heart.  I found a camp experience that challenged me and stretched me to not only talk about Jesus, but take action for Jesus.  I remember that God impressed on me His compassion for the lost and the lowly that I was literally WRECKED for Him.  What God had been planting in me had risen up as a Passion to follow Christ.  From that point forward, that Passion turned to many steps of action at my church.  I saw the vision for my life.  I began to understand that God could use me to help the lost and the broken where I lived.  He had begun framing me to become a Servant Leader

We have been blessed to have the Pacesetters Leadership Camp plant that same seed of Servant Leadership in our Middle School students here at Oakwood.  That Servant Leader Camp, under the Glowing Heart Ministry organization, is still based in the Dallas, TX area.  Today, it has expanded to the donated campground called Focus Pointe Camp in Alba, TX.    Our students are challenged each afternoon to serve the surrounding communities near the camp and apply what they are learning about Jesus with action.  My prayer is for students to know the heart of the Father by finding Jesus, growing deeper in that relationship and showing the world around them His Love.

Continual Revelation by First15

This inspired me from the First15 blog

Continual Revelation

  • April 17
  • Written by Craig Denison
  • Category: First15
First 15: Continual Revelation

Weekly Overview:

One of the greatest privileges as a child of God is that we can have the heart of our heavenly Father. We don’t have to wonder how he feels about us. We don’t have to wonder if he will guide us. We don’t have to question whether he loves us or cares about us. Through the Holy Spirit we have continual, free access to the heart of God. May your relationship with God go deeper and become freer as we learn how to have God’s heart this week.


Scripture:

“Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” 1 Chronicles 16:11

Worship:

One Thirst and Hunger by Bethel Live

 

Devotional:

Seeking God isn’t meant to be a one time event. We’re not meant to run off the fuel of an occasional encounter with our Father’s love. Rather, seeking and finding God’s heart is to be at the foundation of all we do. It’s to be intertwined in our thoughts, actions and emotions. He longs to reveal himself to us whether we’re at home, working, watching movies, in a church service or out with friends. Life with God is meant to be about continual revelation of his heart.

In Jeremiah 29:13-14 God says, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord.”God longs to be found by us. He longs for us to seek out a revelation of his invisible nature, unconditional love and abounding grace. He longs for us to taste and see that he is good (Psalm 34:8). When you seek out God you won’t be met with nothingness. When you seek to know the will, attributes, feelings and reality of your heavenly Father you will find what you seek. His presence is his promise.

I go through too much of my day apart from a revelation of God’s heart. I suffer through insecurities, disappointments, fear, doubt and worry as if I am on my own. I take my life into my own hands and work to feel valued, fight for what I feel is owed me, feel like quitting when I fail and wallow in my inability to live life perfectly. When all the while my heavenly Father waits, beckoning me with his grace to simply ask him for his heart. All the while he longs to root and ground me in his love that isn’t based on what I do, but based on his unwavering, unchanging character.

The best news we have today is that God is available to us. He’s ready and willing to pour out a love so rich, so real and so powerful that everything changes. He’s knocking on the door of our hearts hoping that we will simply take the time to open up and let him in. Take time today as we enter into guided pray to seek a fresh revelation of God’s heart. Begin a lifestyle of continually seeking God by giving God all you have right now– yourself. May you be empowered and set free today to live in communion with your loving heavenly Father.

Guided Prayer:

1. Reflect on the importance of continually seeking God that he might be continually found.

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 29:13-14

“Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” 1 Chronicles 16:11

2. Ask God for a fresh revelation of his heart today. Take time to quiet yourself and open your heart to receive.

3. Spend some time in solitude simply being with God. Rather than asking him questions, journal what you are discovering about God. Write down how you feel, aspects of his character you are noticing and what he seems to be speaking to you.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Sometimes simply being with God teaches us more than a thousand questions he could answer. In being still and knowing he is God we learn the reality of his presence and the communion we have with him. We discover his personality and learn to trust in his quiet, calm assurance. There’s nothing as comforting as sitting with him and simply knowing that he has us. May you find peace and comfort in the nearness of God today.

Extended Reading: Psalm 46

Middle School April Series: Chaos

XP3_Chaos_Instagram_Pic

 

  • Bottom Line Session 1:  God holds your future, so you can focus on the present. 
  • Bottom Line Session 2:  What God thinks > what they think.
  • Bottom Line Session 3:  God values your presence over your performance.

 

Series Summary:

When was the last time you felt totally out of control? Maybe it was when your car hydroplaned, just for a second. Or maybe your plans got changed at the last minute leaving you with nothing to do. Or maybe a friend or family member’s behavior left you shaking your head. We all have moments like that—moments that leave us feeling tense, anxious, and wondering how we’re supposed to handle it all. The problem is, sometimes those out-of-control moments end up becoming a regular part of our lives. Whether it is with the stress and uncertainty of our future, the pressure that comes with our relationships with others or even the anxiety of where we are with God, chaos can start to feel like it’s everywhere. It’s no surprise that God never intended for our lives to be defined by stress. Thankfully He doesn’t tell us to handle it on our own, either. He invites us to bring our worries and anxiety to Him. And when do, we find that He doesn’t just remove the chaos from our lives. He replaces it with something better—peace.

YouTube You Can Use: We All Make Mistakes

Volume 5, Issue 14

Video:

logo YouTubeUCanUSE

https://youtu.be/UmsyEMFYsus

Topics:

ConsequencesGame ShowMistakesPrizeWinning

Bible:

1 John 1:9; Romans 3:23

Discussion Starter:

We’ve all done it. In an instant we’ve done the one thing we weren’t supposed to do for the whole world to see.

In this case, Manuela gave a contestant on The Price is Right a brand new car when she wasn’t supposed to, which is awesome. But in our case our mistake might not be so awesome.

The Bible says that we all make mistakes, we all sin. (Romans 3:23) But the good news is that that Jesus offers forgiveness, even when we sin accidentally. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

3 Questions:

  1. When was a time you messed up but it turned out great?
  2. Would you rather win a $20,000 car or $10,000 in cash?
  3. Is it easier for you to notice your own mistakes or mistakes in others? Why?

Chew on this:

Is there a difference between an intentional and accidental sin in God’s eyes?

The Gospel Life: A Path to a Scary Place (why you might not want to follow Jesus)

Thought provoking article

Bearded Gospel Men

by Aaron Alford

scary_path1

Recently I had a conversation with a young man who was eager to get his feet wet in missionary work. He was passionate and knowledgeable about what he was getting into, and eager to really do the work of a missionary. He was not interested in the kind of “missions as tourism” trip that is becoming more prevalent in the Church these days. He wanted to go where there was real need, and real darkness, with a mind to pursuing missions as a long-term vocation.

His parents, however, who are Christians themselves, were not so excited at the prospect. When he told them of his dreams of missionary work, he was met with baffled confusion.

“Why would you want to go somewhere dangerous?” they said.

“Why wouldn’t I?” was his response.

I would like to be gracious with his parents. No parents want to see their child…

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GOOD Friday – Thankfully the middle

Lost hope in the middle of it all…

Hannah Bettany.com

I cannot imagine the emotions that went on that day.

When people who had loved him now turned and hated him, to the point of death. Where people who had sung his praises now shouted abuse and all kinds of lies spilled out.

Where the ones he had loved,healed, walked with, befriended were nowhere to be seen, hiding in the shadows, even denying all knowledge of him.

The physical pain of torture, of whippings, beatings, carrying the weight of a cross feeling unable to carry on..yet kept going.

Then death, slow, painful beyond words terror of nails through body as it hung on a tree…for me.

The very real and overwhelming pains on sin laid upon a man who himself had never sinned. All that I have felt during my lifetime that has felt overwhelming due to mistakes and poor decisions I have made. The times I have felt at…

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#becausehelivesican Make It Personal

# slide_widescreen

So I was driving the kids to school today and had a great time with the change of my morning routine.  It was a great time to practice what I believe and turn a change of routine into something relationally impactful, since the kids usually track with Mommy most of the time.  We were playing fun music and on time, which is another personal time management best :).  On the way, I took the circle downtown, and in the midst of the change, my autopilot self took the wheel and I took the wrong direction as if I were heading to Oakwood. When my real mind took charge, I said, “Oh No!” really loud.  Then we turned it into a fun game… guess what Dad forgot this time.  Katie was the quickest and realized we were on a little different track, and Noah shortly followed as he saw the ducks at the park.  No worries, we made a small adjustment and headed to school, thankfully making it on time.  Score one for Dad, even with the small adventure.

My thought was, how does this relate to our celebration this Easter Weekend?  Do I tell myself to seize the moment and then go into autopilot instead?  So many times, we can intentionally seize the moment and yet, our routine nature gets the best of us.  Holidays are great for the very fact that they have a sense of tradition mixed with family memories all in one moment.  I think that is the same for Easter every year.  We need the tradition of remembering and celebration of the resurrection that Easter brings, but there is also this internal fight to keep the heart in check.  The ole self check up with Jesus is good around this time.  It’s kind of like this…  “Hey Jesus, since you are resurrected again, are we cool?”  Why the internal struggle anyway? It think it is because when we truly follow Christ, he makes it personal.  This religious tradition that the world sees millions to billions of Christians participate in and flesh out in various denominations is actually an expression of a Holy God not giving up on the relationship that he started with Humanity at the beginning of creation.

That’s why I have personally been compelled to focus on Galatians 2:20 for the past few weeks.

“20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  “

Paul saw this same struggle with tradition and relationship on his own personal journey.  Being a man brought up in the tradition of Jewish Law, he was in the Passover routine every Easter.  He also had the Spiritual Wisdom to understand that most people struggled with this very tension.  That is why the axis of Galatians, and possibly Paul’s life mantra had to be more than routine.  He had to personally be crucified with Christ and then find out what true resurrection living was all about.  Because Christ lives, we can live in the same power by faith.  We can look back on this journey to the Cross and say that HE LOVED ME.  We can call this Friday “good”  because HE GAVE HIMSELF FOR ME.
When we make the Easter Holiday personal, we can easily fill in the blank with this phrase:


BECAUSE HE LIVES I CAN ___________________________.  

Where do you need to be crucified with Christ?  How do you need to sense the love of Jesus this Easter?  How does it feel to remember that Jesus gave himself for YOU, personally.  Your sin, your quirks, your talents, your wrong turns, your personal human nature.

 Lets practice the presence of Christ this Easter Holiday by making it personal in the midst of the egg hunts, television specials, family fun, and time off.  By making it personal, we might find the joy of denying ourselves and truly living in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.