Wayyyyyyy back in 2000, Sarah Loftin, me, and Laura didn’t know that we would be leading students together in the yaers to come!
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.
Sheep are mentioned over 500 times in the Bible. One reason is that they play a part in relating the imagery of the Shepherd and his Flock to Jesus as the Good Shepherd. The followers of the Good Shepherd are… well… SHEEP. With this in mind, many thoughts about sheep have come about. First off, sheep are thought to be really stupid. Stories I have heard involve sheep mindlessly following the other in front of them, no matter what is going on, so if a Shepherd put a staff out for one sheep to jump over and then took it away for the next sheep, the rest of the sheep would “follow the leader” and jump in the same spot. Secondly, we hear out of Luke 15 that 100 sheep could be doing fine and then one of them might go astray, so the Good Shepherd has to run after that one that decided somehow to just wander off, even though the routine is the mindless following.
So does that make us STUPID SHEEP, and is Jesus greatly placing prominence on Himself and belittling humankind?
Being less and less agriculturally inclined in society today, and not in the business of raising sheep, I discovered what many people may already know. Sheep actually have some distinct attributes that put them at a higher IQ than one can imagine.
- They are right below Pigs in IQ and can be considered the same level as cattle. MOOOOO!!!
- Sheep can actually recognize facial features and remember them for years. Take that iPhone number kazillion and one!
- Sheep can pick up on different emotional states pretty easily. (In a BAAAAAD mood???)
- Sheep can also express their emotional state by the various sounds they make.
- Sheep can self-medicate themselves and graze on needed nutrients depending on their current physical status
- Sheep also can distinguish between voices and know when their name is called.
Wow! Maybe sheep are smarter than we think! With all these amazing facts (and believe me there are more from sheep enthusiasts), maybe Jesus is wanting us to feel more than “stupid.”
John 10 paints a picture of a Good Shepherd that knows His sheep. He calls them by name. He protects them. He gives them abundant life. He oversees every aspect of their lives. In fact, He oversees the deepest part of our inward being. The keeper of the our mind, will, and emotions. The place that we tend to keep hidden behind the outside, natural part of ourselves. Our Souls!
Maybe Jesus is revealing His true heart to us and the heart of the Father for mankind. All we need to do is respond to the call when we hear our name. He willingly lays down His life for US, the SHEEP! Do you know His voice?
or better put… DO YOU KNOW THE SHEPHERD AND OVERSEER OF YOUR SOUL?
Peter was asked to do something by Jesus. “FEED MY SHEEP” Those words must have echoed in his mind for the rest of his life. After denying Jesus on the road to the cross, he finds a place of forgiveness and reconciliation. Then he is given a noble task. To follow Jesus and point others to the Shepherd of the Sheep.
Maybe those thoughts settled in his mind in a way that gave him the wisdom to encourage his flock with these words:
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.
For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Peter 2:24-25 ESV
The comfort we can find in Peter’s words lands on the word RETURN. The truth is all of us have strayed away from the heart of the Father. We have something within us that decides to wander away, even when we do a good job of following most of the time. Peter understood the word “RETURN,” and brings comfort in this truth. YOU CAN RETURN TO THE SHEPHERD AND OVERSEER OF YOUR SOUL. Just as Peter did. We all have the ability to RETURN.
Where are you today? Wandering? Following? Listening to the Voice of the Good Shepherd?
YOU CAN SIMPLY RETURN
The greatness of technology, the upgradeness of life, and the movement of our Shelby System has granted us the nifty ability to place REGISTRATION ONLINE.
That’s Right! It is now 2018, and the digital age has come to Oakwood!
With all technological advances, we find the user learning curve may tech a second (but hey, it used to take an hour to really think through stuff) to realize there is a payment option online and with all glorious capabilities, there is a small fee for the online convenience. Whatever the case, from the comfort of you device, wherever you use it, you can click on links and sign up for stuff like the rest of the modern day world!