RESPECT – 2KINGS 2:23-24

When you throw around ideas in a meeting to find a THEME something like… BELIEVE WEEKEND… other ideas swim through your head as well!

Don’t worry, we are not asking GOD to bring any SHE-BEARS to Believe Weekend. Our intention is to challenge students to BEAR FRUIT. A completely DIFFERENT MESSAGE than this one!

However, if you are a parent in sudden need of a quick lesson on RESPECT, this IS IN THE BIBLE.

‘He went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord . And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys. From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.’ 2 Kings 2:23-25

7 Undeniable Characteristics of Middle Schoolers Parents Should Know

PARENT CUE ARTICLE: 7 Undeniable Characteristics of Middle Schoolers Parents Should Know

Ashley Bohinc

If there is one common theme that surfaces every time I talk with parents of middle schoolers it’s this: it’s really confusing and really hard. Why? Because change is what marks this phase of life, and change isn’t easy for anyone.

I have worked with middle school students in educational, athletic, and ministry settings for more than 14 years now. Although each context was uniquely different, there were still a few basic things about (most) middle schoolers that remained the same no matter what.

1. They push their parents away.

This is normal. Middle schoolers want freedom. They aren’t kids anymore, and when they are treated that way, they revolt. They push back on everything from bedtime to chores to going places by themselves to social media. They want to make their own choices. They are tired of being told what to do and when to do it. That’s the tension of living somewhere in the middle. That’s why it’s so important as a parent of a middle schooler to have adults you trust in their life other than you. Those adults can stand in the gap between your teenager and you (and help them see you are right after all).

2. They may act one way with you and the complete opposite with someone else.

You get a call from their teacher, coach, or small group leader, and hear a story about how helpful they are around the classroom, or encouraging they are during group time. And you instantly think, “Seriously? My kid? I can’t even remember the last time they said anything encouraging to their siblings, or the last time they helped around the house without complaining.” It’s confusing when they act different with different people. Why do they do that? It’s not that they are being fake, they are just trying on different parts of their personality to see what fits them best.

3. What their friends think matters more than anything else.

This is difficult, because as puberty begins to change them from the inside out, middle schoolers are desperately trying to fit in. Peer approval will always trump advice from adults (especially their parents). They can’t be seen wearing those pants, hanging with those boys, or walking around in public with their parent. The point is, teenagers in the middle school phase care more about what their peers say than anyone else. This isn’t just your kid.

4. They exaggerate (and sometimes lie).

When you find yourself wondering, “What happened to my kid? They didn’t use to be this way,” know you are not alone. This is middle school. Something happens at the 8th grade dance, and your kid is huddled in a circle crying in the bathroom with her friends. If it’s trending, they are talking about it… non-stop. Friend drama is basically an all out brawl (with words or rumors). It thunders outside, and they act like they’ve never been in a storm before in their lives. They see a snake outside, and it’s most certainly trying to eat them. Their teacher is obviously the most unfair person on the whole planet. Oh, and they didn’t copy that homework or cheat on that test; they were just scratching their head! You get the point. It’s a phase full of all out exaggeration.

5. They are incredibly insecure about what is happening to their bodies.

They feel like they are the only ones going through this thing called middle school. And when you feel like you are the only one going through something, you feel like all eyes are on you at all times. Normalizing what’s happening to and around them is important, but be sensitive to the fact that when you bring up what’s happening to their body, they may get even more insecure at the fact that you are noticing. If you are trying to get your middle schooler to do something in front of their peers and they resist, there is probably a physical explanation for it. Sweat stains. Period leakage. Wrong bra. Gas. Food in their braces. Acne. Though it’s all normal, it feels isolating to them. So don’t push them.

6. They want to have fun, but they want to be taken seriously.

You can’t be boring, or they won’t want to spend time with you. They don’t want you to just allow them to have fun; they want you to have fun with them. At the same time, they want you to be real with them. They want to be taken seriously. They don’t want surface answers. They want direct, real explanations. When they tell you something that seems silly to you but real to them, you can’t laugh. You can’t dismiss it. You have to engage it with a matched level of seriousness to show them you care.

7. YouTube is Gucci.

According to many research studies, 80%-95% of Generation Z seeks advice through YouTube channels and videos. The most searched videos are about real stories, day-in-the-life videos, behind-the-scenes videos, or how-to videos. They want to know about relationships and dating, teen trends, advice on how to do new skills, and more. If they don’t know how, they go to YouTube. If they don’t know what it is, they go to YouTube. If they want to become famous, they go to YouTube. So basically, you should be on YouTube, too.

Parenting middle schoolers is no easy task, which is why understanding where they are and what’s normal will help you stay sane as the parent. Remember: It’s not just your kid, it’s just middle school.

Discover what’s changing about your kid or teen over the next 52 weeks, the 6 things your kid needs most, and 4 conversations to have in each phase. The Phase Project, including these Middle School Phase Guides, is a synthesis of personal experience, academic research, and gatherings of leaders and educational experts from across the child development spectrum. 

Topics: Fight For The HeartMiddle School (6th-8th)

For More Helpful Articles Click Here

Can You Hear Me Now?

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

Okay, so the Verizon guy… wait the Sprint guy… whoever he is with, gave us a simple phrase that sticks out in my mind all the time. Our family totally changed services here in New Braunfels in order to HEAR ONE ANOTHER. From where we live currently to where we go out and about, we continuously found certain areas where our calls were dropped. Then, as we moved out of the “dead spot” we magically connected again. Needless to say, we made a move TO BE HEARD.

As we are looking at PRAYER or CONNECTING WITH GOD as a church, our Middle Schoolers are going back to the basics of what it means to connect with God.

That same question, “CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?” seems to come up as we focus on prayer as well.

The BEST example we have is JESUS HIMSELF, as he preaches His first (and need I say LONGEST) sermon that cuts to our hearts, even today. In this Sermon, presented on a mountain, he directs His people to think about the “WHY” when it comes to prayer.

“Don’t be like the hypocrites, for they love standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full” (Matthew 6:5 NIV).

 “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then, your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”  (Matthew 6:6 NIV).

WHAT IS THE REWARD?

When we create a space and a place to CALL ON the Lord, we get more than an instant download code for 20% off on a flash sale. When we make time to focus on the person of JESUS and call out to HIM, we get more than three wishes for all our dreams to come true. Our REWARD is far greater than a “good day” or a material possession.

OUR REWARD IS A DEEP RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS.

Isn’t that what our hearts truly call out for? I believe we are moved to choose a payment plan and upgrade to a new cell phone because we value the close relationships in our lives. We desire to connect with others on a deeper level, and we want to guarantee a secure connection.

How does the value with our Father translate to our daily lives?

I believe that an intentional TIME and PLACE builds a foundation for a deep encounter with the God of the Universe through Jesus Christ. How have you created an intentional time and place this week to connect? How have you seen the ultimate reward work out in your own daily walk with Jesus?

Believe Weekend January 28-30

Believe Weekend Schedule

Thursday- Jan 28

6:30pm        Student Check-in (bring CAN donations from home)
7:00pm        Session 1
8:15pm        After Event
8:45pm        Dismiss

 

Friday- Jan 29

6:30pm        Student Check-in (bring CAN donations from home)
7:00pm        Session 2
8:15pm        Breakout Groups
9:00pm        After Event
10:00pm      Dismiss

 

Saturday- Jan 30

2:00pm        Student Check-in (bring CAN donations from home)
2:30pm        Session 3
3:45pm        Breakout Groups
4:15pm        Event
5:00pm        Dinner
5:30pm        Session 4
6:15pm        Breakout Groups
7:00pm        Baptism celebration Dismiss

7:30PM        DISMISS

Pray This For the New Year

As we begin the New Year, Oakwood is beginning 40 days of Prayer to kick things off.

I don’t know about you, but many times, I want to pray, have the desire to grow in my prayer life, but I don’t know exactly what else to pray after about… 30 seconds. I think this problem leads to giving up on connecting with God in this way on a consistent basis. I mean, with all the distractions of raising kids, getting them in the right place with the right things at the right time, sometimes I turn around and realize I missed getting ME in the right place with the right things at the right time. Then we have technology, the game to watch, and oh yea, that source of income is good to invest in as well. It’s not that we don’t want to connect with God that’s the problem. I think its the fact that time is always slipping away through our fingertips. Before you know it, you are laying yourself to sleep and throw up a, “THANK YOU JESUS… FOR MY BED!”

So as not to WASTE TIME, maybe we need to build confidence to use our time WISELY. That is where the question begins to be:

If I’m going to pray, how can I do it right?

You want to do it right? Literally COPY A GREAT PRAYER!

‘And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. ‘ Colossians 1:9-14

What better example do we have than Paul and his prayer out of God’s Truth in Colossians?

My challenge for myself for the NEW YEAR is to just PRAY THIS.

I am taking whatever time I have in the morning, after lunch time for a moment, as my mind wanders in the evening, to basically copy and paste most of Paul’s prayer for individuals that come to mind. The easiest way to start is to find those right in front of you. Pray for your family to be filled with Spiritual Wisdom and Understanding. Pray for good works and fruit from God Himself. Ask for strength according to His might. Do you need endurance, patience, and joy anytime soon? How about the consistent reminder that we have a Father through Jesus Christ that delivered us out of darkness and qualified us to be saints in light? Needless to say, I have found my own joy and connection with God as I have used a great prayer guide in Colossians Chapter 1.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

PEABOD – Big Feelings Family Devotional

Family Devotional

Artist: Peabod
Album: Growing Up Part 1
Label: Centricity
Song: Big Feelings (feat. Aklesso)
From: MVL 110
Writer: Brandon Best | Oakwood Church | New Braunfels, Texas

Theme(s): Emotions Hope Love

Devotional Thought:
When our feelings get us down, God’s truth can pick us back up. 

Warm Up: What am I feeling?  Write different emotions onto sticky notes for your family members (one for each participant). Without looking at them have each participant place their emotion on their forehead. Ask family members to pair up and guess their “feelings” by acting them out to each other. Rotate around the room and encourage those participating to have fun by overdoing it on the emotional side. 

Questions for Follow Up

  • When have you felt overwhelmed or down by your emotions?
  • How do your feelings tend to shape your day or week?
  • How do you think God reacts to our emotions and big feelings?

The Video: Peabod is a hip-hop artist from Seattle, Washington that gets the whole overwhelmed feeling. While most of his music is meant to bring happiness and lightness to life, this song shares a little bit of a different vibe. Play Peabod’s music video for Big Feelings

List any emotions depicted or experienced in the video while watching. Share your reactions to the video as a family.

The WORD

In Lamentations, we find someone that can relate to the struggle of being overwhelmed with emotions and feelings that could ruin anyone’s day. Jeremiah shares some raw emotion about his feelings of hopelessness and loss as he reacts to his circumstances around him. 

Read Lamentations 3:14-20

  • What feelings and emotions do you see Jeremiah dealing with?
  • How do these feelings relate to your own feelings?
  • What is it like to feel so down, that you don’t have any hope?

The good news is that while Jeremiah was overwhelmed and hopeless at one moment, he changed his mindset to get him back up. 

Read Lamentations 3:21-24

  • How did Jeremiah change his mindset to give him hope?
  • What truth about God do you find in these verses?
  • What action do you need to take when you are feeling down?
  • How can you find hope to get back up again?

Wrap Up

Our emotions and feelings can change our outlook on life and get us down for a day, or even a week. However, God’s steadfast love and mercy can get us back up and give us hope no matter the circumstance.  When your feelings get the best of you, change your mindset and begin focusing on who God is to get you back up again.

  • What is one emotion you’ve felt overwhelmed by recently?
  • What is one scripture you can find as a family that God can use to help you the next time you feel overwhelmed?

Listen to more PEABOD RIGHT HERE

Check Out More Christian Music on this Interlinc Page

Merry Christmas!!! Advent Week 4 – Day 5

Love: Week Four – Day Five

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? – Isaiah 43:18-19 (NRSV)

We are so close to Christmas Day! In just a few dozen hours we will all be gathered together ready to celebrate the birth of our Lord. What’s more, we will finally be able to open all the gifts underneath the Christmas tree.

When theologian and Pastor Samuel Wells was a young man, his mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Before she passed away, she managed to muster up enough energy to go out and buy him a special gift. She wrapped it in beautiful paper and tied it with a bow, but instead of giving him the gift she placed it in the closet for safekeeping. She told Samuel that his father would give him the gift on his eighteenth birthday, a birthday she would not live to see. For years, he dreamed of what might be in the box in the closet.

Sometime after her death, but before his birthday, their home was robbed. Someone broke in through a window and stole several items of value, but there was nothing more valuable than the beautifully wrapped box tucked away in the closet. Samuel never opened his mother’s gift.

Samuel was never able to enjoy his mother’s gift, but the gift of Christ is at our fingertips. We must not let it slip away. It is such a powerful gift that it transforms both our past and our future. As to our past, Jesus offers forgiveness and turns our grief into joy. As to our future, we receive the wonderful blessing of the Kingdom of God and eternal life.

The gift of Jesus is the most valuable gift of all. As we approach Christmas morning, I want to encourage you to be present for the present of Jesus. Do not allow this moment to pass you by. Isaiah reminds us to pay attention to the moment at hand and to notice the new gift God is offering us in Christ. Savor the celebration. Reflect on God’s love for you. Let your eyes be opened to the glory of God. That God would give us such a gift is truly a reason to rejoice.

Advent Week 4 – Day 4

Love: Week Four – Day Four

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. – Isaiah 43:2 (NRSV)

Lately, it seems as if everyone is obsessed with superheroes. There are new superhero movies out several times a year, and every streaming platform has their own show following the antics of a superhuman crusader. Maybe you follow Agents of Shield, The Boys, or The Umbrella Academy.

This verse from Isaiah reminds me of superheroes. It comes to us as a promise from God. It’s written as a bit of poetry and says that God will be with us in times of trial to prevent us from getting hurt. The way it is written, it sounds like whenever we are confronted by a challenge, God will allow us to breeze right through it like Wonder Woman or Superman. This verse reminds me of the age-old saying that God won’t give you more than you can handle. By the way, that saying isn’t actually in the Bible, and I have to disagree.

The focus of today’s passage is not God’s protection from harm. Rather, we are supposed to pay attention to the five little words, “I will be with you.” Here’s the thing: there will definitely be times in life when you feel like you’ve got more than you can handle. In the Bible, God gave people more than they could handle all the time, and, this year, everyone feels like they’ve got way more than they can handle. Instead, God promises that He will be with us when challenges come our way. He promised to walk through raging rivers and fierce flames by our side. With God we will survive. More than that, with God we will have salvation.

Despite what we see in TV and movies, there has only ever been one super human to walk the earth. That Hero’s origin story includes being born in a barn and sleeping in a manger. He was a lowly peasant who suffered just like us. But the whole world knows and celebrates His story more than any hero in history. Take time today and reflect on how Jesus has been a hero in your life.

LITTLE DRUMMER BOY – For KING & COUNTRY

Family Devotional

Dreaming Big
If you knew you could do anything or be anything without the possibility of failure, what would you want to do or be?

Gifts What are some talents, skills, or abilities that you have? What talents, skills, or abilities do you wish you had?

READ 1 Corinthians 12:12-27

On a scale of 1 to 10, How important is it to you to:
Fit in?
Be popular?
Be unique?
Describe yourself as a part of the body. (An eye, hand, foot, etc.) Why did you select that part? How connected are you to your local church body? What can you do to help the “body” function better?

READ Colossians 3:17

The drummer boy wanted to use his best ability for the King, so he played a drum. How does the TRUTH in Colossians 3:17 help you think about your gifts and talents? What are you involved in, right now, that you can use for God’s glory? How can our family pray for your gifts, talents, and abilities this week?

Advent Week 4 – Day 3

Love: Week Four – Day Three

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you, I have summoned you by name; you are mine. – Isaiah 43:1 (NRSV)

In 2012, an independent film called Beast of the Southern Wild was released. The movie was about a little girl named Hushpuppy trying to survive, in the bayou of Louisiana. The young actress who played Hushpuppy auditioned for the role at just five years old. In 2013, at age nine, she became the youngest nominee for Best Actress, the first African-American child actor to earn an Oscar nomination, and the only person born in the 21st century to be nominated for an Academy Award. Her name is Quvenzhané [Kwa-Vin-Je-Nay] Wallis.

That’s probably not a name you hear a lot. In the middle of her success, Hollywood was having a difficult time making sense of her, and especially, her name. TV Personalities decided to bypass the issue by giving her the nickname “Little Q,” a nickname she did not request.

It may seem harmless, but the message was clear. Despite her enormous success and talent, her name was not worth knowing. She’s not the only actor who’s had a hard time because of their name. Actors James Rodriguez and Ramón Estévez changed their names to sound less Hispanic and be taken more seriously. You may know them by their stage names James Roday and Martin Sheen.

In Isaiah 43:1, God calls out to his people with words of tender love saying, “Don’t be afraid because I have made everything alright. I am calling you by name, your real name. You are my child and you are worth knowing. The real you, not the mask you put on to make others feel comfortable. I love you as you are.” To call someone by their name seems so ordinary. We do it all the time without thinking. However, when the God of creation stoops down to our level, He takes great care to refer to us by name. Jesus wants us to know that we matter and that we are loved for who we are.

As Christmas draws even closer, you might find your name written on the tags of gifts or in the address line of a greeting card. Whenever you see your name written this week take time to reflect on God’s personal call on your life. You matter. You are loved. You are the recipient of the most wonderful gift, and it’s addressed specifically to you – the gift of salvation wrapped in human skin.