THE LAST QUARTER OF SUMMER

SUMMER IS NOT OVER YET

Time is beginning to count down. The School Year is just around the corner. We are finishing Vacation Bible School out strong… BUT IT IS NOT OVER YET!

August 8 is Promotion Sunday. New 6th graders join us on Sunday Morning at 9:30am in the Student Pavilion.

August 13-14 is LOCKAPALOOZA!!! We end the last quarter of Summer with a BANG! Friday Night at 7pm begins in the Student Pavilion with guest speaker, Duncan Campbell, some games and hang out time, and we hop on the charter bus to transport to BLAZER TAG ALL NIGHT LONG. Don’t worry, we make it back safe and sound 7am on Saturday Morning.

Need Wisdom… JUST ASK

As we hit the MID-SUMMER mark, we stand with one foot in the laid back, vacation mode, and another foot leaning toward the start-up mode for the new school year. School practices of various kinds begin, sales for school supplies remind us that new times are coming (even if we try REALLY HARD to put that thought off). As I look forward to meeting new faces that enter into the Oakwood Student Ministry for the first time as well as seeing everyone back home after trips and adventures of the Summer, I come back to something that is BASIC, yet easy to look over.

WISDOM IS FROM GOD.

We seem to run to Google or ask Siri what time the game is, how the weather might be, or how to spell that SAT word that we keep forgetting. We tune into the 24 hour news and gain insight on world happenings and wonder how we can live our lives in reaction to the circumstances around us. We choose to find what works best for our kids and ourselves when it comes to education. That might be working on study habits, worrying over getting a certain teacher that seems to be a great match for our kid, or choosing to take a whole new adventure of learning (didn’t we do that during the shut down?). The point I am all too easily revealing is that we have so much information at our disposal, that we may forget the need for the most simple ASK.

ASK GOD FOR WISDOM.

With all the information at our fingertips, we still find ourselves stepping in holes, repeating mistakes or even offenses, and wonder how such an educated mind of a human being that we are can slip down the slippery slope of life as fast as we can. Again, WISDOM is from GOD and the key is, that we must take time in our daily comings and goings to ASK FOR IT. Maybe it takes some time for you and me to realize that WE LACK WISDOM. Quite possibly, those repeated circles you are running in remind you of something. ALL OF US LACK WISDOM. WHY? WISDOM IS FROM GOD.

GOD GIVES WISDOM GENEROUSLY.

God is no device that we must subscribe to. He is not a podcast to listen to. He is not a news anchor on location somewhere, waiting for the next chaotic storm. He is the Maker of Heaven and Earth, and He contains this stuff called WISDOM. Wait a minute? He holds it, but does not desire to keep it! He GENEROUSLY GIVES without the added disapproval for asking. He is ready and willing to pour out WISDOM on YOU if you just ASK.

Of all the things this world has to offer, and you have sought after, HAVE YOU ASKED FOR WISDOM?

No matter how much society changes, the container of WISDOM is still GOD. He helps us know what to do with the overload of information and chaos we consume on a daily basis. The simple fact is IF YOU NEED WISDOM, JUST ASK.

Sharenting: Solving the Problem of Parents and Kids on Instagram

Original Article Here – Growing Leaders is a great resource for Parents of Gen Z students!

By: Tim Elmore

It all started when April, Christine’s youngest daughter, was five years old. Christine knew April would be their family’s last baby and wanted to document each milestone and comical moment of her childhood. By the time she was ten, April was avoiding photo ops; shying away from the camera. By 13, when she had a phone of her own, April witnessed on social media just how much mom had posted on both Facebook and Instagram. She felt violated.

Eventually, as a teen, April requested her mom stop sharing photos of her. It was embarrassing and drew sarcasm from her friends. Christine, of course, was surprised. “But this is what everyone does, isn’t it, sweetheart?” she asked. “You post pictures, too. Why wouldn’t you want your mother to do the same?”

This is a scenario that happens millions of times every year.

Sharenting is Parents Sharing Too Much on Social Media

What happens when the heartfelt ambitions of parenthood meet the ubiquitous opportunities of social media? That’s the subject of “Sharenthood: Why We Should Think Before We Talk About Our Kids Online,” a new book by Leah Plunkett. Plunkett argues that “sharenting” happens any time an adult in charge of a child’s well-being, such as a parent or a teacher, transmits private details about a child via digital channels. The problem, of course, is that even though we may be the parent or guardian, kids are human. They’re vulnerable, and they know that a picture posted is now “out there” for anyone to see at any time in the future. The debate over “sharenting” remains: is it a right or is it a request we make of our kids?

Don’t think this is a big deal? Check out this statistic:

“Studies estimate that by 2030 nearly two-thirds of identity-fraud cases affecting today’s children will have resulted from sharenting.”

When moms and dads post information, they’re often not thinking long term. They’re simply thinking about the responses they’ll get online. But short-term thinking almost always costs someone in the form of unintended consequences.

Neighbors of mine tell me their kids (both teens and young adults) have all but vetoed any sharing of facts or photos that include them without consent. Ironically, one 19-year-old, Seth, reminded his mother that she had discussed “digital citizenship” with him when he was in high school. Now, it was time for her to learn the lesson as well. Managing what we “sharent” is the adult version of being good digital citizens. 

The Potential Price Tag

Indulge me to offer some costs to sharenting that we may not have considered:

  1. Stalkers may pick up details on your children, and manipulate them later.
  2. Your kids may develop an unintentional distrust in your judgement as a parent. 
  3. It can lead to identity fraud and the distribution of information among strangers.
  4. It may cause your teenager to withhold information from you. 
  5. Sharenting exposes children to the larger digital world without their consent, robbing them of a kind of agency. 

According to Plunkett, “The underlying problem with sharenting is the same with many adult-world surveillance and privacy issues: the bargain we have made in exchange for these services is that we surrender our data and choose not to imagine the worst-case scenarios. Not only that, it removes your child’s choice to never be on social media.” 

More and more students are choosing this route. They see the downside. 

In my opinion, too many of us are posting our life instead of living our life. Too much time and energy is spent on spinning our story on social media sites to appear happy, wealthy, or beautiful and it costs our loved ones’ reputation. 

Practical Guidelines We  Can Follow

  • Step into their shoes. Consider how you’ve felt when someone posted a picture with you in it and you hated the way you looked or the way it fueled a wrong narrative. Did you want to take it down? Ditto. 
  • Ask yourself: Do you really need to post that pic? Think long term and realize that you can take all the photos you want but you don’t have to post them. Just keep them on our phone or in a digital file for later.
  • Play the long game. Consider the unintended consequences of posting. Will it alienate your children or students? Could you lose more than you gain? The further out you can see, the better the decision you’ll make today for your kids.
  • Think impulse control. Allow the idea of posting your kid’s photo to move from your limbic system (where you feel) to your cortex (where you think). Consider all the potential consequences of the post and manage your impulses.

Have you heard of “DaddyOFive,” a popular YouTube channel from 2015 to 2017, run by a couple named Michael and Heather Martin? They drew hundreds of thousands of viewers by posting videos of their parenting mishaps and their children’s foibles as they grew up. It all seemed innocent, until they were arrested on charges that it was damaging their kids.

A psychologist in the trial found that two of the children, who were nine and eleven at the time, had experienced “observable, identifiable, and substantial impairments of their mental or psychological ability to function.” Michael and Heather are serving five years of probation and the channel was deleted. The Martins’ attorney assured the court that the couple would become more “careful” with their children and social media.

Here is my question. Why don’t we care more about developing our students than documenting them?

OAKWOOD VBS SERVE OPPORTUNITY

CALLING ALL STUDENTS AND PARENTS!!!!!!

Monday, July 26, 2021, 9:00 AM – Friday, July 30, 2021, 12:00 PM

WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!!!!

We need Crew Leaders to help lead children to their various stations each day.

We need Outdoor Games leaders to help Pastor B bring the energy outside during Recreation Time.

We need your prayers as Oakwood invests all our creative energy to provide a place for children to hear about the love of JESUS each day.

A Word To Our Incoming 6th Graders

WELCOME NEW OAKWOOD 6TH GRADERS

Promotion Sunday is August 8!!!


We want to welcome you all to the Middle School Ministry (aka MSM) and get you “in the know” on a few upcoming events for your student.

Sunday August 8th is Promotion Sunday– We look forward to seeing your student in the Pavilion at 9:15am.

Also, we have a Summer Sunday Big 3 OSM Night on August 15th, 6-8 pm. in the Pavilion.

Wednesday nights (we call it Fusion) will start up August 25th in the Pavilion 6-7:30pm.

                        AND

You definitely do not want to miss these FUN EVENTS your middle schooler will want to attend

*August 13-14 – Lockapalooza – this is a middle school FAVORITE. We begin at 7 pm on Friday and end on Saturday morning at 7am. Yup it is an all-nighter! Cost for event is $65  

Register Here for Lockapalooza

Looking ahead there will be a 6th grade retreat at Camp Eagle October 8-9 (registration coming soon).

Looking forward to a great year,

MSM Team

Psalm 86

‘Teach me your way, Lord , that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. ‘ Psalms 86:11

This week we are at MIDDLE SCHOOL CAMP. I am so excited to say YES to things this SUMMER that the shut down put a halt to last year. With the changing season in mind, and the hope to move forward, I cannot help but look back and THANK THE LORD for HIS FAITHFULNESS.

Psalm 86:11 has been on my heart since Pastor Ray shared it in his sermon. Speaking about purity of heart and getting to the root of what our humanity deals with reminds me that one strong way to combat temptation and falling back into “old habits” is to daily surrender our hearts to the Lord. The Psalm is a simple reminder that the Lord has only been FAITHFUL during the unstable and unprecedented times our world has faced. That FAITHFULNESS is something we MUST RELY ON moving forward as well. The rock that we build our lives on starts in the foundation of the Lord and His great love for us in Jesus Christ. Choosing to rely on the FAITHFULNESS of GOD, and put that into action, is the same as walking in GODLY WISDOM. We stand secure in God’s Word and who He is and TRUST that what He asks us to do in our lives is what is right for us today.

The second part of Psalm 86:11 reveals something that must take place beyond the outside appearance. Don’t get me wrong, signing up for Camp, going to Camp, and taking actions to serve one another are all great actions to take, but the motivation, energy, and true power comes from something deeper. A personal decision to surrender our hearts to the Lord and allow Him to guide our steps in our daily lives leads to the purity of a life in Christ. My prayer is that the Lord engages in and speaks to the heart of our students on a personal level. That His still small voice will grow into a strong relationship that goes beyond only taking action out of duty to truly knowing God the Father. When we truly KNOW the FATHER, we find that fearing Him is a joy. The access that Jesus gives us to the Father places us in a position to honor and glorify the ALIMIGHTY GOD, while at the same time, rejoicing in the fact that WE KNOW HIM PERSONALLY. He calls to the depths of our hearts because that is what He desires. He wants our undivided love and affection given to Him because He created us to long for Him. The problem is that we naturally give our love and affection to other things, and we end up unsatisfied. When we stop dividing our hearts up and give them totally to the Lord, we find true satisfaction.

Father, we rely on your FAITHFULNESS from generation to generation. We willingly give our hearts to you to find satisfaction and live the rest of our days glorifying your name. In the NAME OF JESUS, we ask for your hand on our Middle School students and all that are participating at Camp to hear from you, and find full satisfaction in knowing you personally.

AMEN!

Quaranteens: Three Ideas to Help Students Grow in the Pandemic

For Full Article Click Here – I LOVE TIME ELMORE!!!

By: Tim Elmore

It’s been over a year since students all over the world were sent home from school and instantly had to learn how to learn from home. Teachers tried to maintain academic standards as students transformed their bedrooms, dens, and kitchens into classrooms to try to meet those standards. 

Some call these middle school and high school students quaranteens

They’re now voicing what it’s been like to spend 12 months in a lockdown, knowing rites of passages for past high schoolers will not happen for them. The senior trip, the prom, the graduation ceremony–all of these are morphing (at least slightly) and teens are feeling the angst of it all. In an interview, some said to me:

“My anxiety has gone up a thousand percent.”

“I pretty much feel lonely all the time.” 

 “I love spending time on screens, but I hate them now because that’s all I do.”

Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute said, “The cost will be borne by families because increased online use is associated with anxiety, depression, obesity and aggression — and ‘addiction to the medium itself.’” Did you know that screen time has doubled year over year during the pandemic?

What the Teenage Brain Needs

I do not claim to be a neuroscientist, but as I study brain development in teens, it is clear that adolescence is a time of measurable change in hormones and other chemicals that change how a person reacts to life. Their brains are pruning themselves, moving from childhood thoughts and feelings to adult thoughts and feelings. It’s an in-between stage where a parent, teacher, or coach observes shifting emotions on any given day.

My point is simple: The essentials COVID-19 has stolen from teens are the very elements they need to develop and thrive. Three realities are clear:

  1. Their brains need socialization.
  2. Their brains need structure.
  3. Their brains need sleep.

Teens Need Socialization

One of the primary ways teens mature is through social contact. They are testing boundaries. They’re assessing patterns of thought. They are comparing themselves to others and forming a sense of identity. This happens when they spend time with both adults and peers. The pandemic has forced them to separate, so adults need to help them find ways to get connected and socialize as part of their development. Students see it as fun, but we know it’s actually how they’ll grow during their adolescent years. 

Consider how kids develop their values during their childhoods.

  • Ages 1-7: Imprint by observation. (They observe adults and emulate what they see.)
  • Ages 8-13: Modeling by heroes. (They now choose their heroes and imitate them.)
  • Ages 14-20: Socialization by peers. (They compare and contrast via relationships.)

What if we got just as intentional about encouraging teens to find places they can connect with each other for non-academic purposes as we are about academics? Driveway small groups, community service projects, or even the Clubhouse app are great starting points for students to socialize and grow together. 

Teens Need Structure 

The pandemic hasn’t removed structure completely, but it has reduced it significantly. For months, the typical routines of classes, athletic practices, band rehearsals, and school plays have dropped and in some places disappeared for months. Most teens need this structure in their daily schedules. It prepares them for adulthood and enables them to build disciplines and habits in their lives. Consider the benefits of structure:

  1. It fosters a sense of security as norms are established. 
  2. It provides clarity and combats ambiguity.
  3. It can build good habits through a maintained routine schedule.  

Stick to a schedule that works. Set a time to wake up, exercise, shower, get dressed, have breakfast, or whatever your student needs to start the school day. If it helps, allow your teen to sleep in a little later than normal. Just like in most classes, phones should be off while doing schoolwork. Keep the TV off during school hours, too, and limit the time they watch the news. Plan mini breaks and a one-hour lunch break.

Teens Need Sleep

Most of us recognize how important sleep is to an adolescent, even more so than an adult. The average amount of sleep that U.S. teenagers get is about seven hours, perhaps a few minutes more depending on where they live. However, studies show they need between nine and nine and a half hours. Teenagers do not get enough sleep for a number of reasons including a shift in their sleep schedules and the number of hours they spend on a screen, especially right before bedtime. 

In my interview with high school students, the majority of them acknowledged their sleep patterns have been “wrecked” by the pandemic. Some are on their portable devices even more these days and unless they are intentional about their time, phone addictions can develop. Below are some ideas to foster good sleep habits in students:

  1. Ban portable devices in the bedroom, and charge them somewhere else.
  2. Limit caffeine intake. Instead, drink more water. 
  3. Encourage exercise every day–walks, shooting hoops, running, etc.
  4. Start a habit of reading 30 minutes before falling asleep.

Socialization. Structure. Sleep. They’re basic needs that teens have, especially in a pandemic. It’s up to you and your teens to figure out what’s missing and apply it.

One of our applicable Habitudes is called “Surgeries and X-Rays.” Before a doctor performs an operation to repair a patient’s bone, that surgeon will always take an X-ray to see the fracture and determine what repair is necessary. It would be ridiculous to simply cut into the patient and begin wandering around with a knife, looking for a possible problem in the dark. So it is with students. I suggest you take time to reflect together on what they’re missing. Assess where they stand. Do a conversational “x-ray.” Then they can do the necessary surgery by removing unhealthy habits and inserting healthy ones in their place. 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

WHO WAS ST. PATRICK

The man we know as St. Patrick was born around 389 AD in England. His father was a deacon and his grandfather a priest. 

The Roman Empire was still in titular control of Britain, but their demoralized armies were unable to protect the island from Irish invaders. Farms were pillaged and teenagers enslaved. Patrick was taken at age sixteen. An Irish farmer bought him as a slave and put him to work tending sheep. 

Somehow Patrick came to personal faith in Christ in the midst of his tribulations. He later wrote, “The Lord opened to me a sense of my unbelief, that I might be converted with all my heart unto the Lord.” 

Patrick received a vision from God when he was twenty-two, a clear signal to run from Ireland for his home. Risking his life, he was able to evade his captors and return to his family. But his heart was heavy for the spiritual condition of his Irish captors. 

Following another vision, Patrick devoted himself for seven years to Bible study, then he returned to Ireland as a missionary. The Irish were almost completely without Christ, worshiping the elements and spirits in trees and stones and engaging in magic and even human sacrifice. 

Patrick got to work. 

When his career was done, he had established some two hundred churches in Ireland and led more than one hundred thousand people to faith in Christ, despite more than a dozen attempts on his life. He is today the patron saint of Ireland. His death on March 17, 461 is remembered each year as St. Patrick’s Day. 

However, there’s even more to his story. 

In the following century, Irish Christians who were spiritual descendants of St. Patrick’s ministry sailed back to Britain, where they evangelized the heathen who had overrun the country. They established monasteries and copied books being destroyed elsewhere. 

According to Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization, these men “single-handedly refounded European civilization throughout the continent.” 

You could make the argument that St. Patrick deserves to be on anyone’s top-ten list of all-time most influential Christians. But you’d have a hard time getting Patrick to agree. 

In his Confessions, Patrick wrote, “I am greatly a debtor to God, who has bestowed his grace so largely upon me, that multitudes were born again to God through me. The Irish, who had never had the knowledge of God and worshiped only idols and unclean things, have lately become the people of the Lord, and are called sons of God.” 

He closed his memoirs by explaining the secret to his history-changing ministry:

“Do you judge, and let it be most firmly believed, that it was the gift of God. And this is my Confession, before I shall die.” 

Read Full Article by Dr. Jim Denison Here

MASK UPDATE FOR MSM ACTIVITIES

The Oakwood Student Middle school Ministry Wednesday Night Activities and Sunday Morning Bible Study will continue to follow Mask Protocols in regard to keeping in step with Oakwood’s Statement by Pastor Ray.

Below is a repost from Pastor Ray’s written statement and a link to the original post.

UPDATE REGARDING COVID-19 (UPDATED MARCH 7, 2021) 

This past week the Governor of Texas rescinded the mask mandate that Oakwood has been observing in accordance to the Scripture’s direction to obey those in authority (Romans 13:1, Titus 3:1). Beginning Sunday March 14, 2021 masks will not be required at Oakwood. However, wearing a mask is highly recommended by the CDC and health professionals to help stop the spread of COVID-19. For the safety of our volunteers in the children and student ministries areas, we will continue to require masks while in those facilities. Throughout this pandemic, it has been my prayer that we—as Christ’s followers —remember our Lord’s instruction in Mark 12:30-31: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength; and love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Let’s continue to work together to keep those attending safe.

Blessings, Pastor Ray