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

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?

Tonight is the NIGHT – OAKWOODMS CHRISTMSAS MOVIE NIGHT @ STARS AND STRIPES

Oakwood Middle School Family Movie Night @ Stars & Stripes Drive-In Theatre.

All Middle School Families are invited to this FREE EVENT for a night of laughs and celebration to start off the Christmas Season. 
MOVIE NIGHT SIGN UP LINK 

Movie Time 7pm – Running TIme 1hr 37min

WE HAVE PLENTLY OF ROOM FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY AND YOUR FRIENDS AND SOME OTHER PEOPLE!!!! 
Watch in the comfort of your car, bring some lawn chairs to sit up front, bring your own food or buy at the concession stand.

DARE 2 SHARE – You Can’t Quarantine the Gospel

TAKE THE PRAYER AND CARE DARE

Download the Life in 6 Words App

For the next 2 weeks we are talking about three things on Wednesday Nights – PRAYER, CARE, & SHARE.

Greg Stier with DARE 2 SHARE encourages us to reach out to those around us during this pandemic by starting with PRAYER. Are there any people that come to your mind in your circle of influence that need hear the GOSPEL?

The DARE is to think of 3 names, download the app, enter them into the CAUSE CIRCLE and start with prayer.

Click on the Small Group Guide Below for more details or watch Greg Stier’s first video of his “YOU CAN’T QUARANTINE THE GOSPEL” series.

The Life in 6 Words App is an excellent tool to help your Middle Schooler think about SHARING the GOSPEL to their friends. It also provides amazing videos, helps you create a digital GOSPEL story, and connects you with others taking the same steps.

The Secret Weapon to Handling Mental Health Issues

Check Out Growing Leaders Here

I saw something last week that absolutely fascinated me. I don’t know if I would have believed it had I not seen it. Four university students were in the parking lot at our local grocery store just north of Atlanta. I heard them talking about how nervous they were about going inside to shop and how anxious they were about their future prospects. They all returned home early from their college campuses, three would not get an in-person graduation ceremony, and all of their job plans had evaporated.

The conversation shifted when one of the students said, “Maybe we need to get our minds off our own problems.” There was a pause. Then she continued, “I’m going to look for the next person I see in this parking lot who looks like they need help, and I’m going to help them.”

Moments later, the magic happened. 

An elderly couple drove slowly into a parking spot and sat in their car with the engine running. She approached the driver and said, “Are you OK? Do you need anything?” The driver, a man in his 80s, replied, “You must be an angel. My wife and I are terrified to go into the supermarket to shop. Could you help us?”

The young lady smiled and said, “Of course! Give me your list, and you stay right here.” The man handed her a hundred dollar bill and his shopping list, and she was off to serve as a personal shopper. 

As I watched, I eventually realized both sides had just won.

The Best Part of the Story

In essence, this young woman was saying, “I think the secret to beating my anxiety is to get busy helping other people.” I think she’s right. I am certainly not claiming that this is a comprehensive remedy for all anxiety or mental health issues. There is a place for counseling, management, and even medication at times. But so much of our anxiety during this COVID-19 pandemic stems from the fact that we’re isolated in our homes, watching the news, and feeling very uncertain about our futures. We’re consumed with “me.”

Greta Thunberg is another example. While I recognize she’s a controversial teen from Sweden, protesting climate change, she has openly admitted that she’s struggled with depression in the past. She acknowledged, however, that getting involved in her cause has helped her beat that depression. Service and involvement are saving her.

My own son made this discovery as a young man. He had his own battle with depressive moods yet told me one day, “I have much better days when I lose myself in using my gifts to serve others. What I focus on can make me or break me.”

Bingo.

Using This Secret Weapon

Especially during this season of self-quarantine, what if we all discovered this “secret weapon” and used it. It is crucial during times of uncertainty to focus on something outside of ourselves and invest our time and energy in the service of others. It’s what our world celebrates on TV these days as we cheer on medical staff and first responders, people serving on the front lines of this battle with COVID-19. So, here’s the secret:

  • Find something or someone you care about.
  • Discover if there is a need to be met or a problem to be solved. 
  • Determine what resources you have to offer.
  • Begin small and start focusing on meeting that need.
  • Watch to see if it morphs into something bigger. 
  • Enjoy the endorphins, those happy chemicals inside you, as you serve.

My wife and I have made our own fresh discovery of this simple, secret weapon. We’ve been able to find places to donate funds; she has found neighbors for whom she can deliver groceries, and we have called people we haven’t spoken to in years to check up on them and encourage them. This secret weapon should not be a secret.

We had a great time at Believe Weekend 2018!!!

As the Middle School Pastor, here at Oakwood, I have seen many moves of God and have been thankful for lives changed.  This Weekend, my thoughts were “THIS NEVER GETS OLD!”  The ultimate treasure for the Kingdom of God is one more life turning to Jesus Christ.  The ultimate joy here on Earth is to see students that came through the Oakwood Student Ministry return as leaders to invest back into the next group.  The excitement for the upcoming days is to see what steps each student takes as they follow the Lord and walk in His ways.

We saw over 500 students sign up this year.  55 of those students made the decision to follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  With the help of over 50 small group leaders and almost 400 volunteers, students heard from the Speaker, gave over 12,000 cans and food items to our Local Salvation Army, built long lasting relationships, and ended with a celebration service on Sunday to see 44 baptized.  God is SO GOOD!  Thanks to all that served to extend the Kingdom of God!

Are YOUR FEET BEAUTIFUL?

When I was in High School, something happened. At some point in my many High School adventures I slashed my left foot, right between the big toe and the second toe.  At the time, it must not have been major, because I don’t really remember what I did and didn’t even apply any medication to it.  I just left it to heal on it’s own.  Needless to say, this place on my foot eventually developed into a cyst that looked like I was creating my own little skin foothill to say the least.  Days turned to months, months turned into years, and I learned to live with this little bump on my left foot, but NEVER liked to show it off.  The great thing about socks and shoes in our society is that I didn’t have to really worry about anything until summer time rolled around.  Oh yea… Summer!  You know the time where you go barefoot and wear your flip flops or chacos or sandals and SHOW OFF YOUR FEET.  You get the picture.  I didn’t think my feet were up to par and really never thought my feet could ever be BEAUTIFUL.  (Hey, I’m a guy, so don’t just tell me to go get a pedicure and be done, girls.  I am sure that if I did consider something like a pedicure, that the lady person would have taken one look at my feet and bursted out in some sort of horrible scream, like the wicked witch of the East did in the Wizard of Oz.)

In a world of feet and stinkiness, I realize that maybe there are some of you out there with me.  You don’t like your feet.  They stink.  They are ugly in some way, and most of all, they CANNOT be BEAUTIFUL.  Lets face it, if there were some chart out there on the interwebs, the value for feet in this world would probably be really low compared to the value for, let’s just say, your eyes.

In conclusion, I realized that my feet were not beautiful and many others did not really have a high value for feet as well.

This is a problem.  When Paul starts talking in Romans about feet.  He uses the word beautiful in the same sentence as feet.  So when he talks all about feet, I naturally reject whatever he is about to say.  It’s like I just skim over Romans 10:15 and get to the next part.

HOWEVER,  all my life, I have been missing something that Paul has been saying about the whole foot thing.

Here is what he says…

And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Romans 10:15 ESV


I had to get over the foot stuff and really look deeper into what Paul was saying.  He was pointing out something that makes total sense, to put BEAUTIFUL and FEET in the same sentence.

You see, wayyyyyy back in the day, When armies went to battle, those who remained at home waited anxiously to hear of the outcome, because often their destiny was tied to the success or failure of the armies. But they didn’t have telecommunication systems that could rush news instantly from the battlefront back to the local community. So messages were carried by runners.

Here is the main point – It’s not about FEET it’s about GOOD NEWS

IN FACT, in the ancient world it was customary, in some places, that if the messenger brought bad news, he was punished with death. If it was bad news, then, he would be burdened by the news that he was carrying, and fearful of what treatment he might expect. As each city posted lookouts to watch the approaching runners, it became almost a science whereby the lookout could determine whether the messenger was bringing good news or bad news, just by his feet.

To go deeper into history and the intentionality of Paul, there was the legend of Pheidippides.  (Yell out that name and see what reaction you get!!!) This was a soldier that ran from the battlefield at the site of the town of Marathon, Greece, to Athens in 490 B.C.  He ran so fast and so hard that as he delivered the momentous message “Niki!” (“victory”), he collapsed on the spot and died.  You might have guessed it. That is why we use the word “Marathon” for that long run thing people do.  In fact, Pheidippides was honored by a 24.85 mile run from Marathon Bridge to Olympic Stadium in Athens during the first modern Olympic games held in 1896 in Greece.

Like Pheidippides, if the messenger was bringing good news of victory, his feet would be flying and he would be kicking up a lot of dust. There would be an exuberance and an enthusiasm in his running form, as he approached the walls of the city. Hence the phrase, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!

You See, It’s not about FEET it’s about GOOD NEWS

So when you are grossed out by stinky feet or huge cysts growing on them, remember that Beautiful Feet are ones of Victory. Oh, and by the way, I eventually got a wife, and told her about the cyst, and she made me better by taking me to the skin Dr. and getting it removed on the operation table in the office, as my two young kids ate their Cheerios and watched their Daddy wrench in pain.  I love my wife!

How about you right now? Do you  have Victorious or Defeated feet when it comes to your walk with Jesus?

Wherever your feet go, do they gladly bring the Good News of Jesus Christ?

OR do they bring other news and drag behind you?

How can your pursuit of Christ be like Pheidippides?

Do you want to go run a Marathon now?  (Me Neither)