Passport 2 Purity Getaway

Passport 2 Purity helps guide you through sessions to begin having conversations with your child about sex and purity in God’s plan.

As we are talking about issues with Purity and Sex in our weekly Middle School environments, I want to be honest with you as a Middle School Parent… I don’t like these talks either! This stuff is personal, and yet we live in a world that entices us to make our personal issues public, while exploiting every bit of them for whatever means are out there. That is a main reason the Oakwood Student Ministry carries that mindset that “SOMETHING MUST BE SAID” in regards to God’s Plan and what we are up against on a daily basis.

The second thing I want you to know is that, even though I am a Pastor in this area, I am still hoping and praying for my own kids to walk rightly in the Lord and choose a life of Purity. That is why Laura and I have been intentional with Katie, as she entered 6th grade, and Noah, as he is midway through 5th grade, to enter into the conversation about sex and God’s view of purity within His plan.

Our advice to you, whether you use this material or not, is to intentionally plan a time that is best for you and your child to have the deep conversations that will direct the future of your child’s sexuality toward Godly Wisdom, rather than the standards brought forth by the culture and worldly views we live in today.

Noah and I Toured the 750 foot tall Tower of the Americas during our Passport 2 Purity Getaway.

By the way, my time with Noah was not ALL SERIOUS stuff! I’m not that boring and he can’t stay still for that long. We planned a Spurs Game outing, ate tons of pancakes at IHOP, played games at Dave and Buster’s, and enjoyed some one-on-one time together. Yes, we shared deep things dealing with the purity issues of today, but we also connected in a way that will set up an ongoing conversation in the days to come. That, in my mind, is priceless.

Laura and I recommend Passport 2 Purity and the Family Life Ministry, because we know we need tools to help launch us into this teenage phase of life. We hope and pray that all our Middle School Parents have the opportunity to do the same, because we have already seen the positive impact.

If you are interested in the materials, click on the image and links below:

Click Here for the Family Life Shopping Website

The Intersection of Everything Event

Duncan Campbell is a local Youth Ministry friend and creative mind that has a desire to use his gifts to engage the community with the Love of Jesus… and maybe some laughter too.

Check out Brauntex Ticket Info Here

With creative live photography, live music, a dash of comedy, and examples from science and the Bible, Christian author Duncan Campbell delivers an inspiring and innovative presentation on how everything is connected, full of mysterious wonder, and heading toward hope.

Joy for Christmas

How is your JOY this Christmas? When I think about being a kid and anticipating the Christmas Season, I had an excitement that seemed to grow more and more as the big day headed my way. I was all about getting those presents, and all those hopes and dreams seemed to wrap me up with a Christmas spirit that energized me and brought happiness. As I grew, however, I realized I was getting in sort of a routine. Excitement for a gift, unwrapping the gift, playing with the gift… for about a day or two, and then forgetting I even owned the gift. This buzz I felt in anticipating a wrapped, unknown gift, did not sustain my happiness for very long.

These days, as I have now entered into the DAD ZONE, I find that there is more to Christmas than just receiving the gift. There is something about giving a gift to my kids and family that makes it special. I have realized that the relationships I have around me are the true gift. The ministry here at Oakwood, the family I share the holidays with, the lives that have been impacted, turn into things that bring me joy, and little, by little, I think I am getting closer to relating to what the Wise Men must have experienced as they approached the Messiah as a baby boy.

It says this in Matthew 2

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. 11 And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. 12 And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way. Matthew 2:10-12 ESV

Where do YOU find your JOY this CHRISTMAS? My hope and prayer is that I might somehow join the Wise Men in anticipation of meeting baby Jesus. I hope to find a place where I too can “rejoice exceedingly with great joy.”

Merry Chrismas!!!

Pastor Brandon

The Shepherd and Overseer of your Soul

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.

  1.  They are right below Pigs in IQ and can be considered the same level as cattle.  MOOOOO!!!
  2.  Sheep can actually recognize facial features and remember them for years.  Take that iPhone number kazillion and one!
  3.  Sheep can pick up on different emotional states pretty easily.  (In a BAAAAAD mood???)
  4.  Sheep can also express their emotional state by the various sounds they make.
  5.  Sheep can self-medicate themselves and graze on needed nutrients depending on their current physical status
  6.  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

6 Ways to Believe the Truth and Not the Lies

This post really spoke to me as a parent, as a Middle School Pastor, and as a person seeking to walk with JESUS. The added bonus is the fun idea of a game to find the TRUTH!

This post first appeared on ScottKedersha.com under the title, “What Lie Do You Believe that Gets You Into Trouble?” Check out the Scott Kedersha’s Blog here

6 Ways to Believe the Truth and Not the Lies

I’ve found myself playing a game I don’t like the past few weeks. Not that I don’t love games. This one, however, I don’t really like to play. It’s a game I have to play whenever I struggle with insecurity and comparison.

You can’t buy this game at Target and Amazon won’t ship it to you. The game is called Spot the Lie, and I learned it many years ago from Watermark’s lead pastor, Todd Wagner.

Todd plays the game with his kids. The concept is simple—whenever something doesn’t seem right or promises something it can’t truly deliver, you need to spot the lie, lest you think the lie is truth.

For example:

  • Snickers promises to satisfy. While it certainly does for a few short moments, the flavor quickly goes away but the calories, energy drain, and sugar crash stick around.
  • Those new cars that spouses buy for each other at Valentine’s Day and Christmas? You know the ones that show up in their driveway with a big red bow on them? Those cars are awesome until the first bills come in or the newer model comes out. That new car won’t satisfy your desire for stuff and an extravagant purchase won’t fix your hurting marriage.
  • The praise you get for crushing it at work, in the sermon, in the basketball game—fleeting. Great in the moment, but it goes away, replaced by the praise for another or a failure right around the corner.
  • Any commercial ever made for any game or toy for your children! They look so happy in those commercials. LIES!

You Must Spot the Lie

In each of these situations, you must spot the lie so you don’t believe something that won’t ever come true.

Another way to play this game is when your brain tells you things that just aren’t right. For instance, you might tell yourself:

  • I’m unlovable.
  • I’m a fraud and I’m not good enough.
  • Or, I’m the worst and everyone is better than me.
  • My kids dislike me and my spouse and friends do too.
  • This team would do better without me.
  • Me, me, me, I, I, I… you get the picture.

For whatever reason, the last few weeks, I’ve really struggled with comparing myself to others. I desire their gifts, acclaim, and praise, and in the process I tear myself down and believe the lies.

Instead of losing this battle, I’ve had to play a lot of rounds of Spot the Lie. You might need to play this game as well. At some point, we all do.

6 Ways You Can Win at Spot the Lie

1. Fight the lies with truth.

Read God’s Word. Memorize scripture. Meditate on Truth. Ultimately, we can learn so much about our identity not from others, not from the world, not from the praise of man, but through God’s Word. Here are a few verses (with a brief synopsis) you might want to check out (and memorize):

  • John 1:12 – You are a child of God
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17 – You are a new creation.
  • Genesis 1:27 – You are made in the image and likeness of God.
  • Galatians 4:7 – You are a child of God and a co-heir with Christ.
  • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – You were bought at a high price.
  • Romans 8:1 – There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Side note: You need to know the main reason I write what I write is because I need it as much, if not more, than you do. Reading these verses is good for my soul, and helps me Spot the Lie and believe Truth instead!

2. Pray for change.

Ask God to give you the wisdom you need to stop believing the lies and instead believe truth. Sometimes my brain goes crazy and spins out of control. In those moments, I ask God for His wisdom (James 1:5).

3. Listen to good songs filled with Truth.

A few I’ve listened to the last few weeks:

  • Lauren Daigle’s song, “You Say.” I love this new song, and in it Daigle rightly says we should believe what God says about us.
  • Who You Say I Am” by Hillsong Worship. In this song, I’m reminded that I am a child of God, I’m chosen (by God), and I am who He says I am (not who the lies tell me I am).
  • The hymn, “My Worth is Not in What I Own.” Recently recorded by Shane and Shane in their Hymns, Vol 1 album. The lyrics remind us to boast in knowing Christ, not in what we own, our wealth, might, or wisdom we posses.

4. Focus on others.

When I start to play the self-pity game, I instead choose to encourage and think of others. When I take the focus off myself, I can encourage those around me. In Romans 12, Paul reminds us to use our gifts. My gift is encouragement, and I love how Romans 12:8 says if your gift is encouragement, then encourage others! Whatever your gift is, use it/them, for the glory of God and for the good of others.

5. Fight the sin of comparison.

Too often we coddle our sin or just think it will go away. I want to fight my sin, whether it’s lust, anger, or comparison. John Owens famously said, “Be killing sin, or it be killing you.”

6. Engage others.

In those moments when I believe the lies, I want to run away and hide. I feel guilt, shame, and embarrassment, and the last thing I want to do is let others in. Rather, I know I need others to speak truth into my life, wound me with love, and encourage me. I need others to bear my burdens (Galatians 6:2) and to shine light into the darkness of my sin and lies.

You might have some other ways you have to fight the lies. Please share them below in the comments section.

On a much lighter note, I do love games. Here are three fun ones I recently started playing with friends and family.

  • One Night Ultimate Werewolf – like mafia, but quicker. Great party game.
  • Dutch Blitz – super fun card game. Our family loves it! “A Vondferful Goot Game.”
  • Psych! – great party game you play on your iPhone. Especially fun if you know each other well. We especially like the “And the Truth Comes Out” deck.

Your Turn:

  • How do you fight the lies in your life?
  • What scriptures would you add to the list above in point #1.

God, the Inventor of Love

C.S. Lewis

“God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them.

He creates the universe, already foreseeing – or should we say “seeing”? there are no tenses in God

– the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the mesial nerves, the repeated incipient suffocation as the body droops, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath’s sake, hitched up.

If I may dare the biological image, God is a “host” who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and “take advantage of” Him.

Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves.”

C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves