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

All Access This Wednesday

ALL ACCESS TONIGHT- Middle School and High School Combined. 
Take note of the 15 minute time difference.
5:30 – Hangout
6pm – Pizza in Pavilion
6:30 – Join High School U OWN IT NIGHT @ SWC
7:45 – Dismiss 
What is U OWN IT NIGHT? High School Student Leaders are leading the Worship, Game, Talk Time and other elements of the night!

Middle School Grow

We are launching our Middle School Grow track through Google Classroom!

The Journey in Discipleship Personal Growth track has gone digital!

If you are a Middle School Student that would like a personal challenge in Growing in your walk with Jesus, Middle School Grow is for you.

HOW DOES A STUDENT JOIN IN?

Step 1 – Go to classroom.google.com and click Go to Classroom. or download the Google Classroom App on your device.

Step 2 – Join a class with a class code that matches your grade below:

  • 6th Grade Code – gupp44
  • 7th Grade Code – j8d2lxe
  • 8th Grade Code – 6t8nsi
  • Accept an invitation from Class Creator— Code doesn’t work? Email Pastor Brandon at Brandon.Best@oakwoodnb.com and he will manually invite you through email.
  • Click on the Classwork Tab
  • Watch the opening video like this one

WE are in launch mode

My desire is to provide students with a Grade Based, personal track, that challenges them to think about their walk with Jesus and gives them steps to walk through it.

We definitely understand that this is a work in progress. We chose Google Classroom due to the fact that students use it at school, it is FREE for our use, and it gives a platform for us to build on in the DIGITAL AGE we are in. We can post videos, devotional content, give links, and track “points” to see how students are progressing.

WHAT ARE THE GRADES?

Grades for the “assignments” mainly fall in the completion category. We also have the idea of challenging students to push hard at certain times of the year with prizes for the leaders in each grade.

Middle School Camp is June 2-7

Our Middle School Camp is Sunday, June 02, 2019 – Friday, June 07, 2019

Cost: EARLYBIRD: $275.00, REGULAR REGISTRATION: $295.00, LATE REGISTRATION: $350.00

Checkout the Ministry Team: http://glowingheart.org/

When:  June 2-7, 2019 (Sunday Leave afternoon, return Friday Late)

Who can attend: 6th-8th grade students (2018-2019 school year)

Location: Focus Point Base Camp in Alba, TX

ONLINE REGISTRATION – CLICK HERE

FOCUS POINT MEDICAL RELEASE FORM

PACKING LIST & CAMP DETAILS

Paper Registration

ADD TO CALENDAR

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

Discovering Your Gifts

SPIRITUAL GIFTS LIST:

“WE HAVE DIFFERENT GIFTS, ACCORDING TO THE GRACE GIVEN US.” ROMANS 12:6

Click here for the LeaderTreks Blog Article

As followers of Christ, we have all received special God-given abilities that are a part of how the Lord has uniquely wired and gifted us. When we begin to identify these gifts, we are able to use them more effectively as well as grow more comfortable with who we are and how we’ve been designed – which is why we’ve complied them into a spiritual gifts list.

With definitions and scriptural connections the spiritual gifts list below covers 15 different spiritual gifts, which can be used for your own assessment or teaching your students. Looking to go deeper? LeaderTreks offers a comprehensiveSpiritual Gifts assessment.

BELIEVING – Faith – Definition: Believing is a special God-given ability to trust God’s will and act on it, with an unwavering belief in God’s concern, presence, and active participation.

This gift is listed in 1 Corinthians 12:9 where is is translated as “faith” or “special faith.”

COMFORTING – Mercy – Definition: Comforting is a special God-given ability to understand and come alongside people who are troubled or suffering, bringing them comfort, insight, and hope.

This gift is listed in Romans 12:8 where it is usually translated as “showing mercy” or “showing kindness.”

DIRECTING – Leadership – Definition: Directing is a special God-given ability to instill vision, motivate, and guide people to work together effectively to achieve worthwhile goals.

This gift is listed in Romans 12:8 where it is usually translated as “leadership” or “he who leads.”

DISCERNING – Discernment – Definition: Discerning is a special God-given ability to distinguish between truth and error, good and evil, and to show good judgement in matters involving character and relationships.

This gift is listed in 1 Corinthians 12:10 where it is usually translated as “distinguishing between spirits” or “discerning of spirits.”

ENCOURAGING – Exhortation – Definition: Encouraging is a special God-given ability to affirm, uplift, and restore confidence to individuals who are feeling discouraged or defeated.

This gift is listed in Romans 12:8 where it is usually translated as “encouraging” or “exhortation.”

EVANGELIZING – Evangelism – Definition: Evangelizing is a special God-given ability to effectively communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ to non-believers so they can respond and begin to grow in their faith.

This gift is listed in Ephesians 4:11 where it is usually translated as “evangelists.”

GIVING – Contributing – Definition: Giving is a special God-given ability to contribute cheerfully, generously, and regularly to the church and other important ministries, causes, and people in need.

This gift is listed in Romans 12:8 where it is usually translated as “contributing to the needs of others” or “he who gives.”

LEARNING – Knowledge – Definition: Learning is a special God-given ability to gather, analyze, and share information appropriately with others, leading to greater understanding and insight.

This gift is listed in 1 Corinthians 12:8 where it is usually translated as “message of knowledge,” “word of knowledge,” or “gift of special knowledge.”

MENTORING – Pastoring/Shepherding – Definition: Mentoring is a special God-given ability to guide and support individuals or groups as they grow in their faith and in their capacity for ministry.

This gift is listed in Ephesians 4:11 where it is usually translated as “pastors.”

ORGANIZING – Administration – Definition: Organizing is a special God-given ability to plan, organize tasks, and follow through so that complex projects are completed efficiently and effectively.

This gift is listed in 1 Corinthians 12:28 where it is usually translated as “administration,” “governments,” or “those who can get others to work together.”

PIONEERING – Apostleship – Definition: Pioneering is a special God-given ability to launch new ventures or lead change, confidently moving forward despite uncertainty or risk.

This gift is listed in 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11 where it is usually translated as “apostles.”

PROBLEM-SOLVING – Wisdom – Definition: Problem-Solving is a special God-given ability to provide practical advice to that leads to timely, effective resolution of problems.

This gift is listed in 1 Corinthians 12:28 where it is usually translated as “message of wisdom,” “word of  wisdom,” or “ability to give wise advice.”

 SPEAKING OUT – Prophet – Definition: Speaking Out is a special God-given ability to declare God’s truth boldly and publicly for the purpose of correction or instruction.

This gift is listed in Romans 12:6, 1 Corinthians 12:10, 28 and Ephesians 4:11 where it is usually translated as “prophesying,” “prophets,” or “ability to prophesy.”

SUPPORTING – Helps – Definition: Supporting is a special God-given ability to provide practical, behind-the-scences help that frees others to accomplish more than they might otherwise be capable of achieving.

This gift is listed in Romans 12:7 and 1 Corinthians 12:28 where it is usually translated as “helps,” “serving,” “ministry,” “forms of assistance,” or “those who are able to help others.”

TEACHING – Teacher – Definition: teaching is a special God-given ability to organize and clearly communicate knowledge and skills to others, and to motivate them to master and apply what they are learning.

This gift is listed in Romans 12:7, 1 Corinthians 12:28, and Ephesians 4:11 where it is usually translated as “teaching” or “teacher.”

THIS WEEK:

What can you do this week to use your gifts?

What are you going to do?

When are you going to do it?

Is there someone who can keep you accountable?

THINK ABOUT IT
“We cannot get Christ’s gifts without himself.” – Alexander Maclaren (The Epistles of St. Paul to the Colossians and Philemon, Volume 31 of Expositor’s Bible, 1905.)

MEMORIZE/MEDITATE ON THIS VERSE
For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Romans 12:4-5 (ESV)

Middle School Parent Cue: Made Series

Fusion Sunday Feb Series
Download Conversation Guide Here

WEEK ONE:

PSALM 139:13-16

Because God made you, you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Your middle schooler receives mixed messages related to sex all the time. In the movies they watch, the songs they listen to, the things their friends talk about, the social media they see, and even the education they get at school, the messages on sex are both constant and inconsistent, making it difficult for them to know what to really think about the subject.

WEEK TWO:

MATTHEW 5:27-28;
PSALM 139:14a

Because God made us all,
all of us are valuable.

Though your middle schooler may or may not yet be engaging in sexual activity, they’re definitely growing more curious about sex. But don’t worry! Curiosity is a natural part of growing and maturing—something your middle schooler is doing a lot of in this phase. Understanding their curiosity and not totally shutting it down is key to keeping the conversation about sex open between you and your kid.

WEEK THREE:

1 CORINTHIANS 6:18

Because God made sex,
sexual things matter.

Control can be a sensitive subject for many middle schoolers. They long for more authority in most parts of their lives, leading them to act out of frustration over what they perceive as a lack of control. They also struggle with self-regulation in this phase, making boundaries difficult to set and maintain.

WEEK FOUR:


1 THESSALONIANS 4:3-4;
PSALM 139:14a

Because God made you,
you are in control of your own body.

Understanding both their value and the value of others may be hard for your student at times. As middle schoolers, value is often based on immediate feelings. If your student doesn’t feel valued by others, it will make valuing that person (and even themselves) difficult to do.