Helping Create Connection In Your Home

In a world where so much common ground is found, we also realize there are unique differences when in comes to each of our own kids!

This simple conversation kit is designed to give you a connecting point with your child.

The title might be called “CONVERSATION KIT,” but you may actually find that your main goal is to become an active listener.

“Listening is a very active awareness of the coming together of at least two lives. Listening, as far as I am concerned, is certainly a prerequisite of love. One of the most essential ways of saying “I love you” is being a good listener.”
– FRED ROGERS

Jesus Does the Impossible

Our OSM GAME NIGHT before Spring Break involved a simple game called IMPOSSIBLE SHOT. We went “big time” with the huge logo print out and a board backing to set up the target. The prize?

One full year of all OSM EVENTS paid!

Check out the Video Below

OSM Night Impossible Shot

The simple game involves a nerf bow and arrow, a long distance, and the perfect shot… that’s why it’s called IMPOSSIBLE SHOT!

We tied in IMPOSSIBLE SHOT with MISSING THE MARK referenced in Romans 3:23.

23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 

and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭3:22-24‬ ‭ESV‬‬

We can literally insert the greek word hamartía into the text to pull out the word picture presented and end up with:

“for all have [missed the mark] and fall short of the glory of God,

Reality is, we have all missed it. The accuracy required to perfectly hit the target of the Godliness expected from the Father is unobtainable or IMPOSSIBLE.

Take the Rich Young Ruler that encountered Jesus and seemed to have a successful life with wealth to back up his claims. He seemed to hit the target with resources and following the guidelines setup by the Ten Commandments. You could say he was a “good guy.” However, Jesus challenges him to give up all his wealth. It seems that the ask to follow Jesus went deeper than outer appearance. Jesus was going for the Rich Young Ruler’s heart.

Even the disciples questioned Jesus about eternal things. It seems that they could not wrap their minds around what Jesus was aiming at. What they saw with their eyes and heard with their ears seemed to make salvation itself… IMPOSSIBE.

Jesus comes back with a key statement that we can all take to heart:

“What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Reality is, it is IMPOSSIBLE for humankind to reconcile with a Holy God.

That is why we need Jesus to take the bow and arrow, line up the shot for us, and nail it right in the target. PERFECT SHOT!

As fully God and fully man, Jesus aimed at the target of the cross. He lived as a perfect example and died in our place on the cross to pay for the overwhelming debt of sin that makes eternal salvation impossible. What seems to be impossible for mankind to pay, Jesus took care of by not only dying, but raising again to give us hope for eternity.

Will You Allow Jesus To Do The IMPOSSIBLE for YOU?

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

I AM A WORSHIPER MIDDLE SCHOOL CHALLENGE

WHAT REALLY IS WORSHIP?

When we are faced with this question, many things might pop up in our minds. That movie scene, where monks are walking in a single file line, mumbling something in a monotone voice. We might easily envision the “praise and worship” time during a church gathering. Maybe you have read an account of a great man of faith that portrayed a “worshipful” way of life. Perhaps you have encountered God yourself, and visions of that moment bring back encouragement or remind you of a sense of great conviction. The truth is, if we are Christ Followers, we are meant to end up DOING WORSHIP FOR ETERNITY.

BEGINNING WITH THE END IN MIND

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 

No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it,

AND HIS SERVANTS WILL WORSHIP HIM. 

They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭22:1-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Practically, it takes effort to worship an INVISIBLE GOD.

Lets really think about this for a second. At least Revelation states that those who follow Jesus will “SEE HIS FACE.” So what are we supposed to do now? It seems a bit odd to an outsider to see people gathering on a weekend, singing songs, closing eyes, and talking to some BEING that is UNSEEN. As a believer, have you ever explained what WORSHIP IS to an unbeliever? How about trying to explain this thought to a group of young teenagers that mostly look at things in a concrete way and are learning to think in an abstract way.

This is where the lava lamp seems to help…

Worship is like a lava lamp…

Worship is like a lava lamp.  

If a lava lamp is not plugged in, it doesn’t do anything. Once it is plugged in, the lamp begins to heat up, the colorful wax in the center begins to react to the heat, and the “lava” does what it is meant to do, produce interesting shapes and designs that might make us ask, “How does it do that?”  

Similarly, once you start a relationship with JESUS, you begin to encounter him in your daily life, sort of like the LIGHT BULB turning on to heat the wax. 

Your Spiritual “LIGHT BULB” comes to life and you begin living from the INSIDE OUT, reacting to what the Holy Spirit “heats you up” with. Worship begins to be that NATURAL RESPONSE to what God has started on the INSIDE. 

The Truth is that WORSHIP is simply a RESPONSE.

When we start a relationship with JESUS, we begin to hear the “still small voice” that leads us to line up with the Word of God. As we read TRUTH in God’s Word, we find that His Spirit transforms us internally, We begin responding to His leading. As we follow Jesus as our example, it is like we begin responding to what we were wired to do in the first place. Every response, whether you are responding on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, is an act of worship. Every move toward Jesus and His Righteousness is a move of WORSHIP.

Worship is an INTENTIONAL response to an INVISIBLE God. 

What would it look like if you began to consider WORSHIP to be an INTENTIONAL RESPONSE to GOD in your daily life?

If you are willing to take the WORSHIPER challenge consider this:

  • Write Out a prayer to GOD from your heart for the week
  • Set a reminder on your cell phone or device to remind you to connect with GOD through prayer.
  • We are challenging our Middle Schoolers to take the WORSHIPER CHALLENGE for the next 40 days and take the journey of discovering what Worshipping God is all about.  We have some Devotional Journals left as a gift to your student to help them walk with JESUS and GROW in their relationship with HIM, or you can check out the link below.
CHECK OUT this Student Journal HERE

Awkward Middle School Series

THINK ABOUT THIS

What is one of the most potentially awkward and uncomfortable conversations to have with your middle schooler? The one about sex, dating, and relationships! That’s why we’re spending four weeks talking about just that in our new series, Awkward. A conversation like this one may be awkward, but it’s so important! Some students may be curious about it while others may be uninterested. Some may be embarrassed while others may be experiencing some of these things for the first time. And some may have never thought about sex, dating, or relationships before. No matter where your middle schooler may be, it’s important to lay the foundation for healthy thoughts, habits, and behaviors around sex now so that they’ll have a better framework to make decisions as they grow. 

Sunday, Feb 7 – Session One

Romans 12:1-2

What we do with our desires matters.

Wednesday, Feb 10 – Session Two

1 Corinthians 6:12; John 10:10

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should

Sunday, Feb 14 – Session Three

Mark 12:30-31

How you treat others and yourself matters to God.

Wednesday, Feb 17 Session Four

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Focus on becoming love before looking for love.

Morning Time

Reach out to your kid’s Small Group Leader this week. Let them know that you appreciate their voice and presence in your middle schooler’s life. Empower them to be a safe person your kid can talk to about things like sex and dating. Thank them for being a trusted adult your kid can go to with difficult and potentially awkward topics.

Drive Time

If there’s one thing we all know and understand, it’s the feeling of an awkward moment or experience! So, challenge your family to come up with the ultimate awkward list. Together, think of as many moments or experiences as you can that could easily be labeled “awkward.” Whoever can come up with the most potential awkward moments is the winner of this awkward family challenge!

Meal Time

Find an easy way for your kid to talk to you about sex and dating. To do this, come up with a code word or phrase your middle schooler can say, write, or text to you to let you know they need to talk about something that’s potentially awkward for them. This will give them an easy way to come to you and give you a chance to mentally prepare before the conversation happens.

Bed Time

Conversations about sex have the potential to be . . . well, awkward! So do your best to plan ahead. Think about how you want to respond before the conversation happens. Prepare for the way you want to handle talks about or experiences with sex and dating in your house so that when the time comes, you can respond rather than react. 

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?