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?

Pray This For the New Year

As we begin the New Year, Oakwood is beginning 40 days of Prayer to kick things off.

I don’t know about you, but many times, I want to pray, have the desire to grow in my prayer life, but I don’t know exactly what else to pray after about… 30 seconds. I think this problem leads to giving up on connecting with God in this way on a consistent basis. I mean, with all the distractions of raising kids, getting them in the right place with the right things at the right time, sometimes I turn around and realize I missed getting ME in the right place with the right things at the right time. Then we have technology, the game to watch, and oh yea, that source of income is good to invest in as well. It’s not that we don’t want to connect with God that’s the problem. I think its the fact that time is always slipping away through our fingertips. Before you know it, you are laying yourself to sleep and throw up a, “THANK YOU JESUS… FOR MY BED!”

So as not to WASTE TIME, maybe we need to build confidence to use our time WISELY. That is where the question begins to be:

If I’m going to pray, how can I do it right?

You want to do it right? Literally COPY A GREAT PRAYER!

‘And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. ‘ Colossians 1:9-14

What better example do we have than Paul and his prayer out of God’s Truth in Colossians?

My challenge for myself for the NEW YEAR is to just PRAY THIS.

I am taking whatever time I have in the morning, after lunch time for a moment, as my mind wanders in the evening, to basically copy and paste most of Paul’s prayer for individuals that come to mind. The easiest way to start is to find those right in front of you. Pray for your family to be filled with Spiritual Wisdom and Understanding. Pray for good works and fruit from God Himself. Ask for strength according to His might. Do you need endurance, patience, and joy anytime soon? How about the consistent reminder that we have a Father through Jesus Christ that delivered us out of darkness and qualified us to be saints in light? Needless to say, I have found my own joy and connection with God as I have used a great prayer guide in Colossians Chapter 1.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

PEABOD – Big Feelings Family Devotional

Family Devotional

Artist: Peabod
Album: Growing Up Part 1
Label: Centricity
Song: Big Feelings (feat. Aklesso)
From: MVL 110
Writer: Brandon Best | Oakwood Church | New Braunfels, Texas

Theme(s): Emotions Hope Love

Devotional Thought:
When our feelings get us down, God’s truth can pick us back up. 

Warm Up: What am I feeling?  Write different emotions onto sticky notes for your family members (one for each participant). Without looking at them have each participant place their emotion on their forehead. Ask family members to pair up and guess their “feelings” by acting them out to each other. Rotate around the room and encourage those participating to have fun by overdoing it on the emotional side. 

Questions for Follow Up

  • When have you felt overwhelmed or down by your emotions?
  • How do your feelings tend to shape your day or week?
  • How do you think God reacts to our emotions and big feelings?

The Video: Peabod is a hip-hop artist from Seattle, Washington that gets the whole overwhelmed feeling. While most of his music is meant to bring happiness and lightness to life, this song shares a little bit of a different vibe. Play Peabod’s music video for Big Feelings

List any emotions depicted or experienced in the video while watching. Share your reactions to the video as a family.

The WORD

In Lamentations, we find someone that can relate to the struggle of being overwhelmed with emotions and feelings that could ruin anyone’s day. Jeremiah shares some raw emotion about his feelings of hopelessness and loss as he reacts to his circumstances around him. 

Read Lamentations 3:14-20

  • What feelings and emotions do you see Jeremiah dealing with?
  • How do these feelings relate to your own feelings?
  • What is it like to feel so down, that you don’t have any hope?

The good news is that while Jeremiah was overwhelmed and hopeless at one moment, he changed his mindset to get him back up. 

Read Lamentations 3:21-24

  • How did Jeremiah change his mindset to give him hope?
  • What truth about God do you find in these verses?
  • What action do you need to take when you are feeling down?
  • How can you find hope to get back up again?

Wrap Up

Our emotions and feelings can change our outlook on life and get us down for a day, or even a week. However, God’s steadfast love and mercy can get us back up and give us hope no matter the circumstance.  When your feelings get the best of you, change your mindset and begin focusing on who God is to get you back up again.

  • What is one emotion you’ve felt overwhelmed by recently?
  • What is one scripture you can find as a family that God can use to help you the next time you feel overwhelmed?

Listen to more PEABOD RIGHT HERE

Check Out More Christian Music on this Interlinc Page

LITTLE DRUMMER BOY – For KING & COUNTRY

Family Devotional

Dreaming Big
If you knew you could do anything or be anything without the possibility of failure, what would you want to do or be?

Gifts What are some talents, skills, or abilities that you have? What talents, skills, or abilities do you wish you had?

READ 1 Corinthians 12:12-27

On a scale of 1 to 10, How important is it to you to:
Fit in?
Be popular?
Be unique?
Describe yourself as a part of the body. (An eye, hand, foot, etc.) Why did you select that part? How connected are you to your local church body? What can you do to help the “body” function better?

READ Colossians 3:17

The drummer boy wanted to use his best ability for the King, so he played a drum. How does the TRUTH in Colossians 3:17 help you think about your gifts and talents? What are you involved in, right now, that you can use for God’s glory? How can our family pray for your gifts, talents, and abilities this week?

Best Christmas Ever Parent Cue

REMEMBER THIS

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Luke 2:14, NIV

THINK ABOUT THIS

Best Christmas Ever is a series designed to help students recognize that the best things about Christmas aren’t the things we typically tend to remember first during the season. They’re the things God did for us thousands of years ago. Though encouraging students to embrace abstract concepts like the fact that God is with them and wants to know them may be difficult for some middle schoolers to grasp, it’s important to help them recognize these key elements of what Christmas is all about. These are things they can celebrate and understand as they grow in maturity and relationship with God. 

Daily Cues

Morning Time

Take time to celebrate the person who spends a lot of their time with your middle schooler: their Small Group Leader! Write them a card, shoot them a text, give them a call, or put together a little Christmas gift for them to show your appreciation for how they invest in and care about your kid. 

Drive Time

Let each member of your family share what activity would make their Christmas the best Christmas ever! Maybe it’s a Christmas movie marathon, a drive to see holiday lights, a special treat made at home, or a chance to serve someone else. Whatever it is, let each person choose their best Christmas ever activity and then, make an effort to do each one this holiday season. 

Meal Time

Make an effort to bless others this holiday season. Choose a day to make Christmas cookies, cards, candy, or another holiday treat together as a family. Then, deliver them to your neighbors to spread a little Christmas cheer to those around you this week.

Bed Time

Read the Christmas story together as a family this week (Luke 2:2-20). After you read, discuss some of what you read as a family. Talk together about what this story means for you today and how you can remember it during the holiday season.