As our mission is to Intentionally Engage Our Community with the Love of Jesus Christ, I would have to say that Heart of Hope has become one of my favorite ways Oakwood does that. The generosity of so many in our congregation comes together in a way that channels the Love of Christ into meeting needs and getting to know families, while partnering with a dynamic organization, Communities in Schools. On top of that, I enjoy seeing our students serve along with their families. Somehow things like this seem to fill up my personal “God Bucket” each year. It’s like we were made for something like this!
God Bless you and Merry Christmas!
Here is the info for the Youth Servers. If you have not signed up during the services, email Tiffany.Lenz@oakwoodnb.com and she can put your student on the list for Lunch or Dinner.
Psssst… Hey Parents, here is a heads up for next week!!!
The Oakwood Student Ministry is Rolling out our BELIEVE WEEKEND theme and starting off the LAUNCH SEQUENCE with a SIGN UP FLASH SALE for Registrations during the Wednesday Night Event. One big OSM family will be ready for Sign Ups, Worship in the Student Pavilion and an interactive challenge to end the night.
At just 17, Andy Mineo had it all—money, power and respect. But while attending college in NYC, he finally faced the music—neither was the key to life.
Andy, formerly known as “C-Lite,” grew up in a single parent home in Syracuse, New York. Without any positive male figures around, at a young age, he struggled with profanity, submission to authority and physical aggression. With his conduct becoming uncontrollable, Andy was removed from the public school system and placed in behavioral modification centers. But change was on the horizon.
The summer before entering the 8th grade, Andy attended a Christian camp where his sister served as a counselor. While there, he heard the gospel preached clearly, cried out in desperation for Jesus to forgive him and experienced “some pretty unforgettable prayer sessions that really rocked [him].” Andy came home with a love in his heart for people that he once hated, and knew he was changed. But, he also came back to no home church, no community, no bible study and no mentors. So, as he rode his spiritual high into the ground and neglected to fan the flame that had begun, his relationship with God was compromised. His heart wasn’t set on pursuing Christ; instead, music and status had become his focus.
While in middle school, he began recording in his mom’s house and was buying new pieces of equipment with birthday money. Eventually, he started selling studio time out of his closet; before long, he was a sophomore in high school running a full-fledged business out of his mother’s basement making $25/hr recording and producing hundreds of artists in Upstate New York. He had also started a rap group with a few friends that led to a deal with Syracuse University’s Marshall Street Records, which gave them the opportunity to open up for the major acts that performed at SU. As a solo MC, Andy became well known in the underground freestyle rap scene for winning battle competitions during high school and his freshman year in college. Adding to his resume, he also excelled in athletics—thriving in football, basketball and lacrosse throughout high school.
With the financial success of his recording studio, his rap group/solo underground career taking off and athletic prowess, Andy had local fame, money and street credibility. Unfortunately, all of the success and recognition only led him away from God and towards greater sin. Headed for the big lights of New York City to attend college, stardom and rebellion seemed inevitable. But while taking a piano class his freshman year, Andy met Alex Medina (producer of “Background,” “The invasion (Hero)” and many other Reach tracks) who invited him to check out T.R.U.C.E. (an urban ministry that focused on evangelism via performing arts). He soon got connected with others, was discipled and the Lord began to deal with him more deeply concerning sin patterns in his life. After hearing Da Truth’s “Price Tag” song, he vowed to shut down his recording studio and never use his gifts to help record music that did not honor God. He lost all his business and income, but he found his new identity in Christ.
Armed with a new purpose, Andy spent several months traveling with T.R.U.C.E. and sharing the Gospel in some of the most poverty-stricken and drug-infested neighborhoods in the U.S. He went on to release Sin is Wack Vol. 1, which caught the attention of Lecrae and many others. To his credit, he has since been featured on Rehab, Flame’s Captured, Tedashii’s Blacklight, Ambassador’s Stop the Funeral and many other notable projects. While his introduction to a larger audience came through his vocals on Lecrae’s “Background,” and he continues to pen melodic choruses, rapping remains his passion and focus for future projects.
Entering a new season in his life, Andy decided to drop his stage name, C-Lite, in favor of his birth name; it symbolizes his aim to live out everything off stage that he pours out through his art on stage. He recently graduated from City College of New York and currently serves on the board as a leader of a new church plant in Washington Heights. He is also leading weekly small groups and men’s groups at his apartment, traveling on the weekends to minister and working on his highly anticipated debut album. Once divided in his ambitions, Andy has resolved to love the Lord with all his heart, soul, strength and mind—no compromise.
Our Identity Series focused on a great Application this past Wednesday. Three elements can help us shape and understand our personal Mission connected to the life calling given to us as we follow Jesus Christ.
Mission Failed: The truth is that when we are NOT built up in the TRUTH that God created us and said we are “very good,” the TRUTH that we are created as “His Masterpiece,” in order to do good works, or the TRUTH that in His book are written “all the days of our life,” we may find ourselves living a life feeling like we have already failed the mission. Our fear of failure keeps us from moving forward. We take ourselves out of the game and really don’t pursue the coach to ask for play time. We find our lives filled up with distractions and might think that this pursuit of Christ is just a set of rules we tip toe around and hope we don’t get caught, get struck down, or get out of line.
I have to leave my passion: The risk factor of following Jesus seems to be coupled with a subtraction of what we enjoy. We end up thinking “If I dedicate all I am to Jesus, I will probably have to stop playing my team sport, stop spending time on that activity I enjoy, or spend all my time following around that Pastor that seems to not work much.” The TRUTH is that God wants to meet us where we are, shine through us, and use us as His vessels to be ambassadors for the Kingdom of God.
BURDEN + PASSION + VISION: With the three elements of Mission combined, we find that we can join together beyond the walls of the church to care for our BURDEN, while pursuing our PASSIONS that God created us to live, all wrapped in the VISION that our Father has for us as we live here on Earth. The freedom from feeling like a failure and the pursuit of the MISSION gives us the ability to rise from living a defeated life in Christ to find a personal calling that lines us up with our hearts desire for life and satisfaction.
SO WHAT IS YOUR MISSION? Taking a look at the image above, what three elements lead to a MISSION for your life? What would it look like if you decided to give up the fear of failure and sign on to a MISSION given to you from GOD? Jesus sent out the disciples in Matthew 10 to preach that “The Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand.” What if you could join in with the Kingdom of Heaven and make an impact for eternity? I know that in my personal life, when I come back to these elements in my life, I feel the wind in my sails. I walk away from an event, a ministry, a serve project, or my family and think, “I could do that for the rest of my life.”
This Series has created a safe place for our Middle Schoolers to ask BIG QUESTIONS and think about how Science and Faith can actually work together, rather than being AT ODDS with one another.
THINK ABOUT THIS:
At Odds is a three-week series designed to navigate the relationship between two important subjects: science and faith.
A conversation like this is so important at this point in your middle schooler’s development. They’re just now learning to think for themselves and ask deeper questions, and this series will help them exercise both of those skills regarding science and faith.
Your kids are learning that asking questions about God can actually grow their faith. So this week, make a point to share a question you’ve had about God with your middle schooler. Talk to them about how that specific question actually strengthened your relationship with Him, even if you didn’t find the answer!
Lee Strobel makes the case for the existence of an intelligent designer.
A former atheist, Lee Strobel is now a well-known apologist for the Christian faith. He is also a popular public speaker and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of more than 20 books including The Case for Christ,The Case for Faith and his newest release, The Case for Miracles. Educated at the University of Missouri and Yale Law School, Lee worked …More by Lee Strobel
THE ISSUE: Does current scientific data support the theory that the universe was created with intelligent design?
WHAT SKEPTICS SAY: Belief in an intelligent designer is a religious theory that has no basis in science. Scientific data supports evolutionary theory, and everyone knows it.
WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1).
THE DESIGN HYPOTHESIS
“A big, fundamental question, like belief in God (or disbelief), is not settled by a single argument,” said physicist-turned-theologian John Polkinghorne in Quarks, Chaos, and Christianity. “It’s too complicated for that. What one has to do is to consider lots of different issues and see whether or not the answers one gets add up to a total picture that makes sense.”
That’s the approach I took in my investigation. I probed six different scientific disciplines to see whether they point toward or away from the existence of an intelligent designer.
When I opened my mind to the possibility of an explanation beyond naturalism, the theory denying any supernatural existence in the universe, I found that the design hypothesis — that says there is a purposeful, intelligent, created order to the universe — most clearly accounted for the evidence of science. Consider some of the facts from my investigation:
The Evidence of Cosmology
Thanks to scientific discoveries of the last 50 years, the ancient kalam cosmological argument has taken on a powerful and persuasive new force. As described by William Lane Craig, the argument is simple yet elegant: First, whatever begins to exist has a cause.
Second, the universe had a beginning. Based on the data, virtually all cosmologists now agree the universe began in the Big Bang at some specific point in the past. Craig stressed that even alternate theories for the origin of the universe require a beginning.
The conclusion then follows from the two premises: Therefore, the universe has a cause. Even once-agnostic astronomer Robert Jastrow conceded the essential elements of Christianity and modern cosmology are the same: “The chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply, at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”
The Evidence of Physics
One of the most striking discoveries of modern science has been that the laws and constants of physics unexpectedly conspire in an extraordinary way to make the universe habitable for life. For instance, said physicist-philosopher Robin Collins, gravity is fine-tuned to one part in a hundred million billion billion billion billion billion.
The cosmological constant, which represents the energy density of space, is as precise as throwing a dart from space and hitting a bull’s-eye just a trillionth of a trillionth of an inch in diameter on Earth. One expert said there are more than 30 physical or cosmological parameters that require precise calibration in order to produce a universe that can sustain life.
The Evidence of Astronomy
Similar to the fine-tuning of physics, Earth’s position in the universe and its intricately choreographed geological and chemical processes work together with exquisite efficiency to create a safe place for humans to live.
For example, astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez and science philosopher Jay Wesley Richards said it would take a star with the highly unusual properties of our sun — the right mass, the right light, the right age, the right distance, the right orbit, the right galaxy, the right location — to nurture living organisms on a circling planet. Numerous factors make our solar system and our location in the universe just right for a habitable environment.
What’s more, the exceptional conditions that make life possible also happen to make our planet strangely well-suited for viewing and analyzing the universe and our environment. All of this suggests our planet may be rare, if not unique, and that the Creator wanted us to be able to explore the cosmos.
“If the universe had not been made with the most exacting precision, we could never have come into existence,” said Harvard-educated astrophysicist John A. O’Keefe of NASA. “It is my view that these circumstances indicate the universe was created for man to live in.”
The Evidence of Biochemistry
Darwin said, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” Biochemist Michael Behe has demonstrated exactly that through his description of “irreducibly complex” molecular machines.
These complicated, microscopic contraptions, such as cilia and bacterial flagella, are extremely unlikely to have been built piece-by-piece through Darwinian processes, because they had to be fully present in order to function. Other examples include the incredible system of transporting proteins within cells and the intricate process of blood clotting.
More than just a devastating challenge to Darwinism, these amazing biological systems which far exceed the capacity of human technology point toward a transcendent Creator. “My conclusion,” said Behe, “can be summed up in a single word: design. I say that based on science. I believe that irreducibly complex systems are strong evidence of a purposeful, intentional design by an intelligent agent.”
The Evidence of Biological Information
The six feet of DNA coiled inside every one of our body’s one hundred trillion cells contain a four-letter chemical alphabet that spells out precise assembly instructions for all the proteins from which our bodies are made. Cambridge-educated Stephen Meyer demonstrated that no hypothesis has come close to explaining how information got into biological matter by naturalistic means.
On the contrary, he said that whenever we find a sequential arrangement that’s complex and corresponds to an independent pattern or function such as books and computer code, this kind of information is always the product of intelligence.
“Information is the hallmark of a mind,” Meyer said. “And purely from the evidence of genetics and biology, we can infer the existence of a mind that’s far greater than our own — a conscious, purposeful, rational, intelligent designer who’s amazingly creative.”
The Evidence of Consciousness
Many scientists are concluding that the laws of chemistry and physics cannot explain our experience of consciousness. Professor J.P. Moreland defined consciousness as our introspection, sensations, thoughts, emotions, desires, beliefs and free choices that make us alive and aware. The “soul” contains our consciousness and animates our body.
According to a researcher who showed that consciousness can continue after a person’s brain has stopped functioning, current scientific findings “would support the view that ‘mind,’ ‘consciousness,’ or the ‘soul’ is a separate entity from the brain.”
As Moreland said, “You can’t get something from nothing.” If the universe began with dead matter having no conscious, “how, then, do you get something totally different — consciousness, living, thinking, feeling, believing creatures — from materials that don’t have that?” But if everything started with the mind of God, he said, “we don’t have a problem with explaining the origin of our mind.”
Students are praying all across America and the world. Millions have prayed for their schools at See You At The Pole. Many of these same students continue to pray through the year in groups on campus and at their church. Educators, youth leaders and parents are praying, including 100,000 mothers meeting regularly with Moms In Prayer groups.
Campus ministry begins with prayer. Through prayer God opens hearts, brings blessing to schools and changes lives. Prayer will literally transform the atmosphere on a campus. This generation of students will be reached with God’s love and truth as we pray.
Here are some ways to pray for your school:
Pray For Students…
Praise God for all that he is doing on campuses through Christian students.
Ask that Christian students will be strengthened in their faith in Christ, that they would be wise and serve others around them.
Ask that all students at your school would be protected and safe.
Pray that Christian students and teachers will minister to students who have physical, emotional and family needs.
Pray for unity on the campus among Christians and that together they will reach out to their school.
Pray that everyone on campus would have the opportunity to hear the gospel and clearly understand how to put his or her trust in Jesus.
Ask that students would come to know Christ personally and a spiritual movement would grow on the campus.
Pray for an atmosphere of respect and unity on campus, socially and racially.
Idea – pray for every student in your school by name. Simply take a yearbook and go through the classes, praying for each student. Make copies of the pages and share them with others in your prayer group. Pray for them often.
Pray For Educators…
Thank God for the many educators who honor God with their lives and faith.
Ask that God would give wisdom to the administrators, teachers and school board members, making God honoring decisions.
Pray that all school staff including teacher assistants, cooks, bus drivers and maintenance personnel would be encouraged in their work.
Pray that your school educators will experience the love and concern of Christ through Christian students and adults.
Ask that educators would come to know Christ personally and follow Him.
Idea – pray for every teacher, coach and administrator by name using your yearbook to remind you of who they are and what they do at the school.
Pray For Youth Leaders And Parents…
Praise God for parents who are praying for their children, and youth leaders who are investing daily in teens across America and the world.
Pray that families in your community would be restored by putting their faith in Jesus Christ.
Pray for wisdom for parents as they raise and guide their children.
Pray that youth leaders will be faithful and fruitful in the good work they do with youth.
Ask that youth leaders from churches and organizations will unite and reach out to every student by praying, caring and advancing the good news of Jesus.
Idea – make a list of all the youth leaders and pastors in your community and pray for them in your prayer group.
Students begin at 5:30pm with pizza and hangout time. Bible study starts at 6pm with worship and talk time, followed by break-out sessions for real life discussion by grade and gender.
What is Fusion?
Fusion offers a loving and accepting environment geared for middle school students grades 6-8. We have events, weekly meetings, and exist to Intentionally Engage middle school students by leading them to the heart of the Father.
What happens on Fusion Wednesdays? We meet in the Student Pavilion
5:30pm is Pizza, hangout and crowd mixer games.
6:00pm Bible study begins. We begin with student-led worship, move to talk time, and then break out into small groups for real life discussion.
7:30pm is dismissal time.
What can my Middle School Students do for dinner?
Join us in the Student Pavilion for Papa John’s Pizza at 5:30pm
Eat as a family at the Oakwood Wednesday Night Dinner for a nice hot meal in the Student Worship Center at 5:00pm.
Can my Middle Schooler play on the playground?
Parents, please let your Middle Schooler know that the playground is for CHILDREN and that they will be asked to leave the playground. We have Gaga Ball and Basketball outside the Student Pavilion.