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.”
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.
Our annual Thanksgiving service is Tuesday, November 26 at 6:30pm in the Main Worship Center. If you would like to participate in the Thanksgiving Cook-off, bring your award-winning CHILI or PIE/DESSERT to the Branch at 6pm.
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.
Right now, in our culture, students have a great opportunity to absorb a great amount of knowledge at their fingertips. They have the ability to ask Google or Siri for life advice, what a word means, or dive into deeper aspects of a subject they are learning at school. However, in the world of vast knowledge, a question arises. “What is the right WAY to use all this?” Even with all the knowledge in the world, the human race still needs direction on how to use it properly. How can we make right choices with all our knowledge? This only comes from God. It is called WISDOM.
The Good Life is a four-week series that focuses on the book of Proverbs. It covers the wisdom that can help middle schoolers take a step toward living the good life—God’s best life for them! Real wisdom is hard to come by, but so very important in directing students’ steps. Pointing them to the truth in the book of Proverbs will give them the foundational pieces of wisdom they can not only understand, but also begin to apply to their lives and faith.
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” PROVERBS 16:9, NIV
Take time to share what you personally think is the good life with your kid this week. Then, ask them to tell you what the good life looks like to them, too.
Take turns sharing with each other about areas in your life where you could use some wisdom right now. Then, share some ideas about where you could find the wisdom you need.
Ask your kid where they see you being the least patient with them. Listen to their response and try to exercise more patience the next time you find yourself in that specific situation with your kid.
Watch the movie, Eighth Grade, to learn about what middle school is like these days. (Watch it without your kid as the content may not be age appropriate yet!) Take note of what middle schoolers are dealing with and talk to your kid about some of the things that stuck out to you from the film.
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Thankfully, God doesn’t
leave us to wander through life without any directions. He has given us a set
of expectations to show us clearly which paths will take us where we need to
go. These expectations aren’t arbitrary rules imposed on us just to make our
lives harder. Quite the opposite—God’s expectations exist to give our lives
meaning and direction. One important thing to know about God’s expectations:
they can’t be faked. They have to start with serious heart transformation that
only comes from knowing Jesus Christ.
Act. Love. Walk.
Three signs that we are being transformed from the inside out by Jesus. Three signs to point your students squarely in the direction that God wants them to go.
Nov. 6 Week 1 – ACT JUSTLY
Nov. 13 Week 2 – LOVE MERCY
Nov. 20 Week 3 – ALL ACCESS BELIEVE WEEKEND LAUNCH
Our annual Thanksgiving service is Tuesday, November 26at 6:30p in the Main Worship Center. If you would like to participate in the Thanksgiving Cook-off, bring your award-winning CHILI or PIE/DESSERT to the Branch at 6p.
Wednesday, Nov. 27 – NO FUSION HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!
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.”