The Fiercest Storm

By Rob Pifer

As I write this word of encouragement to you, I do so sitting in the dark. Why? Because my power just went out. As the tinge of annoyance creeps in, I’m quickly reminded of the many folks to the west of us who are still without power, as well as the many more folks who remain homeless because of Hurricane Michael. It’s so easy for the “out of sight, out of mind” effect to take hold. Right before the power went out I was thinking of the cooler fall weather headed our way this weekend and how great that will be for the Saturday FSU Clemson high noon showdown. I’m back to reality now, in the dark without power.
For many of you, your reality now still involves Hurricane Michael. Maybe you have immediate family, or other loved ones to the west of us, who are still digging out of the devastation Michael left behind. Maybe you’re wondering how you can continue to help those in need. Maybe you’re discouraged as you try to make sense of all of the suffering people are going through as a result the storm. Understandably there’s a lot to process, but there’s also a lot of work to be done as the rebuilding phase moves forward. The Four Oaks team that went to Marianna last weekend saw this first-hand as they worked with the folks at Eastside Baptist Church serving the surrounding community. You can see from the pictures below, there was a lot to do. Thank you again to all those who helped!
As we move forward, there are a lot needs to fill, and if you’re like me it’s easy to slide into a mode of pragmatism that can easily spread us thin and leave us overwhelmed. We need to move away from that. Instead, let us move forward with faith-filled action that allows us to stay focused, productive, and dependent on the Lord and His promises to us.
In Acts 27, we find that the Apostle Paul faced one of fiercest storms of his life. The strength he needed to face and endure the storm came from a promise God had given to him years before. During the voyage, Paul warned the crew that a storm would come — and it did come.
Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. And on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands. When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned. (Acts 27:18–20)
Into that moment of utter despair, God sent an angel to Paul, saying, “Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you” (Acts 27:24).

The promise that Paul would stand before Caesar was not new. Two years earlier, Jesus himself stood by Paul in prison and promised, “As you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” (Acts 23:11). In the midst of Paul’s terrifying storm, he needed to remember the promise God had given.

With whatever storm you are facing right now, be encouraged by the fact that God keeps His promises and that He will see you safely through. Remember that if you’re trusting in Christ, the journey that God has you on now is leading to the best there is, Jesus Christ Himself.
Be reflecting on these promises this week:

  • Philippians 1:6: “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

  • Isaiah 41:10: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

  • John 10:27–28: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

  • Philippians 4:19: “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

  • 1 Corinthians 1:8: “He will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

On the journey with you, Pastor Rob

A New Season

By Paul Gilbert

“Over the past few months, the pastors and elders have been meeting with individuals to determine who God might have fill this hole. We're thrilled to announce that a man named Joe Haverlock will be joining the pastoral staff to take over the role as worship pastor at Killearn. He'll be here to meet all of you on September 23, with the hope that he'll be on-site by November.”

Haverlock Original.jpg

Meet Joe & Julie

Join us for dinner at 5:30pm on September 23 to meet Joe & Juli Haverlock, hear about their ministry & upcoming move to Tallahassee and Four Oaks Killearn. Click here to reserve childcare (infant-preK only)

During our annual Vision Sunday sermon on September 9, I took us on a fast and furious journey through the history of Four Oaks, and forecast where we believe God is taking us in this next season. 

It's hard to believe, but we will be celebrating 30 years as a church next year. For the first 20 years, we were what you might call a "mobile church." Over the years, we moved from one location to the next, including Gilchrist Elementary, CCS, Chiles, a Tupperware warehouse, and numerous others. We were like the Israelite's, except that we were wandering through the Killearn suburbs instead of the desert. 

Yet through all our wanderings, God continued to grow us as a church. And as we grew, things became more unwieldy. We realized that we needed a home base - a staging area for us to launch from. Not a fortress to protect us from the world or a country club to relax, but a staging area for ministry. We didn't want to be a "come and see" church but a "go and tell" church. 

So we purchased the Shannon Lakes Plaza, with the strategy of growing horizontally. Of being one church spread across Leon County, ministering under the Four Oaks banner, unified in mission, theology, and leadership while still being empowered to reach different geographic regions of the city. 
Five years ago, we launched a second congregation with a large core of about 125 people. By God's grace, that effort has been tremendously fruitful. Now 350+ people attend our Midtown congregation, and they are officially out of space. We're currently exploring options to expand there. 
Over the last 5 years, the Killearn campus has been in the process of "rebuilding" in a sense. When the core went to Midtown, it left a hole in Killearn, which has been slowly refilling. God has been incredibly faithful, providing financially, bringing new people, and strengthening our health as a whole. 
And so now we find ourselves asking the Lord, "What's next?" 
As the elders have prayed and sought the Lord, one of the things that has come up again and again is a sense that God is calling us to plant a third congregation in the eastern part of Tallahassee. We believe that God has kept us to scatter, and that involves multiplying. 
As we speak, Josh Hughes and a small core group are preparing to launch in early 2019. They'll be meeting in Appalachee Elementary and seeking to be a core gospel presence in that area. To say that we're excited about this is a huge understatement. 
And with the excitement comes two opportunities specific to Killearn. 
1) A generational opportunity.

  • Our current demographic is families with school-aged children and empty nesters. And while we want to continue reaching these individuals, we also recognize that there is a prime opportunity to reach those in the 20-30 age range. We want to raise up people and leaders in this age range who can carry on the gospel mission of Four Oaks for years to come. 

  • There are exciting things happening in this area. I've been doing a Monday morning Bible study with younger guys, and as I look around I'm aware that this is the future of our spiritual leadership. I want to come alongside these guys and equip them for the work God has called them to. 

  • Connect groups made up of young couples are meeting on Sunday nights, for the purpose of helping them get connected to the life of the church. 

  • And Pastor Rob has started a college ministry to connect with college-aged individuals, both in and out of the church. 

2) A staffing opportunity.

  • Josh's departure from Killearn to the east has left a hole on the pastoral staff. We need someone who can lead the worship ministry in the church, a person who can recruit, train, and raise up more worship leaders and musicians. Someone who can connect with the younger generation while also having enough biblical depth and maturity to be a multi-generational leader. 

  • Over the past few months, the pastors and elders have been meeting with individuals to determine who God might have fill this hole. We're thrilled to announce that a man named Joe Haverlock will be joining the pastoral staff to take over the role as worship pastor at Killearn. He'll be here to meet all of you on September 23, with the hope that he'll be on-site by November.

  • All this to say, there are so many good and exciting things happening in the church. We're excited to see where God is leading us and are eager to continue proclaiming the gospel throughout Tallahassee. 

So let me close by saying thank you. It takes $5,000 per day to keep the mission going here at Killearn. It's your generous giving that makes it possible. Susan and I have been here for 21 years, and we've experienced your patience as we learned what it means to serve the body of Christ.

Please continue to pray for the church. Pray that God would continue to empower us to keep gathering, giving, and scattering. Pray for Josh and the folks headed east. Pray for Joe and his family as they make the transition to Tallahassee. And more than anything else, pray that God would be glorified and bring many people to Himself. 

The Sound of Inevitability


By Paul Gilbert

That sound I hear in the not-so-distant distance is the same one that I’m sure you hear: it’s the sound of inevitability. Just like clockwork, the middle of August is here again and with it, the NASCAR-like race we know as the 2018-19 school year. Are you buckled up?
I use the auto-racing metaphor to describe the onset of the fall season because I think it’s one that we all intuitively understand. We’ve all been hanging just back of the starting line in our summer pace car, but now that the starter has waved the green flag, it’s gone from 0 to 180 MPH over the course of just a few days. It’s hard to know when we will all see the checkered flag together at the finish line, but it will probably be sometime around Christmas!
Before we all press the petal-to-the-metal, though, I want us to ponder this simple question: is this the way it’s supposed to be? I’m not speaking so much about the things that God is calling us to do – work, school, sports, ministry, and travel. I’m thinking more about the WAY that we go about doing them, the sort of spiritually numbed-out and relationally disconnected pace that the new season seems to throw us into, putting us into crazy mode - reactive vs. thoughtful, frenetic vs. prayerful, secular vs. sacred, disenchanted vs. enchanted.
This last contrast – enchantment vs. disenchantment – comes from the title of Mike Cosper’s book  that we are going to be studying together at Reboot 2.0. For the uninitiated, Reboot is our annual fall kick-off that we do on the first three Wednesday nights of the school year. August 15, 22, and 29 are the dates this go around, and we are already readying the food selections for dinner, the snow cone truck, the children’s and student activities, and our worship and gathering times in anticipation of coming together as a church family. My prayer is that God will use our times together to show us a fresh vision for what it means to seek him and to walk before his face in the midst of a crazy-busy life.
What rhythms does he call us to? What are ways that we can mark our days, weeks, and months to keep us better connected to God and to one another? That’s what we will consider together at Reboot 2.0.

Reboot 2.0 happens on August 15, 22, & 29 at Four Oaks Killearn (4500 W Shannon Lakes Dr). Join us at 5:30pm for free dinner, children’s programming, and adult discussion.

Faith in a Disenchanted World

By Rob Pifer

The calendar made the flip this week from July to August. Did you feel it? I sure did. 

I spent the last couple of days of July at Salt & Light Camp, a partnership with Wildwood Presbyterian Church where we take a group of 5th & 6th Graders over to Live Oak for a really special camp. Often the first camp experience for these young children, it’s everything you might think a summer camp to be: smelly bunk houses full of wet towels and way too much junk food, afternoons spent swimming and canoeing, kids playing games and working on crafts, a shaving cream fight and sharing by the campfire. We gather these kids around the Word in the morning and at bedtime and several times throughout the day, sharing the Gospel and challenging them to embrace a faith all their own. It can be a memorable, life altering week for these young kids, and it often is for me as well.

Once the calendar made that flip to August and this last camp of summer was over, I immediately kicked into back-to-school mode, both at home and here at Four Oaks. My wife and I have been taking our kids to pick up school schedules and shop for sneakers and get their back-to-school physicals. Here at church I’ve also been working on schedules, along with planning trips and choosing teaching materials and talking to staff and volunteers. This busy season seems to come on more quickly and furiously each year. I know it’s coming, and I should be better prepared for it, yet I find myself here on the cusp of a new school year feeling a bit like I’m getting swept into the vortex of a tornado. I’m hoping to stick my head out of it for a breath of air around Christmastime before letting it carry me through the school year, spitting me out at the end of May hopefully still in one piece!

Do you know the feeling? Can you relate? I think most of us can, and this is why I’m so excited about our Fall Reboot 2.0 coming up in a couple of weeks. 

We’ll be gathering together on three Wednesday nights starting August 15th at 5:30. I know that’s the first weeks of school, but we’re providing dinner and childcare! Think of it as a little mid-week break from cooking where you can gather with your church family for a meal and time of fellowship before breaking out into programming for you and your kids.

The book Pastor Paul will be teaching from during our times together is a new favorite of mine, and it couldn’t be more timely. Recapturing the Wonder: Transcendent Faith in a Disenchanted World by Mike Cosper explores some of the reasons why many of us, myself included, have lost some of the wonder that should be a part of life with Christ. We go through the motions of church and home and work. We may read the Bible and pray because we should. But are we in awe of God, of who He is and what He has done? Is our life marked by joy and peace, or are we in a constant state of stress and exhaustion? Do we celebrate the goodness of God in our lives, or can we even recognize it?

This winsome, practical book has challenged and encouraged me in the best possible ways, and I think it will for you as well. I’m looking forward to hearing what Pastor Paul has to encourage us from it, and I can’t wait to gather with you in the lobby on those Reboot nights and talk about it over our pizza, hot dogs, and tacos. Mark your calendars for August 15th, 22nd, and 29th at 5:30, and I’ll see you there! Click here for more information and childcare requirements.

Student Ministries Summer Trips

 The Four Oaks New Orleans team

The Four Oaks New Orleans team

By Rob Pifer

Last week we too about 50 of our middle and high school students to Wild Adventures, and it was a blast. In addition to just simply having fun, summer trips like this serve to build unity within the group and to allow our incoming 7th graders feel like more of a part of our Four Oaks Students family. It was really cool to see some of our older students taking time to help and include the younger ones today, I’m so proud of them.

Speaking of trips, it was just a couple of weeks ago that we were traveling back from New Orleans with 30 of our high school students after having spent a week ministering with Urban Impact Ministries located in the inner city area of Central City, New Orleans. My heart is full as I reflect back on a trip that saw our group become more unified and centered in Christ, hearts awakened to the call of ministry, and younger students stepping up to take on the mantle of service the older students have built over time.

As you can see in the pictures below, there was a lot of work and ministry to do which kept us all very busy. One of the things I’m most thankful for is the desire and passion the students have brought home with them, all ready to make an impact for the Gospel back here in Tallahassee. So please, will you join me in praying for God to provide clear direction on how to lead and mobilize our students for the work required?

Thank you church for loving and supporting our students. It shows. Here’s to looking forward to what God will continue to do in the lives of our young people!