The Sound of Inevitability

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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!

Practical Wisdom

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By Scott Stake

I am really looking forward to our 5-week series on the book of Proverbs, which we'll be in during the month of July. There are so many rich truths and practical wisdom found in this book written by King Solomon, the one whom “God gave wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore” (1 Kings 4:29).  

But more than the wise content of the Proverbs, what I’ve been most struck by recently is the relational context of these writings—it’s a dad speaking to his son. Solomon begins his book in Proverbs 1:7 with the words, “Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching.” He goes on to use the word “my son” 23 times, and each time you can sense Solomon’s fatherly love and affection for his son, as well as his heart-felt instructions, warnings, and pleas for his son to walk in the way of the wise.  

As we walk through Proverbs this month, here are a few things I’m hoping and praying for all of us:

1. As parents (and grandparents), we would lovingly, patiently, and intentionally instruct our children to fear the Lord and follow His commands.

2. Our children would welcome, trust, and follow the counsel of the Lord and those whom He has sovereignly and graciously put over them.

3. Our church would grow in godly wisdom and forsake the foolishness of the world, resulting in the Lord’s blessing on our homes, our workplaces, our neighborhoods, our city, and our world.

4. Those who don’t know Christ would see the joy and freedom that comes from obeying our wise God, turn from their sin, and trust and follow Jesus (“the one who became to us wisdom from God”—1 Cor. 1:30).

5. All of us would see Proverbs as not just instruction from an earthly father to his son, but ultimately an invitation from a loving Heavenly Father to commune with His children each day.  

Intentional Hospitality

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By Josh Hughes

“God calls us to practice hospitality as a daily way of life, not as an occasional activity when time and finance allow. Radically ordinary hospitality means this: God promises to put the lonely in families (Ps. 68:6), and he intends to use your house as living proof.” 

This quote comes from Rosaria Butterfield’s latest book entitled, “The Gospel Comes with a House Key.” This book is - to be frank - all up in my business (in the best possible way). Simply stated, Butterfield’s thesis is that for a post-Christian culture that is skeptical of the Church, hospitality is an essential component of an authentic witness to who Jesus is. She boldly calls upon Christians to make sacrifices to know their neighbors, and to prioritize the meaningful and costly extension of the love of Jesus through table fellowship and intentional friendship.

We adorn the gospel and lend valuable credibility to our witness when our lives demonstrate the reality of our message. In a particularly compelling paragraph, Butterfield says that “In post- Christian communities, your words can be only as strong as your relationships. Your best weapon is an open door, a set table, a fresh pot of coffee, and a box of Kleenex…”

We’re busy people, it’s true. But we must remember that we are also sent people. The blessings of the gospel are given to us for our enjoyment - but also so that they might overflow to those around us. Our proclamation of the gospel is most powerful when it is coupled with our demonstration of the gospel as we cultivate friendship and hospitality toward those who are are in closest to proximity to us.

The book has been a challenging read, and it’s forced me to ask some hard questions about my priorities. I’ve been compelled by the example of Yaacov and Erin Petscher, who have been opening their home weekly to their neighbors and co-workers to share table fellowship. As Katie and I are thinking through our rhythms for this summer, we’re feeling impressed by the Lord to make more room for those who are close to us and far from Jesus.