Where Did My Summer Go?


By Paul Gilbert

I always have big expectations for the summer months. Walks on the beach. BBQ in the backyard. Loads of books savored and enjoyed. The next Food Network Star on Sunday nights. Sleeping past 6:00 AM. In other words, everything that the school year is not. Everything that I count on the summer being. Everything that I feel like I need in order to have ultimate pleasure and enjoyment.

This summer, though? It just feels a little different. Less relaxing, less slow, less chill, and more – to use an overused term – BUSY.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m still getting to do a lot of the things on my list. And, more. There are, in fact, some really fun things on tap for the Gilbert household. Yet, somehow, I keep thinking to myself that it’s not supposed to feel this busy. There still seems to be deadlines, bills to pay, problems to work out, places to be, and "to do" lists to crank through. I’m already starting to feel tired, and it’s only two weeks into June! I have a sense of foreboding that in only 6 or 7 weeks or so, I am going to be looking back at the vapor that was this summer season and be asking myself, “Where did my summer go?!”
Can you relate?
I ran into a school principal the other day who told me that the summer months are really just an intensive prep time to get ready for the other 10 months of the year. That struck a chord with me, because I think that’s a perspective that I have been lacking. I think some of the letdown I am experiencing right now might be because I have come INTO the summer expecting the wrong things FROM the summer. Maybe I came into June thinking that this summer was MY summer instead of this summer being GOD’s summer.
There’s a world of difference between these two things.
One perspective puts me in charge and the owner of my time; the other puts God in charge and the owner of HIS time. When I view the summer months as MINE, then I am going to grow increasingly frustrated and deflated when they fail to deliver what I think I need. However, when the summer months are GOD’S,  then I’m just the steward, the manager, the worker – doing the things God wants me to do to prepare for what He wants me to do in the season ahead.
Let me encourage you with something. If this summer is not turning out the way you envisioned it, ask God to give you fresh eyes and perspective towards what He wants to do in and through your life this summer season. And if things are still busy or hectic or crazy or whatever, at least you can go forward knowing that this is the kind of summer GOD wanted for you.

Whatever You Do: A Four Oaks Summer in Acts

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by Shannon Pifer, Director of Children’s Ministries

One of my kids made my day yesterday, and he had no idea!
Over dinner last night, my son casually asked if I needed help at the church this week getting ready for Whatever You Do Camp. I told him that I most probably did since there is a ton to do! He responded with an enthusiastic, teenager-ly “Sweeeeeettttt.”
Then came the part that made my day. I asked why he was so excited about helping me with camp prep, to which he replied, “Hanging out at the church is awesome!”
Day made! My child loves “hanging out” at the church.
Now, I fully realize that his excitement over helping me sharpen pencils and lay down floor mats might have more to do with the fact that I have a drawer full of candy and proximity to Maple Street Biscuit Company than it does with his love for the church! But maybe not…
One of our main goals in Four Oaks Kids is to instill a love of Jesus and His church in our kids from the youngest of ages. We do that in lots of ways...Our classrooms are clean, comfortable and inviting so children will enjoy being in them. Our teachers faithfully teach the Word in ways our kids can understand.  Our volunteers are joyful and enthusiastic, making our kids feel welcomed and loved. We pray over our kids and with our kids. We teach them to worship with each other and serve one another. The list goes on and on, but one thing I’ll add to that list is that we have fun!
Not to be confused with entertainment, we have active, purposeful fun in Four Oaks Kids, which we feel is an important part of our ministry. Having fun means acting out Bible stories and playing Bible review games and using silly object lessons. It means earning candy for memorizing scripture and selling lemonade for missions. Having fun means our volunteers play Legos and baby dolls with our kids for a portion of our class time, building relationships with those children who will then believe Biblical truths taught by leaders they trust.
This summer, having fun means transforming our youth room into the Ancient worlds of Greece and Rome for our elementary school children. We’re studying the Book of Acts, following along with our Gospel Project curriculum and learning all about the early church and the amazing works of God through people like Peter and Paul. We’ll be singing fun new songs, earning “Caesar’s Coins” for memorizing verses, playing games, and just having fun together while we learn from God’s word.
Our “Whatever You Do Camp” starts Monday, and it’s going to be lots of fun as well! We have 95 campers coming for the week to participate in one of our camp tracks, which include Ukulele, Lego Robotics, Art, Drama, Sports, and Outdoor Adventure.  Our theme comes from Colossians 3:17, and we’ll be having lots of fun while we explore what it looks like to do all of these things “in the name of the Lord.”
While having fun is not our primary goal, it is a part of our ministry to children because children learn by having fun. It engages their minds and their hearts, which is exactly what we want to happen as we teach them the Word of God and disciple them in the Christian faith. We want all of our Four Oaks Kids to think “hanging out at church is awesome” and having fun with them here is a way for them to experience the great joy of being a part of the body of Christ.
Pray with us that all of our Four Oaks Kids will grow in their love of Jesus and His Church this summer!

Return to Haiti

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By Rob Pifer

In Four Oaks Students, we have always prioritized our summer trips as a vital part of our ministry and I’m excited to say that we’ll be taking that to the next level this summer! Our middle schoolers will embark on another wilderness adventure up in the mountains of Kentucky in June. This trip is all about team building and living in gospel community...more on that in a minute.
Last summer, rather than our usual mission trip to New Orleans with Urban Impact Ministries, we took a group of high schoolers abroad for the first time in our history and served the Cabaret Haiti Mission for a week in Cabaret, about two hours north of Port au Prince, Haiti. My plan going into last summer was to begin a rotation of mission trips for our youth, alternating New Orleans and Haiti on an every-other-year basis. After all, Haiti is much farther away, more expensive, logistically challenging, and potentially dangerous, so doing it every year might just be too much!
Then I went there, and all of that went right out the window. That week was the highlight of my year, even trumping seeing U2 perform the entire Joshua Tree album live with my wife and three boys!  I fell in love with Haiti and its people. I forged a deep bond with the missionaries there, Papa Mike and Mama Bonnie. I played with children who had barely the clothes they wore, but yet who woke up each morning singing praises to God. I met men who looked different, spoke a different language, and came from a world that I can hardly fathom, yet they became brothers. It was perhaps the most impactful week of my life, and I was not alone. CLICK HERE to learn more about Cabaret Haiti Mission.
One of my own sons took this trip with us, and I have seen the impact it had on his young life first hand. Parents of other kids who took the trip with us have told me the same, and I know it’s true because almost immediately upon our return, those kids told me quite emphatically that we HAD to go back! They didn’t have to twist my arm much at all, but what about New Orleans and our longstanding relationship to Urban Impact?
Well, I decided we’re just going to have to do both! We have a team of younger high schoolers who will travel with me to NOLA at the end of June, and another team made up of older high schoolers and college students making the trek with me down to Haiti. It’s ambitious, I know, but I cannot wait!
Last year, God moved in a mighty way in the hearts of so many people and our trip to Haiti, which costs around $1500 per person, was mostly provided for. One of the biggest ways that trip was funded was through a really special event at Maple Street at FSU that so many of you attended. The silent auction and ticket sales brought in over $7,000! Those of you who attended know what a fun and special night it was!
We are so excited to be hosting another event on April 27th, this time at Maple Street right next door to Four Oaks Killearn! We are gathering items like vacation homes, party packages, jewelry, and gift baskets for our silent auction. We will have live bluegrass music with outdoor seating.
And of course, there will be biscuits! Our neighbors, Maple Street, are serving up their usual delicious fare, but this time with a bit of a twist. We will have a build-your-own-biscuit bar set up for you to make your favorite Maple Street treats, just the way you like it!
To help make this a fun night out for parents with young kids, we are offering free childcare at the church for babies, preschoolers, and elementary school age kids.  Tickets are on sale now for $20 each, but if you gather your Community Group or friends and family, you can get the special group rate of $10/ticket if you buy 10 or more. CLICK HERE to buy your tickets now and register for childcare.

If you have already bought your tickets in the lobby, from a Haiti Team member, or through your community group, but haven't signed up for childcare, click here
This event combines two of the things I love most about our church: people living in community with one another, and an emphasis on reaching our kids, our community, and our world with the gospel. Join us at Maple Street on April 27th and enjoy fellowship with your church community while supporting our mission to Haiti.

A New Look

By Debbie Tanis

Last Sunday in our worship services we introduced a new visual identity for Four Oaks Church, including a new logo. You’ll see this reflected in our publications, on our website, our social media pages, and building signs. Wherever the old, familiar leaf appears now, you will see a new image emerge, designed to be a fresh expression of our identity as a gospel-rooted, local body of Christ in Tallahassee.

Every touch-point of communication, both digital and print, internal and external, is an opportunity to put Jesus Christ on display and reinforce our church’s mission and values. The message we communicate is meant not only to connect with our church family, but also to connect with our communities and our city. As we seek to share the gospel in these spheres, our voice should be loving and humble, consistent and unified. While a logo and a brand are only elements of the way we are perceived within and outside of Four Oaks, they should express our God-given identity as His church that stands the test of time and it’s ever-changing visual trends. In developing our new look, we started by examining our roots, remind­ing ourselves why Four Oaks Church was planted to begin with, and followed the branch­es to where we are now – a church that seeks to treasure, grow, and go in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

With this in mind, you will see some similarities between our current logo and our new logo which attempts to bring together traditional imagery with a modern style. At the center is a cross – symbolizing the foundation from which everything comes. The four points represent our four values and the leafy arms of the cross allude to our name and roots.

What we hope you will see is that our new logo represents both a rich past and a hopeful future, elements that we experience daily in our Christian walks. Just as this journey as disciples of Christ can be uncertain, our faith for the future is strong because of God’s grace in the past.

No logo, old or new, plays much of a role in the only certainty upon which we can depend: that God is with us and we will spend eternity with Him. But it can communicate a commitment to God and a willingness to follow him through whatever changes He wills for us. As we contemplate our history, mission, values and vision, and most importantly the gospel, our hope is that the new Four Oaks Church visual identity reflects our unique story as well as the larger narrative of God’s work in and through us. Our intention is that it mirrors what we value at Four Oaks Church – a spiritual vision for our church family, both corporately and individually, to treasure, grow, and go in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I would like to thank Pastor Josh Hughes for leading us through a journey that started with an idea to "update our logo," Pastor Zach Simons for pursuing the project enthusiastically with wisdom and an understanding of the process, and Forrest Hughes for designing our new visual identity.

Gospel Stories


by Scott Stake

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.”  - Matthew 16:16-18
I absolutely love this passage in Matthew 16, because it reminds me of the overwhelming power, love, and grace of our God. He is the one who lovingly and graciously gives spiritual sight to the blind, powerfully and faithfully builds His Church, and sovereignly and miraculously grows His Kingdom. And nothing can stop it, not even the gates of hell!
Like Jesus did for Peter and His disciples, we must continue to remind ourselves of this amazing good news, particularly when the darkness, pain, and brokenness of our world casts a shadow on the marvelous light and love of the gospel that has invaded our hearts. We also must tell stories to one another of how the church is being built and overcoming the dark places!
So, I want to invite you to a 5-week class we’ve entitled “The Gospel for the World” in which we’ll hear powerful stories of God’s amazing, redeeming love changing the darkest and hardest of hearts.

Come hear Dennis Cochrane (March 28), who served among the 20,000 Duna people of Papua New Guinea. After devising an alphabet for this previously unwritten language, he and his wife Nancy taught the Duna to read. They then translated the first portions of God's Word into the Duna language, and several thousand Duna came to faith in Christ. Today there are many churches among these people!

Come hear Dean & Kathy Thomas (April 4), who served among the Guji people in Ethiopia and helped bring the Scriptures to train and equip them for the work of ministry. You'll not only see pictures and hear stories, but also participate in a Bible literacy lesson like they led for the Guji people. (Please note that Don Richardson is no longer able to come April 4 due to some health issues.)

Come hear Kate (April 11), one of our gospel partners whose work is focused on literacy work among women and children of a Muslim-background people group, where the gospel is being preached, lives are being changed, and the church is growing!

Come hear Ted Esler (April 18), who served as a church planter in Bosnia during the 1990s and saw the gospel transform hearts in the midst of a war-torn society. He now serves as president of Missio Nexus, an association of agencies and churches representing over 30,000 Great Commission workers worldwide, and will share amazing stories of the Kingdom of God coming on earth!

Finally, come hear Scott Stake (April 25) share stories about the work of our Four Oaks gospel partners around the world and different ways we can support, encourage, pray for, and be a part of what God is doing to build His church! And then, come to the Mission Haiti fundraiser (April 28) to support our team heading there this summer to support the work of Mike & Bonnie Snider at Cabaret Mission!