Words From Joe: Part 6 – Your Suit

Words From Joe: Part 6 – Your Suit

Suits-season-2This is the last of the “Words from Joe” series.  Joe is one of the wises and most humble men I have ever met.  I hope I have shared his wisdom with you as much as he shared with me.  The 30 minute conversation we had has impacted my ministry more than any single conversation I have ever had.  Thank you Joe.

God designed your suit for you and it will only fit you.

Joe said, “God designed your suit for you and it will only fit you.  It will never fit anyone else and anyone else that attempts to put on your suit, it will always feel awkward.  I would be too tight, too loose, too small or way to big.  Your suit is designed to move with you and always be perfect.  Our suits may be made out of the same material but one is made for me and one is made for you.”

God has put me in the very spot he wants me.  Better yet, when God wants me in a different context or different situation, He will put me there.  I only have to obey and wear my suit.  Same for you.  You have a unique suit that is made just for you, it will fit no one else like it fits you.  Know that God has you where He needs you and you only need to obey and wear your suit. Don’t try to wear a suit that belongs to someone else, you know it won’t fit you.

Jeremiah 1:5 (NIV) “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…”

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014

Words From Joe: Part 5 – Obey

Words From Joe: Part 5 – Obey

obey hatJust a few more words from Joe that really struck me. He mentioned this thought several times. It was almost like he knew what had to be done so that he could hear “well done you good and faithful servant” when he knelt before the Lord. He kept saying..

“I just did as the Lord told me.”

“It would be so good for someone to say, ‘I just did as the Lord told me.'” Of course it would Joe.

He said, what if you were at a pastor’s conference and they asked you “what did your do for the Lord in the past year.”
And you said, “We obeyed God and taught his word.”
They followed up with another question, “But, how many people came to Christ?”
And you responded, “none, in fact people left. But, we did exactly what we were told to do, we obeyed God the best we could.”

Nobody would care, they just want to know about the converts and the successes of the ministry. They would ask for another testimony that had people coming to Christ. The point is not that you are successful, the point is that you obey Christ.

“The point is not that you are successful, the point is that you obey Christ.”

People want to be great and do wonderful things for Christ. The most wonderful thing you can do for Christ is to obey the word of God and His calling on your life. No matter, what you do, do it for the Lord and obey His word, the Bible.

1Corinthians 10:31 (NIV) “…do it all for the glory of God.”

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014

Words From Joe: Part 4 – God’s Plan

Words From Joe: Part 4 – God’s Plan

blue prints

Thirty minutes with a guy that I have just met is not a lot of time to give him credibility and listen to his words.  But Joe, earned trust in a matter of seconds.  It was his spirit, his humble spirit.  It is his uselessness, humble, kingdom minded spirit that was apparent and drew me in.  This was Joe’s first lesson he gave me and I saved it for last.

I have been looking for a full time job in the ministry and getting frustrated as time goes by.  I’m ready!  As I finished introducing myself, I told Joe I had graduated seminary a few months earlier and looking for a job. “I just am tired of waiting”, I sai

d. In his mellow, South African / Australian, deep voice he said…

“Waiting is hard, but you can’t have plans for God.”

So why do so many of us try to plan out how we are going to do ministry? How we are going to restore the church? How we are going to …

Joe continued.  Noah didn’t have a plans to build a boat and definitely no plans on how to build an ark.  God provided the wood and the plans on how to build the ark.  Then He provided the animals and the rain, remember, God even shut the door. Noah was not involved in the plans, he just had to show up.

Moses didn’t have any plans of freeing Israel from Egypt, that would be ludicrous.  God made

the plans, gave him the words and the miracles.  What are Moses’ plans when he gets to the Red Sea, nope he doesn’t have any, God did.  How does Moses plan to feed a

n entire nation in the middle of the desert, he had no plans, God did.  Ten Commandments…God.  How about building the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant.  Moses was given all the plans by God,

who provided all the material.  Even Moses’ kid, God had the plan, Moses’ plan messed up.

An entire army bearing down on Israel and mocking them.  Does Saul have a plan?  Nope.  God Does.  Example after example, over and over again, it’s God’s plans.  How about saving Christians from Saul’s (Paul’s) wrath.  No plans there, but God shows up and not only stops Paul from harming believers, sends Paul out to bring the message to Gentiles.  Bet that was never on Paul’s radar.  What are the disciples to do, Jesus is gone and they have no plans.  That’s right, God has plans and saves thousands with one sermon from Peter.

Here was Joe’s question to me, “Why is it that we try to make plans to grow a church?  Is it not our job to just show up and do God’s plan?”

Matthew 16:18
“And I tell you that you are Peter,and on this rock I will build my church,”

Who is building who’s church?  Jesus will build His church.  It is not our job to build the church, that’s Jesus’ job, God’s plan.  Our job is to follow God’s plan.

Matthew 28:18-20
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

“Jesus will build his church if we are making disciples.”

That’s the plan. Jesus will build his church if we are making disciples.

Originally Posted August 2nd, 2009

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014

Words From Joe: Part 3 – The King

Words From Joe: Part 3 – The King

crownsJoe continued to tell me about his feelings on ministry.  Like I said in Part 1, this was a divine meeting.  His talking had a natural flow to it, like he had prepared this lesson just for me.  Like I have said before, South Africans do not talk unless they have something to say and Joe had more that he felt that I needed to hear.  From useless to pride and now the King.

The number one issue among churches today is serving the Kingdom and not the King.

Beyond pride the number one issue among churches today is serving the Kingdom.  It is church culture that the church be served.  And the pastor is being forced in many cases or gets caught up in serving the church or the kingdom.  Now there is nothing wrong with serving the kingdom.

Matthew 6:33
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

The danger is that the kingdom is being served and not the King. Joe said, “follow and serve the King, not the kingdom.  You can serve the kingdom and not the King, but if you serve the King you will always be serving the kingdom…His kingdom.”  If you are serving God, then there is no way that anyone can say that you are not serving the kingdom and you will be sure that you are following what God is having you to do.

Israel found themselves serving the kingdom.  In there case the kingdom was the law.  They were attempting to be completely obedient to the law.  There problem was that in their attempt to be obedient to the law and the kingdom, they forgot God.  My prayer is that the church will wake up and be obedient to God and not to just to church culture.  I understand these are hard and difficult words for some and might even be dangerous and misunderstood. I hope they aren’t and I hope you as the reader understand that we must serve the King, after all, it is His kingdom.

Originally Posted July 30th, 2009

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014

Words From Joe: Part 2 – Pride

Words From Joe: Part 2 – Pride

cracked mirrorA little refresher or a catch-up for those who didn’t read part one.

Joe is the uncle of my neighbors at the lake.  He was born in South Africa and now lives in Australia where he serves other churches, helping to revitalize their leadership.  He came over to meet me and I am now sharing his words with you from our 30 min. conversation.  He started by telling me how blessed he was to be useless.  By being useless, God has used him in incredible ways.  After telling me about being useless, he paused for a moment leaning back in his chair, then like a breath of fresh air, sat up on the end of the chair and said…

“And Pride.  Pride will take you down faster than anything else and that’s why I was so blessed to be useless.”  He sat back in his chair waiting for a response and so I obliged him, “Pride seems to be the root of all sin.” Joe quickly responded.  “You have to wake up every morning and see if pride is sticking its head up over the horizon.”

It is pride that gets in our way and makes us so we can not be used by God.  Reality is that when we sin we are being extremely prideful.  We are telling God that He does not know what is best for us and we know better.  What an arrogant statement to a loving creator.  Now this is not the statement that believers think they are making but one that is made repeatedly.  As a follower of Jesus, I know that He knows what is best for me, yet I still am arrogant enough to do what I think is best. And yes, Pride is at the base of all sin. Pride is a heart issue and the heart is the source of our sins.

The fruit in the garden…Pride
Striking a rock to produce water…Pride
Being swallowed by a fish…Pride
Sleeping with another man’s wife…Pride
Not giving your tithe to God…Pride
Not sharing the Gospel…Pride
And the list goes on…

As Joe was telling me about pride,  it’s message was to a young pastor who has goals, ambition and wants to see many come to faith and the church where I serve grow.  It is because of those goals that I and all the other pastors must become like John the Baptist.  “The bride belongs to the bridegroom.” (More on this later)

Wake up every morning and look to see if pride is sticking its head up over the horizon.  Joe does and he is useless.

Originally Posted July 29th, 2009

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014

Words From Joe: Part 1 – Useless

Words From Joe: Part 1 – Useless

lake-house-deck-design

I had a divine meeting, on a weekend at our lake house.  My next door neighbor at the lake brought his wife’s uncle over to introduce him to me.  He was telling this man about my story (more to come on that later) as a young pastor and he wanted to meet me, a fellow pastor.  My neighbor’s are from Johannesburg, South Africa and have this really profound dialect and sentence structure, they never say a word unless it is thought out and adds to the conversation and knowledge.  So, these two men walk onto our porch as we are singing Jimmy Buffet song’s and playing corn-hole, that’s how you know when your relaxing.  My neighbor introduces me to his uncle, Joe.  Joe politely sits down and remains quiet as our neighbor jumps in to play corn-hole.  I sit down next to Joe and knowing he is a pastor from South Africa, I make a simple comment / question as Southerners like to do, “So your a pastor from South Africa.”  In that moment this quiet reserved man turned into the most humble, wise man I have ever met.

I can’t remember much all the details about Joe, I was too captivated on the humility of who he was and what he was saying. I would tell you about Joe, but I will try to get him to tell you his story. But in short, he was a part of a group of pastors that joined forces and served a congregation of 15,000+. He felt the Lord calling him to go to Australia, so he went. He now helps churches restructure their leadership and speaks internationally at conferences. Enough about Joe, he wouldn’t want me to talk about him, he would want me to talk about his King.

So here, is the first lesson I learned from Joe in our short, 30 minute conversation.

He said, “I was born useless.  I was useless when I was in the catholic church, I was useless when I joined the team of pastor’s and I am still useless.”  He knows people in most every city around the world, London, Paris, New York, Atlanta, Miami, L.A., you name it and he knows someone.  However, God sent him to Melbourne, Australia and place that he knew no one.  He said, “You know God found a place where I was useless again and sent me there. I could have called Brain Houston from Hillsong at any time, but God didn’t lead me to Sydney.”  Here is a man who has trained pastors from around the world, very successful pastors and he calls himself useless. What gives?

Joe understands that the less he gets in the way, the more Jesus can shine. Joe isn’t useless, he is one of the most useful guys I have ever met, look what he has done. Wait, there it is. American culture seeping into God’s Kingdom. That’s is precisely what Joe doesn’t see. Joe never said, “Look at what I have done.” No, Joe said, “I am useless and God is faithful. It is simply the vine and the branches.”

“I am useless and God is faithful. It is simply the vine and the branches.”

John 15:1 & 5 (NIV)
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.”
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

A hammer is can do nothing alone.  Neither, can a shovel, grill, pen, airplane, or even a computer.  Someone has to pick it up and use it.  Another way of saying “you can do nothing”, is “you are useless.”

John 3:30 (NAS)
“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

But I don’t want to be useless. That’s the point, the more you get our of the way; the more you allow God to work, the more used you will be. Just be careful not to think you did it, then you really are useless to God because then you are using you and God will have to fight you to use you.

Originally Posted July 28th, 2009

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014