1 Simple Prayer You Need to be Praying Regularly

hands raised

Recently I was asked a question by a youth pastor.  The question isn’t new or revolutionary, in fact I have heard it many times and I have asked it several times while teaching both youth and adults.   He asked me, “Does your life make people want Jesus?”  I thought about that question for a moment and did not respond the way I thought I would.  The answer to the question I think… is no.  Looking at my life, I am not sure there is much of my life people would want.  In fact there isn’t much of any other life I would want either.  So I responded back, “Whose life does make you want Jesus?” and “Whose life would you want?”

Pick A Life

If I was going to pick someone’s life to have it would be a professional athlete.  Are you kidding me, 6’7″, 195 pounds, a 4.4 40,  325 lb. bench press, a .325 batting average and a contract of $20 million for 4 years… any day of the week!  But there is much of even that life I don’t want.  If we turn to the Bible for a life that someone would want, I’m not really sure we find one.  Do you want Abraham’s life, cause being 100 years old with a baby and no home doesn’t really sound that attractive.  How about Noah, talk about lonely.  Isaiah, that’s what we all want to be responsible for – telling everyone of the coming doom.  So how about Daniel?  Don’t forget he was an exile and if the outcome was good or not, he was thrown to the lions!  David, the man after God’s own heart, surely his life we would want.  Don’t forget he ran for his life, lost his best friend and then for the on top of it all would you want to be the example of infidelity for thousands of years?   Peter, though I can relate to both his denial of knowing Jesus and bold proclamation of Jesus and all that he saw, I’m still not sure his life makes me want Jesus… Oh’ yeah, crucified upside down.  Paul? because 2 Corinthians 6:4-10 is exactly what we want for our lives!

but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love;by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true;as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.”     – 2 Corinthians 6:4-10 (ESV)

Only One Life

Truth is there is only one life that makes us want Jesus.  That’s Jesus! (Exclamation Mark)  And His earthly life, pretty sure we don’t want.

Jesus’ life makes us want Jesus.

However, when we look to Jesus on the cross we see God’s Mercy, God’s Grace, God’s Love, God’s Wrath, God’s Forgiveness, God’s Patience, God’s Sovereignty, God’s… We could go one here and all we did was look at Jesus on the cross.  We can see this time and time again in Jesus.  For the rest of the lives in the Bible, they are desperately waiting and in need of Jesus or pointing to Jesus as the treasure of life.  As far as our lives, do they make people want Jesus?  Though nothing wrong with the original question, there may be a better question.  Does your life tell other’ about Jesus?  Do your words point people to Jesus?  We have to remember that we can’t save anyone, we can only point to Jesus.

1 Prayer We Need To Be Praying

So this whole post was about a prayer right?   All of the above goes into this prayer.  This youth pastor I was talking to has a very dedicated prayer life.  He is the guy that when he says that he is going to pray for you, you have no doubts that he is praying fervently for you.  He said, “It all comes down to one thing.   Do you want Jesus?”  For our lives to boldly proclaim Jesus, we must want Jesus in the first place.

“It all comes down to one thing.   Do you want Jesus?”

Recently I have been dealing with some normal but difficult issues and have gotten to the place in my prayers where I didn’t know how to pray any further.  My prayer simply became, “Jesus I need You.”  What I really needed, what we really need is Jesus.  The answer to our prayers is Jesus.  If comfort is what we are looking for, God responds by sending us Himself.  When our prayer is for a miracle to save someone form cancer, God responds by giving us Himself.  When we run out of words to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and gives us Himself.

I hope Jesus revealing Himself in my life makes you want Jesus.

Our lives have to mirror Jesus and so what we need is Jesus.  We need for Jesus to give us Himself.  No, my life doesn’t make you want Jesus.  I hope Jesus revealing Himself in my life makes you want Jesus.  Only Jesus makes others want Jesus.  Make praying for Jesus to give Him more of Himself a regular, if not daily prayer.

***Shout out to Dusty Fowler, youth pastor at Willowbrook Baptist Church, a roommate, a friend, and a brother,  Keep it up Duck!

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014

Read More Scripture!

HB Backdrop

Ad nauseum I tell my church they need to be reading scripture.  Forever we need to be in the discipline / habit of reading God’s word.  The lack of scripture reading is among the leading problems with Christians and churches today.

God went to great lengths to make sure we have His word.

Overwhelmingly, I am convinced that if the majority of believers read scripture on a frequent basis that their lives would change, their churches would change, their communities / cities / states would change and eventually the nation and the nations would change due to the power of the living word.  I believe that a lot of people’s Christian walk is stagnate because they are seeking God for Him to reveal what He wants them to do or they are waiting and listening for God to tell them something.  These same people don’t read the scriptures as a source to hear from God.  God went to great lengths to protect His word so that we would have it.  Why?  He has already said so much that applies to our lives today.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  – 2 Timothy 3:4-17

God has already given us all that we need to know for salvation and obedience toward Him.  This is the sufficiency of Scripture.  We either believer it or we don’t.  If the bible really is inerrant and sufficient then why aren’t our lives invested more into the words on its pages.  Instead most of our churches are filled with biblical illiteracy.   Thom Rainer in a recent blog post gave us 3 benefits of a church that reads scripture.

The Results of Biblical Literacy

We know that we should be reading and studying the Bible. But what are the results when actually accomplish this? Let me share three results of increased Biblical literacy:

  1. We Grow Spiritually as Individuals. A 30-minute sermon once a week is not a sufficient time in the Word. If we expect to mature as followers of Christ, we must commit to a lifestyle of letting the Word of Christ dwell in us richly (Col. 3:16).
  2. Our Churches Are Healthier. Healthy churches are made up of healthy members. Church members who dwell in the Word overflow with the fruits of the Spirit. They are patient, loving, joyful, and others-focused.
  3. We Reach More for Christ. Biblical literacy is the foundation for evangelism and missions. We should not expect to be motivated to tell others about God’s love for them if we are not engaged in His word. Conversely, when we are dwelling in the Word and it is dwelling in us, we can’t help but tell others the good news of Christ.

There are many tools to help you read scripture.  I urge you to find one.  There are tons that are sent to your smartphone each day so you don’t even have to remember, you just have to read.  We have no excuses, if its a long passage or one verse, read everyday!

Get in God’s word and read!  Let the Holy Spirit teach you!

Thom Rainer’s Blog Post: http://thomrainer.com/2014/04/22/biblical-literacy-church-three-benefits/

3 Steps To Raising Disciples – By Matt Blackwell

family in park

As a parent, God has entrusted you with a tremendous privilege and responsibility. The Bible speaks frequently to parents offering encouragement, wisdom and instruction.  Before Shannon and I had kids I remember having a conversation about how we would be different than our friends who were letting their kids drive the family’s schedule and priorities.  We vowed to be different, that was until we actually had our first kid.

We realized very quickly that there is an inertia that drives parents towards having a kid-centered home.  Their noise, needs, desires, activities, homework, etc. require parents to diligently avoid being consumed by the tyranny of the urgent.

“Kid-centered homes produces self-centered adults.”

Parents have to work hard to build a Christ-centered home and not a kid-centered home, because a kid-centered home produces self-centered adults.  Parents have to constantly strive to take their kids out of the center of the family and remind them that Christ is the center.

Mom and dad, you are the leaders in your home and as such you are uniquely positioned to keep your eyes fixed on God and your finger on the pulse of the family. The kids that God has entrusted to you are your primary disciples. And as their mom and dad you have the privilege, joy and responsibility to lead them.

Check out what the bible tells parents in Deuteronomy 6:5-9,

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Here are a few observations about disciple making for parents from these verses:

 Step 1 – “On your hearts”

Let the Word of God and the love of God be on your heart. The best discipler is a disciple.  The best leader is first a follower.  Your primary call as a disciple maker is to know the Word, love it, and live it.  How are you doing in the areas of prayer, sharing your faith, and reading your Bible?  As a parent your first step in making disciples of your kids is to be a disciple.

Step 2 – “Impress them on your children”

Parents can impress the things of God on their children through discipline and delight.

Discipline

The greatest context for teaching kids comes through consistent discipline.  One of the things that I’ve realized is that while I waver in my consistency in leading family devotions, our kids never waver in their need to be disciplined.  The bible speaks of disciplining kids often:

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4 “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.” Proverbs 23:13–14

The purpose of discipline is to gain a hearing.  Most of the time our kids are running around so fast that they don’t stop long enough to really hear what we are saying.  The goal of discipline isn’t just behavioral modification but heart transformation.  Through discipline we slow them down and create the opportunity to teach them the truths of repentance, grace, forgiveness, and kindness.

“The purpose of discipline is to gain hearing.”

A parent’s role, especially a Father, is not to crush his children but to cultivate them.  Through discipline, parents should seek to cultivate their kids so that they become self-disciplined and not continually need a wooden spoon or a timeout or jail cell to have them live rightly.

Delight

Our role as leaders in the home is to equally delight and discipline.  It is not loving to delight in your kids without correcting them, just as it is not loving to discipline them without delighting in them.  The bible reminds us of the joy of having kids:

“The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice.” Proverbs 23:24–25 “…the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:11–12 “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.” Proverbs 29:17 “Children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!” Psalm 127:3-5

Parents, you are to rejoice in and delight in the blessing of your kids today, not in some future version of them.  Before any parent disciplines their children, they are commanded to delight in them.  This means that most of your time is spent enjoying your children, encouraging them, laughing with them, being affectionate with them, and enjoying them so that there is a deep bond of love and joy between your children and their mom and their dad.  The backdrop of your discipline is delight.

“The backdrop of your discipline is delight.”

Step 3 – “talk about them…”

Finally mom and dad, make disciples as you go.  Look for opportunities as you drive to practice, play at the park, or put the kids down to bed.  Don’t let discipleship be isolated to Sundays, but let it be a natural part of your day.  It’s not weird for your kids to hear you talk about what you love and are passionate about.  So talk about what God is teaching you and ask them what God is teaching them.

“Parents, discipleship must be a natural part of your day.”

You can’t delegate discipleship.  You take the lead and look for opportunities to “talk about these things” as you go.  Try to create places where your kids ask questions.  Use family devotion times, serving together, going to church together and asking them what they learned as ways to have some conversations.  And be patient, because most of those conversations will be short and fruitless, but there will be one every so often that is powerful and transformative.

This is the way of discipleship: patient obedience over the course of years builds a firmly rooted disciple who will bear much fruit.  And that is what we are praying that our kids to become.  Mom and dad, keep your heart engaged in the Word of God, delight in your kids, correct them when necessary, and look for opportunities to have fruitful conversations that lead them to Jesus.

Original Post: http://www.vergenetwork.org/2014/04/21/raising-disciples/

Why I Love the Empty Tomb

happy easter

Good Friday?  Strange to title such a grotesque day in history as good.

With today being Good Friday and what we as believers celebrate as the day that Christ was crucified on the cross I thought I would take a moment and take a look at the  2 major events that are celebrated over the Easter weekend.  The gospel is clearly lived out and told through the crucifixion of Christ on the cross and the empty tomb of His resurrection.

Sin on the Cross

In the post “What Does Jesus Save Us From?” I explained that we are saved from God’s wrath.  We experience God’s wrath because of our sin (Romans 1:18-32).  What we as humans are desperately in need is for someone to save us from the consequence of our sins, to forgive us of our sins, to pay the penalty of our sins.  God know that the only thing that would satisfy His wrath would be the overwhelming payment of the death of His son Jesus.  How great is it for someone to believe that God would send the rescuer from His own wrath and He sent Himself!  The penalty of our our sin is death (Romans 6:23).  See, someone had to die for our sins, and who is good enough to pay that penalty?  Definitely not us.  Jesus being God in the flesh is the only one who could satisfy the penalty for us, so He endured the cross, shed His own blood, and died in our place.  He took the penalty of our sins upon Himself on the cross.

Our sins are paid for and forgiven on the cross of Christ, but that’s just half of the story, half the Gospel.  What would have happened if Jesus stopped at the cross?

The Empty Tomb

Having our sins forgiven is a miracle in itself, but if God stops there, if He stops with Christ work on the cross we are left forgiven but not alive.  For us, just having not to bear the wrath of God would have been enough.  This is the extreme mercy of God!  But this is not enough for our God!  He wanted us alive!  To live for eternity worshiping Him, living life to the fullest in His unhindered presence.  It is for this reason that on the third day God raised Jesus from ‘the dead (Acts 10:40).  This is the extreme grace of God!  When God raises Jesus from the dead, He paves the ways for us to also raise to life when our earthly bodies die.  When Jesus followers find His tomb empty what they don’t realize they are looking at is how their own tombs will be, how our graves as believers will be…EMPTY!

It Takes Both

If Jesus is just raised from the dead, then our sins are still unforgiven and we have to deal with the wrath of God.  If Jesus is just crucified on the cross then our sins are forgiven but we have no hope of eternity.  This is why this Easter I am asking you to praise Jesus for both the cross and the empty tomb.  Romans 10:9 says,

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

It is believing that God raised Jesus to life after His death on the cross that saves us from God’s wrath!

This is why I love the empty tomb!

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014

 

 

3 Big Questions Kids Ask on Good Friday – by Andrew Weiseth

Easter-kids-running

Good Friday is a weighty and somber reminder of Jesus’ suffering and death. How do you explain these difficult truths to kids?

You’ve got one minute to explain the suffering of Jesus on the cross. Ready? Go.

This is a part of Christian parenting in a nutshell, isn’t it? Kids ask us big questions at random times, and we have a brief moment to engage their ready hearts.

Are we ready for the questions that come with Good Friday? As John Wooden put it, “When opportunity comes, it’s too late to prepare.” So let’s prepare! Let’s ask God to ready us to engage our children. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to open their hearts to ask questions and to hunger for Christ.

Kids ask us big questions at random times, and we have a brief moment to engage their ready hearts.

Let us also remind ourselves the value of being able to discuss complex topics at a child’s level. Da Vinci has been quoted as saying, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Those who know a topic well are often the ones best able to explain it to a child. And if you can explain it to a child, you can usually explain it to anyone.

What follows is not necessarily “the ultimate sophistication,” merely a humble attempt to encourage us as parents. We will look at just three among the hundreds of questions kids may be asking this weekend. May this help to ready our minds to guide our children toward Jesus with simple brevity and clear truth.

1. Why did Jesus have to die?

The core answer to this question is:

Jesus died to show God’s righteousness (Rom. 3:23–26).

Here are some ways to explain this truth, depending on whether the child tends to be more logical or more imaginative.

For the logical child:

  • Is God good? Yes.
  • Is he fair? Yes.
  • Would he let bad people do bad things without punishment? No.
  • Adam, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Rachel, Ruth, David—were any of these people good? No, only Jesus is good.

Jesus died for the sins of every person, through all of time, who has ever put their full trust in God.

If you can explain something to a child, you can usually explain it to anyone.

For the imaginative child:

What if Dad was a police officer outside a candy store? One bad guy after another comes until the store is entirely robbed, and Dad doesn’t stop any of them.

Does Dad seem like a good police officer? No!

Oh, but God is so good. He gives time for some of the bad guys to admit they were wrong and ask forgiveness, and he doesn’t let their crimes go unpunished. He takes the full punishment on himself. Jesus on the cross is like that. He says to all who trust in him, “It is finished, I have paid for your sins” (see John 19:30 and also John 3:36).

2. Is God an Angry Father?

The core answer to this question is:

God is perfectly good, holy, and sinless (Ps. 18:30, Isa. 6:3, Deut. 32:4).

For the logical child:

  • Is God a good Father who loves his children? Yes.
  • How does he feel when his children attack each other? Angry.
  • If someone used words or fighting to hurt you, should God be angry about that? Yes.
  • How about when you or I hurt someone? Yes.

God gets angry because he is good. He is so good that for everyone who has put their trust in Jesus, God has put all that anger on himself instead of them.

Is God a good Father who loves his children? Yes.

For the imaginative child:

Two dads went to the playground with their kids. Suddenly another kid showed up and started saying mean words and even started throwing rocks at the other kids.

One dad saw what was happening and ignored it. The other dad became angry! He jumped up and protected his kids from the rocks with his own body. Then he went and stopped the other kid and had him sent back to his home.

Which Dad showed love for the kids? The one who got angry.

God’s anger is a bit like that, only it’s so much better, it is without any sin. God loves his kids and hates seeing them harm others or themselves.

3. What happened to Jesus on the cross?

The core answer to this question is:

Jesus was tortured beyond human recognition (Isa. 53:3). We need not explain every gory detail to give our kids the accurate core truth.

For all children:

Jesus was able to endure more pain than we can imagine because he has a love that is greater than we can imagine.

What other questions might your kids be asking around Good Friday?

What are your kids really into, and what analogies or word pictures might resonate best with them?

Original Post: http://theresurgence.com/2014/04/18/3-big-questions-kids-ask-on-good-friday

What Does Jesus Save Us From?

What Does Jesus Save Us From?

calm-in-the-storm

Easter is this weekend.  It is as basic as it gets for Christians.  We cannot ever forget what Easter is about.  In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul ask us to remember how simple the gospel is.  Jesus died for our sins.  He was buried.  And He was made alive again on the 3rd day.  That is the simple and clear message that thousands of churches around the world will be professing this Easter.  It is this gospel that has the power to save all who believe it (Romans 1:16).  This has led me to recently ask a simple question…  What are we saved from?

Jesus died, Jesus was buried, and Jesus was resurrected.  The gospel is that simple.

For the majority of believers, I am afraid that we have lost sight or even worse, never knew what we needed salvation from.  I started asking Christians the simple question, “What are we saved from?”  I got many answers, many of which weren’t wrong, but they aren’t the answer.  And no, I am not out trying to be a stickler on semantics.  Answers like we are saved from our sins, we are saved from Hell, we are saved from ourselves, and we are saved from Satan.  Yes, all of these are true, but they are all parts of the right answer.  So what is the right answer?

Romans 5:9 “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!”

We are saved from the wrath of God!

As believers we must understand that we are saved from the wrath of God.  We must understand that our friends, family, neighbors and co-workers are in danger of suffering the wrath of God.  Did you get that!?!  Those around you that do not follow Jesus are in sever danger of the wrath of God.  God knows this, that is why He sent His son!  We celebrate Easter to remember the event that allows us to be in God’s immediate presence for all of eternity… The Resurrection!

I urge you to take time this Easter weekend to understand that God through Jesus saves us from the wrath of God.  He saves us from His own wrath.  Ponder that!  I also urge you to share Easter.  Your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers desperately need to know they are are facing the wrath of God because of their sins.  Use Easter as that time, no matter where they are in life and what road they are walking down, they are aware that this weekend is Easter, so its already on their minds.

Tomorrow I will address sin as part of Easter.

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014

On Mission With Your Children – by John Murchison

On Mission With Your Children – by John Murchison

On Mission With Your Children

My desire is for people to start understanding how to make their normal everyday hectic lives intentional for bring others to know Jesus.  Part of this desire derives from the closeness of my family and the watching the families of today being beat up and torn down.  My hope is that this article and articles like this help the family live as Christ.  It is originally posted in its entirety on the Verge Network site.  The link to the original post can be found below.  Enjoy.

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he left his disciples with the following words:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)

Clearly, going and making disciples must be a high priority for all who follow Jesus. Some families are called to go to the nations, to proclaim the gospel among those who have not had a chance to hear. Their stories are certainly inspiring, and hopefully many more families will join them. However, not everyone will respond to this call to make disciples by going abroad.

As we see in Acts 1:8, this command of Jesus to make disciples is not just for those going to the “end of the earth.” Jesus commanded his followers to be his witnesses both near and far:

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 ESV)

How can families best obey Acts 1:8 in their neighborhoods and schools?

So what does mission look like for those of us who are not going abroad?  How can families best obey this commandment of our Lord to make disciples and be his witnesses right where they are?

Not Activity, But Identity

Sometimes, when a family hears this call to mission, what they actually hear is that they need to “do more things” in order to be on mission.  And if the calendar is already full, as it often is, the message to make disciples can feel like a heavy burden rather than the easy yoke that Jesus promises in Matthew 11:30.

If your family’s calendar is indeed full, the chances are that your family is coming into close, regular contact with those who do not have faith in Christ. Your son’s soccer team, your daughter’s theater class, your PTA meeting, your Gymboree class – these are all mission fields ripe for the harvest. What most families need is not to do more things, but to live out their calling as a missionary in the things they are already doing. To be on mission, families don’t need a shift in activity, but a shift in identity.

“To be on mission, families don’t need a shift in activity, but a shift in identity.”

As Christians, we are not people who “do ministry.”  We are ministers.  We are not people who “do mission.” We are missionaries.  And as we live out our identity as missionaries, we will start to see our everyday activities as opportunities to be witnesses for Christ.  As Peter puts it,

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9 ESV)

Giving to Those in Need

Parents should involve their children on mission to those who are less fortunate than they are.  Scripture is replete with examples of God’s people sharing their possessions with those who are in need, and we do well to follow this example.

“Children are usually eager to be on mission to those in need.”

As you go about your daily lives, you will encounter others who are less fortunate than you.  Children are usually eager to be on mission to those in need, and parents need to encourage and support this godly desire.

Mission as Discipleship

As parents lead their children on mission, they aren’t just benefiting others, they are benefiting their children as well.  As James rightly points out, a faith in Christ that does not lead to mission and good works is no faith at all:

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:14-17 ESV)

“As parents lead their children on mission they are benefiting their children.”

If we want to demonstrate a faith to our children that is alive, a faith that can save them, we need to live our lives on mission.

Original Post: http://www.vergenetwork.org/2014/04/09/on-mission-with-your-children/

6 Things The Church Can Learn From Jimmy Fallon By David Henson

PictureThe Church could learn a few things from Jimmy Fallon, the new host of the “Tonight Show.” And it’s no surprise, really. Jimmy has said in interviews he once wanted to be a priest in the Roman Catholic Church and was influenced early in life by his experiences as an altar boy. But he never felt he could really be a priest because he couldn’t keep a straight face. As a priest myself, it’s always good to be reminded that our image in culture is often a dour one when it should be a joyful one.

So it got Mark and I to thinking on “The Moonshine Jesus Show” what Jimmy Fallon has to teach us and what it would be like if he were a pastor or a priest. So we started a hashtag — #ordainjimmyfallon — and the early contributions are hilarious, but also really profound at times. Seriously go check it out and add yours in! But the hashtag responses really do speak to the idea that Jimmy might have some important lessons for us.
Lesson 1: Embrace the Joy and Enthusiasm in the moment. Sure, lots of churches claim to have joy and enthusiasm for the work of Christ. Some actually do. But, let’s be honest, churches still have a lot to learn when it comes to joy and enthusiasm. What Jimmy does best is exist in the moment on his show and exist in that moment fully, giving it all his attention, energy, and enthusiasm. Jimmy’s joy and enthusiasm for each moment or guest is infectious, and it isn’t just an act either. It’s a profound act of hospitality. It lets everyone in the room know that there is no one or nothing more important than the people being together, sharing a joyful — even divine — moment.
Lesson 2: Embrace Divine Playfulness. Now, certainly there are times to be serious. But there is a rare child-like glee that is refreshing. As adults, we’ve lost the importance and the spirituality of play. But each week, Jimmy invites serious actors and musicians to loosen up and just play. They play charades, Pictionary, and a variety of off-the-wall games. What’s most remarkable to me is witnessing four diverse celebrities, in the span of 7 minutes, form a semblance of community through their good-natured play. It is a good reminder, and a reminder the church often forgets, that play is a profound form of prayer that brings people together.
Lesson 3:Embrace Others’ Talents and Accomplishments. One of the things I love about the “Tonight Show” is how Jimmy yields the spotlight. He celebrates — genuinely — the talents and achievements of those around him. And he’s not the only one telling the jokes. He’s often the one cracking up at other people’s jokes and quips. It is vulnerable way to host what is essentially a comedy show, to not always be the exact center of attention. By laughing on-air so much, he invites his audience to laugh with him. He’s not the only funny one. He gives credit to his writers, especially on Twitter, for the really funny bits and segments he does. It’s almost as if he’s a student of comedy and laughter, and he’s willing to learn from the experiences of each and every person who comes on as a guest. It’d be nice if in many of our churches we got the impression that our pastors or priests weren’t the only holy ones there to teach others, but people who are journeying with a congregation, willing to learn what it means to be followers of Christ from each other.
Lesson 4: Embrace that It’s All Bigger than You. Jimmy Fallon made it clear in his first episode that he wasn’t in control of the “Tonight Show.” Rather, he was its steward. “I just want to do the best I can to take care of the show for awhile,” he said during his first monologue in February. Even though his name’s on the show and he’s responsible for it for awhile, he knows the institution is bigger than himself, and it will continue on after him.
Lesson 5: Embrace the Change. But just because he respects the institution doesn’t mean he’ll keep doing things the same way. In fact, it’s his deep respect and love for the institution that is pushing him to change it, tweak it, and put his own personality in it. He embraces the cultural changes around him and adapts the institution to its environment. He brings the institution to a new generation with dynamism and with respect for it. And it’s paying off for him. He’s tops in the ratings, his videos are going viral, his hashtags are trending worldwide, and he’s drawing a younger generation to the institution.
Lesson 6: Embrace Hope. There is virtually zero cynicism on the “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.” Each show feels like an unrestrained celebration of life. There’s a time for critique and speaking up, but that has to be balanced with the celebration of life. We so often tend to focus on the worst news in the world, the injustice, or sin. But we need to be reminded, too, that life is worth celebrating, that there is good in the world, that God is present in the world with us. Confronting injustice in the world from a place of hope and from a deep belief in the goodness of the world offers more resilience, more boldness, and more grace than confronting injustice from a place of cynicism, despair, and brokenness.
What Do You Really Believe Jesus Will Do?

What Do You Really Believe Jesus Will Do?

photoAs followers of Jesus we have declared that “Jesus is Lord” and we believe that after Jesus was crucified on a cross that God raised Him from the dead.  But do we really believe that Jesus can take away the sins of others? More specifically, do you really believe that Jesus died for your friends and that only He can save them from God’s wrath?  Or do we not understand what we have been saved from or what our lost friends are in danger of.

Do we understand what we have been saved from?

Millions of dollars are spend every year on mission trips, basically taking the name of Christ to places than aren’t home.  Mission trips are not bad, in fact they are really good and we are being obedient to Christ by taking His name to the “ends of the earth.”  But the “ends of the earth” is the last place mentioned in Acts 1:8, Jerusalem is the first, Jerusalem was the disciples home.  We are called first to be witnesses at home.  Why is telling the people closest to us about Jesus so hard?  It really is!  It can feel so weird and awkward.  Why?

Could it be that we are too worried about what friends, family, neighbors and co-workers might think of us  or Jesus if we bring them the gospel?  In our heads they are already saying:

“You want me to be some religious freak?!?”

“You think I need help?”

“You think I am going to go to hell?  Who do you think you are?”

“Jesus is just some weird tooth-fairy god!”

“Jesus can’t save anyone from any sin!”

“Jesus shmesus, you got to be kidding me!”

Instead of being worried of what our friends will think about us or Jesus, what if we asked the question, “What will Jesus do if we bring our friends to Him?”  It’s a different way to look at the situation and could change how we look at telling people about Jesus and our responsibility.  Mark 2 gives us the story of 4 men who carry their paralyzed friend to Jesus.  The men can’t get their buddy close to Jesus, so they climb up on top of the house where Jesus is, dig out the roof and lower their friend to Jesus.

What will Jesus do if we bring our friends to Him?

I can’t imagine the looks on their faces.  These men had to be pretty bold to even do this in the first place, or these guys had to be cared out of their minds.  Either way, they don’t utter a single word.  Getting their friend in front of Jesus was as far as they got in their plans.  They had not rehearsed what who was going to say what to try to convince Jesus to heal the man or a grand speech, they just knew they had to get their friend in front of Jesus.  Mark 2:5 gives us Jesus reaction, When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.'” Did you see it!  Did you catch what happened?

Remember, the men didn’t utter one single word to Jesus, Jesus just reacted.  Two parts of Jesus reaction should be freeing to you to bring your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers to Him.

First, because of whose faith did Jesus forgive the man’s sins?  The bible says “their faith”!  Because of the faith of the friends Jesus forgave the man’s sins.  I am not saying that the paralyzed man did not believe, but what we are given is because of “their faith”, which points to the faith of the friends, Jesus forgives sins.  What do you believe Jesus will do when you bring Him your friends?

Second, because the friends were faithful to bring their the man to Jesus, Jesus takes over.  Jesus is the only one who can save our friends, family, neighbors and co-workers from their sin, death and God’s wrath.  Therefore, once we bring our friends to Jesus, we have done our part.  The man’s friends got Him to Jesus, they were done, that’s why we don’t find them saying anything, that’s all they could do.

I urge you to not be afraid of what those around you might say about you or Jesus if you share the gospel with them.  Instead, do you believe Jesus can really save your friends from their sin.  Be faithful to Jesus and bring your friends to Him.

Bring your friends to Jesus and then let Jesus do what Jesus does.

If Prayers

If Prayers

if

Spent some time in Wichita, Kansas and gleaned some great lessons from my new friends there.  Let me share…

Have you ever wanted to pray a prayer that allows God to have full control of a situation and have no idea how to?

What happens to your prayers when you let God have that much control of your situation?

I’ve always wanted to be able to pray bold prayers where I trust God to do incredible things in my own life.  Honestly, I am pretty good at praying bold prayers for others and I really do believe that God can and will move in the lives of others.  But for some reason, it’s hard for me to pray extremely trusting prayers.  Yes, this does show how much I want to be in control and have relinquishing control.  It’s a daily fight.  But what if one little word could change everything?  IF.

IF is a simple yet powerful word.

That can’t be it, that can’t be all to it.  IF?  Really?  That’s the brilliant word you came up with?  That’s it!  IF.  What happens when you start adding IF to your prayers?  Watch how simply yet powerful the little word becomes.

IF God you want…

This little word has revolutionized my prayer life in just a few short days.  It makes it easy for me to give control over to Christ.  Jesus used it why shouldn’t we.

 “My Father, IF it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  – Matthew 26:39

If God you want me to _____________, then make it happen.  If Lord you want _______________ for me, then give it to me.  If Jesus you have for me a _____________, I trust you will give it to me.   So simple, but once you say “IF” there isn’t anything else you can do.  That little word places complete control into God’s hands.

Give “IF prayers” a try, see how it works in your life, see if it allows you to give control to our savior.

*Thanks to Pastor Jason Villianueva and Aviator Church.  Keep up your faithful work with Christ.

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014