Good People at 20,000 Feet

Good People at 20,000 Feet

Recently, I have had to make several trips where I chose to fly instead of drive.  This is not usually a big deal.  However, I have also recently had shoulder surgery. It was supposed to be a minor procedure with a short recovery.  I didn’t wake up from a minor procedure.  I woke up from a much more extensive surgery with a much longer road to recovery.  Not being able to use my dominate arm and hand made flying a big ordeal.  I learned a long time ago (plus a $25 charge for checking in a bag) to only bring a carry on.  By now, you can see my problem.  How am I going to get my carry-on into the overhead with only my left hand?

Let’s just start at security in both airports.  Granted, I was flying out at times that aren’t known for being busy and the security lines were reasonably shorter than usual.  The first TSA officers at both airports noticed that I couldn’t go through the super high tech scanners because I couldn’t raise my arm. They walked over to me, ushered me to the side, picked up my bag and got everything on and through the conveyor belt for me.  Before you think I got special treatment, just think about who I was dealing with.  Oh… TSA gave me their version of special treatment.  After walking through the standard metal detector, I got patted down and then swabbed for who knows what.

As I boarded the first airplane, a male flight attendant immediately noticed my arm in a sling and asked if he could take my bag and put it in the closet.  As I left the plane, he had my bag waiting on me.  I only mention that he was a male because as I boarded the next 3 airplanes, the female flight attendants pretty much ignored my arm.  In fact, I asked one of them for a little help and she told me that there might be someone to help me closer to my seat.  However, this lack of help from the flight attendants left room for others to step in.

Approaching my seat on the second plane, my eyes were scanning the overhead compartments for space to put my carry-on.  I stopped at my seat and let go of my bag and turned around to see if I had missed a place to put my bag.  When I turned back around, my bag was gone.  Another guy was hoisting it into the overhead above him saying, “No worries, I got this.”  When we landed and I was making my way out of my seat, the same guy handed me my bag.  “Hope your arm gets better.”  I didn’t tell him what happened, nor did he care to know.  In fact, the only words I even said to the guy were “Thank You.”

On my way back home, I boarded the third jet.  A guy who appeared to be a student athlete from the University of Wisconsin was sitting just past first class on the first row of the “rest of us” class. I assume he was a student athlete because the guy was about 6’8″ and decked out in red sweats, a red Wisconsin jacket, red shoes, and red Beats. (I believe my assumption was fairly safe).  He took one glance and snatched up my bag trying to fit it in any place around him that he could.  Unfortunately, all the spaces were taken or my bag was too big.  I got to my seat bag in hand.  I looked at a guy for a split second.  He unbuckled and said, “I’ve been there,” and loaded my bag.

Getting off that third leg of my trip didn’t go as smoothly.  I should have swallowed my pride and asked for help.  But, I had a plan and it would have worked. The plan was to wait for someone to back the line up trying to get their bag from the overhead, grab my bag with my left hand and let it fall into the seat below.  Just as I yanked my bag, I saw a girl running down the aisle getting ready to go under my arm.  Instinct took over and I caught the bag with my bad arm, or at least deflected it from hitting the girl.  Ouch!!!  Not to worry, the final leg of my trip another sweet couple helped me with my bag.  As I walked down the aisle, a lady watched me all the way to my seat.  When I got to my seat, she hit her husband.  He didn’t even look at her, but jumped out of his seat and grabbed my bag.  When we landed, he handed me my bag as I left my seat.

Luke 10:30, 33 A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead.  A Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.

I have to swallow my pride to ask for help and I know many others who are the same way.  This is not at all what this is about.  No, this is about being alert to the possibility of helping someone else.  Helping someone in a lot of cases cost us nothing.  As believers, we have to have our eyes open to what is going on around us.  We must be on the lookout to help others, to bless others.

The first flight attendant recognized the need immediately and didn’t hesitate to take action.  You might say that it is his job.  Well, on your job are you keeping your eyes peeled back to ways that you can jump in and do your job better?  A happy customer is a loyal customer.

How about the student who was willing to help, even when he couldn’t? Is your heart softened to the needs of others?

Are you willing to unbuckle and help someone?  I’m not even talking about going way out of the way to help someone.  Simply a few steps or a few seconds can go a long way.  Are we willing to let go of our precious time to serve others?

Are we on the lookout for each other?  The wife wasn’t in the position to help, but her husband was.  Are we noticing times and places where someone we know can be in a place to serve someone much better than even we are?

Our eyes have to be open to recognizing ways that we could be serving, blessing, and helping others before they even ask for it… if they will ever ask for it.  And recognizing a need isn’t enough!  We must be meeting the needs of others!  A “bless his/her heart” may sound nice, but doesn’t help a person out in the least.  In the parable, a priest noticed the man on the side of the road and probably even felt bad for the guy.  The Levite saw the man and may have shot up a prayer for the poor guy.  But only the Samaritan did something.  Jesus tells us to be a neighbor to people.

Matthew 22:39  Love your neighbor as yourself.

Do Something!!!

Jonathan Haley Uhrig © 2015

Looking and Listening for Opportunities

Seeing and Listening for Opportunity to

I took a little vacation this past weekend.  It had been 4 years since I had seen the beach.  Unless you don’t like sand, salt water, seaweed, creatures under the water you can’t see, and people wearing swimsuits they should never ever consider wearing – then 4 years is just too long or it may be just right.  I tend to visit other churches when I am on vacation just to see what others are doing to reach people.  This church happened to be one of the larger churches in the area.  I was a little early and so I  started putting some volunteers through a gauntlet of questions about the church.  “What is the church’s denominational background?”  “How do people find community?”  “How do you split up your small groups?” … you know, the “typical” questions a guest wants to know.  I wandered around the halls for a few minutes and checked out some of their meeting spaces, then made my way into the auditorium.

Sitting down on the edge of a row, I was approached by an older gentleman who I could tell was a bit flustered.  Dean immediately looked at me and said, “Can you help?”  In his hand he was holding a layout of the auditorium and the names of men, several that had been scribbled through.  A quick glance at this piece of paper, paired with his frustration I figured I knew what he needed and so I asked him, “Are you short an usher?”  He quickly answered about how one of the men had simply not shown up and two others had called in sick.  So I asked him, “How do you need me to serve, by taking up offering or serving the Lord’s Supper?”  He looked at me and what seemed like shouting exclaimed, “There are your FIFTEEN service plates ready with the elements!”  15 plates!  This stack of service plates (you know those super shiny plates that hold the little cups of juice) was so tall I couldn’t even see over it as I carried it!

It brings joy to your heart to serve people who will never know who you are or that you even exist.

Don’t blame Dean for not knowing that I was a visitor or for not introducing himself (thank goodness he had on a name badge), like I said, it was a huge church and he was beyond frustrated.  It wasn’t fair to him that I recognized his situation and knew the words to say.  But that is the point – I recognized his situation and knew how to take care of it.  He didn’t have to know me and I didn’t need to know him, we were brothers serving Christ and by serving him and serving their church, I was serving Jesus.  I harp all the time on making sure you listen to the stories of others and be on the lookout to bless and serve others.  The stories don’t have to be long and drawn out to know how you can jump in and serve.

How many times have we simply missed the good works that have been prepared for us?

Please don’t read this and see it as a need for a pat on my back.  I have missed opportunity after opportunity to practice what I preach.  This time I recognized it and jumped on the opportunity to be used.  Jesus listened to those around Him and responded to their needs by serving them. Even if their stories are short or untold, Jesus came to serve.  In Luke 8, a woman simply touches the hem of Jesus’s cloak, He responds to her so gently and serves her.  Don’t miss that she touched his cloak while Jesus was going to heal Jarius’s daughter. The gospels are full of Jesus listening to stories and responding to people by serving them.  Remember, we are created to do good works in and through Jesus and those good works are prepared for us in advance (1 Corinthians 2:10).  Keep your eyes open and listen to people, they will tell you how to serve them.  How many times have we simply missed the good works that have been prepared for us?

  Jonathan Haley Uhrig © 2014

*Hey, Dean!  Thank you for trusting me to serve you and your church.  It was an honor.

Praying the Words of God Into Your Life

Praying the Words of God Into Your Life

In the past few weeks, I have heard or read about praying God’s Word no less than ten times.  I love this idea and have been known to use the phrase while preaching, speaking and teaching.  But what does it even mean and how do we apply it?

A  Real Head Jerker

I have an “exciting life list” / a “get’er done list” / a “man I really want to accomplish or be a part of ______ list”.  (Most people would call it a bucket list, but I don’t like the idea of kicking a bucket.  First, I don’t like pain very much.  Second, yes… it is a list of things to do before I pass away, but I don’t like thinking about that day much.  I feel this list is more about living life than “kicking the bucket.”)  This list consists of places I want to visit, things I want to do and see and things I want to experience. There are normal things and off the wall, extreme things, and there are ways I want to be used by God.  Some of the ways I want to be used by God may sound a little arrogant, but they are evidence to me that I am being used in some mighty (mighty crazy) ways by God.  One of the ways I want to be used by God is to be quoted in a sermon. The idea that something I said could be used by God to influence the life of more than just those that can hear my voice excites me so much.  When you hear your name, what happens?  You get excited!  Your ears perk up and your head jerks around toward who said it.  We want to be acknowledged, recognized and/or given credit for what we have done or said.  So what do you think God does when He hears his own words directed back towards Him?  I think you get His attention.  Remember, these words are from the same God that spoke all of creation into existence.  God’s words and Word are powerful, He doesn’t take them lightly.

God spoke all of creation into existence, His words are powerful and he doesn’t use them lightly.

Are Your Ears Burning

There is even a saying that suggests that we know when people are talking about us.  Have you ever called someone and they say, “Are your ears burning?  I was just talking about you.”?  I’m not sure there is any truth to you knowing when people are talking about you or that your ears burn, mainly because, we can’t hear them and have no other way of knowing.  (On the flip side, that happens way too often.)

Make God’s ears burn by talking about what He says.

However, God does know you are talking about Him. He can hear you, He can see you talking to Him and about Him and He knows the words you are using.  Talk about God in your prayers.  Talk about what He has done, what He is doing and how great He is. Talk to Him using His words from scripture.  Make God’s ears burn, because you are talking about Him and to Him.

God’s Words are Promises

Most of us look at the Bible and see a really long book with super thin pages.  The Bible I use to preach from has 1,152 pages, no doubt it is long.  But, compared to what is within those pages, its fairly short and brief.  Get ready for this one… The Bible has over 3,000 promises in it. That is 3 promises per super thin page!  (I went with the most conservative number.  Some sources say that there are over 7,000!  While others say that each verse of scripture is a promise from God making that number over 30,000!)  Take God up on His promises.  He has given us His “Word”; shouldn’t we take Him at His Word?

God has given us His “Word”, shouldn’t we take Him at His Word?

We need to learn to pray the promises of God into our own life.  Asking God for what He has already promised you puts you on the same page as God.  Mark Batterson says, “You’ve got to define the promises God wants you to stake claim to, the miracles God wants you to believe for, and the dreams God wants you to pursue. Then you need to keep circling until God gives you what He wants and He wills. That’s the goal.”  Paul says, “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.” 2 Corinthians 1:20

Now you know why we need to be praying God’s word, but how do we do it?  Well, instead of telling you how, can I pray for you and will you pray with me?  Here are some examples:

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Jesus, it is so easy for us to be afraid of our situation in life, to be discouraged, to feel down and out about where we seem to be in our life.  God make us strong and courageous so that we can face tomorrow.  I know that you are with us no matter where we are or what we are facing.  Please remind us of your presence as we find ourselves in these situations. God, there are some of us facing extremely difficult situations, give us the boldness and courageousness that it will take to stand with you and for you.  Father, I specifically ask for the boldness to share your love with others and the courage to step out and say the first word to someone because those first words can be the most difficult.

Job 42:2I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

God, we trust you to be in control.  We believe that nothing is impossible for you, nothing.  Holy Spirit, align us with your purposes and use us in and for your purpose.  God, we know that if it is your will that nothing can stand in your way.  Jesus, some of us are facing things that appear terrifying, give us the comfort and the understanding that our Father can do all things.  Let us rest in the comfort of your control.

Romans 1:8There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Jesus, I know so many of us face the condemnation of the world daily.  That we have done wrong, that we don’t measure up, and that we aren’t good enough.  Even more so, we know that we aren’t good enough. Jesus, we know that we don’t have to face or even fear condemnation from our Father because of You.  Jesus I ask that you bring comfort to so many of us that follow you and call you Lord but are still worried about salvation.  Help us to understand that you have declared, redeemed and forgiven us. You have freed us to live free in You.

Galatians 5:19-24 – Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Father, we want to be with You in your Kingdom, glorifying and honoring Jesus.  We thank you for Jesus and that we are no longer condemned for our sins. Father, keep us from temptation, keep us for the works of the flesh.  They are evil and do not reflect who you are and what you have declared us to be.  Holy Spirit, reveal yourself in us and let others know of the Father’s love through your fruit.  God, I know my fruit would just be rotten, but your fruit is pure and gives good witness to your Lordship in us.  Continue to weaken the passions and desires of the flesh, take them away.  Let our joy be fully in You.

God, let us pray to you and through the Holy Spirit.  Help us to pray prayers that honor and glorify You.  Father, give us the words to say and answer our prayers.  We love you.

 

 Jonathan Haley Uhrig © 2014

How to Have Great Missional Communities

How to Have Great Missional Communities

This one is for all my missional community groups out there.  My last two post were geared toward the small groups of youth at camp and at church.  This was due to being asked to speak to small group leaders of a camp on how to do small groups.  The last 3 years of my ministry has been dedicated to forming missional communities for adults in a church plant.  It really doesn’t matter though what kind of small group we are discussing, the principle behind the concept is the same for all groups.  The more time you spend outside of your missional community with people from your missional community, the better your actual missional community will be.

The more time you spend outside of your missional community with people from your missional community, the better your missional community will be.

Leaders, think about what you want for your the members of your missional communities or what constitutes a good missional community.  What you really want is for people to open up to each other, to share their deep concerns, hurts, praises, and live life with each other.  It can take an entire semester of year to even come close to that kind of bonding between adults if you just see each other in the missional community and at church.  However, if there is a concerted effort to spend time with each other out side of the missional community meeting time, when you sent down for the group time, it will be a much more valuable time.

For example, I recently had a group plan to all go eat with each other after church.  A very old yet simple and effective idea.  They finally left the restaurant after over 3 hours of talking with each other.  They got to know one another on a whole new level, a fun and social level.  I attended that groups next meeting and it was one of the most productive missional communities I have ever been a part of.  Everyone participated and shared their thoughts and opinions like they had never been closer.  They didn’t have to spend that time getting into each others lives, they were already in each others lives so they could move forward in their purpose.

So how does this look for your Missional Communities?

  • It’s Just Lunch

How crazy are our work days?!?!  Sometimes its hard to even find time to eat.  On the flip side, many of us spend our lunches in networking groups where lunch is part of the deal.  If you as a leader will simply schedule lunches far enough out with your group members, they can make it and they will find it a much needed breather from work.  Furthermore, if your group members will begin to schedule lunches with each other they will find friendships begin to flourish.  These aren’t bible studies, prayer meetings, or counseling sessions.  It’s just lunch between friends getting to know each other.

Every time you meet with each other it doesn’t have to be a bible study, prayer meeting, or counseling session.  It really can just be friends.

  • DYI

Have a “Honey-Do” list a mile long?  Or maybe your buddy just got a new dog and has to put up a fence.  Or your friend is having a baby and really needs to get the walls painted and ceiling fans hung before the baby arrives.  Perhaps there is a new craft or nicknack that you want to make.  Or maybe someone you know has been sick and their lawn is over grown and the shrubs look hideous.  I think you get the point.  If there is something to do and or work on, it is a great time to spend time with each other.  Beside the fact that and extra set of hands is always helpful, think of the time you get to spend with each other and shoot the breeze.  If you shoot the breeze enough with someone, eventually the storm in their life or yours will come and you can face it together.  My own salvation story revolves around a handful of men spending time with me teaching me how to use my hands to build a building.

If you shoot the breeze enough, eventually the storms will come.

  • Play Dates

I’m admit out of my league here, but think I need to mention it.  If you have young kids, there is no better fun for them and a reprieve from having to entertain them, than having them play with other kids.  This can easily be done during the week if you don’t have to work or even after work.  But then how much fun is a simple grill out on the weekend and have someone over for a play date with your kids.  The kids get to play together and you get some great time to just hang out with people your age.

  • Sports & TV Shows

Ok, back to my wheelhouse.  Where I live, every Saturday in the fall  has the possibility to be an event.  All I need is a reason to get together will some friends and eat; most of the time we call that the big game.  Honestly, there are Saturdays where I go to 3 or more houses to watch different games.  These are the times when you can just be yourself and cheer for your team and talk “polite” trash about the other team and more importantly spend time with people.  If you are intentional about this, your small group can easily be a part of these events.  For a long time I have been getting together to watch TV shows.  I remember in college a bunch of us would get together to watch Survivor and Friends.  To tell you the truth, I don’t even like Survivor (except for the games), but I would go just to be around those people.  Right now, I get together with a group of people on Sunday nights to watch a certain show that will remain nameless (it’s The Walking Dead).  At this point, we watch the show and discuss it, but we are really there to be with each other, not for some stupid show.  But, its those times of conversation during half time or during commercials or after the game that we really get to know each other.

I don’t even like what I am watching, I just want to be with the people.

  • Community Missions

Want to get close to a group quick, serve with them.  Do something for someone else.  Walk the streets of a neighborhood and pick up trash, all you have to do is talk and pick up garbage.  Go sort food for the city food pantry, all you have to do is sort and talk.  Build a wheelchair ramp or roof a house for someone, all you have to do is build and you got it, talk.  Get the point.  People love to tell stories, our stories are our lives, tell each other your stories and you know each others lives.

Of course there are other ways to spend time with each other, these are just a few.  Get out there and get to know each other, then when you sit down to spend time with God together, watch God do some incredible things.  I have promised again and again, if you will spend the time outside of your missional community time, you will have great missional communities.

If you will spend the time outside of your missional community time, you will have great missional communities.

Jonathan Haley Uhrig © 2014

 

How To Have Great Adult Small Groups

How to Have Great Adult Small GroupsAlright adults, its your turn.  My last two post were geared toward the small groups of youth at camp and at church.  This was due to being asked to speak to small group leaders of a camp on how to do small groups.  The last 3 years of my ministry has been dedicated to forming small groups (missional communities) for adults in a church plant.  It really doesn’t matter though what kind of small group we are discussing, the principle behind the concept is the same for all groups.  The more time you spend outside of your small group with people from your small group, the better your actual small group will be.

The more time you spend outside of your small group with people from your small group, the better your small group will be.

Leaders, think about what you want for your the members of your small groups or what constitutes a good small group.  What you really want is for people to open up to each other, to share their deep concerns, hurts, praises, and live life with each other.  It can take an entire semester of year to even come close to that kind of bonding between adults if you just see each other in the small group and at church.  However, if there is a concerted effort to spend time with each other out side of the small group meeting time, when you sent down for the group time, it will be a much more valuable time.

For example, I recently had a group plan to all go eat with each other after church.  A very old yet simple and effective idea.  They finally left the restaurant after over 3 hours of talking with each other.  They got to know one another on a whole new level, a fun and social level.  I attended that groups next meeting and it was one of the most productive small groups I have ever been a part of.  Everyone participated and shared their thoughts and opinions like they had never been closer.  They didn’t have to spend that time getting into each others lives, they were already in each others lives so they could move forward in their purpose.

So how does this look for your Adult Small Groups?

  • It’s Just Lunch

How crazy are our work days?!?!  Sometimes its hard to even find time to eat.  On the flip side, many of us spend our lunches in networking groups where lunch is part of the deal.  If you as a leader will simply schedule lunches far enough out with your group members, they can make it and they will find it a much needed breather from work.  Furthermore, if your group members will begin to schedule lunches with each other they will find friendships begin to flourish.  These aren’t bible studies, prayer meetings, or counseling sessions.  It’s just lunch between friends getting to know each other.

Every time you meet with each other it doesn’t have to be a bible study, prayer meeting, or counseling session.  It really can just be friends.

  • DYI

Have a “Honey-Do” list a mile long?  Or maybe your buddy just got a new dog and has to put up a fence.  Or your friend is having a baby and really needs to get the walls painted and ceiling fans hung before the baby arrives.  Perhaps there is a new craft or nicknack that you want to make.  Or maybe someone you know has been sick and their lawn is over grown and the shrubs look hideous.  I think you get the point.  If there is something to do and or work on, it is a great time to spend time with each other.  Beside the fact that and extra set of hands is always helpful, think of the time you get to spend with each other and shoot the breeze.  If you shoot the breeze enough with someone, eventually the storm in their life or yours will come and you can face it together.  My own salvation story revolves around a handful of men spending time with me teaching me how to use my hands to build a building.

If you shoot the breeze enough, eventually the storms will come.

  • Play Dates

I’m admit out of my league here, but think I need to mention it.  If you have young kids, there is no better fun for them and a reprieve from having to entertain them, than having them play with other kids.  This can easily be done during the week if you don’t have to work or even after work.  But then how much fun is a simple grill out on the weekend and have someone over for a play date with your kids.  The kids get to play together and you get some great time to just hang out with people your age.

  • Sports & TV Shows

Ok, back to my wheelhouse.  Where I live, every Saturday in the fall  has the possibility to be an event.  All I need is a reason to get together will some friends and eat; most of the time we call that the big game.  Honestly, there are Saturdays where I go to 3 or more houses to watch different games.  These are the times when you can just be yourself and cheer for your team and talk “polite” trash about the other team and more importantly spend time with people.  If you are intentional about this, your small group can easily be a part of these events.  For a long time I have been getting together to watch TV shows.  I remember in college a bunch of us would get together to watch Survivor and Friends.  To tell you the truth, I don’t even like Survivor (except for the games), but I would go just to be around those people.  Right now, I get together with a group of people on Sunday nights to watch a certain show that will remain nameless (it’s The Walking Dead).  At this point, we watch the show and discuss it, but we are really there to be with each other, not for some stupid show.  But, its those times of conversation during half time or during commercials or after the game that we really get to know each other.

I don’t even like what I am watching, I just want to be with the people.

  • Community Missions

Want to get close to a group quick, serve with them.  Do something for someone else.  Walk the streets of a neighborhood and pick up trash, all you have to do is talk and pick up garbage.  Go sort food for the city food pantry, all you have to do is sort and talk.  Build a wheelchair ramp or roof a house for someone, all you have to do is build and you got it, talk.  Get the point.  People love to tell stories, our stories are our lives, tell each other your stories and you know each others lives.

Of course there are other ways to spend time with each other, these are just a few.  Get out there and get to know each other, then when you sit down to spend time with God together, watch God do some incredible things.  I have promised again and again, if you will spend the time outside of your small group time, you will have great small groups.

 

 If you will spend the time outside of your small group time, you will have great small groups.

© Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014

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/

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.