Waiting to be Wowed by God

Waiting to be Wowed by God

I have been in prayer for some time now begging and pleading with God to reveal Himself to me, to “show up”, to make His plans known for me.  I just want a glimpse of what He wants for me, which direction He wants me to go… GOD!  Please give me something!  Anything will do!  Show yourself to me!  I am sure you understand the frustration in my voice.  Most of us have experienced at one point or another a time when we need a clear answer from our God.  And there is nothing.  No answer.  No jaw dropping fire from heaven.  Nothing to make us stand in awe of God, though we long for Him to do something that just leaves us breathless, that leaves us “wowed”.

As believers, we long for God do to something that leaves us breathless, that leaves us wowed!

One of my favorite places in the world is my family’s lake house.  So much of what my family does together revolves around that small house.  As much as I love the lake house for the way it brings the family together and is the backdrop for so many memories, my absolute favorite times are the rare moments when it is just me and lake.  Usually, I have to wake up earlier than everyone to grab those few moments before the house becomes alive with movement.  In that time alone before the family wakes up or boats fill the lake, it is really easy to “be still and know that He is God.”  In one of the rare moments, when I was alone with God pleading with Him to reveal Himself to me, to show me His plan…

I looked up and looked around…

In one big burst of color the hills were shouting the praises of God as the leaves changed colors and swayed in the breeze.  The hills rose up only to meet a crystal blue sky declaring with certainty the Lord of all creation.  A fog was dancing with joy, hovering over the water as heat escaped into the air making a clear vision of the Holy Spirit hovering over all the earth.  My eyes filled with tears and my mouth could only utter one word, wow.

Psalms 19:1-4

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.

Without one word, without a single sound God’s creation screams at the top of their voices the glory of God.  All you can do is step back and know that you don’t have to wait on God to reveal himself.  You can sit down in wonder and amazement and know that He has and is revealing Himself, and that He is revealing Himself to you.  We have to trust that when He wants you to know whatever it is you need to know, He will let you know.  How?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that God can do the impossible, surely He can guide my path.  In the mean time, I will let God’s creation proclaim the glory and majesty of the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

You are God’s creation, shout his glory with every breath.

Don’t ever forget, you are also God’s creation and as God’s creation you can shout from the rooftops the praises and glory of Jesus.  The rest of creation doesn’t have a voice, but you do.  What are you doing with your life and your voice?

 

Luke 19:40
“I tell you,” he replied, “if you keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

 Jonathan Haley Uhrig © 2014

 

Not Remembering Is Better Than Forgetting

string finger

“It seems the older I get the harder it is to remember.”  This would be an unusual statement, except it comes from my 24 year old brother.  Even worse was my response to him, “just wait until you get to thirty!”  It is true though, the older you get the harder it is to remember and the more we tend to forget.  I have an untested theory on this, kinda like how it seems that days get shorter and shorter and time flies by as you get older, its all has to do with proportions.  A 5 year old has lived 1825 days, where as a 30 year old has lived 10,680 days and a 75 year old has lived 27,375 days, its all about the ratio.  A day in the life of a 5 year old is still a big deal, they have only had 1825 of them, by the time you’re 30 its just another day among 10,000ish, and when your are 75 another day is, “well it’s… wait, what’s today?”.  Life is gets increasingly more chaotic as you grow older.  You have to deal with more and more and ever increasingly have to decide what you are going to deal with at all.  We find if easier to forget things because there just is too much going on to deal with everything so we tend to forget.   One of my missional community leaders has a 95 year old, godly mother-in-law.  His favorite saying about her is, “she has forgotten more about scripture than I will ever know.”

But does God forget?  Can God forget?

In a bible study I wrote for our missional communities, I listed some scripture and asked the question, “What does God do with our sin?”  In a footnote to my leaders I said, “please resist saying that God forgets our sin.”  One of my leaders wrote me an email asking me to explain why we don’t say God forget our sin.  Here is the short answer.

Sin is Not Lost in the Chaos

With all that we have going on we can get lost and forget.  Think about all the tools we have to remind ourselves of what we have going on.  Some people keep note cards in their pockets, calendars, post-it notes, even our phones tell us when something is going on or reminds us to pick up something from the grocery store.  If God is omniscience, knowing all things, He cannot forget.  God knows the past, present, and future.  It would be a mistake to say He forgets.

There isn’t so much going on that God has to try keep up with everything and some of it just gets lost in the chaos.

Let me let you in on a little secret every pastor wants to tell his congregation.  Please, please, pretty please, if you have something important to tell me, don’t tell me before service, I have so much going on in my head before service I just can’t remember what you tell me.  And don’t tell me as you are leaving, cause everyone else is going to tell me something, it will get lost in the chaos.  If this were the case for God, our prayers would be foolish.

Sin is Important to God

I admit, it is so hard to keep up with everything people tell me, especially if it isn’t important to me.  Cars have never really been my thing.  I really just don’t care that that 703XWE has a 304 in it and can do zero to a hundred and infinity in 3.459 seconds.  First, I have no idea what any of that means.  Second, where can you go a hundred and infinity?  If you tell me something about a car other than it has gas and its ready to go, I will forget it, because it doesn’t matter to me.  However, there are things in my life that I desperately want to know.

Our sin killed His Son Jesus, God isn’t going to forget that.

Sin matters to God, it’s important.  Too often we are told to “forgive and forget.”  There are things that are done to people that are so terrible they will never forget (murder, rape, divorce, betrayal…), however they can forgive.  Our sin killed God’s son, He isn’t going to forget that, but He does forgive and separates the penalty of sin from us.

God Has Dealt with Our Sin

We do all sorts of things to remind us of things going on in our life so we don’t forget, and we still forget.  We even forget the good, fun moments in our lives.  We have all been sharing stories when someones says, “remember when…?” and we answer, “Oh my!  I completely forgot about that.  We have to be reminded of what we forget.  If God can forget our sins, how about my next sin would remind him of all my other sins.  Or if God forgets sins, He has to be very forgetful God.  No, instead of forgetting our sins, God deals with our sin.

Psalm 103:12  as far as the east is from the west,  so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Micah 7:19 You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

Isaiah 38:17 Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish.  In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.

Jeremiah 31:34  No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord.  “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Hebrews 8:12 For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.

What does God do with our sins

  • God removes them from us and separates us from our sin in 2 different directions so that we are never associated with them again

  • God ties them to concrete blocks and throws them into the sea, so our sins are dead and no longer attached to us

  • God puts our sins behind His back, He puts Himself between our sin and us

  • God remembers our sin no more, He doesn’t forget them, he just doesn’t bring them back up to be held against us

Our God does not forget our sins.  He has dealt with our sin with Jesus’ work on the Cross.  Let this be reassuring to you and embolden your faith in Christ.  If God just forgot our sin it only makes sense that God could be reminded of our sin.  But God chose to deal with our sin and separate its consequences from us.  Think about the movie lines,  “To get to him, you have to go through me!” or “Over my dead body!”  This is exactly what Christ has done with our sin and the consequence of death.  God is saying, death, if you want them, if you want those that belong to me, you will have to go through me.  Jesus looked death right in the face and said, over my dead body.

God not remembering our sin is way better than a forgetful god.

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014

3 Keys That Won’t Make Your Camp…But, Sure Can Break Your Camp

Made Camp 2014

I have spent half my life in ministry now and most of that spent pouring into student ministry.  Though my current path is looking more and more at the adult world, I still have great opportunities to be in the youth world.  During camp and event seasons, I am usually pretty busy speaking and helping others dream, plan and execute their own camps and events.  Recently, I have the chance to help a youth pastor with his first camp of his own.  As walking through this experience with him I was reminded of a few things that won’t make your camp the best thing since slice bread and selfies, but however if they are bad…. man-o-man will they destroy your camp and become the driving force behind complaint after complain and eventually mutiny from the students.  You always want to create memories for students, however, you want those memories to be good.  What you don’t want is students going back and being negative about camp.  Students will talk about bad things more often and longer than they do good things.  It’s not just students, look at our daily news; the majority of news reported is bad news.  Certain things as leaders we are in control of and will delegate because they are

Here are my top 3 keys that won’t make your camp, but sure can break your camp.

1.  Food

School cafeteria food brings back a lot of memories for a lot of people.  However, most of those memories aren’t great.  Remember square pizza and corn?  Not sure how those ever go with each other, but I do remember that pizza wasn’t the really even close to good and being soggy from corn juice didn’t help its cause.  Or how about that “magic meat”, we still aren’t sure if that was suppose to be Salisbury steak, perhaps last weeks meatloaf covered in gravy or if they really didn’t know what it was but they knew it was cheap.  But, I also remember chicken nugget day or little smokie day both served with mac-n-cheese and a roll… So Good!  School lunch never made my day, but on those days it was bad, it really made my day bad.  I was hungry and when I am hungry, I am grumpy and when I am grumpy, my day is bad.

When students are hungry they are grumpy and when they are grumpy, its just a no fun, bad day.

Camp food is so important.  As leaders it is something that the majority of us should delegate, but delegation doesn’t mean forget about it.  we have to be clear on what we expect.  You need to expect good food, not just food.  There is a huge difference in having cheap, cardboard, no taste food and having food that people talk about.  You and your cook must understand expectations are low about camp food to begin with, so to surpass expectations is not that big of an accomplishment, but it is a must.  Feeding students a good meal is a must.  It keeps moral up, it it keeps energy up and most importantly it keep their attention off their bellies and on Jesus.  A good decent meal doesn’t mean that they will go home and talk about how good the food was, but it does mean they won’t go home and talk about how horrible the it was.

Quick rule of thumb, $20-$25 per day isn’t unreasonable to keep your students or adults fed.  Here is my break down for food.  Breakfast: $4-$6, Lunch: $7-$8, Dinner: $9-11.  Don’t forget desert!!!

Bring the good goodies.  Spend the money on good snacks, aka good junk food (starburst, skittles, snickers, etc…)  – it’s okay to make them pay more during camp for the super good stuff.

2.  Speaker

You wouldn’t hire a speaker if you didn’t think they weren’t good, right?  This is very true.  You hire someone you trust to deliver good, solid, Jesus honoring messages to your students.  But, YOU as the leader have a vision for camp.  YOU pour hours of praying into a direction YOU want to take YOUR students spiritually.  YOU spend lots of time developing a theme and skits and games and stage design and small groups and on and on and on.  Yet, you turn over a large chunk of the spiritual time over to someone else.  I love speakers, I am one.  But, here is typically what we give speakers when we hire them;  “I want you to have the freedom to tell my students what God has laid on your heart.” or “The theme is _______, so just where God leads you from there.”  YOU have invested so much time into your students and  have the vision for camp, please, please, PLEASE let your speaker in on that vision and direction.  The name of the camp or theme of the camp does not communicate what you have envisioned.

Giving your speaker clear vision, direction and goals of and event allows them to more effectively use their gifts, talents and insights.

When I hire a speaker for any event I give them a clear cut vision of the whole event and what I want to accomplish.  Then I detailed the direction that I want each talk/sermon to take.  If I give the speaker all of this information then allow them to use their gifts, talents and insights, I have enhanced the vision of my camp or event.  This does not limit your speaker, in fact, as a speaker it is very freeing.  Work with your speaker at length.  This means at very minimum several phone calls, and several emails exchanging information.  If it is me, I do all I can to have an in-person discussion.  If that isn’t possible, there are too many ways to video conference.

If your speaker doesn’t understand the vision and goals of a camp or event they can greatly hinder the message.  This isn’t their fault, it is yours.  Most speakers won’t make your camp great, but they can break it.  Think how much more clear the gospel message is when everybody is on the same page.

3.  Attitude

Nothing breaks up a great experience than a bad attitude.  They cause a scene, they start bad conversations among others, they give things a bad taste and they just put a general downer on things.  Now you can’t control the attitudes of everyone at your camp or event, however there is a group that you can control and is crucial to a good event.  Your attitude must dominate the atmosphere.  If you as the leader are sold, most everyone one else will be sold on the event as well.  If your attitude about something is negative you really have to options: 1.  Change your attitude quick or 2. Get out of the picture.  If your attitude isn’t changing, let someone else take the lead the particular part of the event your sour about.  Things will go much better if you do.

If we are doing it, it’s the best thing ever, even if it isn’t.

The second group you have control over is the leaders under you, who are actually more control of attitude than you do.  My small group leaders and team leaders and event coordinators have always had way more say in the attitude of then event than I do.  If they are sold on what your doing, everyone else will be as well.  However, if they start discouraging conversation, it will spread like wild fire and your will spend all your time putting out those fires.  I have a saying with my leaders, “If we are doing it, it’s the best thing ever, even if it isn’t.”  I give them a lot of say into what we are doing, but when I make the discussion to do something here is what I tell them, “If its picking boogers, picking boogers is the best thing you have ever heard of!”  The attitudes of others won’t make your camp, but they can break it.

In my last 2 post on camp, I have ended with Pray, Pray, Pray!  If you aren’t covering your camp or event in prayer you failed before you started.  Prayer will make your camp great and the lack of prayer will line your camp up to fail.  So, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY! and then PRAY some more.

* This is not a reflection on the camp we just did, in fact, the food, the speaker and attitudes were great!  I can’t wait to see what’s next on the horizon for Chip and the youth at The Brook.

** Thanks Natalie

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014

6 Dangers You MUST Address To Save Your Youth Group by Justin Lopez

6 Dangers

We hear many stories of teenagers being saved during those formidable youth group years. By the grace of God, many meet Jesus after hearing the Gospel at a lock-in or while building a campfire at a winter retreat. But balancing cultural – or generational – relevance with eternal truth is difficult. How do we appeal to this group? What should we do to declare and demonstrate His love to them? How do we make teenagers into disciples who make disciples now and in their years ahead?

Pastoring and shepherding the younger generation is critical. These teenagers will be the men and women who lead our churches and ministries in the decades ahead. We want these future church leaders to be Gospel-centered, mission-minded, Word-saturated, servant-hearted people, right?

There are dangers facing every youth group, and for the sake of the Church, its flourishing, and the advancement of the Gospel, we must address them.

Here are six common dangers:

1.    Too many youth have a poor understanding of the Gospel and how it applies to their lives.

While many people can explain the Gospel in some way, shape, or form, very few have learned to apply it to their own lives. The result is a religion largely motivated by legalistic rules that leads to guilt and shame when rules are not met or self-righteousness when they are.

Many students also struggle to see themselves as truly broken and in need of a Savior. Others will fall on the side of misunderstanding grace as a license for sin. Underneath it all is a fundamental misunderstanding of the Gospel.

2.    The American consumer mentality has severely skewed the way youth view the church.

Because so much of the emphasis on reaching youth is aimed at getting them in the door and staying there, many are not attracted by Christ, but rather by entertainment or friendships. While this may be effective in initially exposing them to Christ, it cannot be their only experience of Him.

There will inevitably come a day when church will not be focused primarily on their entertainment. For many, this will be a time of disillusionment with the church and one of the reasons so many youth do not remain a part of a church body after they leave home.

3.    Youth are more technologically connected than ever, yet experience more isolation than ever.

While youth may have more “friends” than ever before, they are being conditioned to only have friendships at a superficial level. They live in a world that prioritizes managing and puffing up their image, both online and offline.

As a result, youth have few people, if any, who actually know them truly and deeply and can help them in their walk with the Lord.

4.    There is a tendency to swing the pendulum too far toward either mission or community, neglecting one for the other. 

Youth tend to operate in extremes. Depending on their background or whom they follow on Twitter, many youth, full of zeal, will tend to overemphasize either mission/”outreach” or community/”going deep”.

Either bent, if not coupled with the other, will lead to burnout or a “huddle” mentality. The eventual result will be a church that slowly fizzles out.

5.    Youth have a hard time seeing how they personally fit into God’s redemptive story.

Because many youth are new to the faith, they may have not yet seen God use them personally to impact the Kingdom. They see all of the “Christian celebrities” before them and can easily believe the lie that God only uses the more known or trained people with certain skills, passions, and gifts to advance the Gospel.

They feel disqualified, inexperienced or inferior, paralyzing them in life and ministry.

6.    Many youth lack the desire and ability to study and apply the word of God to their lives.

Because it is easier than ever to find teaching and blogs about the Bible, more and more youth do not know how to study the Word for themselves. Some are apathetic because they do not see the Bible as relevant to their life or situation and others see personal study as too difficult and would much rather listen to a podcast or read the latest Christian book or devotional. Personal study of the Word is critical for every believer, including youth.

These six dangers are real, and as church leaders, we must address them with fervor. But how?

1. Gospel-Centered teaching

The teaching is centered on understanding and applying the Gospel in our own lives and in the lives of others. We seek to challenge youth to serve their city or town while discussing the proper and improper motivations that can drive them to want to serve.  The youth will also see and understand their own brokenness and the role of grace in their lives.

2. Fighting consumerism with service

Because serving is a key component of SWITCH, the consumerism that plagues this generation is constantly tested and challenged. Students leave knowing that they were not called to Christ for their own benefit alone, but to seek and save others as they reflect the glory of God around them.

3. Opportunities for community to grow

Provide opportunities for youth to grow in community. With skits, games, and other antics, there is a lot of fun built into the week and many memories are made together. We also create environments where they can get to know each other better and more deeply through processing what they are learning and putting into action.

4. The best of both mission and community

Summer youth experiences often reinforce the overemphasis on either mission or community. They are structured so heavily around one aspect that they woefully neglect the other. Traditional camps are great for building community and depth in relationships, but they are formed in the absence of mission, so they can break down in the real world once camp is over.

Mission trips are great for helping people see and understand how to live on mission, but can often do so at the cost of community. Conferences equip youth for ministry, but can have little practical application and implementation.

5. Seeing how they fit into God’s redemptive plan

One of the reasons people have a hard time seeing how they fit into God’s redemptive plan is that they have not tried to fit into it at all.  We often discover where we are called as we step out in faith and try new things.

We also must value the specific way God has made each individual teenager. He or she has specific passions and gifts, and as pastors and leaders, we must value these differences and encourage the younger generation to employ their specific passions and gifts for the glory of God.

When a person sees how a week of their life can impact someone else through trying new things and exploiting what God has written on their hearts, they can more easily see and believe that He can and will use them to do big things in the days to come.

6. Learning how to value the Word

Spend time in the Word, training students in how to study the Bible. They are then able to take what God is teaching them and apply it to their life as they are serving the city and connecting with their friends and leaders.

We want students to see that the Word of God is, in fact, living and active and applies to and guides their daily life more than anything or anyone else.

We know that one week cannot change these trends or completely remove these dangers. But what if youth made the SWITCH and believed in living on mission with community as their lifelong purpose for His glory?

Our prayer is that through SWITCH, God will move in their hearts, helping you pastor and lead them into a deeper love and passion for Christ and His calling on their lives.

Originally Posted at on Verge Network at 6 Dangers You MUST Address To Save Your Youth Group

3 Tips for Leaders at Summer Camp

HAU Summe Camp 2000I took a brief moment and counted the camps that I have been a part of leading in the past 17 years of ministry.  If the 53 name badges from camps dangling from an oversize carabiner  are any indication, I’ve been a part of a few.  And what I know is that there are many youth pastors/directors/leaders out there that have been part of way more.  However, I feel that I can speak a bit of light into the subject.  In my last post, 3 Tips for Doing Your Own Summer Camp, I gave tips a few insights on camps making an impact on students.  These tips are for being at camp as the leader.

It is important for your students and the leaders around you that as the leader you enjoy yourself and you enjoy the time you have with them.

Being the leader can be exhausting.  There is so much do to, so much that has to happen, so much that only you as the leader know.  For mid-size and smaller churches, a lot of the time, the leader has to do everything.  At larger churches, even if the leader has done a good job delegating, there is still a seemingly overwhelming responsibility on the leaders shoulders.   Either way there is a constant barrage questions.  “Where do you want this?”  “Where are we doing that?”  “Where is the equipment?”  “That broke, what do you want us to do?”  And if it rains!!!???!!!

It is important for your students and the leaders around you that as the leader you enjoy yourself and you enjoy the time you have with them.  With that though, here are 3 tips to think about while at camp.

3 Tips While At Camp

Relationships Are Everything At Camp

Do all your preparations before you go.  Let me repeat… finish all your preparations BEFORE YOU GO!  Don’t finish talks, small group material, or quiet time material while at camp.  As mobile as we have become with all our “iStuff”, it is tempting to just finish material or polish it up when you get to camp.  Your students are around you, make sure you are around them.  Make sure you have scheduled when you will do a game and make sure you have everything you need to play a game, don’t wait and have to make a “quick” run into town to a store.  That’s just time away from students.

When you plan events, make sure they are big, loud and fun; so much so that kids don’t what to do anything else.  If your plans are the best thing on the planet next to sliced bread and selfies, then you will earn your students attention.  This earned attention extends out to your other leaders.  Remember, relationships are everything at camp.  Relationships with you and relationships with Christ.

If your plans are the best thing on the planet next to sliced bread and selfies, then you will ear your students attention.

Make sure that you are setting your leaders in places to form relationships.  Have your leaders lead teams, teach small groups, assign them to different areas during any free time, and make sure they are eating with students not other leaders.  You want to set them up for a successful ministry and time at camp.  Your leaders have given up time, usually in the form of not getting paid or vacation time, set them up for a win.  As much as camp can changes lives of the students, your leaders lives can change forever if given the opportunity to be a part of what God is doing in the life of the students around them.   This is why relationships are everything.

Have Fun!

Fun deepens and strengthens relationships in a way like nothing else can.  A long time ago I learned a twist to a common saying.   For students the saying, “People don’t care what you have to say until they know you care.”, becomes, “Students don’t care what you have to say until they know you will play.”  Watch a high school linebacker walls fall down when you spear him from the side.  Or watch a baseball player respond to you after you tell him that you want to try to hit his curve ball.  Watch a kid who usually sits off in a corner open up when you involve them and make them a hero in the middle of a game.

If your students are a big deal to you, be a big deal to them.

Or sit around an shoot the breeze and talk video games with a group of gamers.  Playing and having fun opens up more doors into students lives than anything I have ever done.  So don’t sit around and watch everyone have fun, get in the middle of it.  If your students are a big deal to you, be a big deal to them.  Did I mention relationships are a big deal.

Pray! Pray! Pray!

Please be the first one up in the mornings and the last one to go to sleep.  I know you are exhausted at camp, but this is important.  If you are to be investing in your students while you are there and active when they are awake, they need your prayers when they are asleep.  Get up in the morning and walk the camp praying for each and every face there.  Then as they drift off to sleep walk circles around praying and pleading for them.  There really is so much the can go wrong at camp and so much that God can do.  Prayer and faith is our only defense and offense in many of those areas.

I really would love to help you with your camp or event.  Please contact me and let’s dream together about what can be done to engage students with the gospel of Jesus.

Oh yeah, what if it does rains?  There is always Plan B.  What is Plan B?  Plan A in the rain.  Have fun!

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014

3 Tips for Doing Your Own Summer Camp

HAU Summer Camp 2001

As a pastor there is a lot that I love about being in ministry.  But what I have the most fun doing is big events.  For youth, that means CAMP!!!  I love every part of it!  The sudden inspiration for a camp theme based on commercial from 10 years ago that your remembered when you hit your head getting into your car; the crazy skits that make no sense, but for 1 week in the summer that super hero with no real powers will mean everything; the creation of games that no one has ever done before and that no one will ever do again (ask me about “The Mousetrap”); the writing of quiet times; the study and writing of small groups and training small group leaders; having great conversations with speakers and bands; sweating so much you don’t know how you can sweat anymore; sweating when you go to sleep and then waking up at 3 in the morning freezing only to wake up at 6:30 in the morning sweating; there is just so much that goes into doing your own camp, but I love every part of it!  We do all of this and more all for those moments that change us and our students forever.

Summer camp means sweating when you go to sleep and then waking up at 3 in the morning freezing only to wake up at 6:30 in the morning sweating!

That student who realizes for the first time who Jesus is; the student who in conversation during small groups gets so excited because the truth of Christ comes alive; the small group leader who God uses to lead a student to Jesus, or uses their shoulder to cry on.  We do it all for those moments.  For those that are just starting out and doing their own camp for the first time or for the vet who has put on so many they can’t even tell you what last years theme was, here are 3 tips to remember when developing camps.

3 Tips for Summer Camp

Go All Out for the Big Things, So Students will Remember the Important Things

The ultimate goal of any church summer camp is to lead students to Christ.  Lost students need Jesus and the christian students need Jesus.  That’s important!  If you fail here the camp is a failure, you haven’t done anything but have a fun camp.  Without life change it’s just another camp.  However, if there is great material but camp isn’t fun, you should have just stayed home because that information isn’t going to stick.  So go all out on your theme!  Go all out on games!  Go all out on training leaders.  These are the big things that will make the important things have greater impact.

Make Memories

5 of us got into a nasty lake and waited until our skin shriveled,  leeches attached to our legs, and we got tired of treading water.  But what happened next, people still talk about.  “Hey, you remember that time you made Jesus walked on water?”  Yeah, we do.  What the 5 of us remember most is that on a perfectly clear night with a full moon, at just the perfect time, God put a cloud over the moon to hide us so that He was glorified.  You want to make moments that students will remember forever.  You want to create memories, so that when life gets in the way a memory sends them right back to camp and Christ.  See, what you want for your students is 20 years from now, you want them to say…

“Remember when?”

“No one has ever done that before!”

“How did we ever get away with that!”

“I’ve never seen anything like that, ever!”

“I can’t believer we did that!”

Pray, Pray, Pray

This seems a bit obvious, however, sometimes it’s so obvious we forget.  So much of camp needs prayer.  There is too much that we want God to do and so much that can go wrong.  Please – DO NOT FORGET TO PRAY!

One more thing.  PRAY!

P.S.  I would love to help you with your events, please contact me, even if it’s just to bounce ideas off someone.

Words From Joe: Part 6 – Your Suit

Words From Joe: Part 6 – Your Suit

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

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

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

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

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

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014

Words From Joe: Part 5 – Obey

Words From Joe: Part 5 – Obey

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

“I just did as the Lord told me.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014

Words From Joe: Part 4 – God’s Plan

Words From Joe: Part 4 – God’s Plan

blue prints

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally Posted August 2nd, 2009

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014

Words From Joe: Part 3 – The King

Words From Joe: Part 3 – The King

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

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

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

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

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

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

Originally Posted July 30th, 2009

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014