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

 

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

Read More Scripture!

HB Backdrop

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

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

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

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

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

The Results of Biblical Literacy

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

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

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

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

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

3 Steps To Raising Disciples – By Matt Blackwell

family in park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Step 1 – “On your hearts”

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

Step 2 – “Impress them on your children”

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

Discipline

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

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

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

“The purpose of discipline is to gain hearing.”

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

Delight

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

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

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

“The backdrop of your discipline is delight.”

Step 3 – “talk about them…”

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

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

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

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

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