The Lord’s Supper Everyday

The Lord's SupperI need to be extremely clear on something before we get into this.  In 1 Corinthians 11:33 Paul says, “ So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat the Lord’s Supper, wait for one another.”  The Lord’s Supper is meant to be done corporately as a church body.  It is not necessarily meant to be done alone or with just your immediate blood family.  Now that I have made that clear, there is a very practical, everyday way to use the Lord’s Supper.

Eating is a natural rhythm of life, we all do it everyday and most of us eat 3 meals a day.  Now, have you ever considered how normal the elements of the Lord’s Supper are?  Jesus was sitting at the table eating with his disciples when He “took the bread.”  Is there a food that is a part of more meals than bread?  We eat bread with everything!  Bread is at almost every table and on every menu.  How many restaurants give you bread when you sit down to eat; “would you like some more big fat yeast rolls?”  I think that Jesus chose bread specifically because it is so normal.

Jesus chose bread and a cup because they are so normal to our everyday lives.

And then there is the cup.  Don’t get too focused on what is or what isn’t in the cup, remember it is a symbol.  Not too many times do we eat without having something to drink, it is just as everyday as bread.  Jesus is using these elements of the Lord’s Supper for a teaching moment, and then, as recorded in Luke 22, He says, “do this in remembrance of Me.”

The symbolism of the Lord’s Supper is easy to understand, but deep in it’s meaning.  The bread is Christ’s body, broken for us to give us life.  The cup is the wrath of God, God’s anger burns against sin.  The drink inside is Jesus’s blood, that is poured out for the forgiveness of our sin and makes us righteous in Christ.  These symbols are what we are to remember every time we take the Lord’s Supper.  But these elements don’t seem to be all that special, and like we said, we see them almost everyday.  These things, as normal as they are to every day life and as simple as they tell us the gospel, need to be an everyday reminder to us of Christ’s work on the cross, the gospel.

Everyday Remembrance

Let’s put this all together – What would our lives be like if we remembered Jesus and His work on the cross before every meal?  We have all the elements and symbols in front of us, why wouldn’t we remember?  And Jesus did say every time you do this…  Seems to me that I need to be personally thinking about Christ on a daily basis and why not let the elements that Jesus used spur me to think about the gospel – 3 TIMES A DAY!!!

Every time you see bread and a cup, remember Jesus and His gospel.

When we remember Christ’s work on the cross during the Lord’s Supper I divide it into 2 simple sections for our congregation:1)  Jesus died to forgive our sins so we need to allow Him to search our heart for repented sin and 2) Our sins are forgiven because of Jesus so we need to thank Him.  Just think how much closer our relationship with Christ would be if we thought about the gospel and dealt with the 2 issues every time we sat down to eat.  How much more would Christ be on our mind?  How much more would we notice the things of God?  How much more would we seek His Kingdom?  How much more would we be in-tune with what God is doing around us and how we can be used?

 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

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

Why I Love the Empty Tomb

happy easter

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

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

Sin on the Cross

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

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

The Empty Tomb

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

It Takes Both

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

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

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

This is why I love the empty tomb!

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014