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.

Good Fruit – Not Your Fruit

strawberries

“You will know them by their fruits.” – Matthew 7:16

Spring is here and finally there is good fresh fruit in the grocery store!  The farmers market and street markets are getting sweet fruit in.   Candy can’t hold a light to a delicious bowl of fruit.  Why do you think that the majority of candy is based on fruit flavors?  There just isn’t any substitute for the real thing.  Yeah candy is good (I’m that big kid who keeps a bowl of candy around at all times), no doubt about that,  but watermelon flavored candy taste nothing like a slice of watermelon on a hot summer day.  However, when you peel an orange and bite down into one of those perfect God designed wedges and your jaw locks up because its too tart, you wish you had an sugar coated orange slice piece of candy.  Or when you bite down into that crisp, grass green Granny Smith Apple right into a bruised spot that mushes into your mouth, yuck!  You instantly know when you have gotten into some bad fruit.

You instantly know bad fruit!

Jesus speaks of fruit several times in scripture.  He is usually is speaking of what our lives produce in relation to the world, both good or bad.  Jesus does get angry at that one tree and tells it that it will never produce fruit again.  That tree got sad and withered up fast.  Jesus tells us that we can identify other believers because of their good fruit and non believers because of their bad fruit.  On the surface this looks like this is saying that those that do bad things He doesn’t know and those that do good belong to Him.  But we know that you cannot work for your salvation.  Salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus, so this isn’t a lesson in being bad or good.  And then Jesus talks about how if we aren’t attached to the vine or the tree then we can’t produce fruit at all. We can really get lost in all the fruit talk.  Let’s try to clear it up.

Bad Fruit.  Is it Really Fruit at All?

“A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.  A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.  So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire.  Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” – Mathew 7:17-20

Strawberries!!!  I love strawberries especially as a dessert.  Strawberries dipped in chocolate, strawberries covered in powdered sugar, strawberry slices with sugar and put on pound cake, strawberries cut up and frozen in homemade ice cream, or strawberry cake with cream cheese icing with slices of strawberries on top!  Did I mention I like strawberries?  Just give me a basket of fresh strawberries and I’ll make sure to make myself sick.  But if I bite into a strawberry that is still too green or a strawberry that’s been bruised or a strawberry that is too far past ripe, you better believe I am spitting that nasty thing out of my mouth.  It’s bad, I don’t want it, in fact, I have to inspect the next couple of strawberries to see if they are good.

If its not good and sweet, its not fruit.

Webster’s Dictionary defines fruit as “the sweet and fleshy product of a tree or other plant that contains seed and can be eaten as food.”  If its not sweet, it’s not fruit!  If someone doesn’t want to eat it, it’s not fruit!  Jesus tells us that we can identify people by their actions.  If peoples actions aren’t sweet then they aren’t fruit.  If there are actions that no one wants then that action isn’t fruit.  Websters goes on to further define fruit as “a reward that comes from someone’s action.” Rewards are by definition a good thing.  If someone’s actions aren’t good, then they aren’t fruit.  But what if the fruit is good,?  What if someone’s actions are sweet?  Here is where we start to have a slight problem with the ability to produce fruit in the first place.

Can We Produce Fruit at All?

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” – John 15:4

The problem here is being good. Romans 3:12 tells us that “No one does good, not a single one.”  We are all bad trees!?!?  That just can’t be can it?  We all know that there are good people out there doing good things that do not follow Jesus.  But we can never forget that everyone was created though Jesus and for Jesus (Colossians 1:16)!  Just because people don’t follow Jesus doesn’t mean they can’t do good things, they just won’t be fruitful.  If we are not in Christ then we cannot produce fruit!  We may be able to do good things, but producing fruit just isn’t going to happen.

Followers of Jesus produce fruit.

Jesus is begging us to be active in our faith, to pursue Him continually so that we don’t have to be disciplined by the Father, because if we aren’t producing fruit as believers, we will be pruned again and again until we produce fruit.  As believers, we will produce fruit.

The Fruit Belonged to Jesus the Whole Time!

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. – Ephesians 2:10

Scripture tells us that as followers of Christ that we have the Holy Spirit living in us and that we are to keep in step with the Spirit.  If you read Galatians 5:22-23 carefully we will see that we are not producing fruits ourselves, but that the fruit being produced belongs to the Holy Spirit.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”  This is the fruit that is to be evident in our life, this is how we are recognized as a follower of Jesus.

The good works that we do already belong to Jesus.

If we aren’t doing good works, producing good fruit, then we don’t belong to Jesus and we will not walk into the good works He has prepared for us to do.  See, even the good works that have to be done already belong to Jesus, He already had them planned out for us to do.

If we could produce good works on our own we could work for our salvation and there is no need for Jesus.  Since we are not good then we must completely rely on Christ for our goodness.

***Thanks Bill Schroder for the great conversation and your wisdom.

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014

1 Simple Prayer You Need to be Praying Regularly

hands raised

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

Pick A Life

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

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

Only One Life

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

Jesus’ life makes us want Jesus.

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

1 Prayer We Need To Be Praying

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

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

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

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

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

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

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014

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

 

 

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

Words From Joe: Part 2 – Pride

Words From Joe: Part 2 – Pride

cracked mirrorA little refresher or a catch-up for those who didn’t read part one.

Joe is the uncle of my neighbors at the lake.  He was born in South Africa and now lives in Australia where he serves other churches, helping to revitalize their leadership.  He came over to meet me and I am now sharing his words with you from our 30 min. conversation.  He started by telling me how blessed he was to be useless.  By being useless, God has used him in incredible ways.  After telling me about being useless, he paused for a moment leaning back in his chair, then like a breath of fresh air, sat up on the end of the chair and said…

“And Pride.  Pride will take you down faster than anything else and that’s why I was so blessed to be useless.”  He sat back in his chair waiting for a response and so I obliged him, “Pride seems to be the root of all sin.” Joe quickly responded.  “You have to wake up every morning and see if pride is sticking its head up over the horizon.”

It is pride that gets in our way and makes us so we can not be used by God.  Reality is that when we sin we are being extremely prideful.  We are telling God that He does not know what is best for us and we know better.  What an arrogant statement to a loving creator.  Now this is not the statement that believers think they are making but one that is made repeatedly.  As a follower of Jesus, I know that He knows what is best for me, yet I still am arrogant enough to do what I think is best. And yes, Pride is at the base of all sin. Pride is a heart issue and the heart is the source of our sins.

The fruit in the garden…Pride
Striking a rock to produce water…Pride
Being swallowed by a fish…Pride
Sleeping with another man’s wife…Pride
Not giving your tithe to God…Pride
Not sharing the Gospel…Pride
And the list goes on…

As Joe was telling me about pride,  it’s message was to a young pastor who has goals, ambition and wants to see many come to faith and the church where I serve grow.  It is because of those goals that I and all the other pastors must become like John the Baptist.  “The bride belongs to the bridegroom.” (More on this later)

Wake up every morning and look to see if pride is sticking its head up over the horizon.  Joe does and he is useless.

Originally Posted July 29th, 2009

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014