Who Do We Promote?

I’m impressed with the attitude and non-self-promotional behavior of Jesus in his ministry!

I was especially struck by Jesus’ attitude as I started reading through Mark’s gospel again recently. Mark begins by telling how Jesus was introduced by John the Baptist; he didn’t even introduce himself!

In the opening chapters of Mark’s gospel, Jesus “sternly” warns the people he healed, “Don’t say anything to anyone” (Mark 1.44, CEB). And, “Whenever the evil spirits saw him, they fell down at his feet and shouted, ‘You are God’s Son!’ But he strictly ordered them not to reveal who he was” (Mark 3.11, CEB).

As things began to take off, Jesus refused to promote himself or even allow others to promote him. “He healed many who were sick with all kinds of diseases, and he threw out many demons. But he didn’t let the demons speak, because they recognized him” (Mark 1.34, CEB).

Once, after a day of tremendous ministry, “Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer. Simon and those with him tracked him down. When they found him, they told him, ‘Everyone’s looking for you!'” (Mark 1.35-37, CEB).

This was a test. Jesus could have easily stayed in the area and rode out his “fifteen minutes of fame.” Instead, he said, “Let’s head in the other direction, to the nearby villages, so that I can preach there too. That’s why I’ve come” (Mark 1.38, CEB). Jesus stayed focused on his mission and refused to be derailed by his growing fame!

There’s a great deal of emphasis today on building your brand. Leaders and public figures do this. Churches do it, too. Bloggers focus on well-designed sites and SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in order to attract more readers. The internet and social media make the task of promotion easier than ever!

But, in the church, all of our promotion must be Christ-centered and mission-driven. It’s all about Jesus and the mission he’s given us. Back in the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, he gathered some followers, and said, “Come, follow me, and I’ll show you how to fish for people” (Mark 1.17, CEB). It centered around Jesus’ mission!

Now, there was a reason Jesus wanted to keep things under wraps early on (it’s often referred to as the “Messianic secret”). Today, we are charged to be witnesses of Jesus and to go and make disciples. It’s no secret. But, in sharing the Good News, we need to learn from Jesus’ non-SELF-promotional attitude, and keep the focus where it belongs—on Jesus the Savior, the hope of the world!

“Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, & Bad Attitudes …”

Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes … in You and Your Kids is the best book on parenting I’ve ever read!

The authors, Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, propose an honor-based approach to parenting (which is actually applicable to other areas of life, as well)!

In families, it’s easy to focus on behavior, but focusing on the heart goes deeper.

Honor doesn’t just address behavior. It involves the heart. Too often, parents focus only on getting the right actions. But behavior change is not enough. Honor deals with deeper issues in family life. As families practice honor, they experience great rewards. (8)

Turansky and Miller believe, “Honor changes the way people think, the way we act, and the way we treat others”; it “adds that little bit of grace that transforms family life” (13).

I love the author’s definition of honor. We’ve been working on it in our family, and I’ve taught it in more than one sermon.

Treating people as special, doing more than what’s expected, and having a good attitude. (13)

The book has a lot of practical ideas. One example is a key question to ask yourself, especially when you’re upset: “How can I respond with honor here?” (19).

The authors believe, “As individuals learn to honor one another, they begin to see life differently. Every situation is now an opportunity to value others” (20).

Turansky and Miller outline a four-step discipline process …

  1. Identify the wrong behavior.
  2. Identify the dishonoring heart issue.
  3. Identify the honoring heart issue.
  4. The right behavior grows out of the honoring heart issue. (22-23)

The Goal of Discipline

The goal in discipline is to help children not only act correctly, but also to think correctly and to become the people God made them to be. Honor addresses what’s going on below the surface and considers a child’s heart. (23)

Noting that Scripture says “Honor your father and mother” eight times, they assert, “Honor provides a foundation for children that sets them up to be happy, joyful, and to enjoy life.” But, the authors also note that “honoring others doesn’t come naturally. It needs to be taught” (29).

Whining & Complaining

Whining and complaining are manipulative techniques used by children to get what they want. Children must see that their tricks don’t work. They need to learn a more honoring way to communicate. (31)

One of my favorite takeaways from the book, another great practical idea, is the phrase, “Obey first, and then we’ll talk about it.”

But it’s also important for children to learn to give up their agendas and follow instructions—even when they don’t want to. … Sending the message, “Obey first, and then we’ll talk about it” emphasizes obedience. (32)

One of my favorite chapters highlights six ways to teach honor to children …

  1. Teach children to treat people as special
  2. Teach children to do more than what’s expected
  3. Deal with a bad attitude
  4. Create honor lessons in life
  5. Model it
  6. Appeal to conscience

For Parents

I love the title of this book, especially the last part, “in You and Your Kids.” It’s easy to focus on kids’ behavior, but parents must also work on their own stuff.

When parents discipline with honor, they must remove selfishness from their own hearts in order to discipline effectively. This is a challenge, but the results reproduce themselves in their children. (60)

Teaching honor is worth it!

Honor comes back to the person who knows how to give it. … When parents and children honor each other, the family dynamic changes, and joy is the result. (62)

The authors note, “Honor-based parenting does take work” (99). So, they offer some practical skills.

Skills …

  • Be firm without being harsh.
  • Express sorrow instead of anger.
  • Use problem solving and decision making.
  • Enjoy children according to their needs and interests.
  • Envision a positive future for your children.

There are also chapters on how siblings relate with each other, as well as getting teens through “the tunnel years.” There is an appendix with eight “family together times,” or devotions, to help families better understand honor. We plan to use these devotions in our family devotional time.

Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes … in You and Your Kids is a helpful book, and I’m looking forward to implementing more of it in our home!

Paul & Silas Were Pot-Stirrers!

I’ve said before, Leaders are Pot-Stirrers. I’ve also listed 3 Ways Leaders Stir the Pot.

First-century church leaders were clearly pot-stirrers. In Acts 16-17, there’s a story that describes how Paul and Silas were pot-stirrers.

“These people are causing an uproar in our city” (Acts 16.20, CEB) … “These people who have been disturbing the peace throughout the empire”; other translations say, they have “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17.6, CEB).

Paul and Silas were pot-stirrers, holy troublemakers!

Of course, people can also be unholy troublemakers. That’s the case with the mobs in the story: “some thugs … formed a mob and started a riot in the city … This provoked the crowd and the city officials even more” (Acts 16.5,8, CEB). “The Jews from Thessalonica learned that Paul also proclaimed God’s word in Beroea, so they went there too and were upsetting and disturbing the crowds” (Acts 16.13, CEB).

If we want to be used by God to change the world, we must be holy pot-stirrers!

One of the best ways Christ-following leaders stir the pot is through prayer. Pot-stirring prayers include asking the Holy Spirit to CONVICT people of their sin and to CONVINCE them about the truth of the Gospel. As that happens, we, too, will turn the world upside down!

Stay Humble, Stay Hungry, and Stay in Tune With God!

When I pray some or all of our Core Prayers at Centre Grove, I often add the challenge to stay humble, stay hungry, and stay in tune with God!

I’ve written about the need to stay humble and stay hungry before. We must stay humble, knowing that we can do nothing apart from God. We must stay hungry, drawing closer and closer to God. We must also stay in tune with God!

I love the note in Acts that says, “Paul and his companions traveled throughout the regions of Phrygia and Galatia because the Holy Spirit kept them from speaking the word in the province of Asia” (Acts 16.6, CEB). God was able to guide them—and prevent them—because they were in tune with God!

If we ever stop being humble or hungry or in tune with God, we’re in big trouble. And, God’s work in us and through us will be hindered. We must stay humble, stay hungry, and stay in tune with God!

Centre Grove’s Core Prayers

Some churches have a Core Purpose. Some have Core Values. Perhaps churches should also have Core Prayers!

After writing my post on (personal) Core Prayers awhile back, it struck me that Centre Grove UMC has (community) Core Prayers. I included them in that post, but here they are again …

We didn’t intend to develop a list of core prayers, but these have stuck over the years. The list may never be complete. In fact, I wonder if “God, pour out your Holy Spirit upon us!” should be a core prayer, because it is absolutely essential that we receive God’s power and favor, and live under the influence of the Holy Spirit. We want our ministry to be done with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power!

I like the idea of having a few prayers that stick so people know what’s important to God’s work among us, and pray them!

Jesus said …

I assure you that if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, then my Father who is in heaven will do it for you. (Matthew 18.19, CEB)

What other prayers might be core prayers for the church?