This morning, hundreds of thousands of students gathered around their school flag poles to participate in the 24th annual, See You at the Pole. Among the hundreds of thousands who stood in circles, holding hands, offering up prayers, singing songs; students demonstrated their faith, their boldness, and their love for their God. As a
youth pastor, I have been to dozens of See You at the Pole events. Some circles included close to a hundred students and some circles were just a handful. But regardless of the numbers, it has always been an event that reminds me of the importance of teaching our students (and our children) the importance of prayer.
This afternoon this photo popped up on Facebook. This is Matthew. He is 9 years old and in the 4th grade. At 9:00 his morning he took to his knees to do something amazing. He prayed. By himself. At his schools flag pole.
Matthew is the son of Matthew and Christina Greco. He attends school in Coram, NY. Matthew (the father) is the Lead Pastor at Real Life Assembly of God in Wading River, NY.
I asked young Matthew, "Why did you want to go to the flag pole at your school this morning?" His response, "because (I) wanted to serve (my) Lord and Savior."
Matthew's father noted on Facebook, "His youth pastor, Keith Indovino, has done amazing job pouring into their lives and teaching them the importance of moments like this!!!" This picture is evidence of that.
When asked what he prayed for, Matthew said, he prayed for his school and specifically for his principle, so that he could be used to be a great principle and that he'd enjoy the time he spends with the kids.
Matthew's father said, "I was rocked to the core when I saw this. I never anticipated what I was going to see. All praise goes to God!!!! Just the night before I caught him stealing a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup off the counter before heading to bed, with this picture I forget all about that...LOL!!!"
And Matthew's mom, Christina? Well she was just overwhelmed with pride!
Too often we get caught up in the national spotlight of events such as See You at the Pole. We post pictures of groups of students from all over the country and around the world. And we get excited by the various numbers present. But then we see something like this. Faith lived out in a powerful way. It should remind us of the power of one, when he is on his knees in prayer... I think it's worth taking a minute to think and remember, it's not about the numbers, it's about the heart. Clearly Matthew has already discovered the value of his heart and what it means to honor God with his life.
I asked Matthew's father, "What would you say to encourage other parents as they train up their children in the discipline of prayer?"
He responded, "Training your children (Prov 22:6) is so much more than bringing them to church on a Sunday morning...it is about modeling it before them day and night. They repeat what they see. Don't only teach them but show them!!! And then cling to the promises of your Savior. Proverbs 22:6 is one of those PROMISES!"
I should mention that Matthew's sister also participated in this morning’s prayer events. She gathered with a friend of hers and they prayed together at their middle school.
I'm sure there will be other stories about students gathering around their school flag poles. But sometimes it's the simple reminder of just how powerful ONE can be on his. Matthew, you are a hero among heroes. May God bless you and grow you into a might warrior!
*Special thanks to Matthew and Christina Greco, for sharing their son's story with me today. It was truly a blessing to be able to tell it.
This morning, students from around the world gathered for the annual, See You At The Pole, prayer event. A movement started in 1990 by students, SYATP, is an student organized event that brings students together for the purpose of praying for their peers, their teachers, their coaches, the administration, and the school year. Since 1990, hundreds of thousands of students have participated in the See You At The Pole event.
Check out this years video.
Did you miss this years event? No worries. While the See You At The Pole event is a one day affair, we can and should be praying for our schools all year long. So why not take some time now and pray for the students, teachers, coaches, administration, and school calendar!
Star Wars. Saga.
Indian Jones. Saga.
Lord of the Rings. Saga.
The Root Canal. Saga.
Last week, I shared a post about my trip to the dentist office that ended with the news, "you need a root canal." It was a painful lesson. A small cavity, easily repairable, but fear and anxiety kept me from getting fix. That little 'mistake' resulted in pain and the afore mentioned diagnosis.
Now I've shared before how much I dislike the dentist office. It's nothing against the dentist, just a bunch of bad visits as a kid that leaves me with horrible memories. But, you can only avoid something for so long, then you have to face it. (That's what the last visit taught me. Read my post here, Another Visit to the Dentist Teaches a Valuable Life Lesson.)
This past Monday, I went in for my root canal. I was doing pretty good. I tried all day to not think about or worry about the procedure. I felt like my stress level, and my heart rate were in check. Even in the chair, I kept reminding myself of what everyone was tell me, "Root Canals aren't too bad. Once they numb you up, it's easy." Okay. I thought, not too bad, no pain, I can do this.
Well, all I can say is...my dentist is awesome. Perhaps one of the best I've been to. He brought my in and got the Novocain going. The problem, I need a lot of Novocain. Even while he was drilling, I was still feeling a some pain. But he did a great job to even help numb that pain. It finally got to the point that I didn't feel a think. I mean, by the time he was done drilling, I wasn't feeling ANYTHING.
After an x-ray, more drilling, an x-ray, more drilling, another x-ray, he had final reached the root. It was at that point I heard the words... "We got it. We'll put a temporary filling in and schedule you're next appointment."
MY NEXT APPOINTMENT?!?!?!?!?!?
I HAVE TO COME BACK???
No one ever told me that a root canal was a 2 visit procedure. It was such a deflating feeling. From thinking it would all soon be over to hearing I would have to come back; I was rocked.
But here's the thing, the same is true in the moments of difficulty. In my earlier post, I shared the lesson about not putting off the difficult issues because you feared the pain of the moment. Instead, face the pain and discomfort, and deal with it. But when you let the issue go unresolved all you really do is cause more pain. Yesterday I learned that even when your resolve the issue, there might more fall out then you realized.
I had really hoped that this visit would be the fix all. No more pain. No more discomfort. No more bad tooth. No more visits to the dentist. Not so. No, instead I have to go back and deal with my fear one more time. There is no such thing as the quick fix. In our relationships, in our careers, in our mistakes, in our growth, there is no quick fix.
But here's what I learned as I sat there with the new knowledge that I would be back...again. Do the work on the front end to prevent (as much as you can) the pain of the fix on the back end. As I sat in that chair, with his hands in my mouth, drilling, scraping, rinsing, digging, the only thing I could think was, "I don't want to be here again." I don't want to have endure another root canal. I don't want even a cavity or a filling. And so, I must take care of my teeth in order to prevent (as much as possible) the pain I was feeling. The same is true of our relationships and the issues we face daily. If we start out doing everything we can possibly do to build healthy relationships, we strengthen those relationships, and protect them from the future pain. And yes, that might include the 6 month cleaning and check up. Boy, who would have thought there would be so much to learn by sitting in the dentist chair.
So be sure to brush your teeth twice a day. And don't forget to floss! The saga continues for another two weeks.
Quick question, What is the purpose of the Church?
Think about it.
Got and answer? Great! See if it's similar to mine.
The Church exists;
- To Worship God
- To Share God's Love with the World
- And to make Disciples
How did you do?
At the core of what the Church is, this is what we find, people who worshiped God, who shared his love in how they lived, and took the task of making disciples seriously.
Discipleship is crazy important for the believer. Discipleship is where we learn and grow. It's that process where the Holy Spirit is at work teaching, instructing, convicting, refining, training, and shaping us to be more and more like Jesus. Discipleship was the same process that Jesus used to train the 12 men who later became known as the Apostles. (minus Judas) As believers, followers of Jesus, we too must become his disciples.
But, what is a disciple? Well, a disciple is a follower or student of a teacher, leader, or philosopher. In this case, Jesus is our teacher, leader, etc. We are the disciple.
In Matthew 28:19 & 20, Jesus says, "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."
There's no guessing as to what Jesus is trying to say. It clear, go and make disciples, and teach them all that I have taught you.
You see, Jesus went out and found 12 guys; regular guys, who had jobs, and families, just doing what they were doing. Just your average Joe's. But Jesus went to them and made them his disciples. And for the next 3 years, he taught them what it would take to be his followers. When he left them, they did exactly what he told them to do. They made disciples. We see their work when we look in the book of Act. On the day the Church begins we find these words... "They devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." Acts 2:42
The, 'They' were the people who heard the gospel message of Jesus and believed. The became the disciples. The Apostles were Jesus' original Disciples. So in other words, when the people heard the message of Jesus, they committed themselves to everything that the Apostles were teaching. The church became disciples; they were passionately devoted to learning and growing.
I want to make disciples. More importantly, I want to make you a Disciple.
As we celebrate the joyful event of our kids heading back to school, I want to invite you to go back to school, as we learn how to become disciples; to be learners, students, followers of Jesus. To develop a deep desire to know more then we've ever known before. To experience God in an intimate and passionate way. And to live for Jesus, in ways you've never ever lived before.
Back to school means we're going to go back to the basics, back to where we can learn how to use the tools that Jesus left for us to use. Tools, that when properly used, can bring about a change so powerful in our lives, that it will be almost impossible for people to NOT see Jesus living inside of us.
Over the next couple of weeks, we are going to discuss the disciplines that Jesus impressed upon his disciples. These disciplines, when applied to our faith journey, open up the opportunities to grow and become more and more like Jesus.
Now this isn't some 5 step program to successful living. It's not a "Do this now and in 5 short weeks your entire life will turn around." It's not a get fixed, get rich, get made scheme. This is the practice of taking the principles we see lived out in Jesus' live and applying them to our lives as we seek to live our lives for God.
In fact, I would go as far as to say, these are more than a 'Jesus To Do List', these principles are really habits. In fact, we call them our H.A.B.I.T.S. Because what we desire is for these 5 disciplines to become part of your life.
Now I have talked about these habits. I've mentioned them in other sermons and blogs. And I addressed then earlier this year in my, 'And So It Begins' series. But I've yet to take the time to fully unpack the H.A.B.I.T.S. tool.
So here is what I hope to do. Over the next 6 weeks as we look at these habits, my goals is to do 2 things.
Okay? So we'll first recognize the habits in Jesus' life. Then we'll look at how to develop the habits in our lives.
So what are these H.A.B.I.T.S.?
So be sure to join us as we unpack these disciplines and learn how we can apply them to our faith journey!
Thanks for taking the time to read The Higham Family Blog. Each week we try to share new content about something we are learning, something we love, or something to offer encouragement to the family. We love to hear from our readers, so please share your thought in the comment section of each post.