The Power of a Moment: Where Discipleship Happens

Last night, I glanced out the window and saw the tell-tale pink glow of the promise of an amazing sunset. I absolutely LOVE the sky and love all the things that happen there from storm clouds swirling to sunsets waning. In fact, one of my neighbors stopped me once to say, “I love how you are always looking up!” And I do. I love the sky.

So, in true form, I bounded from the couch and ran out the door, camera (okay, fine, phone) in hand. The sky was an orange-pink color as the setting sun bounced off the low-hanging clouds. As the sun went lower, the clouds changed from light orange to bright orange to dark pink. The whole sky rippled with the colors of sunset, changing the whole atmosphere into a magical pink paradise.

And then, it was over. The clouds returned to their gray color. The sun sunk below the horizon. The dim light of twilight took over. The awe-inspiring show of beauty and light was over just minutes before it started, captured only in a few photos and the swelling of my joy-filled heart.

Go ahead and grab your phone. Take a few minutes and glance through the moments you’ve captured there.

A birthday party?  A visit with a friend? A few silly selfies with your kids?  That time when you snuck in and got a picture of your little one sleeping?  A couple of cameos just for fun?

 

My guess is these were fleeting moments too.

Times where you grabbed the phone to capture a full heart in a still picture.

The thing about Time is that it doesn’t stop moving forward. As one kidmin conference noted a couple of years ago “It’s just a phase…so don’t miss it.”

That sunset I saw will never happen again. I could have glanced outside and said, “Oh look, a sunset” and moved on. I could have taken a picture and posted it on Instagram to prove I was there. Or, I could have done what I did – reveled in the moment. Fleeting though it was, it filled my soul.

Our moments with our children are likewise fleeting. Even those pictures on our phones can be deceiving, because being present and being there are two different things. I think the missionary Jim Elliot put it best when he said, “Wherever you are, be all there.

Discipleship happens in the moments, not the photographs.

It happens in the stolen minutes before bed, the shared meal around the table, the movie night in the living room, the car ride to practice, the quick hug before the school day begins.

It happens when we invite Christ into these precious times. These passing moments can be soul-filling if we let them be, not just for us, but for our kids. The opportunity to be “all there” presents itself all the time, the soft glow of family calling us back to each other, for moments that can bring us awe.

When I look at this picture of sunset, I don’t just see a beautiful sky or a gorgeous sunset. I feel the moment in my heart. I feel the awe. And that’s because I was truly there. img_5315

What do we feel as we scroll through those pics on our phone?  Why not grab your child and go through it with them?  Feel the awe of the moments together. And make that determination to be “all there” no matter how fleeting the time may be


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Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook.

About this Blog

family

Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. She recently graduated with a Masters of Arts in Ministry focusing on Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family and  Seedbed

The Great Thanksgiving

In a few short hours, across the United States, citizens of this country will gather to celebrate as one country our national holiday of Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving was established by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 as the Civil War was being fought upon our soil, a divided country, brought together on this day to pause, reflect, and give thanks. It wasn’t a picturesque scene. Our country was torn apart, literally brother against brother. The bloodiest battles raged. Mourning and sorrow were commonplace. The division in our country today didn’t even come close to the division being experienced at that time.

Into that moment, President Lincoln spoke these words:

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

America’s Great Thanksgiving – a call to leave behind the striving and the sorrow for a day – to gather as one and “look up” to God as a nation in gratitude and awe. To “fervently implore” Him to bring peace, harmony, tranquility and union to the land. 

But before America’s Great Thanksgiving, before the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln, before the turkeys and football, before pumpkin pie and hot apple cider…before all of that, we, the Church, were invited to a different meal.

We were invited to engage in our own Great Thanksgiving.

Christ himself has extended the invitation. “On the night in which he gave himself up for us,he took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said: ‘Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ When the supper was over, he took the cup, gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples, and said: ‘Drink from this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.'”

The liturgy that accompanies this meal of Communion is aptly named “The Great Thanksgiving”. It starts with this declaration and response:

The Lord be with you.communionbread
      And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
     We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
     It is right to give our thanks and praise.

It is right, and a good and joyful thing,
always and everywhere to give thanks to you,
Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

It IS right to give our thanks and praise.
It is good and it is joyful.
And not just on Thanksgiving Day, but always and everywhere.

In a few short days, across the entire world, citizens of our eternal home will gather to celebrate as one people our celebration of hope through communion.

The Great Thanksgiving was given to us by Jesus on the night before he was to be betrayed, beaten, and crucified for us. He brought us together at this table to pause, reflect, and give thanks. And no matter how bad life has been for the Church, each week, each time we come to the table, we remember the hope we have been given and the life we participate in.

He meets us there. He reminds us of who we are in Him.

This year, perhaps more than other years, we may find ourselves needing that reminder.

Perhaps this year, we need to gather our children close and remind them of this promise, this celebration, this Great Thanksgiving that we get to participate in. We can help them to understand that sometimes bread and wine is a greater feast than all the turkey, mashed potatoes, and pecan pie in the world.

Perhaps this year has been particularly hard for us personally and gathering to give thanks, to see family, to experience joy has left us numb, sad, and lonely. Then we of all people must remember the Great Thanksgiving ushers us to a place of eternity and grace and provides us with the eternal hope of life with God forever. We must remember that gratitude is more than saying “Thank you” but living a life of awe. We must join in the meal, hear the words of life, and now that one day we will “feast at his heavenly banquet.”

Wherever we find ourselves this year, may we know the richness of His grace and may this prayer lead us into even deeper lives of gratitude and love with one another.

Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here,
and on these gifts of bread and wine.
Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ,
that we may be for the world the body of Christ,
redeemed by his blood.

By your Spirit make us one with Christ,
one with each other,
and one in ministry to all the world,
until Christ comes in final victory
and we feast at his heavenly banquet.

Through your Son Jesus Christ,
with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church,
all honor and glory is yours, almighty Father,
now and forever. Amen.

Excerpts of the liturgy taken from “A Service of Word and Table I,” Copyright © 1972, The Methodist Publishing House; Copyright © 1980, 1985, 1989, 1992 UMPH.


For more information about

Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook.

About the author 

Family(40)

Refocus Ministry was started by Christina Embree, wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family,  Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com

A Life of Awe: Gratitude is More than Saying “Thank You

Each year in November, Americans celebrate a holiday aptly named Thanksgiving where we pause for a moment, take a deep breath, count our blessing, and express our gratitude. We spend time with family, eat delicious food, kick off the Christmas holiday season, watch football, and engage in any number of personal family traditions.

Perhaps this year, more than in others in recent memory, I am more cognizant of the need to give thanks. However, I think something we need to consider as we are leading the next generation of citizens, is that gratitude is not limited to a spoken “thank you” or a special day.

Gratitude is a way of life; a continual living into an awareness of the blessings we have and the grace we are given each and every moment of the day.

Simply put, gratitude is a life of awe. It’s a place where we are very aware of the incredible life we are given, from the air that we breathe to the food that we eat. It’s more than an attitude or a platitude – it’s a state of being.

thanksgiving-1680142_1920Often our children miss out on awe. Their lives are fast-paced and hurried. They shuffle from one activity to the next, one distraction to the next, one practice to the next and that sense of awe and wonder gets lost in the noise.  And let’s be frank, a constant lack of awe leads to a lack of gratitude and a growth of entitlement. When we aren’t aware of the greatness of our blessings, we assume that our blessings are our rights and we behave in ways that are more greedy than gracious, more demanding than grateful.

How can we help our kids live a life of awe?

We can STOP

For a moment, for a breath, we can stop. Stop the car. Stop the conversation. Stop the running. Stop for just a moment and look up, look out, and look around. My kids love to make fun of me because I will pull the car off on the side of the road to get a picture of the sky. They make fun of me, but they also look up a lot – at stars, at clouds, at sunrises and sunsets – and they are in awe of our Creator. And that leads to thanksgiving. So, let’s stop for a just a moment, when our kids are watching, and live into awe.

We can GO

One thing that hinders gratitude is an introspective life that is focused inward on self. A. W. Tozer once shared, “Gratitude is an offering precious in the sight of God, and it is one that the poorest of us can make and be not poorer but richer for having made it. Showing and offering gratitude leads us to look not to self, but to others.

When we are aware of our blessings, we want to extend those blessings to those around us. There is something amazingly precious about our children watching us serve others and joining us in that work. It leads to a distinct awareness of just how blessed we really are.

We can SPEAK

My favorite hashtag on social media is #speaklife. I love it because if you click on it, you will find all manner of uplifting and powerful messages of life-giving hope. We can speak life. Gratitude isn’t just about saying thank you, it’s about speaking life into situations where hopelessness and darkness encroach and try to steal, kill and destroy hearts and lives. It’s the antithesis of grumbling and complaining.

Gratitude says there is hope and if our children need to hear anything today, it’s that there is hope – unending, never failing hope. 

Maybe your church or family is doing a gratitude challenge this month?  Well, here’s my challenge for all of us. As we look around at the world around us and we see the things that hurt our hearts and weigh heavy on our spirit, let’s cultivate a new approach within ourselves – an approach that stops, goes, and speaks with heartfelt gratefulness and genuine thanksgiving – an approach that leads to a sense of awe and wonder.

Let’s…

  • Take pictures of the sky
  • Sing songs loudly in the car
  • Spin around until we fall down
  • Make a card for a friend
  • Pick a flower for a neighbor
  • Give a meal to someone who is hungry
  • Fill a envelope with notes of love and drop it in the mail
  • Hold hands and go for a walk
  • Stop the car and watch the sunset
  • Whisper a prayer as we walk along the way
  • Talk about our day as we sit at home
  • Bless our family as we rise and
  • Pray for them as we lie down

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17


For more information about

Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook. 

About the author

Family(40)Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family,  Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com.