Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

Sep
13

Sep
12

“So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.” (Genesis 2:3)

The first thing God deems holy is time. He sets apart the Sabbath day as a time to rest and reflect on all that God has done. The Sabbath will go on to play an integral part in the life of Israel. It is one of the ten commandments. It distinguishes them from other nations. When Israel is taken into captivity, the observance of the Sabbath becomes a counter-cultural practice. Isreal views time differently than the people around them.

The people of God’s distinct view of time continues into the New Testament. Christians begin gathering on the first day of the week to worship God since this was the day Jesus was raised from the grave. Even though Jews and Gentiles might be going to work, Christians stop to pray, sing, share the Lord’s Supper, and listen to God’s word. The people of God do not allow the culture to dictate how they view time or what they do with it. They view time as belonging to God and are therefore more than willing to cease from what culture says is normal to honor God.

What we do with our time matters. Paul instructs us to “look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:15-16) First and foremost, we are to honor God with our time. The world may look at worship or Bible study as a waste of time, but for the Christian, we see it as a way of acknowledging and praising the Creator of time. To cease from our daily activities to honor God is an essential part of the Christian life. Our actions related to time are a profession of our devotion. We devote time to whatever has captured our heart. For many, this is entertainment, sports, family, politics, work, etc., but for the Christian, it should be first and foremost God. Although these other things are meaningful in their own ways, they are ultimately meaningless if we fail to honor God who has given us life, time, and the means to enjoy them.

Sep
04

Aug
27

Aug
15

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Churches across America are experiencing decreasing numbers. Often external factors like cultural influences are blamed for the decline in church membership. Certainly, the times they are a-changing, but placing all the blame on others without looking at ourselves is not a way to move forward. In fact, in certain cases, we are the first to blame. There are various reasons why a congregation might experience a decline. One main reason is a crisis of leadership. Where there is toxic or unhealthy leadership, people flee. They will also not stick around if there is a lack of leadership. Before we point fingers at the culture or other outside influences for the drop in attendance, we should consider leadership and other internal factors. Here are four questions we can ask to determine whether the leadership at a congregation is functioning properly.

Are you neglecting the only person who has been trained for ministry leadership?

Elders are to lead the church, but so are ministers. In Titus 1:5, Titus was charged with appointing elders. Ministers and elders are both leadership roles in a local congregation. They have different functions, but they are both called to lead. Ministers and elders should both be included in developing a vision for the congregation. Often, the minister is the only one who has had extensive training in church leadership. This does not mean the minister should make all the decisions, but it does mean he should be an important voice at the table. At the same time, the minister must submit himself to the eldership. He is a leader under their guidance.

Are leadership meetings energizing or something people dread?

I was once at a congregation where everyone dreaded attending leadership meetings. One of the main reasons was because there was an individual with a toxic personality who picked a fight at every meeting. People grew weary and it wasn’t long before some of our best leaders stopped attending meetings altogether. Dysfunctional leadership meetings will have a negative effect on the congregation. On the other hand, if leadership meetings go well, then this will positively influence the congregation. Infighting among leaders will destroy a church, but mutual Christian love for one another among the leadership will energize and encourage a congregation.

Is there a clear vision for where you are heading or is everyone satisfied with the status quo?

The purpose of being led is that you are going somewhere. No one wants to be led in circles. Every congregation needs a vision for where they are going and a plan for how to get there. Too often, leaders are content with doing nothing. They don’t want to grow. They don’t want to change. They want things to stay just as they are. They then are surprised when numbers begin to decline. People can sense when there is no vision or plan in place. Most people are content with being led as long as they know there is a vision.

Are leaders encouraged to learn and grow?

Stagnation will slowly kill a congregation. We are all to continue to grow in our faith and this begins with leadership. A church with a leadership that refuses to learn and grow is a dying church. Ministers need time off for continuing education. Elders should look for opportunities to attend seminars or look for other opportunities to learn. Every seminar, class, lectureship, workshop, etc. that a leader attends will bless the congregation. A leader does not attend these events solely for his own good, but he attends them for the good of all the members he has been charged with leading.

Jul
11

Our world is full of idols and two of the most prominent are nostalgia and modernity. We tend to either idolize the past or the future. We look back to what we believe was a better time or we look forward to the changes the future will bring. We are not content with the present and believe that either going back or forward will solve our problems.

In Ecclesiastes 7:10, Solomon warns against longing for the good old days. He writes, “Say not, ‘Why were the former days better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask this.” What is remembered about the past is often an idolized version of what really took place. We remember the good rather than the bad. We forget the past was not good for everyone and that sin was as much of a problem back then as it is today. The past does offer the advantage of wisdom that has been tried and tested. Although we should not idolize the past, to dismiss it completely would be a grave mistake.

Others look to the future and progress to solve the problems of our age. An idolized version of what will come to be is paraded as the answer to what ails us. It is believed there are better days ahead of us if we could simply get beyond the tired traditions and beliefs that are holding us back. What is forgotten is that the future will come with its own set of problems. Sin will still be an issue although it may take on different forms. The future does offer the possibility of a new beginning. It is a chance to right wrongs and learn from our past mistakes, but it will never be the idolized version we think it will be.

Although the groups who cling to the past or the future may be miles apart in their values and what they stand for, they make the same mistake. They believe our problems can be solved by time, either going back or forwards. The truth is time will never be able to deal with the problem of sin. Only Jesus offers a solution to sin. We can gain valuable wisdom from the past and we can set out to make a better future by following Jesus, but we must be careful not to idolize either. We are a people with a rich history who live in the present and look forward to the coming of Christ.

Jun
24

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18

Jun
13
Summer is a time when many of us experience a change in our routines. Kids and grandkids are out of school. We schedule vacations and look forward to summer activities. The days are longer and we may work longer. There are summer concerts, summer picnics, summer sports, and many other events taking place. Summer is fun and it is a great time to enjoy all the blessings God has given us.

Although our routines may change in various ways during the summer, we should make sure our spiritual routines are not disrupted. We must guard our times of prayer and Bible reading. We must maintain our practice of helping people in need. We must not forsake the assembly of the saints, nor neglect our Bible classes on Sunday and Wednesday. All of these routines and practices are essential to our spiritual formation and maintaining a healthy relationship with God. It may be difficult at times to continue our spiritual routines in the summer, but we must make sure we are prioritizing our devotion to God above everything else.

The greatest command is to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. We show our love for God in many different ways, but one of the main ways is by our commitment to him. We are faithful to God no matter the time or season. We would not accept it if our spouse chose to only be faithful to us at certain times of the year, and rightly so. Why would we treat God any differently? Our devotion to him should be greater than our devotion to our spouse. We should never neglect our relationship with God because it gets busy. If it were not for God, we would never be able to enjoy all the activities of summer, and so we should take every opportunity to praise and thank him.

Jun
10