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


“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Pet. 3:18)

I have found it helpful to continue to ask, “What kind of person do I want to be?” Even though I am now middle-aged, I am still growing and becoming someone. Is the person I am becoming the person I want to be? Is it the person God wants me to be? Most importantly, am I being transformed into the image of Jesus?

Sometimes we know who we want to be by knowing who we don’t want to be. I don’t want to be grumpy all the time. I don’t want to be continually upset over every piece of news or gossip. I don’t want to be a person motivated by fear. I don’t want to act immaturely. I don’t want to be unreliable or unhelpful. I don’t want to be unloving or unkind. I don’t want others to think I am pessimistic or unhopeful. I can identify many things in the world that are unChristlike that help me determine who I want to be.

I want to look more like Jesus when I am 80 than when I was 40. This doesn’t happen on its own. It requires purpose and work. I must determine to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. I must put off the works of the flesh and embrace the fruit of the Spirit.

Who do I want to be? I want to be like Jesus. I want to be at peace no matter what the headlines are. I want to be kind even though others are not. I want to be patient in a world, always in a hurry. I want to be joyful no matter my circumstances. I want to be generous in a culture that values greed. I want to be gentle in a time when harsh words and rhetoric rule. I want to be self-controlled among a people who are reactionary. I want to love like Jesus loved. This is who I want to be. I am not there yet, so I will keep pressing on, growing each year in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.


“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1 Cor. 12:26)

The church is a support group. The church, indeed, is more than this. It would be wrong to make the church just a support group. If that is all we are, we have ceased being a church. However, the church is not less than this either. If we do not support one another, then we have also ceased being a church. To be a church is to invest in the people around you. It is to love, care, and encourage your brothers and sisters. It is to take an interest in your fellow Christians and be there for them when they need you.

What is church? It is more than an hour on Sunday. It is a group of people united in Jesus with whom we do life together. Church is more than worship. It is the time we spend together around a table. It is eating together. It is serving together. It is being in one another’s homes and doing activities together. The only way we can support one another is if we know one another. It’s easy to put on a mask for one hour on Sunday and everyone thinks you are fine. It is only when we break bread together and open up to one another that we can truly start being the church.

Where do we begin? Some may wonder, “Why have I never been invited to have a meal with someone?” That is not the place to start. If we all begin with that question, no one does anything and we all sit at home alone sulking. Every member must begin with their own table. We must ask ourselves, “Who am I going to invite to my table?” If having someone over to your home makes you feel uncomfortable, begin somewhere else. Bring a dish to the next fellowship meal and plan on staying. Invite someone to have lunch with you at a restaurant. Plan on grabbing a cup of coffee with someone who sits on the pew in front of you or behind you. Church is not about waiting on others to serve us. It is about us being Jesus to the people all around us.


The church is Spirit-led, not business-led.

Is the congregation you attend struggling? One thing to consider is how the church is led and what kinds of meetings are taking place to guide the direction of the church.

Churches shouldn’t have business meetings because the church is not a business. I know that is a bold statement, but hear me out. I realize at times there is “business” that needs to be addressed, but the main thrust of who the church is and what the church does is not business. Instead, the church should have shepherd meetings focused on shepherding, prayer meetings, service meetings, praise meetings, mission meetings etc. Any meetings the church has should reflect the nature of the church. We exist to serve, pray, give, evangelize, etc. The church does not exist to do business.

Does the church have financial responsibilities? Certainly! Is the church to be a good steward of its resources? Absolutely! However, the church must consider the end goal of all these resources. Unlike a business, the church is not given money to make more money. The church is given money for mission, benevolence, evangelism, fellowship, etc. The purpose of a business and the purpose of a church are very different. The church is not about the bottom line. The church is about the cross of Christ.

When business-like things have to be done (managing money, paying bills, etc.), they should be done in mission meetings, evangelism meetings, benevolence meetings, shepherding meetings, etc. This is a more biblical model than discussing missions, evangelism, benevolence, spiritual growth, etc. in a business meeting. When we have business meetings to discuss spiritual matters, we have gotten our priorities out of order.

There are churches who have regular business meetings but have never had a prayer meeting or missions meeting or spiritual growth meeting. Some of these churches are dying and they are wondering why. My counsel to them would be to shift their focus to spiritual matters. Be Spirit-led, not business-led.

Regular business meetings can rob a congregation of its passion and lead to its demise. I have never known anyone who gets excited about a business meeting, but people do get excited about missions, service, spiritual growth, etc. Business meetings can be divisive. They can lead to conflict and division because people have strong and differing views on how to conduct business. The work of the Spirit, on the other hand, leads to unity. Focusing on spiritual matters should lead to meetings and outcomes that produce the fruit of the Spirit and strengthen the church.


“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

“For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Gen. 3:19)

I sometimes wear a ring on my finger with a picture of a skull on it. I wonder what people think of it. Do they see it and think it is morbid, or perhaps they think I am a fan of heavy metal music? It’s neither. I wear it because of a Latin phrase that has been associated with various Christian movements. The phrase is memento mori and it means “remember your death.” For me, it helps to put things in perspective. I am reminded that time is limited and I will one day die, so I want to make the best use of my time and live with the end in mind. The decisions I make are not based on daily whims but on the fact that I will one day stand before the Creator of the Universe.

We live in a culture that does everything to avoid thinking about death or coming into contact with death. Consider some of the changes that have happened within the last 100 years. People rarely die at home. When a person dies they are taken away and there is no contact with the body. No one sits up with the dead. We do not bury our own. We pay someone else to do it. This distancing ourselves from death has influenced how we view death and talk about it. We don’t want anything to do with it.

Our Christian faith calls us to push back against this cultural influence that would have us ignore death. Numbering our days leads us to make wise decisions. We are not to be so arrogant that we think we will live forever. We are to remember where we came from and where we will return. Of course, these are not the only words on death. It is a reality we must acknowledge, but it is not our friend. Paul describes death as “the last enemy to be destroyed” (1 Cor. 15:26) and reminds us that our hope is in the resurrection of the body.

“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:54-55)

Until Jesus returns and defeats death, it is a reality. We must live with its sting. However, it is not without some benefit. Remembering our death is humbling. It allows us to order our lives in such a way that we do not waste our days. We remember our death, honor God, honor our families, and live the kind of life God has called us to live.


I was born in 1980, the last full year Jimmy Carter was in office. Much of what I know about him is what he did after he was president. I know about his work with the Carter Center and Habitat for Humanity. I know about the Bible classes he has taught and his faith. When talking with others and Jimmy Carter comes up, I have heard the same line numerous times. It goes like this, “Jimmy Carter is a great person, but he wasn’t a good president.”

Why do so many people hold this same opinion? Was it because of his domestic policy and how he handled the energy crisis? Was it because of how he approached the economy, or maybe something else?

Since yesterday was President’s Day, and Jimmy Carter had recently been placed in hospice care, I decided to read his book, Faith. In it, I encountered a story that made me question this commonly held opinion about Carter’s presidency. Maybe, it was not as bad as everyone claims. Maybe, we have used the wrong standards to judge his time in office. Throughout Scripture, we are reminded at times that God looks at people and situations differently than we do. Could this be the case with Jimmy Carter? Have we been missing something?

Here is the story he tells.

“During 1978 I conducted secret long-distance discussions with Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping, who was the undisputed leader of the People’s Republic of China. The United States and China had not had diplomatic relations for more than thirty years…Deng and I negotiated for many months, and I never sent a message from the State Department because of the need to keep knowledge of the proceedings secret…After the major disagreements were resolved, Deng and I were able to announce our decision in December of that year that reciprocal diplomatic recognition between the United States and the People’s Republic of China would be effective at the beginning of the new year.”

“[Deng Xiaoping] made it clear in speeches and interviews that this new relationship would permit China to be much more deeply involved with the outside world, and that the people within China would also have a greatly expanded life.”

“During the formal White House banquet that Rosalynn and I hosted for our Chinese visitors, Deng leaned over and said softly, ‘Mr. President, you have helped to achieve great things for the Chinese people, and I wonder if there is anything China could do for you.’ After a few moments, I recalled that during my childhood our most revered heroes were Christian missionaries in China…and that under the Communist regime all missionaries had been expelled, and neither Bibles nor worship were permitted. I finally responded, ‘Yes, there are three things that I would like: for your government to let people worship freely, to own Bibles, and for our missionaries to return.’ He seemed taken aback and replied, ‘Well, I will have to think about this…The next morning, Deng told me that he would grant two of my requests, but that no foreign missionaries would be permitted to come back into the country…”

“When Rosalynn and I visited China in 1981, there was a new law that guaranteed freedom of worship, Bibles were plentiful, and overcrowded Christian churches were thriving…In 2010 the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life reported that there were more than 58 million Protestants in China, and in 2014 some leading experts on religion in China projected that by 2025 there would be more Protestant worshippers in China than in the United States.” – Excerpt from Faith by Jimmy Carter

Perhaps, Jimmy Carter was not the best president when it came to domestic policies or the economy, but what if he did something greater, something that most of the world has overlooked for years? I know I will think of Carter’s presidency differently from now on.

“For the Lord sees not as man sees…” (1 Samuel 16:7)


What kind of person is Jesus? This is an important question because we are seeking to be like Jesus. He is the picture of true humanity. Sin corrupts our humanity. It makes us less than human. We need forgiveness of sins, but we also need to learn to walk in the ways of Jesus. We must regain the humanity we have lost and learn to live as God intended us to.

Episodes 4 and 5 of season 3 of The Chosen focus on the story of Jairus, his daughter, and a woman who has been bleeding for twelve years. This story is found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. What is fascinating about this account is that you have two stories that collide together and become one. It begins with Jairus and his daughter who is about to die. There is a sense of urgency. Jesus must hurry and act quickly if this young girl is going to be saved. While on his way to Jairus’ house, Jesus is touched by the woman who has been bleeding. He stops. He wants to know who this woman is. He wants to speak to her and bless her beyond the physical healing she has recieved. Jesus refuses to be in a hurry. Don’t worry! He eventually makes it to Jairus’ house and everything turns out ok.

The Chosen fills in some of the gaps that are not recorded for us and imagines Jesus calling this interruption a “welcomed disturbance.” These words are not found in Scripture. However, they are true to how Jesus lives and acts. He is not in a hurry and welcomes interruptions and disturbances that are ministry opportunities.

What about us? How do we live our lives? How do we respond to interruptions and disturbances that could be opportunities for us to minister to someone else? We need to see as Jesus does. These moments are not simply an inconvenience. They are holy occasions where we may be able to do something that truly matters. May we have eyes to recognize the welcomed disturbances in our lives and respond as Jesus did.


You get your money’s worth! Before the show, I told my son that Bruce will probably play for 3 hours. Sure enough, the concert began at 7:45 and concluded just before 10:45. Bruce gave everything he had and showed no signs of slowing down even though he’s 73.

The setlist! There is an art to arranging a great setlist, and Springsteen is a master. He could easily come out and play his greatest hits for the rest of his life, and lots of people would be pleased, but that’s not what he does. He continues to challenge himself and the band late in his career. His setlists are a mix of deep cuts, greatest hits, audience requests, and new songs. The songs from Letter to You were especially memorable performed live.

The band! My son has been playing trombone for three years now. After seeing the E Street Band, he commented, “They must practice a lot.” I told him that they had been playing together for over fifty years. There is no alternative to all that time spent playing and practicing. That’s the only way you get that good. A Bruce Springsteen concert is not all about the singer. It is about the band. Everyone gets a solo. Everyone gets to sing. Springsteen acknowledged this at the end of the show. You didn’t just get to see the boss. You got to see the E Street Band.

Bruce was having a great time! He wasn’t just going through the motions. He was enjoying being there. He flubbed lines in two songs because he was visibly laughing at something on stage. His smiling and enthusiastic presence was contagious. The audience reciprocated and joined in on the fun. It never came off as if he felt he deserved applause. He was present in the moment, relishing our time together and enjoying it as much as we all were.

An encore with the house lights up! It is no secret that artists use lights, smoke, pyrotechnics, lasers, and video screens to conjure up emotions to set the mood and enhance the performance. In an age of distraction, it takes a lot to keep our attention. However, Bruce reminded us that the power is in the songs. Not many artists can do what he did. When it was time for the encore, the house lights came up, and Bruce and the band performed all five songs without a single special effect. It was a memorable moment. Everyone was standing and singing. You could look to the left and the right and see the joy on people’s faces.

The fans! Springsteen is known for his epic live shows, and because of this he has a loyal fan following. It is not uncommon to encounter people at his shows who have seen the boss 10, 15, 20 times, or more. They analyze his setlists and tell stories about other times they have seen him. The fans are part of the experience. Without them, it would not be the same. Nearly everyone stands for most of the show. People are not there to sit and watch. They are there to participate and to be a part of the show. There is nothing like singing Badlands or Born to Run with 20,000 other people.

A perfect ending! After running through a slew of hits during the encore, the band took their final bow, but Bruce remained on stage. The house lights went dark again, and Bruce picked up an acoustic guitar and ended the show with I’ll See You in My Dreams. The song is a prayer.

I’ll see you in my dreams
When all the summers have come to an end
I’ll see you in my dreams
We’ll meet and live and love again
I’ll see you in my dreams
Yeah, up around the river bend
For death is not the end

Bruce has several songs like this, like My City of Ruins and Land of Hope and Dreams. Elements of faith and spirituality are sprinkled throughout his songs. It was a touching moment for the arena to go completely silent and to have Bruce sing this blessing over us.

Bruce Springsteen is a remarkable artist because these songs are more than just entertainment. They are real. They are spiritual. They speak to our souls and touch on things we have experienced ourselves. They are songs of hope, joy, and lament. They acknowledge the “hard times” we all endure while speaking of a better tomorrow. Bruce carries on the tradition of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and others who have come before him. He understands the weight and responsibility of being a songwriter. It is a calling, and he continues to use his gifts to bless all of us.


I once contributed a chapter to a book entitled Why We Stayed: Honesty and Hope in Churches of Christ. The idea of the book was to reflect on some of the things we have done well in Churches of Christ and explore why we and others might want to see them continue. No movement is without fault. Time allows us to look back and evaluate the past. This is not disrespectful. It is an acknowledgement that we are all human. I hope my children’s generation will look at my generation and learn from our mistakes and build upon what we did right.

Looking back on the history of Churches of Christ, I see a foundation worth building on. We are not perfect by any means. We have made our fair share of mistakes, but we also got some things right. There is hope for the future if we are willing to take an honest look at the past and move beyond our failures while clinging to the parts of our movement that are good, true, and beautiful.

Here are a few reasons why I identify with Churches of Christ.

We have a high view of Scripture. We believe the Bible is the word of God. It is a living and active document that is unlike any other book. God is at work in us when we meditate upon and study Scripture. He uses it to transform our lives into the image of his Son. Because of this, we emphasize Bible education and the proclamation of God’s word in worship. We may disagree on how to interpret a passage, but we are united in understanding its importance. We are a movement without a hierarchy. We are not overseen by bishops, councils, denominational coventions, or even creeds. We believe in the power of God’s word to guide us.

We were non-denominational before it was cool. We live in a post-denominational time, and because of this non-denominational churches are becoming more and more prevalent. Churches of Christ and Christian Churches were non-denominational before it was on anyone’s radar. Our movement began in the 1800’s when people began to go by Christian and not any other name, refused to divide over confessions of faith, and practiced open communion. To this day, we have no denominational structure. Each congregation is a group of Christians doing their best to follow the ways of Jesus, no more and no less.

We emphasize the importance of assembling. What is church? It is a community of believers who are committed to following Jesus together. It is impossible to be a church without being together on a regular basis. We believe assembling weekly is an essential component of who we are. We come together to encourage and build one another up. In a time of great lonleliness and isolation, we need to be in community as often as possible. We also believe this time together is not limited to human interactions. The church is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and we assemble in the presence of God. He is in our midst when we come together.

We gather around a table. The table of the Lord is the focus of what we do each week. Every person in worship meets around this table. There are no barriers keeping certain people out. We do not exclude people from the table. Everyone is equal. Everyone is welcome. We eat a meal together as the people of God have done for thousands of years. We remember the Israelites who ate the Passover meal. We remember Christian martyrs who ate this meal and gave their lives. We remember our ancestors who partook of this meal and passed on the faith to us. Most importantly, we commune with Jesus. We remember his life and all that he came to do and is still doing. We eat this meal as a reminder that we will eat it again one day when Jesus returns. We will dine with our Savior and all the faithful who have gone on before us. The table is a sacred place where we come to meet Jesus.

Everyone sings. Churches of Christ are unique in that our worship consists of acappella singing. The word acappella means music of the church, but it is a rare thing to find nowadays, even in places of worship. Although it may seem strange to some, it is a beautiful tradition with multiple benefits. It encourages everyone to sing. We understand worship as a corporate act in which everyone is to participate. We sing to one another as we sing to God. It is of more benefit to me to hear the voice of my neighbor, someone created in the image of God, than to hear an over-amplified guitar. There is something beautiful about joining our voices together and praising the Lord. This is something that can be done in homes or around hospital beds. When everyone knows how to sing, worship can happen anywhere.

We don’t have flags in the sanctuary. When religion is mixed with politics, religion loses. We understand that our ultimate allegiance is to the kingdom of God. We try not to allow outside influences to corrupt our walk with God. In times past, we have refused to pick up arms against other Christians. We have resisted the principalites and powers. This is not always an easy thing to do. In a day and age when nationalism is on the rise, I am thankful for our history. I am grateful we have made a clear distinction between church and state and not allowed patriotism to be a part of worship.

We believe God is present and at work in baptism. Sins are forgiven. We receive the Holy Spirit. We die to self and are raised a new creation. Baptism is a work of God. It is a physical act, something we can see and experience, but that is only one aspect of baptism. There is a spiritual element as well. Baptism is a death, burial, and resurrection in which God is present and acting. We cannot see this, but it does not make it any less true. The same thing happens in communion. We eat the bread and drink the wine, but there is more to the meal than this. We encounter the presence of Jesus and commune with him. Baptism is not just a symbol. It is a holy sacrament that alters who we are and where we are going.


There was a time early in my calling when I was working with students. One young man was interested in going into ministry. He talked about it with excitement. I will never forget the day his demeanor changed. He revealed his desire to his parents, and they did not share his enthusiasm. His parents convinced him that ministry was not something he should pursue.

Does ministry matter?

Over the years, I have witnessed multiple young men and women from churches I have served join the military. During that same period, not one person entered into ministry. Why? I have thought a lot about this. I wonder if it has anything to do with how we pray for people in the military every Sunday but rarely pray for our missionaries. I wonder what ways we are encouraging our young people to go and fight physical battles and discouraging them to fight spiritual ones. Do we believe physical battles are of more importance than spiritual ones?

Does ministry matter?

Over the last couple of years, I have watched multiple ministers step away from full-time positions in ministry. A question that has come up again and again is, “Does it matter?” Ministers want to make a difference. They want to form people into the image of Jesus. Many have grown frustrated as they see people being formed more by social media, 24-hour news networks, talk radio, and YouTube personalities than Jesus. They pour their hearts and souls into their messages only to see it make little or no difference. They wonder, “Does it matter?”

Does ministry matter?

If we are going to address the preacher shortage crisis, this is the first question we must contemplate. If ministry does not matter to our churches, or matters little, we will not produce ministers. If ministry does not matter to our youth, they will not want to be ministers. If we give the impression that ministry does not matter, preachers will continue to leave.

Does ministry matter?

I believe it does. It is a holy thing to stand before the people of God to proclaim the word of God. It is a holy thing to comfort the grieving beside an open grave. It is a holy thing to baptize someone who has chosen to give their life to Christ. It is a holy thing to hear the confession of someone who is troubled. It is a holy thing to stand beside a hospital bed and pray for someone who is sick. Ministry matters. It really does. I believe most ministers understand this, but it has to matter to more than ministers.

Does ministry matter to you?

Churches must cultivate a culture where ministry matters to raise up the next generation of ministers. A culture like this will respect the proclamation of God’s word and not view it like a soundbyte or the minister like a talking head. A culture like this will treat ministers well and encourage their own to become ministers. A culture like this will pray for ministers, missionaries, and teachers. A culture like this will appreciate the talents of their ministers and encourage them to use them. A culture like this will not treat their ministers as hired hands but as valued members of God’s family.

Ministers do not grow on trees. They are not created at Christian colleges. They come from churches. If there is a minister shortage, we must look to congregations and ask, “Why?” Ministers are grown. They are nurtured. They are encouraged. They are supported.

Does ministry matter? If it does, we will all do our part.