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

Aug
12

Petes-Dragon-Poster

Pete’s Dragon is a mix of all kinds of different things that will encourage various emotions in the viewer. If you are looking for a faithful remake of the original, then you will be disappointed. If you are looking for a film with impressive visual effects based off characters you are familiar with, then you will be pleased. If audiences will allow the new Pete’s Dragon to stand on its own, and not expect too much from it going in, then I believe they will be pleasantly surprised. It is an inspiring film that encourages belief in what one cannot see and for this reason, it is an important film for Christians.

Pete’s Dragon has many obstacles to overcome. It is based on a beloved children’s movie that some people are quite passionate about. People have opinions about the film before they ever enter the theater. The film itself is predictable, and some of the characters are one-dimensional. From the moment Gavin (Karl Urban) appears on screen, it is evident he is the bad guy, and it’s not difficult to figure out where the moving is heading. Pete’s Dragon utilizes the familiar narrative of a creature who is misunderstood by the masses and must rely on a few compassionate individuals to come to his aid. Adopting a format that is well-known is not always a bad thing as long as you do it well or do something with it. I am happy to report that Pete’s Dragon does do something special with the familiar story.

Robert Redford plays Meacham, an old man who likes to tinker in his shop and tell stories that seem unbelievable to the neighborhood kids. His daughter Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard) works for the forestry department. She does not think too highly of her father’s tall tales. She is a researcher and believes in hard evidence. Although the part Robert Redford plays is small, it is extremely significant to the film. His dialogue at the beginning of the movie sets up everything that will follow. Pete’s Dragon is a critique of modernist thinking that relies heavily on rationalism and the scientific method. Grace is skeptical of her father’s stories. She believes in her work. She believes in what she can see, touch, feel, taste, and hear. She has spent her life in the forest, and she has never seen a dragon. Meacham reminds the children and Grace that there are unseen things that are very real.

I am not sure what C. S. Lewis or J. R. R. Tolkien would have thought about good dragons, but I believe they would have enjoyed this delightful movie that reminds viewers there is more to this world than what a person can see. Pete’s Dragon is not complex. It does not explore the greater realm of ethics as Lewis and Tolkien did in their works, but it does raise a fundamental question about how people understand the world. Although ethics are not explicitly explored in the film, it does consider questions regarding the source of ethics. Are ethics something people come up with on their own, or are they related to something greater than humanity? These are deep questions, but it is possible people begin to form answers to these questions earlier than one might expect. Lewis, Tolkien, and G. K. Chesterton all understood that there is something special about children’s stories, myths, fantasy, etc. Although these stories may not be true, they teach truth, and they prepare people for truth. I believe this is also true of Pete’s Dragon.

Pete’s Dragon is visually pleasing. It tells a story that will be familiar to many adults but will quickly engage the emotions of children. Most importantly, it is a movie with an important message. The writer of Hebrews says, “faith is…the conviction of things not see.” Can a person believe and trust in something or someone they have not seen? The writer of Hebrews thinks so and so does Pete’s Dragon.

Jul
12

christonthecross

This song is a reflection on the life of Jesus through his mother’s eyes. This is a perspective we are not used to. We know Mary is the mother of Jesus. We know she is given this prominent role at the beginning of the Gospel. We also know that she appears at the cross. Mary is present at the beginning of Jesus’ earthly life and the end, but we often do not reflect on what it was like for her to experience these events. What was it like for Mary to nurture and raise Jesus and to later see him put to death? What was it like for her to cuddle Jesus as a baby and then see him beaten and spit upon? What was it like for Mary to play with Jesus as a child and then stand at the foot of the cross?

There is much that we do not know concerning the life of Jesus from his birth to the beginning of his ministry. What we do know is that Mary was his mother. She gave birth to him. She raised him, and even though we don’t have any of her prayers from this time period, we know what a mother prays for and hopes for. I like how the third stanza begins. It doesn’t just say Mary prayed. It says a mother prays. The sentiment expressed in this prayer could have been prayed by Mary, but it is also something that mothers have prayed for thousands of years.

A mother prays, “Sleep tight, my child, sleep well

For I’ll be at your side

That no shadow, no darkness, no tolling bell,

Shall pierce your dreams this night”

This is what all parents want for their children. We want to protect them from all the evil in the world. We want nothing bad to happen to them. We want to preserve their innocence. We look at these children and we admire them. They don’t see black or white, rich or poor. They see human beings. They love one another and we want to protect this. We don’t want them to know the world as we know it, and so we pray. We ask God to watch over our children knowing that one day their innocence will be lost and they will see the world for what it really is.

Parenting a child is full of highs and lows. When that child is born you experience love like you have never experienced it before. You are overwhelmed with love for this child you have just met. A bond is formed and it continues to grow and grow. Your heart is full but eventually your heart will break. It is inevitable. Your child will get hurt. They will get picked on or made fun of. They will feel pain. They will see evil and wonder why. All of these moments are worse as a parent than when we go through them ourselves. We work so hard to protect our children and then something happens. Tears fill their eyes and our hearts break.

There are some things that should not be. Last week violence broke out across our nation. People’s lives were taken from them. Let’s put the politics aside and remember the humanity involved in each of these situations. As I tuned into the news over the last few days, I heard a mother from Minnesota and a father from Dallas who both lost children. I heard the hurt and sadness in their voices. They had spent all this time raising and trying to protect their children and then they are taken from them. This is a parent’s worst nightmare. This is what all of us fear, and sadly this is the world we live in.

Some may say, “The world has not always been this way.” I would beg to differ. In the days of Noah, the world was full of violence and this upset God. The story of the gospel is the story of an innocent man being put to death by the people in authority. Mary’s firstborn son. The child that Mary loved and raised. The child she carried inside her for nine months. The child she tucked in bed at night becomes the victim of horrific violence. We like to talk about the benefits of the cross but we sometimes forget the human element. Mary’s child endured horrific pain and suffering while she stood nearby. What happened at the cross is an indictment against humanity. It shows what we are capable of, and not just Romans or pagans, but the very people of God helped to put Jesus on the cross. When we allow hate into our heart anything can happen. Jesus commands us not to hate because he says hate leads to murder. What we all must do in this volatile time in our country is examine our heart and make sure there is no hate in it.

This song is important is because it reminds us that there was a loss at the cross. This is the most famous story in the Bible and so we know what happens. We understand the horror of the cross but we also know the hope of resurrection. If we are not careful, we will want to rush past the tragedy of Friday so we can get to the hope of Sunday. It is important that we grasp what happened at the cross, and not just in theological terms, but in terms of what it meant for Mary and Jesus. In the next to last stanza of the song, Springsteen reflects on this.

Now there’s a loss that can never be replaced

A destination that can never be reached

A light you’ll never find in another’s face

A sea whose distance cannot be breached

Although Jesus willingly went to the cross, he was aware that this would forever alter the rest of his life on earth. In Gethsemane, he prays for another way. Jesus will be resurrected but he will also ascend to be with the Father. He will never grow old. He will never be able to care for his elderly mother when she needs help. He will leave behind friends and family. Jesus does an amazing thing for us but it comes at a high cost. The cost is not just the brutality of his death. It is also all that he will leave behind. Although Mary may comprehend the mission of her Son, this still doesn’t take away the pain of her loss. She will no longer have her son here on earth. We experience this type of loss when a Christian brother or sister dies. We have the comfort of knowing we will be reunited, but we still grieve they are no longer with us. There are some things that cannot be undone in this lifetime. If a person robs a bank, then the money can be returned, but if a person takes a life, then there is no way to give that back. There is a loss that can never be replaced and Mary felt that loss at Calvary.

Jesus also understood the significance of what was about to happen. Springsteen sings,

In the garden at Gethsemane

He prayed for the life he’d never live,

He beseeched his Heavenly Father to remove

The cup of death from his lips

What was that prayer about in Gethsemane? We know that Jesus prayed for another way. We also know that he submitted himself to the will of the father. Why did Jesus want to find another way? Was it because he feared the pain he was about to endure? Maybe, but maybe it was because he wanted to spend more time with his disciples and with his family. We know that the people around Jesus were dear to him. He wept at the tomb of Lazarus. He enjoyed eating with people and helping others. Maybe his prayer was similar to Paul’s in Philippians who was torn between being with God and helping others. He wanted both but knew it wasn’t possible at that moment.

What is obvious is that Jesus understood he was making a sacrifice. He had competing emotions within him but he was willing to lay down his life for the masses. He went to the cross for you and for me. Sometimes when a poem or song is written we have to find the meaning ourselves. There are some songwriters who refuse to comment on what their songs mean. Bruce Springsteen is not one of them. While performing this song at concerts around the world Springsteen has commented on the meaning of this song. This is what he has said,

“The choices we make are given meaning by the things we sacrifice…The choices that we make are given their value by the things we give up for them.”

What he describes here is the Biblical definition of love. The cross is love because Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for human beings. Jesus gives a similar definition of love in the parable of the good Samaritan. The story begins because a lawyer wants to know what it means to love his neighbor. It means that you sacrifice something for that person. You give up your time to care for them. You let them ride your donkey. You pay for their stay at the inn. You promise to check back in.

This song asks some deep questions about ourselves. What do our sacrifices say about us? What kinds of sacrifices are we making in our own lives? We talk a lot about love but we only love as much as we sacrifice. We all love God. We profess it every Sunday. Okay, then what have you done for God lately? How have you sacrificed for him? What about your neighbor? The second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor. What have you done for the people around you? The world becomes a better place, not because we talk about love, but because we actually love.

The song ends by reflecting on the final moments Jesus and Mary have together before his death.

Well Jesus kissed his mother’s hands

Whispered, “Mother, still your tears,

For remember the soul of the universe

Willed a world and it appeared.”

This is a song about lament and sacrifice but it ends with a word of hope. In the Gospel of John, Jesus looks down from the cross and he speaks to his mother and he speaks to John. One of his last concerns before he died was that his mother would be taken care of. He commissions John to watch after her. Mary must have been heartbroken as she watched her son die, but Jesus must have been equally heartbroken as he saw his mother’s eyes fill with tears.

In the midst of tragedy and loss, it is important to grieve and lament. Paul commands that we mourn with those who are mourning. When something tragic happens, this should be our first response as Christians. Political pundits and talk show hosts will offer their commentary but the world has had enough commentary. We don’t need any more talking heads. What the world needs is compassion. They need people to recognize their hurts. They need people to listen. They need people to care. This is our job as Christians, but more than anything else we are to remind people of the hope that is alive in Jesus. In the song, Jesus reminds Mary who God is and what he has done. He created this world and he is still in control. We need to remember the power of God. We need to remember that Jesus conquered evil at the cross, conquered death in the resurrection, and one day he will return to right all wrongs. Although we may live in dark times, God will have the final word. We do not belong to darkness. We are children of light and it is our duty to shine this light wherever we go. May we never fear the darkness, but instead may we commit to shining brighter than ever in the darkest moments.

You can listen to the full sermon here.

Feb
11

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“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.” (Psalm 42:1)

What is worship? It is something Christians do every week, but could you explain it if you had to? What would you say to someone who does not know what worship is? God alone is deserving of worship but throughout Scripture other objects, and people are worshiped. Worship involves giving yourself to something. You devote yourself to it. You give your time, money, adoration, and energy to it. You align yourself with what you worship and begin to take on the qualities and characteristics of the object of your devotion. This could be any number of things. It could be a career, nation, team, hobby, etc.

Worship is something all people do, regardless if they know it or not. It should be easy to identify what a person worships by looking at their life. What do they talk about? What do they spend time doing? Where do they give their money? Does a person resemble their favorite sports team? Does a person resemble their favorite political campaign? Does a person resemble Jesus?

“To adore…That means to lose oneself in the unfathomable, to plunge into the inexhaustible, to find peace in the incorruptible, to be absorbed in defined immensity, to offer oneself to the fire and the transparency, to annihilate oneself in proportion as one becomes more deliberately conscious of oneself, and to give of one’s deepest to that whose depth has no end.” – Teilhard de Chardin

The quote above is profound. I have read it multiple times. I have meditated on what it means, and I believe it is a marvelous description of Christian worship. Replace the word “adore” with worship. One of the significant differences between Christian worship and idolatry is that we give ourself to something beyond ourself. Idolatry is tempting because we can understand it and often manipulate it, but we cannot put God into a box. We cannot manipulate him. He is beyond us, and this is exactly why he deserves our worship.

Jan
27

agape_feast_05

While Jesus is at the table, he takes the bread, breaks it, and looks at Matthew. As far as we know, Matthew is the only one of the twelve that, when he starts following Jesus, people are pulling Jesus aside and saying things like, “Are you sure you want to be hanging around this guy? Because he’s a tax collector.” Which meant he was taking money from his fellow countrymen to fund the Roman army. Many tax collectors were thought to be cheats and thieves. Jesus looks at this man, who lived that kind of life, and he hands him the bread and says, “This is my body, and it’s given for you.”

Next, Jesus sees Peter, and he knows that Peter is about to have a bad night. They all are, but Peter firmly believes in the strength of his courage. In a few short hours, Peter will betray Jesus. Out of fear, Peter will deny even knowing him. Jesus knows this. He looks his companion, his friend, who will abandon him, and he hands him the bread and says, “This is my body, and it’s for you.”

And then he turns to Judas, Judas who feels the extra weight in his lap of the thirty coins tucked into his purse. He has already betrayed Jesus, sold him out, and he is sitting there at the table with Jesus. The plot is already in motion. Jesus knows this. He knows what Judas has done, and what he will do. He looks at Judas, and he hands him the bread and says, “This is for you.”

It’s not that our sins don’t matter. They do. When we compromise our integrity, when we hurt each other, when we set the commands of Christ aside because they’re not convenient, it matters. When we come to this table, we come with our sins. There’s no other way we can approach God. It is not in spite of our sins that Jesus offers us his flesh and blood, bread and wine. No, it is precisely because of our sin, that Christ breaks bread, and he hands it to us, and says. “This is my body,” and no matter who you are, or what you’ve done or will do, this is for you.

Submitted by Roy Rhodes

Jan
26

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Heavenly Father,

This year, as every year, we commit ourselves to be people who give to missionaries at home and around the world. We continually strive to be individuals who help the poor and bring hope to people in need. We are also intent on helping our own children, families, widows and others who make this congregation their home.

We vow to continue to worship God in prayer, Bible study, meditation, singing and the Lord’s Supper as acts of righteousness. We also promise to continue to reach out benevolently and evangelistically as acts of justice to our community.

We remember that every dollar we have, whether those we put in the collection plate or the dollars that stay in our personal bank accounts, are all to be used for the glory of God. This year, as every year, we are reminded that we are honored stewards of Your money that You provide us through our sources of income.

Our gift of money is important to us because it is sometimes hard for us to give up. We offer it to you Father and we look forward to seeing how it will be used to bring You glory.

The offering we make this year is more than money. We also offer you our time, energy, and most of all, our hearts. We pray our hearts will continually strive to serve ways to glorify you through worship and acts of service.

May you receive all the glory!

In Christ, Amen.

Submitted by David Duncan

Jan
25

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Text: John 13:1-15 or 1 Th 4:11-12

As I was preparing for our time around the Lord’s Table this morning I got to thinking about our hands.

If you look down your row, there are different kinds of hands. Some soft. Some calloused. These hands have helped to provide food for their family. Each set of hands belongs to a different profession. All of these hands belong to the Lord.

Look at your hands.

What do you see? Your hands tell a story. Your hands have been a help to others. They have caressed the face of your spouse. They have clasped the hand of a friend. Maybe they have helped someone witness the love of Jesus.

The night of the Last Supper we all benefit from the hands that washed the disciples feet. Think about the hands in that room during the Last Supper. Hands of fishermen, a tax collector, a revolutionary, a betrayer.

Each set of hands tells a story. Our hands like Peter’s reach out for Jesus when we are drowning in the sea of life. Our hands like Judas’s have betrayed our Lord when we have reached for the forbidden fruit.

Thankfully our hands aren’t what saves us. No, we are saved by the hands that stooped to wash the dirt off of the disciples feet. These hands were stretched out wide for us on the cross. These hands have the scars to demonstrate his own love for us!

When we get together to celebrate the Lord’s Supper we reach with our hands to take the bread and the cup. We reach out for these emblems that draw us into the story of Jesus.

Submitted by Jason Retherford

Jan
14

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“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)

The Greek word translated transform in this passage is metamorphousthe. This is where our English word metamorphosis comes from. It literally means to change form. When we become a Christian, we are expected to become something different. We are not to stay the same. God now lives in us. Through his presence and the influence of Scripture and Christian practices, we are shaped into a new being.

As we go through life, it is helpful to stop from time to time and compare our life to what it once was. We need to look at our life before we were a Christian and now that we are a Christian. We need to examine our progression over the years. We should be growing in Christ. If we are the same person we were five, ten, fifteen years ago, then something is wrong.

One of the primary goals of the Christian life is to be transformed into the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18). If this is not happening, then we need to make some changes. We need to begin by praying to God and developing a healthy prayer life. We need to make sure we are meditating on God’s word. We need to digest it and make it a part of us. We need to be engaged in Christian practices (disciplines). We need to be actively in involved in helping the poor. We need to focus on our spiritual health through fasting. By devoting ourselves to Christian practices and trusting in God to work in our lives, we can become something new.

Jan
14

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Greeting

Scripture Reading – Psalm 1

God Himself Is With Us

Introductory Talk & Prayer – Beginning the New Year focusing upon God
Count Your Blessings

Scripture Reading – Psalm 2

Prayer: Pray for Community & Leaders – that God might use the church to influence them How Great Thou Art

Scripture Reading – Psalm 3 followed by…

Reading from Ps 3 section in Handout Notes & 1 minute of silent contemplation and personal prayer then…

Listen to Recording – A Shield About Me (Zoe Group)

Scripture Reading – Psalm 19

Communion Reflection – focused on vv12-14
Communion Distribution
Offering

Thank You Lord (during collection)

Scripture Reading – Psalm 20

Prayer: God Hears Our Prayers – including a prayer for the needs pinned on our prayer board Great Is Thy Faithfulness

I Need Thee Every Hour

Scripture Reading – Psalm 145

All Creatures of Our God and King

Shepherds Blessing and Prayer

Prayer Service Supplement

Submitted by Peter Horne

Jan
13

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[Derived from Various Forms]

Almighty God,

We pray for God’s people throughout the world; for our elders and deacons; for this gathering; and for all ministers and people. Grant that every member of the Church may truly and humbly serve you.

We pray for peace; for goodwill among nations; and for the well-being of all people. Guide all those who govern into justice and peace.

We pray for the poor, the sick, the hungry, the oppressed, the unemployed, those in prison, and all who remember and care for them. Deliver them from distress and have compassion toward their need.

We pray for all who seek you, or a deeper knowledge of you. May they find and be found by you.

We pray for the departed who died in hope of the resurrection [especially                    ]. We praise you for your saints who have entered into joy. May we also come to share in your heavenly kingdom.

We pray for                              .

We offer thanksgiving for                              .

We praise you, O Our God, for those in every generation in whom Christ has been honored. May we have grace to glorify Christ in our own day.

Defend us, deliver us, and in thy compassion protect us, O Lord, by thy grace.

In the communion of all the saints, let us commend ourselves, and one another, and all our life, to Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray to you in your Spirit.

Amen.

Submitted by Benjamin Williams

Jan
12

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[After entering the baptistry]

Responsive Reading I:

Reader: Put to death what is earthly in you.

Congregation: Put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, foul talk, and untruthfulness.

Reader: The world walks in these, but you must now put them all away.

Confession & Baptism

[Following the baptism, remain in the baptistry and ask the newly baptized to join the congregation for the following reading.]

Responsive Reading II:

Reader: Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead.

Congregation: And Christ will give you light.

Reader: Put on then, as God’s chosen people,

Congregation: compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience.

Reader: As the Lord forgives you, you must also forgive others.

Congregation: Above all, put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your heart.

Prayer for the Newly Baptized and the Church’s Commitment to Them

Submitted by Matt Porter

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