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

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

Jun
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

Jun
04

May
30

“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 12:2)

One of the greatest challenges of being a Christian is living in a culture with many negative influences and not to succumb to these influences. Because the culture might adopt something like slavery, racism, sexism, abortion, etc. and say it is ok, does not make it ok. Paul’s command in Romans 12:2 is for Christians to have our minds transformed by the word of God so that we will be able to recognize what is not right. Our ability to do this distinguishes us from the rest of the world and allows us to become the holy community God expects us to be.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls us to be a light to the world. He expects us to be leaders, not followers. We are to be examples of how to live. We are not to follow the world in ways that demean, devalue, or even destroy human life. If we fail at this, we have no one to blame but ourselves. The call to live as a unique people who resist evil cultural influences is one that God assigned his people from the very beginning. Israel was expected to be unique among the nations. When they began to act like the nations around them, God held them accountable and they were punished.

Cultural influences can be quite strong and influential, but our love for God and his truth should be stronger. This is serious because many of the evil cultural influences we are tempted by cause harm to others. People are enslaved. People are treated as less than human. People are treated as objects and abused. People are even put to death. God will have none of this! We cannot praise God with our lips and then mistreat people who are created in his image. As God’s people, we must love our neighbors no matter what the culture around us is doing.

May
27

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There is no perfect congregation. To think you are perfect would be to place yourself above the congregations at Corinth, Rome, Thessalonica, Ephesus, etc. These congregations had direct access to inspired apostles. They were much closer to Jesus than we are. They had many advantages that we don’t and yet they still fail short in various ways. We, like these congregations we read about in the New Testament, are flawed in one way or another.

To acknowledge our shortcomings is not to give up on the idea of becoming the congregation God wants us to be. As Christians, we strive daily to become like Jesus knowing we will fall short but we still keep pressing forward. We cannot become more Christlike without owning our faults. To grow in holiness is to recognize our weaknesses so that God can help us to overcome them.

Each generation of Christians will have to make changes to restore/reform the church. The process of restoration/reformation is never complete. It is an ongoing process. This means the church must have the courage to recognize her own shortcomings and make the necessary changes to be a more faithful body. This is not an indictment of the Christians who came before us. As we make changes to more closely follow the teachings of Scripture, we understand that one day the next generation of Christians will have to do the same thing we are doing. No generation has achieved perfection.

If a church holds to the idea they have reached perfection, then they have embraced a stumbling block that will prevent them from maturing in Christ and growing in holiness. This happens more often than one might expect. There is always a temptation to reduce Scripture to an easily manageable set of principles. Once this has been done, there is no need to continue to search for ways to grow in holiness. One can simply embrace the set of principles and claim faithfulness.

We see this in the reduction of worship to five acts. The congregations who embrace this set of principles believe that a faithful congregation is one who adheres to the five acts of worship every Sunday. There are several problems with this belief. The main problem is that Scripture never reduces worship to five acts. This is a man-made reduction that is bound upon others. The other problem is that as Christians have carefully read the Bible over the years, they have identified other acts of worship. One of these acts is the public reading of Scripture (1 Tim. 4:13). When some have tried to rectify this oversight by suggesting responsive readings, longer readings, etc., they have been met with hesitancy. Why? How could any Christian object to the public reading of Scripture? One could if they based faithfulness off of perfectly following a set of principles rather than allowing Scripture to challenge and correct.

Every congregation needs to hold to the truth, but every congregation also needs to be prepared to change in order to better follow God’s ways and grow closer to him. This will happen with each generation and we should not be surprised when it does.

May
20

May
16