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

Mar
07

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” (Matt. 5:7)

“Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” (Matt. 9:13)

“[The merciful] share in other people’s need, debasement, and guilt. They have an irresistible love for the lowly, the sick, for those who are in misery, for those who are demeaned and abused, for those who suffer injustice and are rejected, for everyone in pain and anxiety. They seek out all those who have fallen into sin and guilt. No need is too great, no sin is too dreadful for mercy to reach. The merciful give their own honor to those who have fallen into shame and take that shame unto themselves. They may be found in the company of tax collectors and sinners and willingly bear the shame of their fellowship. Disciples give away anyone’s greatest possession, their own dignity and honor, and show mercy. They know only one dignity and honor, the mercy of their Lord, which is their only source of life.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship

My father could use a little mercy now
The fruits of his labor fall and rot slowly on the ground
His work is almost over it won’t be long, he won’t be around
I love my father, he could use some mercy now

My brother could use a little mercy now
He’s a stranger to freedom, he’s shackled to his fear and his doubt
The pain that he lives in it’s almost more than living will allow
I love my brother, he could use some mercy now

My church and my country could use a little mercy now
As they sink into a poisoned pit it’s going to take forever to climb out
They carry the weight of the faithful who follow them down
I love my church and country, they could use some mercy now

Every living thing could use a little mercy now
Only the hand of grace can end the race towards another mushroom cloud
People in power, they’ll do anything to keep their crown
I love life and life itself could use some mercy now

Yeah, we all could use a little mercy now
I know we don’t deserve it but we need it anyhow
We hang in the balance dangle ‘tween hell and hallowed ground
And every single one of us could use some mercy now

– Mary Gauthier, Mercy Now

Mar
03

There have always been tensions between generations. One generation does things one way, and the next generation decides they will do it differently. Christians are especially concerned with younger generations because a large portion of them are leaving the faith and not coming back. Like the generations before them, they see the world differently than their parents and grandparents. How we grapple with these differences is important. If we are going to effectively engage young people, here are some things to keep in mind.

Don’t be negative – One reason why some young people might struggle with church is they never hear anything positive said about their generation. Anytime their generation is discussed, it is always about what they are doing wrong. People don’t want to be a part of a group where they are constantly being criticized.

Don’t talk as if they are without hope – Young people will be turned off by Christianity if Christians speak of them as a lost generation that cannot be saved. There are problems with every generation, but no generation is without hope. If we cannot offer people hope, they will not want to be a part of Christianity.

Live out your faith in front of them – If we do not take Christianity seriously, then why should we expect our kids and grandkids to take it seriously? If they do not see us worshiping, praying, serving, teaching, etc., they will not do these things. The most important thing we can do for the generations to come is to faithfully live out our faith in front of them.

Listen and don’t dismiss their concerns – We do not have to agree on everything, but we do have to listen and respect others. If we dismiss people or disrespect them or their views, they will want nothing to do with the church. We must be willing to listen and have mature conversations about topics that matter to others.

Avoid stereotypes – We live in a complicated world. Telling people who they are and what they believe is not a welcoming invitation. If we already have our minds made up about someone before they walk through our doors, then why should they open up to us? Don’t tell people who they are. Let them tell us.

Don’t water down Christianity – The young people who are interested in Christianity are really interested in Christianity. They are not looking for Christianity lite. If we water down the message or are not serious about following Jesus, then they will likely keep looking for a church that is.

Mar
01

I have found spiritually helpful over the years to practice a structured time of daily prayer. I previously shared a simple guide that I designed and use. You can find the link to it below.

The daily prayers is not the only guide I use. Below is another guide for missional prayers. If your congregation is focusing on mission, outreach, or evangelism, then I encourage you to use this set of prayers and prayer prompts. It can be used individually or it can be something the entire congregation commits to doing.

I hope these prayers bless you and strengthen your prayer life. Feel free to download and distribute them as needed.

Feb
25

“Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth.” (Job 40:4)

“Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.” (Job 42:3)

God has given us many gifts. Some of the gifts God has given us go unnoticed or overlooked. One such gift is our imagination. We may not realize it, but our imaginations can help us draw closer to God. We can use them to learn more about ourselves and become more Christlike.

The story of Job is a remarkable one. I do not know of anyone who has experienced anything like Job’s life, and yet this account was given for our benefit. Job’s life changed in an instant when he was in the presence of God. It was a transformative moment for Job. He saw himself differently. His outlook on life changed. He would never be the same.

We can use our imaginations to put ourselves in Job’s place in the hope of transforming our own lives. Imagine it and reflect on these questions.

How might God’s holiness cause me to see my life differently? What do I need to change in my life?

What is important in the presence of God? Am I devoting myself to these things?

How would God’s love alter how I understand my worth? Am I seeking validation from sources other than God?

How might God’s mercy towards me change how I view and treat others?

Feb
22

“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” (Prov. 10:19)

“There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Prov. 12:18)

We live in a culture that rushes to comment on every event and every word. We are tempted to respond to every social media post with which we differ. We use our platforms to voice our opinions about whatever has captured the attention of people today. We rarely pause to ask ourselves if this is wise, helpful, or the best use of our time. 

We live in a culture that lacks grace. A person can say 100 good things, but it is the one thing we disagree with that garners our focus. We obsess over one tweet, one post, or one statement rather than the entire life of the person making it. We are willing to risk a relationship over a comment or an opinion. 

Being heard is not always the best option. Even if we are right, there are some things more important than being right. Our focus should be on loving our neighbors. What are we to do the next time we hear or read something we disagree with? Here are some options. 

Choose conversation over commenting – Rather than comment on a post or send an email, choose to grab lunch or a cup of coffee. Conversations often turn out better than commenting. 

Assume the best, not the worst – Whenever we read or hear something, we make judgments. We may assume a public comment is directed towards us or about a specific situation. We don’t know, but we make an assumption. When we don’t know, always assume the best. 

Silence is sometimes golden – Keep on scrolling. It is not necessary, nor is it wise, to comment on everything. This is especially true of controversies that will be here one day and gone the next. If offering my opinion will create problems rather than resolve them, then is it really what I should be doing?

Choose relationships over being right – A friendship is more important than having the last word. Most disagreements are over things that don’t ultimately matter. A relationship is more valuable than winning an argument.

Examine yourself – If I have a problem with what someone said or posted, then I need to begin with myself, not the other person. I need to ask myself certain questions. Why does this bother me? Should I be bothered by it? What would my goal be if I responded? How can I best love this other person?

Feb
11

“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Galatians 5:14)

We live in a polarized world. People have opinions about everything. We judge people on where they get their news, which athletes they cheer for, and which products they buy. We accuse people of being fearful if they are wearing a mask. We accuse people of being calloused if they are not wearing a mask. Everything has become political, and we are not better off for it.

In a divided world, the focus of our conversations can easily become about winning. We demonize the other side. We think the worst of others. We set out to prove people wrong and ourselves right. We see this behavior all the time on social media, the news, and in our daily interactions. It is not righteous or good. We are not treating others as we would like to be treated.

The goal of Christian conversations should always be to love our neighbors. This is our first priority. We are not to look down upon others or treat them disrespectfully. We are to listen and understand. We are to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. We are to encourage and uplift and seek peace wherever we can. Winning an argument is not a victory. Loving our neighbor is a victory.

The church comes to the table of the Lord each Sunday. We are a gathered people that come with different backgrounds, beliefs, and opinions. We look different and we were raised differently. We do not unite around the table because we have the same politics. We unite around Christ. He is greater than anything that might divide us. He is greater than any differences we have. In a divided world, we must keep our eyes on Christ.

Feb
03

People want life to be fair, but as Christians, we cannot expect this. Life is not fair for Christians because we are to do good while others do bad. We are to tell the truth even if others lie. We are to love while others hate. We are to seek peace as those around us fight. We are to forgive when people hurt us.

The unfairness of our call is attested to in verse after verse in the Bible.

“Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” (Matt. 5:39-41)

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matt. 5:44)

“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom. 12:17, 21)

“Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Pet. 2:12)

The life of a Christian is not fair. We are not to treat others as we have been treated. We are to treat others as we would like to be treated regardless of how they have treated us. We will not reach a lost and dying world by being fair. The world needs grace. The only way to reach a lost and dying world is to show them Jesus. Do good when others do evil to you. Love even though you are hated. Seek peace when someone starts a fight with you. Give to those who do not deserve it. Tell the truth to those who would lie to you. Don’t worry about fair. Be like Jesus and watch people transform as they encounter his grace.

Jan
27

Eden, Ark, Sojourning, Egypt, Wilderness, Promised Land, Divided Kingdom, Exile, Diaspora, Roman Rule

The two constants throughout the Bible are God and change. The people of God continually find themselves in changing situations. Often, God is the initiator of change. He invites us to follow him. He invites us to take risks. At the same time, the world around us is always changing. Leaders come and go. Movements begin and end. Nothing stays the same.

Change is inevitable. We cannot stop it from happening. The only choice we get to make is how we respond. Will we kick and scream and fight, or will we faithfully and maturely accept our new circumstances? Will we grow angry and bitter, or will we grow in patience and Christlikeness? Accepting what is imminent does not mean we approve of it. It allows us to both be present and move forward rather than being stuck in the past.

If we refuse to acknowledge change is a part of life, then we are refusing to accept reality. If we deny reality, then we cannot respond in faith. God has not placed us in a bubble where everything remains the same. We live in a changing world. It is here that we are called to minister, love, serve, and encourage. We cannot truly help others or ourselves unless we recognize the reality in which we live.

Change comes in many different forms. Most importantly, we are expected to change. If we don’t accept change, then we will never change. We cannot remain the same and call ourselves Christian. The life of a Christian is one of continual change. We are becoming like Christ. We are being transformed into his likeness.

The life of a Christian is one of seeking first the kingdom of God. It is a perpetual searching after the reign of God in every aspect of life. Our lives must be open to disruption for the sake of the kingdom. Our seeking never ends. We must be open to the things of God even when we grow old because God is always at work. He may bless us with a child in our old age or call us to a new task. If we fear change, then we cannot be faithful.

The Christian ideal is not a life of monotony where we seek to keep everything as it is. It is a life of surprise where we welcome holy disruptions on our way to becoming like Christ.

Jan
22

Many of the things my mother said to me as a child were not just for childhood. Her advice was often godly advice that is beneficial at any age. The world would be a better place if we all heeded the godly advice passed down from our mothers.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom. 12:21) It is never right to do wrong. There is no justification for it. More wrong does not make the world better. It only makes it worse. It is always right to do right. This can be difficult because the world doesn’t play fair all the time, but it is how we are to live as Christians. We do right no matter what others do to us.

If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. “Let your speech always be gracious.” (Col. 4:6) James warns us that our speech can get us in big trouble real quick. (James 3:5-6) It is hard to keep quiet, but sometimes that is the best thing we can do. We live in an unfiltered world where everyone has a platform to say whatever they want to say whenever they want to say it. This has not made the world better. What would make it a better world is if we all showed some discipline and restraint and refused to give in to the temptation to post whatever is on our minds. Instead, we should choose to use our words to encourage and build up. The world doesn’t need any more critics. The world needs believers, mentors, teachers, and friends.

Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t make it right. “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1) We are not to follow the world. We are to follow Christ. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. It doesn’t matter if our friends are doing it. It doesn’t matter if our leaders are doing it. It doesn’t matter if our enemies are doing it. We have one example, and that is Jesus. If we are not following Jesus, then we are not doing what we are supposed to do.

Jan
21

“Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” – Jesus

The biblical position concerning fear is clear. Do not be afraid is one of the most frequently found commands in Scripture. Fear can keep us from following God as we should. There are many things we shouldn’t fear. However, we are all afraid of something.

To say that we do not fear is like saying we have no sin.

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8)

We treat fear like we treat sin. We want to talk about everyone else’s fears, but we don’t want to talk about our own. We are quick to point out what others might be afraid of while ignoring the fears we hide deep inside.

“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?” (Matt. 7:3-4)

Everyone is afraid. What one fears varies from person to person. It might be death, poverty, aging, change, loss of freedom, loneliness, government overreach, loss of memory, rejection, failure, sickness, or any number of other things.

What can we do about fear? Telling someone they are afraid typically doesn’t do much good. More often than not, it makes people angry and this does not lead to godliness. The bigger question is why we are worried about others when we have fears of our own. We have no control over what others fear, but we do have control over our fears.

The best thing I can do as a Christian is to stop the finger-pointing and work on my relationship with God. I can consider the following questions: What do I fear? How does this affect my faith? Am I not following God in some way because I am afraid? What can I do to change this? What steps do I need to take to draw closer to God?

“Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” – Jesus

We are all on a journey to fear less and trust God more. Let’s not beat each other up. Instead, let’s encourage one another as we all seek to be better followers of Jesus.