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

Mar
01

I have found it to be 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.

Jan
15

“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone.” (1 Peter 2:16-17)

One of the most disturbing recent trends in our culture is a total lack of respect for others. Sometimes, this comes from a place of selfishness. When we become so focused on ourselves or our rights, we don’t care who we disgrace in the pursuit of our individualistic desires. Sometimes, it comes from a hatred of others. When we fail to love our enemies, disrespect is an easy move as we seek to destroy the people we hate. The problem is that these behaviors and the reasons behind them are not Christian.

Over the last several months, I have seen people scream at random strangers who were trying to eat a meal at a restaurant. I have seen people brazenly ignore the guidelines businesses have posted for shopping in their stores. I have seen people shout at politicians in airports and on airplanes. I have seen protestors show up at private residents with the intent of making life miserable for the people inside. I have seen looting and the destruction of property. I have seen people disrespect places of worship by disregarding the protocol church leaders have put in place. This is not a left or right problem. It is a problem of disrespect.

This behavior has been shocking to me because I was raised to respect others. If I disagree with someone, I would never consider shouting at them in public. If I cannot follow the guidelines a store posts, then I won’t go in that store. To do otherwise is a reflection of my character. I am not making someone else look foolish. I am making myself look foolish.

As Christians, we are required to consider others. We cannot live from a place of selfishness. If I only seek my interests, then I will lose my life, not save it. (Luke 17:33) We are also required to love our enemies and do good to them. Our goal is not to see our enemies destroyed. It is to see them saved. If we only love those who love us, then we are no different than anyone else. (Matt. 5:46-47)

We are to honor everyone whether they deserve it or not. We do not do this because of what they have done, but because of who they have the potential of becoming. Every person is created in the image of God. We are to respect this. We are to understand that every person has something of God inside of them. They are not going to grow in their godliness if we act ungodly. Ungodliness does not produce godliness. Only godliness produces godliness.

As a Christian, I have to pay attention to my words and my actions. I do not want to disrespect or dishonor anyone. I do not want to demonize others with my words. I cannot think only of myself. I have to live into a better reality. I have to be a light in a dark world. I do this because I want my children to inherit a better world, a world where people respect one another. I do this because I am a Christian.

Dec
31

“We were in church every time the doors were open.”

I have heard this sentence or something like it many times in my life. I have heard it uttered by Christians and townspeople in describing their upbringing. I have even heard it in some interviews with actors and musicians detailing the culture in which they were raised. There was a time in which time with God was honored above everything else. People put on their Sunday best and showed up to worship, Bible class, and all other church-sponsored activities.

Those days are long gone. We live in a day and age when some churches have shut their doors for good. Other churches struggle to get people to attend any service or activity outside of Sunday morning worship. The expectation has shifted from “people will show up” to “people probably won’t show up.” The impact of our secular culture is apparent on Wednesday nights when gymnasiums and ballparks are full while many churches are half-full or empty.

I do not want it to seem as if all was perfect in previous years. Viewing the past through rose-tinted glasses is not helpful. When worship and Bible class were a priority, many churches failed to see past the walls of their building. Everything was about what happened inside the church building, and there was little focus on being the church in the community. There were plenty of opportunities to expand one’s Bible knowledge, but few opportunities to serve the poor or minister to people in need. The focus in recent years on what is happening outside the church building has been a needed corrective.

Younger Christians are eager to live out their faith. They want to serve and help beyond the walls of the building. This is great, but we must also not forget the importance of meeting together. The church will not survive on good works alone. We need doctrine. We need to grow in our knowledge of the Bible. We need the encouragement and fellowship that we get from regularly being in the presence of other Christians. It does us no good to give up study or fellowship for service.

The abandonment of services and activities outside of Sunday morning is not unique to young people. Grandparents and parents are absent as well. We face many challenges as human beings. Giving up time with Christians and time in God’s word is not going to help us. We have faced a challenging year, and there will likely be more challenging times in our future. If anything, we need more time together, not less. Time spent in Christian community is God’s plan. We are in danger of losing this if all we can give is one hour on Sunday. We need more. We need it for ourselves. We need it for our kids. Coming together as a Christian community is a wonderful blessing, and now is not the time to abandon it.

What a marvelous thing it would be if our kids and grandkids would one day say, “We were in church every time the doors were open.”