Four Steps to Living the Resurrection Life

resurrection

Millions of people around the world celebrated the resurrection of Christ over the weekend. For many, the joyful celebration ended after the sermon and life will continue on as normal this week.

But as my childhood pastor always said, we are  ‘Easter people’. Easter people continue to live out the Easter message, even when the Easter bunny has come and gone, the Easter egg hunts are over and done with and the Easter baskets are found and emptied of their bright yellow peeps. Easter people not only know what the Jesus story says, but they know what it means. God sent and raised His Son Jesus Christ from the dead so that we be reconciled back to a right relationship with our heavenly father for all of eternity. But Easter is also about celebrating the implications of Jesus’ resurrection for life here on earth too.

I love how the Apostle Paul describes this so-called resurrection life:

“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us an unbelievable inheritance!” (Romans 8:17, Message)

How awesome is that? Adventurously expectant…touching God’s Spirit…confirming who we are…filled with hope, joy and blessing! Who wouldn’t want to live the resurrection life?

The challenge for many is not wanting resurrection life, but knowing how to live it out.  How do we practice this resurrection life?

Living the resurrection life can seem complex, but maybe it is easier than we think. Romans 8:17, from the version above, tells us it is a gift we receive from God. Could it be that we are simply to receive the resurrection of Christ? How do we do that? Receiving, as a general principle in Scripture, usually comes after believing. Too often we get hung up on whether it’s true or not true, or on little details like whether Jesus literally rose from the dead in bodily form or not.  It’s not that we shouldn’t ever contemplate these things. It is right and good that we do and it can lead to deeper understanding. But we cannot miss the importance of ‘belief’ when it comes to living out the resurrection life. If we believe in what Jesus did on the cross and why he did what he did, we will be ‘raised up’ (John 6:40) to live out the adventurously expectant Christian life through the empowerment of His Spirit. That is such good news.

So if choosing to believe is the first step towards living the resurrection life, here are four more practical steps we can take to make room for Jesus’ resurrection life to manifest fully in our lives:

1. Surrender. We’ve got to surrender our own ways and take up His. This is not always an easy decision to make at first, but it is a necessary one. Will we continue to go on living according to our own will, or will we allow Him and His Word to direct our path? Matthew 16:25 says, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” It is only when we surrender control of our lives and give Him the reigns, that we experience the true fulfillment and satisfaction we long for.

2. Seek. If after attending church on Easter Sunday and you felt no connection, conviction or meaning whatsoever, there is only one thing to do: seek God Himself. Sometimes this is a simple cry of our hearts, “Lord, help me understand.” Or one of my favorites, “Lord, I do believe, but help my unbelief!” It is a promise that whoever seeks WILL find (see Matthew 7:8). When I re-committed my life to Christ over a decade ago, there was a lot I did not understand about God and why He had to send His son Jesus to die for our sins. I went on an earnest quest to seek out answers. I studied the Bible, read books, asked questions and prayed to God for understanding. The more I sought Him out, the more He revealed Himself to me. Although be warned: the more we seek God the more we actually realize we do not understand. That is the great paradox and hopefully a mark of maturing faith: God’s ways are higher than our ways (and in that way seeming unknowable) and yet He made Himself knowable, reachable and touchable through the very life of Jesus. The good news of the gospel is that we can have an intimate relationship with an invisible God. Seeking (a response to grace) is an important step towards that relationship.

3. Serve. Part of living the resurrection life is to rely on His empowerment to serve others. Jesus himself said that we would do even greater works than He did because we would have the Holy Spirit living in us (John 14:12). If we have been saved, we have been given the Holy Spirit to dwell within us.  It is also important to ask God for the supernatural filling of His Holy Spirit, so that we can most effectively serve the needs of others around us through His power and not our own. God gives each of His children special and specific gifts (Ephesians 4:11-12) through His Holy Spirit, which enable us to complete the works He calls us to do. If you don’t know what your gifts are, pray and ask Him to show you. There are also tests you can take online to help you discover your unique spiritual gifts.

4. Sow. Scripture tells us when we live to please the Spirit, we will reap life from the Spirit (Galatians 6:8). This means when we sow or invest our time and efforts into things of spiritual value, like loving, forgiving and serving others, spending time studying the Word, praying, and taking good care of our physical bodies, which are temples for the Holy Spirit, this will result in God’s life and character growing inside of us. This makes for a Christian life that is not dead or boring, but vibrant and alive in Him.

These are just a few practical things we can do to help us live out to the very fullest, the resurrection life Christ promised us through His finished work on the cross. What will your response to Easter be this year? Will you go on living your normal life, or will you take steps to make His resurrection a reality?

**Ponder this: the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead is residing within you this moment. Wow.

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4 Steps to Living the Resurrection Life

Millions of people around the world celebrated the resurrection of Christ over the weekend. For many, the joyful celebration ended after the sermon and life will continue on as normal this week.

But as my childhood pastor always said, we are  ‘Easter people.’ Easter people continue to live out the Easter message, even when the Easter bunny has come and gone, the Easter egg hunts are over and done with and the Easter baskets are found and emptied of their bright yellow peeps. Easter people not only know what the Jesus story says, but they know what it means. God sent and raised His Son Jesus Christ from the dead so that we may be reconciled back to a right relationship with our heavenly Father for all of eternity. But Easter is also about celebrating the implications of Jesus’ resurrection for life here on earth too.

I love how the Apostle Paul describes this so-called resurrection life:

“This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us an unbelievable inheritance!” (Romans 8:17, Message)

How awesome is that? Adventurously expectant…touching God’s Spirit…confirming who we are…filled with hope, joy and blessing. Who wouldn’t want to live the resurrection life?

The challenge for many is not wanting resurrection life, but knowing how to live it out.  How do we practice this resurrection life? Here are four practical steps we can take to make room for Jesus’ resurrection life to manifest fully in our lives:

1. Surrender. We’ve got to surrender our own ways and take up His. This is not always an easy decision to make at first, but it is a necessary one. Will we continue to go on living according to our own will, or will we allow Him and His Word to direct our path? Matthew 16:25 says, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” It is only when we surrender control of our lives and give Him the reigns, that we experience the true fulfillment and satisfaction we long for.

2. Seek. If after attending church on Easter Sunday and you felt no connection, conviction or meaning whatsoever, there is only one thing to do: seek God Himself. Sometimes this is a simple cry of our hearts, “Lord, help me understand.” Or one of my favorites, “Lord, I do believe, but help my unbelief!” It is a promise that whoever seeks WILL find (see Matthew 7:8).

When I re-committed my life to Christ over a decade ago, there was a lot I did not understand about God and why He had to send His son Jesus to die for our sins. I went on an earnest quest to seek out answers. I studied the Bible, read books, asked questions and prayed to God for understanding. The more I sought Him out, the more He revealed Himself to me. Although be warned: the more we seek God the more we actually realize we do not understand. That is the great paradox and hopefully a mark of maturing faith: God’s ways are higher than our ways and yet He made Himself knowable, reachable and touchable through the very life of Jesus. The good news of the gospel is that we can have an intimate relationship with an invisible God. Seeking is an important step towards that relationship.

3. Serve. Part of living the resurrection life is to rely on His empowerment to serve others. Jesus himself said that we would do even greater works than He did because we would have the Holy Spirit living in us (John 14:12). If we have been saved, we have been given the Holy Spirit to dwell within us.  It is also important to ask God for the supernatural filling of His Holy Spirit, so that we can most effectively serve the needs of others around us through His power and not our own. God gives each of His children special and specific gifts (Ephesians 4:11-12) through His Holy Spirit, which enable us to complete the works He calls us to do. If you don’t know what your gifts are, pray and ask Him to show you. There are also tests you can take online to help you discover your unique spiritual gifts.

4. Sow. Scripture tells us when we live to please the Spirit, we will reap life from the Spirit (Galatians 6:8). This means when we sow or invest our time and efforts into things of spiritual value, like loving, forgiving and serving others, spending time studying the Word, praying, and taking good care of our physical bodies, which are temples for the Holy Spirit, this will result in God’s life and character growing inside of us. This makes for a Christian life that is not dead or boring, but vibrant and alive in Him.

These are just a few practical things we can do to help us live out to the very fullest, the resurrection life Christ promised us through His finished work on the cross. What will your response to Easter be this year? Will you go on living your normal life, or will you take steps to make His resurrection a reality?

**Ponder this: the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead is residing within you this moment. Wow.

Holy Week: Gazing Upon the Doom and Gloom of the Tomb

This is a post from a few years ago that I thought would be relevant to re-post as we head into Holy Week. May it provide some [soul] food for thought to make for a meaningful and meditative week leading up to Easter…

I can hear the soulful music playing down below at the nearby chapel as I sit on my 24th floor terrace. It is beautiful, and yet, there is a sense of mourning and loss. As we look ahead to the Easter celebration of our resurrected Lord, we enter into “Holy Week,” giving us time to pause in somber remembrance of and reflection upon his death.

Up until a few years ago, this was a new thing for me. The church and tradition in which I grew up did not have a practice of marking “Holy Week” — the events that led up to the Easter celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. We just went straight to the good part! That is not a bad or wrong thing. But looking back, I think perhaps we may have missed out in understanding the full weight and significance of the resurrection by not slowing down to journey through the events leading up to it.

Over 2,000 years ago, on this week of the Church calendar, Jesus entered the tomb as a dead man. His followers and family members could do nothing but mourn. Their teacher, friend, companion and Lord was dead. I imagine they were riddled with confusion and doubt, wondering in the quiet of their own hearts: God, why didn’t You rescue Your Son from a horrendous death on the cross? Why didn’t You prove Jesus was who he said he was? Where are You in this pitiful portrait of human death? 

This week we slow down to remember our Lord Jesus who was falsely accused and crucified on the cross. All we can see is the doom and gloom of the tomb.

This serves as a sobering reminder to us, that just as we observed with the disciples, our faith will also be tested. In the “death” of broken marriages, failed health, lost jobs and sufferings of all kinds, we too mourn this week. But that is not all. We also wait, knowing the darkness of the tomb is not the end of the story. When all we see is the doom and gloom of the “tombs” in our lives, it is a call to persevere… in hope:

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)

How is your faith being tested in this season? What trials are challenging your ability to trust and hope in God? Whatever “doom and gloom” you are facing, be encouraged this Holy Week as we gaze upon the tomb of our Lord, for it is often in our going through the painful journey of sadness, confusion and grief that we can also stand firm in the fact that resurrection is coming. Light is coming. Life is coming. Hope is coming. Freedom is coming. Rescue is coming. Joy is coming. Healing is coming. Restoration is coming. Reconciliation is coming. Renewal is coming. Easter, yes, the celebration of our risen Lord, is coming!!!! That, we know, is a fact. So today and this week as we are tempted to despair in the midst of our darkened tombs, may we remember:

“Him who endured such opposition…so that you will not grow weary or lose heart.” (James 12:3)

This week, may we have the courage and discipline to slow down a little to gaze upon the doom and gloom of the tomb of our Lord. Read Luke 22-23. Sit with it. Feel it. Meditate on it. Let is stir you. And then wait. It will only make his resurrection that much sweeter.

Why Work Matters

Work matters

When a new reality TV show came out taking place in a city in which my husband formerly lived, we were intrigued to see how his old stomping grounds were portrayed through the lives of the characters in the show. They were several wealthy young adults who live off their family’s fortunes and didn’t have to work. At first glance, of course one thinks,

“Wow, how awesome would it be not to have to work?”

But as the show goes on, the glam wears off and it becomes apparent that these voluntarily jobless individuals experience a lack of purpose, meaning and significance that often comes from, yes, working.

Even though our work can bring challenges and hardships of many kinds, something inside us tells us that work is a good thing. This is because work is a God thing. Here are four reasons why work matters:

    1. Work matters because…God worked. The creation story in Genesis reveals a God who worked to create the heavens, the earth and everything in it: “By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing…” (Gen. 2:2). If God worked and we are made in His image, shouldn’t we also be workers too?
    2. Work matters because… God commands us to work. When God created human beings, one of the first things He commands them to do after placing them in the garden was “to work it and take care of it” (Gen. 2:15). We were created to be stewards, or caretakers, of God’s creation and this comes none other than through the work of our hands.
    3. Work matters because… it keeps us from pursuing wrong things. The apostle Paul notes that those who waste their time in idleness or in a non-productive manner are easily led into sin: “We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies” (2 Thess. 3:11). Their lack of work was leading them into behaviors that were unhealthy and it stirred up trouble. We are susceptible to the same thing if we choose not to work.
    4. Work matters because… it allows God’s love and power to flow through us. I love the Psalmist’s words, “May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands” (Ps. 90:17). When we entrust our work into the hands of our Lord, He helps us to accomplish what we need to by His love, power and grace. When we put out hearts, hands and minds to work, people will see God at work in us.

We may at times aspire to get to a point where we need not work. Or we may wish we were born into a situation where work was not a necessity. But this is simply not the way God intended things to be. He worked to create us and designed us to work for Him, for our own good and His. Let’s take that into our work today, whatever it is–whether a full time parent or a corporate CEO–thanking God that we get to work and when we do, He is glorified.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23).

(This post is adapted from an article published in The Brink magazine, a devotional magazine for twentysomethings that challenges its readers to belong, grow, and serve.)

*Do you find yourself lacking purpose or meaning in your life or work? If so, maybe you’d like to consider life coaching. I would love to come alongside you and partner with you in figuring out the meaningful work God is calling you to do in this world. Go to my contact page to find out more.

Pursuing Depth in a Surface World

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Do you ever get tired of relating at a surface level? Maybe you meet with a small group for Bible Study regularly or you find yourself talking to people in the fellowship hall after church and you just can’t seem to break through the surface talk. Maybe it goes something like this:

“How are you?”

“Oh I am good, how are you?”

“I am doing fine. How are the kids?”

“They are good. How about yours?”

“Good, good. Alright, well have a good week.”

“You too. Take care.”

You’ve been church mates for years and you still can’t seem to go to that deeper place. Why is that? Maybe you don’t know how. Or maybe you don’t care. 

Either way, I guess the question is whether pursuing depth is a requirement for our faith. Is relating on a deeper level a biblical mandate?

There are several directions in which this question could go, but I think as a starting point, there is a case to be made (at least the beginning of one) that God Himself is deep:

1.God is deep in His thoughts. 

Psalm 92:5, “O Lord, what great works you do!  And how deep are your thoughts.”

2.God is deep in His love.

Ephesians 3:17b-18, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ...”

3.God is deep in His revelation of Truth.

Daniel 22:2, “He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.”

Since we are made in God’s image, it follows that we too should seek to be deep in our thoughts, in our love for God and others, and in our understanding of God’s revealed truth. 

True, you might say, but how?

Sometimes relating deeply with others come naturally. Other times we need to pursue depth by making an intentional effort to press beyond the “hello, how are you?” and into deeper waters of the hearts, souls and needs of others. That deeper place is the place where I believe God’s Spirit dwells and the place where the most meaningful and transforming fellowship can happen. The kind that sharpens us and propels us into deeper side of God’s heart and plan for our lives and His Kingdom.

One way I’ve been able to break through the surface with a couple friends in this season is creating a regular meeting time to grab a [good!] cup of coffee and intentionally ask each other questions that push us into deeper waters. I have listed the questions we use below, which we pulled from the book, The Power of Mentoring: Shaping People Who Will Shape the World. The format is simple: We meet every other week for about an hour and half and intentionally use the time to ask each other these deeper questions, which stimulates deeper reflection and sharing, which then perpetuates a deeper connection with each other and with God. It has been a beautiful and enriching thing.

God has blessed our pursuit of depth and I know He will bless yours too because it is getting at the very essence of who He is. He is a deep God who calls us into deeper waters with Him.

Psalm 42:7, “Deep calls to deep  in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers  have swept over me.”

What else do you do to pursue depth in our surface world? Please share your comments below!

Template for Deep Questions:

  1. Where are you at right now with God?
  2. What have you read in the Bible in the last week?
  3. What has God been saying to you in this?
  4. Where do you find yourself resisting God these days?
  5. What specific things do you find yourself praying for regarding others? … for yourself?
  6. What specific tasks are facing you that you consider incomplete?
  7. What habits are intimidating you at present?
  8. What have you read in the secular press this week?
  9. What general reading have you been doing?
  10. What have you done to play this week?
  11. How are you doing with your spouse? Your kids?
  12. If I were to ask your spouse about your state of mind, spirit, etc., what would she say?
  13. Are you sensing any spiritual attacks from the enemy this week? Today?
  14. If Satan were to try to invalidate you as a servant of God, where or how would he attack you?
  15. What is the state of your sexual life (temptations, fantasy, etc.)?
  16. Where are you at financially (Do you have control, debts, etc.)?
  17. Are there any unresolved conflicts (ailing relatives, stress, disputes) in your circle of relationships right now (family, friends, those among whom we’re supposed to feel safe)?
  18. When was the last time you spent time with a friend of the same gender? 20. What kind of time have you spent with a non-Christian this past week?
  19. What challenges do you expect to face in the coming month?
  20. What are your fears at the present time (letting family down, bodies letting us down, etc.)?
  21. Are you sleeping well?
  22. What three things are you most thankful for?
  23. Do you like yourself at this point in your pilgrimage?
  24. What are your greatest confusions about your relationship with God?

* Talking to a Life Coach can also be a way of pursuing depth in your life and relationships. As a coach I can help you explore areas in which you are needing to grow and discover deeper awareness of who you are so that you can live a deeper more meaningful life. To book a free coaching consulation go to my contact page.

 

The Truth About Time

If you had to identify one thing keeping you from being and pursuing who you are called to be, what would that one thing be?

I bet many of us would give variations of the same answer: “Not. Enough. Time.” We are constantly bombarded with the dilemma of having too much of everything—work, friends, commitments, distractions—and just not enough time to do it all, especially when it comes to pursuing the things that we’re passionate about and that are in line with our sense of God-given purpose. We think that if only we had more time…more hours in a day…then we would do what we really want to be doing.

But is shortage of time really the problem?

Let’s peer into the Bible for a moment to discover the real Truth about time from God’s perspective:

  1. God is the Creator of Time. The Book of John starts out by saying, “He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3). God created the heavens and the earth and everything in it—including time! So to say we “don’t have enough time” is to say God didn’t create enough of it to provide for what we need. Ouch.
  2. God is the Giver of Time. When we are walking in close fellowship with the Lord, there is no such thing as lack, especially when it comes to time: “Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing” (Psalm 34:9). We each get exactly 1,440 minutes per day, 10,080 minutes per week and 525,600 minutes per year. As C. S. Lewis once said, “The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.” When we think about time, it helps to remember that God knew what He was doing when He created it and knows exactly how much of it we need!
  3. God is Outside of Time. The Psalmist remarks, “…he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121: 3b-4). God does not live within the same time limitations as humans. This means He is available to protect us and provide all we need as He calls us to live within the time parameters He gave us.

So how do these Biblical Truths about time influence the way we live? When we look at the life of Jesus, we can see how closely his sense of time was tied to his sense of purpose. In John 18:37, Jesus himself says, “…the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth.” Jesus was single-minded when it came to who he was and what he was put on this earth to do. Knowing his purpose fueled his priorities and how he spent each hour of every day.

Do you know your purpose?

If you do, that is great. Keep going and let it fuel your priorities. If you are still discovering your purpose, that is okay too. Sometimes it takes time and life experience to discover what God has made you for. For some of us, it will even look different in different seasons of life. The important thing is that we are looking for our purpose and asking God to reveal it to us SO THAT our sense of purpose can shape our priorities.

Ravi Zacharias once said,

“The search for meaning is the most critical search that any human being has.”

I love that. And I happen to agree. For Christians, knowing Christ gives us instant meaning. But even beyond that, God gives us gifts, talents and passions, which put together make up our sense of purpose.

So I’ll ask again: what is your purpose? Do not delay, begin to think and meditate on these things and God will show you the way, one step at at a time.

(This post is adapted from an article published in The Brink magazine)

*Sometimes discovering our sense of calling and purpose in life can be challenging, if not confusing! If this is you, would you consider the possibility of exploring life purpose coaching? As a trained life coach working towards my professional credential (ACC) with the International Coaching Federation (ICF), I love partnering with people to help them grow in their awareness and understanding of who they are and who God has called them to be. If you are interested, check out how to connect with me on my life coaching page here. I look forward to hearing from you!

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