Your Post-Easter Life

We are now post-Easter. It would be easy for us to think that the story is concluded, Christ is soon to return whence he came, and we will go one with our regular lives until we repeat this cyclical story of birth, life, death, and resurrection again. But the story is just getting started. When Jesus arose the Gospels make a pointed emphasis to tell us that happened on the First Day. Now that we are living in the New World there are so many days ahead to live. It’s time for the followers of Christ to have their chapter. It’s time for us to write our page of the story. It’s time for the Spirit to come.

Life is different now. We are different now. We are now living a Spiritual Life. Our life isn’t an earth life, physical life, only. We are now alive in a whole new way. We are alive to and living in a new realm. We live and move in the spiritual just as we have in the physical. We are alive in a world in which God is at the center, Christ is on a throne, and which is full of new kind of, and a new way of, power.

We are to live now a spiritual life, a Spirit filled life, described by the Bible. This is a hugely critical point. What is described for us in the Bible is real. The Bible, it turns out, isn’t only a book to be studied. It is a book to be lived. The Bible is more like a menu than it is an history book or a sourcebook of knowledge. It is inviting us to an experience, a whole buffet, an experience of God’s presence here and now. It is a portal into another world, a wardrobe through which we pass into Narnia, if we dare.

We, if we’re willing to be, like Jesus—we are his body, the place where heaven and earth, the physical and the spiritual, come together in one place. We can see things and know things. We can hear and know the mind of God. We can see and know the way things are supposed to be. And we can have power to make these things happen and come to be in the physical world, and we can make these things real through things like touch and spoken words and hard work. We can say to mountains “be removed and cast into the sea” and they will be. We can know God.

What does this require? Everything. Every moment. Every thought. Every action. To be this, to be the body of Christ, you must constantly be growing in your spirit. You must constantly be paying attention to God, always in prayer, always watching and listening to the Spirit who is now in you. And you must be selfless. Your life now is not yours, it is God’s, and any attempt to take it back and own it yourself will diminish your spiritual connection.

Should you choose to accept this life, you will change. The reality you see people living in the Bible will be your reality. You might heal the sick or raise the dead. Or you might be called on to lay down your life.

Why Christianity Isn’t About Beliefs

In the next few weeks we will be remembering events.  We will be talking about things that happened.  There was a man who lived.  He did astounding, amazing things.  He lived and then he was crucified by the Romans at the insistence of the political leaders of Israel.  He was buried.  His tomb was sealed and guarded.  Three days later women went to the tomb and found the stone which sealed it moved, the guards having fled, and the tomb empty. And then a question was asked, “Why do you search for the living among the dead? He is not here; he is risen. Come see the place where he lay.”  They saw the place.  Later they saw him. All of these events happened.

I am stressing that these are events and I am stressing that events are things that happen and I know all that sounds pretty obvious but I think it’s a big deal.   Here’s why.  When we talk about Christianity we are not talking about beliefs.  We are talking about events.  We are talking about something that happened.  A man died and rose from the dead.  That is not a belief.  It is an event that happened in the world. 

Why does that matter?  Beliefs are things you can choose to adopt or to reject.  If you want to believe in something called karma, you’re free to do so.  If you don’t want to believe in karma, don’t.  You’re free to do so.  But events do not give you that freedom.  The sun came up today.  George Washington was elected President of the United States. Both are events.  To talk about them as if belief in those events was necessary to make them real is nonsense.  This is also the difference between Christianity and other religions.  Other religions are based on ideas and beliefs.  Muhammed sits in a cave and writes the Koran.  Buddha sits under a tree and dreams up wisdom.  Both have all kinds of ideas, some of which may be right, others wrong, you get to decide. Christianity isn’t that way. Yes, Jesus taught truths and lessons and we continue to teach those truths today but that isn’t the core of what we are about.  He died.  Publically.  He rose from the dead.  You can go see his tomb.  These things happened.

The question isn’t, “Do I believe this?”  The question is, “Is there any evidence for this?” There is. There isn’t space here for the proofs but know this.  It is recorded in Acts 1 that Jesus after his resurrection met with his followers and “gave them many convincing proofs that he had risen from the dead.”

Again, why the emphasis on Christianity being based on events? Because if something happened you have to come to grips with it.  That’s the way it is. Jesus rose from the dead.  That is the single biggest, most amazing fact of history.  That fact changes everything.  It’s what makes the “gospel” truly “Good News.”

Getting Involved. Saving Lives

Denise said it best last Sunday when she spoke from our pulpit. “There are dark forces trying to destroy our young people.” She’s right.    The Bible speaks of “the powers,” things that set themselves up against God and want to pull downward and destroy. The chief of these powers is Satan himself but there is more. There are things he works through, powers and forces can be things like peer pressure or it can even be companies that market movies and games and other things that glorify suicide and isolation and death. There are powers at work.  Satan is like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. He’s gobbling up the young.

And we can’t let him. We are the people of God.  We are the army of Christ.  We are tasked by our Leader to root out darkness and replace it with light. We are not to hide fearfully from the Devil.  We are to engage him and the powers that be to put an end to darkness.  So what do we do?

Of course you pray.  If you don’t pray you haven’t done anything.  Praying for young people, praying for them to know Jesus and to feel loved and to be delivered from death is the first step. Pray. But if all you do is pray you haven’t done anything. The work of God begins and ends in and is surrounded by prayer but it moves us to action. The old cliché is true. You have to put feet to your prayers. You have to do something.

It’s as simple as this.  Get to know a few of Wayne County’s young people.  You cannot do a thing for someone you do not know. Enter the lives of a few students.  We want to have a strong, substantial ministry to young people here at our church. That’s good. But we need to take our ministry to young people where they are. We need to take it to the schools and to their homes. Instead of only saying, “Come to us,” we need to go to them.

And guess what, the school system is asking you to do that. They have begun a mentoring program called Check and Connect. Check and Connect isn’t tutoring or helping with homework. It’s connecting with two or more young people weekly to monitor, to help, to assist. It’s long term. Ideally you’d start with 6th graders and stay with them through graduation. It’s loving. It’s being there. It’s getting to know. You need to do this. Email Tina Mosely at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and she’ll tell you more. We need many, many of you to hear this and do it.

On Wednesday night this past week we talked about faith being all you need. Someone asked about works.  Weren’t works necessary? What good was it to sit around and say you had faith if you never did anything?  That’s true. Galatians 5:6 says, the only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love. Faith isn’t real until it shows up as love. And love causes us to get up and do something. Like connect with a couple of young people.  That’s God’s work. That’s your work, too.

What's Next?

With the news that Zach and Adriane and their children Eleanor, Clara, and James are moving to a new ministry in Tennessee comes the question what next? Here are my answers:

First, gratitude and thanks.  Zach and Adriane came among us three and a half years ago and immediately impressed us with their love for Jesus, love for Scripture, love for teaching and discipling, and love for the church.  Zach showed himself to be an excellent teacher and preacher.  Adriane fed us on sourdough and charm.  The kids have just been too cute for words.  Thank you, Zach and family, for the depth and Christ commitment you have shown everyday we have known you. You’ve made us better and we love you for it. 

Second, stepping up.  There are and will be people stepping up to fill in the gaps Zach’s absence leaves and there will be many.  There is Sunday School to teach, youth worship on Wednesday night, and youth small groups that happen in the Café on Sunday evening. There is Disciple Now, scheduled in March. Beyond that there are all the fellowship, outreach, and recreation events which are a part of a healthy ministry to  young people.  All those things must continue and must be done with all the excellence we can give them.  Who is going to do those things.  A whole team of members of FBC which are right now being put in place.  As we face this time we must remember one reality.  Ministry belongs to the church.  The church and its members minister.  Staff gives guidance.  The people carry on the ministry.  We will lean on you to do that for the foreseeable future and beyond.

Third, we will stay the course. We will each recognize that this is temporary. Leadership will emerge from our people, and new staff leadership will be called.  This is a time for people, all of us, to recommit and reconnect with our, emphasis on our, church.  We need you.

Fourth, a search process will begin.  Our teens, and our children too, and the families of those teens and children, need and deserve a minister and a ministry that helps them become more like Jesus and helps reach out to the young people around us.  Both are critical needs.  Our church needs this.  Wayne county needs it.  Young people around us are embracing a hostility towards faith in Jesus with alarming speed.  We need to have people in place who can effectively speak to young people about why Jesus matters.  Our Administrative Team will soon have a called meeting to select a search team to begin looking for exactly the person who can meet this need.  Stay tuned.

Fifth, we will all pray our way through this process and through this time. I am confident in Jesus. I am confident all will be well.  I am confident in you, too.  I know we will meet this challenge together.

It's Time to Check Your Investment

January brings with it a focus on finances. A credit card bill comes in the mail and we realize Christmas was fun and expensive, too. Other bills bite holes in our budgets. We remember we have taxes to pay and, maybe, think about putting something into an IRA to reduce those taxes and to invest for tomorrow.

Invest. I just looked at the definition of that word. It means “to expend with the expectation of achieving profit.” Investing is sacrificing in order to gain. Without fail we see that sacrifice as something good. When our youngest son was five he’d gotten some money from a grandparent, and we wanted him to put it in the bank. He couldn’t quite see how giving his money to someone else was a good idea. I explained the concept of interest to him. Put money in the bank. They give you more. He said, “You mean they just give you more money? Well what are we waiting for, let’s go.” After I quit laughing we went to the bank and he made his first investment.

We are all investors whether we have a bank account or not, an IRA or not. Another relative was nearing marriage. Her fiancé raised the money question and said maybe they should talk about what each has, investments and the like. She took him to her clothes closet and said, “Here are all my investments.” We are each investing in something. You are expending money. You are spending your life.

Not long ago I read someone who was writing about their church and their involvement in it. They said, “If I am going to invest my life here,” and then talked about how they were involved and why. I was captured by the idea this person saw their church as an investment. He made sacrifices. He put time and money and effort into what his church was doing. He took time away from hobbies. He sacrificed weekends at the lake. He invested effort greeting guests, teaching three year olds, being involved in outreach to the spiritually and materially needy. He invested money and gave. He saw his life as a legacy. He knew he was giving it, spending it, and this, the church, was the place he chose to give it. Now listen, it wasn’t for him a painful sacrifice. He enjoyed investing his life with his church. An investment costs us, yes. It means putting off and doing without. I can buy a boat or I can invest so that tomorrow there will be gain. Gain is the key. This individual expected that investing his life would produce good; gain for him, but also for others, too, as the church reached out, did missions, and carried on the work of Jesus. “Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel will find it,” Jesus said. And, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful with the little I gave you. I will put you in charge of much.” That’s gain. That’s what happens when you make an investment.

Ask yourself: Is church, to me, an extracurricular activity to which I will give whatever I can or is my church, and Christ, something in which I will invest my life? The difference is huge and visible.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.