How to live like Jesus is alive

I am a servant of a holy God who has actually sapped the power out of death and sin. Easter helps me remember this supreme truth, and it calls me to give myself wholly to it. If I’m going to recommit to that truth today, how can I live like Jesus is alive?

1. Let the dead things die. Toss the old habits that are not working for you any more. Toss the old, dead rituals. Let’s be honest: some of us are still waiting for 1953 to roll around again so we can get back to a more comfortable kind of religion. Folks, Jesus is doing a new thing! Toss the things you keep wanting to come back that are never going to come back, both in your spiritual life and in the rest of your life. Let the things that have no life for you die.

2. Learn to feast. Psalm 23 is a song of death and resurrection. It paints this picture of walking through a valley of shadows, on the verge of death, with a focus on the feast at the far side. On the next rise, just past the valley, there is a table set by God himself.  “You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows.”

This psalm is about how to walk through trouble with a feast mentality, rather than a spirit of scarcity.

I remember reading this line one evening years ago while I was sitting in the chapel of the church I was serving at the time. We offered Wednesday night communion and I was the pastor for that service. I’d sit in the chapel and as folks came I served them. In between people, I usually read the scriptures.

My husband Steve usually came to that service on Wednesdays, and I remember one week in particular when he showed up. It had been a hard week for him. He was teaching, and it seemed like he was struggling more than usual with classroom discipline. Like that semester he had every demon in Morgan County taking history from him. It was a rough season.

As he walked up to the altar, I was reading this very line from Psalm 23 about God preparing a table for us in the presence of our enemies. I looked up from that line to see my husband kneeling at the altar, his hands out to receive the elements, all his enemies weighing heavily on him — the students, the work, the tests to be graded. And I thought to myself, “Here it is! Being lived out right in front of me … God is inviting Steve to a feast!”

In the face of so many enemies, Steve was invited by the Lord of the Universe to come to the table, to get his cup refilled, to receive God’s goodness and mercy, and to remember that even with so many demons hanging on, God was with him. God was on his side. God is on his side. And on yours … and mine.

If the message of Christmas is that God is with us, then the message of Easter is that God is for us.

This is what it means to get a feast mentality. It is to set your face toward that table, believing in the goodness of the One who set it for you, while you’re still in the valley. It is to believe the story is true even when life is hard.

3. Get a resurrection mindset. That is, a mindset that is fearless in the face of change. It is a mindset that believes that God has a big, honkin’ plan for your life, something much bigger than you’re thinking, and something you won’t discover as long as you’re tweaking the small stuff.

Jesus is worthy. The cross is glorious. The good news is worth believing. The Kingdom to come is an absolute assurance and the resurrection is proof.

Learn to live as if this is so.

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The day Jesus showed up dressed as a cop

Heather Glover is our Director of Community Life at Mosaic. Today, I share her story as a Heather-glovertestament to the power of Jesus to make all things new:

Healing. Whether we seek it for ourselves or for someone we love, the truths of healing are the same.

And this is what I know about healing: Sometimes it comes quickly, even in an instant, like the woman who touched the hem of Christ’s garment. We encounter Jesus and our affliction leaves our bodies as if it was never there.

Other times, healing is a process that seems to be as painful as the very thing from which we suffer. In the process of healing we will struggle and wrestle against the disease, the emotional brokenness, the spiritual blindness, and the confusion and anger that our suffering brings.

Sometimes we will wrestle so long that we begin to wonder if healing will ever come.
I am here to tell you, it will come! Never, ever give up believing God for the healing you seek.

Healing is not a matter of if, but when.

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. — Psalm 27:14

I know the truth about healing because I have experienced it for myself. I’ve received the healing that comes quickly, and I have been in the process of healing for years.

I am a recovering addict. I spent nearly two decades addicted to drugs. I did not walk away from that kind of lifestyle unbroken or unscathed. It marked me. It marked me with guilt and shame and left me with a long list of consequences to work through.

In fact, my heart was so damaged, my life so destroyed, that there is no way I could be here today serving my church as a ministry leader had Jesus not done some amazing things in my life.

I am a living testimony to the healing power of Jesus.

When the Lord came for me, I was in the middle of the darkest year of my life. My life as an addict left me broken and feeling lost and abandoned. I found myself homeless and living in hotels. I felt as if the whole world had left me for dead and I had all but lost hope of ever making it out alive.

As a last resort, I prayed.

I asked Jesus to intervene and He did. He sent the police to my door and they carried me out on my mat and placed me at the feet of Jesus.

Meaning, they took me to jail and that’s where I met the Lord.

In that moment, it didn’t matter to me what it looked like. I remembered my prayer and I knew in my heart that it was God’s intervention.

It was while I was in prison that the Lord began his healing work in me. During that time, I spent a great portion of my day in prayer and in the Word, getting to know my Lord and building a relationship with him. I experienced a great deal of forgiveness and I learned how to forgive.

I am convinced that all great works of healing begin with forgiveness.

The result of the forgiveness I received brought on a landslide of emotional healing. By the time I was released, I was well on my way to becoming a healthy, committed follower of

Jesus. And five years into journey, I am still being made new.

That isn’t the end of the story, though. Even though the Lord healed me from a great deal of emotional and spiritual damage, I was still left with the physical — the disease, my addiction — and it wasn’t long after I was released from prison that I relapsed. I can’t even explain how it happened. It seems a mystery to me now.

But it happened.

Through that relapse, I realized that my need for healing remained. I was still suffering. I asked the Lord for direction and he urged me to confess it to my people, so I asked Carolyn for a meeting with her and with Roy, who was my small group leader at the time. I came in and confessed it to them, then went to my group and confessed it there as well. And in the spirit and pattern described in James chapter five, my people received my confession, gathered around me, anointed my head with oil, laid hands on me, and prayed for my healing.

“Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone cheerful? He should sing praises. Is anyone among you sick? He should call for the elders of the church, and they should pray over him after anointing him with olive oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of the faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will restore him to health; if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The urgent request of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.” — James 5:13-16

I was undoubtedly healed that day. I felt it happen. I felt a heat move through my body.
I woke up the next the morning bracing myself for the urge to use drugs, prepared to fight it but it never came. I had no desire for it. No craving was in me anymore. God just took it! That was two years ago, and today I am twenty-six months free of drugs and alcohol.

Believe me when I say that no matter which way the healing comes, it always, ALWAYS comes! And when it does, it is always complete. And it brings relief, leaving us with a joy as deep as our pain once was. We need only to receive it and walk in it.

Thanks for letting me share. — Heather Glover, Director of Community Life, Mosaic Church

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What a farm fence taught me about life and resolutions

I am remembering a walk one day along the fence line of a family farm. The farm has since passed to other hands, but the lessons of that fence have stayed with me. I offer these principles here for those looking for direction for a new year and a fresh start:

First, walk your fence line and look for gaps. Fences are important to the work of a farm. A weak fence is an open invitation to a predator. It’s also an invitation for a horse or cow to go where they shouldn’t. Checking the fence line for gaps is an important part of farming. Likewise, checking spiritual fence lines is an important part of personal growth. Checking the fence line is about getting our motives right. When our motives are prideful (we want to win) or selfish (we want what we want), then God will step back and let us do our own thing. But when our motives are right (we’re after things God values) then we can be confident He’s in there with us.

This is straight out of the Bible. We are encouraged to test ourselves — to be fearless in looking for spiritual gaps and places where the enemy can get to us. Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

If you’re hoping to be more effective, more productive, more in tune with God’s will in 2016, then start with David’s prayer. “Search me, O God, and know my heart.” Walk the fence lines; look for gaps. Be ruthless in shaking the posts to ensure the weak places get reinforced. We don’t have anything to fear when we walk the fence lines. We may have have gaps, but gaps we know about can be fixed. We can begin again.

Some gaps have a purpose (but even planned gaps need tending). At my father-in-law’s farm, there was one place in the fence where the gap was wide and obviously there on purpose. Joe had an agreement with the guy who owned the pasture next to his, so the neighbor’s cows were able to come and go freely between the two pastures. But even planned gaps have limits. Joe pointed out a couple of issues with the gap we were looking at and said he was going to have to tell the guy that if he didn’t take care of those issues, he would have to close the gap and the cows wouldn’t have access to his pasture any more. Weakened gaps in your fence — even planned gaps — and the whole point of the fence is lost.

Where have you allowed unhealthy gaps — too many commitments, too much on your plate for you to do any of it well?

Firebreaks serve not just us but those around us. A firebreak is a shallow trench dug into the ground about five feet inside the fence line. When a property owner has a planned burn to clear out the underbrush in an area, they build a firebreak to keep the fire from jumping over onto the neighbor’s property. Don’t dig a firebreak on the property line; dig inside the property line.farm-fence2

What a great word for those of us who tend to live at our limits. If we’re going to be respectful of the people around us, we’ve got know our limits and live not at them but inside them. Build a fire break not just for your own sanity but for everyone else’s, too. Maybe James had this at least partly in mind when he said, “Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark” (James 3:5). When we get past our limits emotionally, we too easily end up blowing sparks in the direction of people who don’t deserve to be burned.

Practice controlled burns. After digging a firebreak a few feet in from the fence line, a property owner will set their own woods on fire. On purpose. The point is to clear out the underbrush, get rid of dead trees and limbs and stimulate seed germination. As a metaphor, this is such a rich idea. This is about getting rid of the stuff that seems harmless but is actually sapping the life out of us. It’s also about getting rid of the stuff we know is hurting us. Jesus said (Matthew 5:29-30), “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” Jesus is talking here about a controlled burn — about getting rid of anything that might start a fire in your life or sap nutrients from the more important stuff. What needs to go (even good stuff), so more productive things can flourish?

I want to challenge you early in this new year to take some time apart to walk your fence line and look for the gaps that need repair. Dig a firebreak well inside your property line not just for yourself, but for the people around you. Do a controlled burn; get rid of the underbrush and the dead wood. Prime your soil for new growth.

A new year is a great time for a new start. Are you with me?

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