The Pastor's Pen

Friends, It’s spring! The crocuses are bursting forth in bloom! The daffodils are flashing their bright yellow faces! After the dreariness of winter, the grass is beginning to pop out in all its glorious greenness as the trees begin to bud! We see signs of new life all around us and hear the songs of the birds! Whenever spring is in the air, it always seems to put a new spring in our steps and we face each day with a new excitement.

In Isaiah 43:19 (NLT), God says, “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?” I’m sure God’s not talking about spring. He’s talking about doing a new thing in the midst of Israel even though they remain a disobedient and stubborn people. He is going unleash the punishment due them, but as God says in Isaiah 43:25, 44:3 (NLT), “I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again” . . . “And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children.”

Isn’t that what God has done for us through Jesus Christ? “When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God” (Romans 5:6-11).

God has done something new in our lives! He has given us the Resurrection Life! We should be dead under the law of sin and death, but instead died for us and poured out His Spirit on us. “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you” (Romans 8:11 NLT). Not only did He pay the price for us to be able to live the Resurrected Life, God gave us the power to do so through the Holy Spirit living in us.

So what does this Resurrection Life that we have been given look like? Paul explains in Romans 8:15 (MSG). “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?’” That’s a people that are alive. During Lent, many have been reading Autopsy of Deceased Church: 12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive, while our prayer focus has used prayers and reflections from the book. Many have identified many similarities between the church described and New Zion. The book has sparked many discussions and reactions. Some are ready to tend to the burial of New Zion and point the finger at the pastor or someone else for its demise. Some believe that a change of leadership will solve the problems. Some don’t see any problems at all. Some have been moved to tears and prayer. Others have wrestled with it and are actively working with God having a sense of adventurous expectation. Where are you? Where does the resurrection life call you to be?

God is doing something new in our midst. It has already begun. Can you see it? Can you sense it? There is an air of expectancy as the Spirit moves and works in and through us. “What’s next, Papa?”

Grace and peace,

Pastor Rick