You Are Not Alone

2020 was a difficult year.  Stay at Home orders kept everyone at home away from friends and family.  While the first few weeks were fun.  A new adventure of working from home & learning how to have Zoom meetings. 

After months of staying home, away from all those we cared about, isolation was no longer a ‘fun adventure.’ It was just plain hard.

Many times in the past year I have shared with others countless times, “You are not alone.”  I have needed to hear these words myself a few times.

We are not created to live life alone.  God created us to be in community with one another.  As we are different from each other we have the opportunity to learn from each other.  Where one is weak another is strong.  Where one is in need another has plenty to share.

God created Adam and did not intend for him to be alone.  Eve was created to be in community with Adam.  They complemented each other to be united and live life together.

When Jesus lived here on Earth He did not do life alone.  He asked 12 men to share life & ministry together. As Jesus is fully God He set the example for all believers to follow in our own lives.  We are meant to be in community with one another.

We are meant to trust a close circle of loved ones who love us unconditionally, who hold us accountable when necessary, who to celebrate great moments together. These people are our inner circle.  They are family bonded together in the Lord.  We grow in faith together. We grieve together.  We give praise together.

Another place you can connect with others is at our weekly Zoom MicroSite. We met together on Sunday nights at 7pm (US Central Time). For an hour we encourage, pray with and laugh together. You are invited! If you feel alone join us.  Send a message saying you are interested and we will send you the Meeting ID & Password. We love to see you there. 

Living The 168 Life is meant to be shared with others. We are created to be in community. See who is in your tribe.  Tell them this week how much you appreciate your friendship.  Ask how you can continue to pray with each other. Schedule the next time you hang out together to have fun together. 

As the world is coming out of isolation we will reconnect with each other.  May you see each day how you are not alone.  You are loved unconditionally.  You matter. Connect with your inner circle.  May God be glorified in the 168 hours of the week.

This Week’s Challenge 

Share with those in your inner circle how you are truly doing, good or bad. Pray with one another.  Give thanks to God for your friendships.

Social Media Influencers for Jesus

Being a social media influencer is now a career path people aspire to become.  One posts on life, adventures, thoughts, products to share with the world. It’s not a bad gig when you think about.  You can travel for your job.  Try new products.  Eat at cool places. All so you can share your experience with those who are following you.

Social Media Influencers have great sway in the social media world.  They set trends and help places or products go viral. 

After Jesus’ Resurrection letter writing was their form of social media.  The four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John) were in essence letters to be shared so people can learn together the story of Jesus.  Paul, the pastor to the Gentiles, wrote a prolific amount of letters in his ministry.  Paul and the Disciples were the original social media influencers.

What we learn from them is using the tools at our hands to share our story of Jesus.  What we post on our social media accounts reach 1000s of people.  In one click we can reach people all over the world.  We can be influencers on social media for Jesus.

So think about it.  You can share why you love Jesus. Or you can share what God is teaching you in your devotions.  You can have conversations with someone you may never meet in person and teach them about Jesus.  Your influence across social media can have great impact for the Kingdom of God.

Just as interacting with people on social media is a regular part of our daily lives it is a natural way to live out the The 168 Life.  Whether you are meeting people in person or via social media you can be an example of Jesus to them. 

Another way you can think about it is like being a brand ambassador. Over the crazy path that is my career path I have been brand ambassador for small craft breweries.  I got to go into liquor and offer people (of legal age) free samples of our beer and tell them about our brewery.  It was truly one of my favorite jobs.  

In this job I quickly learned that people connect to story. They love to hear how the company got started, what we stand for, why we do what we do.  This insight challenged me to see my own faith journey in a similar manner.  I represented Jesus as like a brand ambassador. I get to tell other why I love Jesus, how I got to know Jesus, what He is doing in my life. 

Now I get to do the same thing in my ministry as a Digital Pastor. I get to tell Jesus’s story on social media. We get to influence our followers on social media for Jesus.  We get to be digital missionaries without ever leaving the couch.

As you go online to post a funny picture or share your thoughts for the day think about how you are a social media influencer.  You don’t need a huge number of followers to have influence.  Just continue to share your story with Jesus. Be open to having conversations with people as the Holy Spirit leads you.

Go out into the digital world fellow followers of Jesus posting Jesus’ story for all to hear on social media!

This Week’s Challenge

Post on one of your social media accounts why you love Jesus or how you came to know about Jesus.  Watch for any conversations the Holy Spirit opens up for you to share online.

The Daily Practice of Learning

In the Church world we use the word “discipleship” a lot but we do not always do a good job of defining it. It’s root word, ‘disciple’ means “student or follower.” So discipleship is the practice of following or being a student of Jesus.

When one is a disciple of Jesus s/he learns directly from Jesus.  They regularly read the Bible. They pray sharing with God their heart while hearing what God has to share with them. They view the world as God sees the world loving all people. 

“That sounds so simple.  But what if my calendar is already full?”

I hear you.  It feels like it is another thing to get done in an already crazy busy day.  Here’s the thing we can spend time with God while taking care of other things.  

Go for runs, bike rides, or workouts?  You can listen to the Bible while working out. 

Feel stuck in the Kitchen cleaning up? Or tied to the Laundry pile?  You can talk with God sharing what’s on your heart while hearing what God has for you. 

Sitting on the couch twitching with wanting to do something? You can journal questions or learnings from your faith journey. 

There are pockets of time throughout each of our days to spend time with God.  As we get together with friends for workouts or coffee we can do the same with God.  You don’t have to spend hours at a time if that is too much for you.  The key is the constant touchpoint with God throughout our days.

Your daily practice of learning at the feet of Jesus is your own practice.  It does not need to look like anyone else’s daily practice. It is how you spend time and learn from God. 

The key is to find the intentional time and rhythm with God that works for the two of you.  As you do so stay consistent with those times.  It will be tempting to skip a day but take the time.  Before you know it those nuggets will be a natural part of your day you don’t even think about it anymore.

Learning at the feet of Jesus is important as a follower of Jesus.  The more we learn from Him the more we become like Him. Living The 168 Life is seeing the world through the eyes of Jesus.  We get to see the world as Jesus sees it as we learn from Him.

So as you find these nuggets in your day enjoy the learning.  Ask God to teach you more about faith.  Seek to grow in trust in God alone. 

May you grow in faith in the 168 hours of the week. 

This Week’s Challenge

Schedule nuggets of time with God in your day.  Find natural places for your to connect with God so you can grow in faith. 

Faith is Who You Are

Going to church tends to be synonymous with one’s faith. We use this phrase to indicate we are going to worship, an event, or Bible Study. It is an entry on our calendars. In some ways it means no more no less.

We talk about faith as a thing we do.  A compartment of our lives like our jobs, our families, our friend groups, our hobbies.  It is a part of who we are; one aspect of the whole.

But we have it wrong.  Faith is all of who we are.  It gives us the eyes to see the world through.  It shapes the words we share with others.  Faith directs us in our decision making.  Faith is all of us, not a small part.

While Jesus lived He taught His followers how to live their lives through their faiths.  He taught them how to trust God so deeply they took actions they never would have taken on their own.  Jesus showed them how faith shapes who we are each day of our lives.

When we see faith as an entry in our calendar we limit it to just a small handful of hours in the week.

But when we see faith as who we are it then shapes all 168 hours of the week.  

Imagine when you have decisions to make seeing them through the eyes of your faith.  Seeking God’s direction asking to see how God is leading you in this next step.

Or caring for friends with God’s love.  Showing up for one another in all circumstances. Faith brings people together with God’s love.

Sure, it is simple to say faith is who we are but is it really that easy?

What happens when one’s faith requires a sacrifice?  Or go somewhere we may not want to go?

Can’t we just say we have faith and not live it out in all 168 hours of the week?

Peter was a follower of Jesus and was taught by Jesus Himself. He was full of faith but was scared from time to time to have his faith be all of who he was too. One time Jesus was approaching the Disciples while they were out fishing at night.  Key point – Jesus did not have a boat Himself.  He walked on water.  (Check it out in Matthew 14)

Peter in awe of what he saw he asked Jesus that if it truly was Him to have Peter walk on the water.  Jesus invited him.  In classic Peter fashion out of the boat he went. Peter walked on water keeping his eyes on Jesus.

Peter was scared at times as his faith shaped his whole life. When he clung to it fully he did incredible things, like walking on water or preaching to hundreds of people. Peter understood that living The 168 Life was difficult at times.  It has times of challenges to grow in one’s trust in God. It has times of joy as one shares faith with all.

May you grow in your own faith so that is infiltrates every hour of every day of the week. Begin living faith in the 168.  See the adventures God has planned for you.  Grow in trust. See the world in a small way through God’s eyes. 

This Week’s Challenge

As you go about your day this week note how you are living out your faith.  Where does it guide your decisions? Conversations? Journal how faith is shaping who you are.

Show Up & Serve Your Community

Last week was hard.  This week is hard. I look out into my community to see crying hearts pleading to be heard, to be seen. 

It feels like we are on a never-ending merry-go-around.  Instances happen.  Emotions erupt. Statements are made.  Peace eventually comes.  After a period of time the next instance occurs.  When will it end?  Who is the next name on the list?

Each time the division grows wider and wider. Voices become louder.  Community is fractured further. 

Grief is hard. The heart desires to be ‘get over it’ but knows it can only learn to live through it. Words spoken with good intention don’t seem to help.  In a special way silent presence is the most comforting thing one can do. 

Now is a time to not continue the arguments to win the debate.  We must come together as a community to reach out to those who are hurting.  We need to show up & serve.  

Showing Up and Serving takes the form of donating household goods for families who are not able to get to a store. 

Showing Up & Serving takes the form sitting beside another listening to their story.  It does not try to ‘fix things’ but simply listening and learning.

Showing Up & Serving takes the form of cleaning up as the community begins to rebuild.

The pain will not disappear in one day.  But right now, today, we can show up to sit with another as they process their pain.  We can share love in silent action of serving & being present. 

As you go about your day see those in your life who are hurting.  Show up for them.  Share love in silent presence.  Share love in prayer. Serve them how ever they need in the moment. 

Brothers and sisters let us bring our community back together through love.  Let us as resolved followers of Jesus Christ show up for one another in love.  Words are not required.  Our presence shares God’s love.

This Week’s Challenge

Show up and serve one in your community.  Serve as they have need in that moment.

Living Faith in the 168

This past year has been to say the least…difficult.

This pasty year has been to say the least…incredible.

March 15, 2020 changed my life.  I was looking forward to this day as it was the Home Opener for my beloved Minnesota United FC. Instead of going to cheer, or should I say yell, for my team for 90 straight minutes I was instead at my first meeting as a Board of Director at my brewery.  And it was at this meeting that everything began to change.

After 3+ hours of intense difficult conversation we made the decision to close our taproom due to COVID-19.  We did so to protect our employees & the public from this deadly disease.  Without any knowledge of PPP Loans or state mandates we did what was right for our cooperative brewery & community.

By the end of that week I had lost 3 out of 4 jobs and was barely hanging on to the 4th one.  I had no idea how I was going to get through a global pandemic with little income, no health insurance & not a lot of job prospects.

That was the difficult part of the year.

After March 15th, I pivoted in my one remaining job.  Instead of welcoming people in person on Sunday mornings I shifted to connecting with people through social media.  Also I got connected with a congregation that had been doing digital ministry for a handful years & began learning from them how to be a digital minister.

While not being able to hang out in person with friends I still spent quality time with some via Zoom & a lot of late nights at work.  We bonded in such a way that will last a lifetime.

I found myself on a path slightly different from what I expected but exactly where God needed me to be right now & into the future.

That is the incredible part of the year.

Living faith in the 168 hours of the week has its ups and downs.  There are hours where you kind of go, “Huh?”  And other hours where you go “God, that was incredible!”  Faith is not picture perfect 100% of the time.  It gets a little crazy from time to time.

This week in our daily readings (available on Instagram at: @resolved_ministry) we are looking at people noted for their faiths.  They are mentioned in the Bible’s “Hall of Fame” chapter in Hebrews 11 for being faith filled.  But let me tell you they were not perfect.  They had their own difficult times with their own incredible times. 

What I pray for you to learn from their stories is how through it all they kept following God.  They made mistakes but repentance came.  They trusted God.

Friends, keep trusting God. I don’t know what you are dealing with today but I do know that you are not alone.  I do know that God is standing right beside you saying, “Take this next step.  Keep watching for what I have planned for you.” 

Hold onto God’s Hand.  Cling to it if you have to.  It’s okay God can handle it.

If you ever need a friend or someone to talk to you have one here.  Send an email or DM via social media.  I am happy to pray with you through the difficult hour towards the next incredible God has for you.

This Week’s Challenge

As you read the Daily Readings write in your journal what you learned from each one’s story.  How can you grow in your faith in God by knowing their faith in God?

We All Need a Priscilla & Aquila in Our Lives: Acts 18

“He had been taught the way of the Lord, and he taught others about Jesus with an enthusiastic spirit and with accuracy. However, he knew only about John’s baptism. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God even more accurately.”

Acts 18:25-26

I think if Paul lived today he would be considered a frequent flyer with all the miles he travels on his missionary journeys. This week we see him go from Athens to Corinth to Ephesus to Caesarea then a stop at Jerusalem before going to Antioch.  That is a lot of miles by foot.

Along his journey we meet a believer named Apollos who is from Egypt. He was an enthusiastic follower of Jesus having come to know Him by John the Baptist.  Apollos taught others accurately about Jesus because he could not not share the Good News. Aquila & Priscilla, a husband and wife who were taught by Paul, sat down with Apollos to teach him the full Gospel of Jesus. This was not to say that Apollos was wrong but rather Apollos only knew part of the story.  Now he knew more fully the story of the Gospel as he can shared it with others.

We learn in Acts 18 the importance of learning from more mature followers of Jesus.  While Apollos knew the Gospel he did not know the full Gospel.  Priscilla & Aquila sat with Apollos to tell him about Jesus’ life and ministry.  By sitting down together Priscilla and Aquila shared with Apollos how to live one’s faith in daily life.  They taught him Jesus’ lessons on loving one another, on serving one another humbly.

In our faith journeys we learn from one another about faith & being resolved disciples of Jesus Christ. We need “Priscilla & Aquila”s in our own lives so we can learn from mature followers. They teach us from their experiences so we can benefit. They help us discern what God is teaching us. We learn by watching them how to serve with our whole lives, how to share the hope we have in Jesus.

So who is a Priscilla & Aquila in your faith journey?

Who are you learning from to gain a fuller understanding of the Gospel?

Who could you learn from that is already in your life?  Is there someone in your small group or faith community who’s faith you admire and would want to be like in your faith journey? If so, ask if you could have coffee or a virtual call with to talk.

If you do not see someone right now write down in your journal the type of faith you would like to grow into with the Holy Spirit. Pray fervently for God to lead you to a person you can learn from as Apollos learned from Priscilla and Aquila. 

As you take these steps ask God to open up your heart so that you can humbly receive the teaching.  God created us to be in community with one another.  Our differences are opportunities to draw us closer together. They give us different perspectives in God to grow in our faiths.

May we have the fervor of Apollos to share the Gospel joyfully with all as we learn humbly from Priscilla & Aquila to grow in our faiths.

This Week’s Challenge

Set up a time to meet with another follower of Jesus who’s faith you admire.  As you meet bring 2-3 questions with you to ask about faith, life and ministry.  Learn humbly from him/her to see what God is teaching you.

Learn How to Recognize God’s Voice: Acts 17

And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. Acts 17:11

We have traveled along with Paul and the Apostles from the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem through Paul’s Missionary journeys around Asia. Along the way we have witnessed the Holy Spirit changing lives with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Individuals have experienced the joy of the Gospel and could not help to share it with everyone they met.

This week we study Acts 17 where Paul & Silas travel to Thessalonica teaching in the synagogue three weeks in a row. He taught from the Scriptures (our Old Testament) how Jesus is the Promised Savior.  Many Jews believed, both men and women came to become followers of Jesus. 

As not everyone believed the Gospel message Paul & Silas moved to Berea to continue teaching about Jesus. There they were more warmly received by the open hearts and minds of the people in Berea.  So much so that the people read the Scriptures for themselves to ensure what Paul & Silas were teaching was true.

The Bereans believed Paul & Silas but studied the Scriptures for themselves to read God’s Word with their own eyes.  They heard the stories of faith and then went to God themselves to learn more and begin growing in their faiths.

We learn much from the Bereans.  We see the importance of reading Scriptures in our own lives so that we can hear directly from God.  We cannot solely rely on someone else studying the Bible and then teach us what they learned. We learn from teachers of the faith.  We also learn from our own time in the Bible hearing from God directly. 

The more time we spend in the Bible on our own we better recognize God’s Voice.  We more readily know the quiet nudges in our hearts when God is leading us in a new direction or giving us courage in the face of fear. For the times we wonder what God is doing we can hear God whisper in our ears “I got this.”

As you continue on your faith journey spend time each day reading the Bible for yourself.  It can be a chapter at a time highlighting verses that pop out to you. Or it can be 3-4 chapters seeing how the story of God flows through the pages. 

YouVersion Bible App is a great resource with 100s of reading plans.  They range from 3 days in length all the way to over a year.  You can search for a plan by topics such as faith, patience, hope. Or you can find a plan that takes you through the Bible in a year chronologically (not in the order they are in).  Find the plan that works for you.  If more than one plan interests you save it for later.

Spending time in Scripture is a vital part of one’s faith journey. It helps each follower to recognize God’s Voice.  May your time in God’s Word be encouraging so you grow closer to God each day.

This Week’s Challenge

Begin a Scripture reading plan this week.  If you currently have a reading plan save one for later in the YouVersion app. 

Acts 7: A History Lesson on Faith

“As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.”

Acts 7:59-60

In Acts 6 we met Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, chosen by God to serve the people. And now we receive a history lesson from Stephen.  If you have not read the 1st 5 books of the Bible in the Old Testament (the front section) Stephen provides a pretty succinct summary of the history.  He even goes past those books all the way up to the book of Psalms.  

The reason he gives this history lesson is to remind those accusing him of their own history.  He illustrates the Plan of Salvation through the centuries.  He wants them to see that Jesus is not a heretic.  He is the Son of God Who came to redeemed the world. Stephen shares the Gospel message with the very people who have been waiting for the Messiah (the Promised One).

Stephen shared the story not to condemn them but rather to open their eyes.  Religion had become the focus that trusting God was forgotten.  Rituals became more important than living out one’s faith in all aspects of life. 

Let’s just say those who were listening to Stephen did not receive what he had to say very well.  

“The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage.” Acts 7:54

A couple of verses later we read how they put their fingers in their ears.  Crazy, I know.

Stephen was killed for telling the Gospel story.  But he did not hold a grudge.  As he was being killed he prayed to God for the forgiveness of those who were killing him.  He loved that much.  He trusted God that fully.

In our own lives we become distracted by the rituals of religion that we lose sight of the authentic living of our faiths.  We fixate on doing things the right way that we forget about the relationship God is seeking with each of us.

What we learn from Stephen in this story is to not lose the story of our faiths.  It is important look back on our own faith story and how we have grown in maturity with God.  We cannot forget the why of our faith.

By remembering our story we see the moments God directed our path, the times the Holy Spirit provided courage in times of fear, the courage Jesus gave us as we took a step of faith. The path is seen and the next steps can be better understood as we see the full journey.

Take time this week to reflect on your faith journey. It might be 2 decades long or 2 years long.  It does not matter.  Sit with God and see the story of your faith.  Mark the high times of joy.  Note the times of sadness.  See the periods of growth. Celebrate how God was with you through it all.

A history lesson of faith in each of us.  By learning from it we are better able to tell it to others so they can begin to have their own story of faith with God.

This Week’s Challenge
Outline your own story of faith.  List the times of joy, of sorrow, of growth. See how God was in each part of it with you.

Acts 5: Being Authentic is Real

“Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!” Acts 5:29

“Sharing is caring”

At the end of Acts 4 we see once again the followers of Jesus sharing all that they have with one another.  As we begin to read Acts 5 we get a more in-depth look as to what community looks like in every day life. A couple, Ananias & Sapphira, sold a piece of property. Together they devised a plan to give some of the money to the faith community while misleading everyone to falsely believe that the couple was giving all of the money.

This lie did not work out well for them.  No spoiler alerts here.  You can read for yourself what were the results of their actions.

The lesson for us to learn today is the importance of authenticity.

Ananias & Sapphira were not authentic and paid the consequences for it.

In the same chapter we read about how Peter and the Apostles were once again brought before the religious leaders (the Sanhedrin). They were told another time to stop sharing the Gospel of Jesus and healing people by His name. The religious leaders did not want the Apostles to take people away to follow Jesus. So they ordered the Apostles to stop all together.

How did the Apostles respond?  With fear? With nonchalance?

The Apostles said, “We must obey God rather than human beings.” (Acts 5:29).

The faith of the Apostles was authentic.  It flowed out of them in their words and with their actions.  They did not put up a front to ‘show off’ in front of the public.  One way you can say is their social media life matched their real life.

So here is the question before us: Are we authentic in our faiths in all aspects of our lives?

Look at your social media.  Is what you post online truly represent who you are in real life?  Are you trying to be one person online and a different person in real life? Ask yourself why that may be if you are different.

Or are you one way in one area of life and another in your faith journey? Is there a reason you may try to hide your faith around a certain friend group?

Being authentic in one’s faith journey is difficult at times.  As we have seen so far with the Apostles they were thrown in jail for being authentic followers of Jesus.  It was not a smooth road for them to travel on. There are times we will face struggles while we are authentic in our own faith journeys. If we try to deceive others the lie will be found out as it was with Ananias and Sapphira.

This week take time in your devotional time to define what being authentic in your faith journey looks like in daily life. Think about what message you want to share with the world about Jesus. Consider what actions you can do each day that help convey that message. See how your social media posts are a way to also share that message.

It is in seeing the difference in our lives that others begin to question what is the reason for the difference. #ActsofDisciples @ReSolvedFaith

Authenticity is a strong way to share the Gospel message with others.  It is in seeing the difference in our lives that others begin to question what is the reason for the difference. They look at our actions and our words to make sure they match up. If they do then questions are asked.  If they don’t match then they do not see the importance of faith in one’s life. 

So take the time to see how you can be authentic in your faith.  Be assured you do not need to be perfect.  Remember we live by grace, freely forgiven by God when we repent (aka admit sin, ask for forgiveness, change behavior/attitude). Being authentic is also sharing about the lows and how God carries us through them.

May you be encourage by Peter and the Apostles knowing that no obstacle or difficulty will separate you from the love of God. May you be authentic in your faith so others may ask what is different in your life.

This Week’s Challenge

How can you be authentic in your faith?  Select one thing you can change to this end. Plan it into your day to make this change permanent.