Category Archives: All Things New

A New Heart

Over the last several weeks, we’ve been reflecting on the ways in which the resurrection doesn’t just transform Jesus, it transforms us as well, every part of us, from our eyes to our ears to our hands to our mouths. And yet even more than resurrecting our senses, we long for God to resurrect our hearts. With this longing in mind, I invite you, by yourself or with a small group, to allow the following videos, questions, and quotes to guide your heart and mind this week in longing and praying for God to transform you to the depths of your being, to give you a new heart.


To begin with, we’ve got to come to terms with the ways in which our hearts are desperately in need of God’s resurrection power. And yet for so many reasons, some of which the following song articulates so well, that is such a hard admission to make.

“I Haven’t Either” by Andy Gullahorn

Questions for Reflection on “I Haven’t Either” Video:

1. What are some of your “I haven’t either” moments?

2. Reflect on a time when you witnessed the power of confession. What made it powerful? How has it impacted your own practice of confession?

3. What would it look like for confession not to be an occasional practice but a basic part of the posture of your life?


When we finally discover the courage to admit our heart’s neediness, it can be a challenge to know how to articulate our need, how to cry out for help. Psalm 51, our text for the week, gives us a good place to start.

A Clean Heart

Question for Reflection on “A Clean Heart” Video:

1. What word or phrase stood out to you as you watched the video?

2. Why do you think that word or phrase stood out?

3. What is that word or phrase asking of you?


Another option when we’re convicted and in need of words is to turn to the words we prayed together this morning. Perhaps these are words you will want to pray on a regular basis as a way to bring yourself back to a basic awareness of your need for God to resurrect your life. (You’ll notice I’ve retained the communal language in the prayer, because I’m convinced that even if you’re by yourself when you’re praying it, you are not alone. The communal language serves as a reminder that we’re always part of a community of faith much bigger than ourselves, in which our struggles and God’s gracious transformation of our lives are shared parts of the journey.)

Prayer of Confession

Have mercy on us O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out our transgressions. Wash away all our iniquity and cleanse us from our sin. Forgive our desires to have our own way in all things, no matter who it hurts, no matter what it costs. Forgive us for being dishonest with you, ourselves, and with others. Forgive us for our failure to see our sin for what it is.

We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and the impatience of our lives. We confess to you, Lord.

We confess our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our taking advantage of other people. We confess to you, Lord.

We confess our harsh judgment of others who have our same struggles, and our envy of those who are more fortunate than ourselves. We confess to you, Lord.

Please accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done: for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty. Accept our repentance, Lord.

Most holy and merciful Father, we confess to you and to one another that we have sinned by our own fault in thought, word, and deed, by what we’ve done and by what we’ve left undone. We confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart, mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. Have mercy on us, Lord.

Restore us, Father, and let your anger depart from us. Accomplish in us the work and the joy of your salvation. Create pure hearts in us. Help us resist temptation in the future. Help us to rise above our weaknesses and to grow stronger as Christians. In the saving name of your Son we pray all of this, Amen.


Here’s another way of articulating a longing for God to give us new hearts.

“More of You” by Colton Dixon

Questions for Reflection on “More of You” Video:

1. In what ways do you struggle with making your castle tall?

2. How might God be inviting you to empty yourself of yourself?

3. In what specific ways might your life look different if your heart were made new by God filling up the spaces emptied of yourself?


Finally, after confessing our need for God to make us new, to give us new hearts, we rest in the assurance that God’s love will never let us go. And because of that faithful presence with us, God’s love is indeed making our hearts whole and new.

“Oh Love That Will Not Let Me Go” by Robbie Seay Band

You are loved by a God whose love will never, ever let you go. May this love and, more importantly, this God fill you this week, that you may experience the joy of living life with a brand new heart!

A New Way of Savoring Goodness

As he invited us to the Table this morning, Jarrod spoke of the ways in which we struggle to savor goodness. He contrasted this struggle with the way Jesus invited people to slow down, even to stop, that they might truly savor the goodness of life, the goodness of God. As we delve deeper into this theme of savoring goodness, I encourage you to take some time to slow down, to watch these videos, and to contemplate the accompanying questions. My hope is that as we engage in thoughtful reflection, we’ll find our way toward a healthy habit of savoring the God-created and God-given goodness that is all around us.

Enjoying God’s Pleasures

Questions for reflection on the “Enjoying God’s Pleasures” Video:

1. In what ways have you observed or overheard Christians pitting “mission” against the enjoyment of God’s pleasures? What types of reactions have you observed to this dichotomy? How have you reacted to this dichotomy?

2. In what ways do you find it easy to stop and enjoy the pleasures of God? In what ways do you find it difficult?

3. What is one specific step you want to take to grow in your ability to enjoy the pleasures of God, to savor goodness?

Learning to Party Better

Questions for reflection on the “Learning to Party Better” Video:

1. Think back over your experience in the church. In what ways has the church celebrated well? In what ways has the church struggled with being festive, with savoring goodness?

2. Engage your imagination for a moment: how would you like to see the church savor goodness? What would be the focus? What would that celebration look like?

3. In what ways would learning to savor goodness diminish the cultural power of consumerism?

4. How would learning to savor goodness impact our participation in God’s mission?

A New Way of Reaching Out

I still remember the moment when I realized that some of the “greeters” at the church I grew up in weren’t just greeters because they wanted to make others feel welcome when they arrived for worship. As it turned out, the real reason these folks showed up early wearing their best smiles is because they had something to sell, and they hoped that some of those they greeted might one day become customers.

I also remember overhearing a conversation among some church leaders about a ministry the church supported. The question being debated was whether or not the church should continue supporting a ministry that was meeting dire physical needs when few, if any, of those being served were coming to faith as a result of that service.

The reality is, whether it’s in one of these or any number of other ways, far too often our efforts to “reach out” have strings attached. Far too often, we reach out only as a means to some other end, rather than recognizing that reaching out is itself a worthy end. This morning, however, Jarrod reminded us that the resurrection equips us with a new way of reaching out. This way of reaching out grows out of the convictions that God created us for community, that God longs for creation to experience peace, and that God’s calling on our lives is for us to overcome evil with good. When we reach out on the basis of these convictions, we find that reaching out is indeed its own worthy end, regardless of what comes of our efforts.

As we continue to reflect on what it means to embody this new way of reaching out, it seems appropriate to begin by meditating on the themes of community and peace in the two videos below and the questions that follow.

Beyond Throwing Stones

Questions for reflection on the “Beyond Throwing Stones” Video:

1. When have you felt like you were on the receiving end of thrown stones? How did that experience feel and how has it impacted you since?

2. When have you thrown stones at others? How might you have responded differently so that relationships could have been built or sustained and community prioritized rather than damaged?

3. Who do you make it a point to spend time with with whom you have some significant difference (or many)? Think of one more person that fits this description with whom you can make an intentional effort to be together.

Peace

Questions for reflection on the “Peace” Video:

1. What do you make of the connection between worship and peace?

2. Have you ever received the gift of peace so that it enabled you to encounter someone very different without fear? What was that experience like? Why do you think you were able to receive peace in that moment?

Service
Having reflected on the themes of community and peace, we can now turn our attention to the theme of overcoming evil with good. To make this abstract phrase a bit more concrete, let’s think of it as service to others. Check out a brief article about some grandmothers in Greece, watch the two videos below, and then reflect on the questions that follow.

Pension for the Common Good

The Hand That Steadies The Plate

Questions for reflection on the theme of service:

1. What about these acts of service inspires you?

2. What about these acts of service unsettles you?

3. When have you been on the receiving end of no-strings-attached service from others? How did that make you feel and how has it impacted you since?

4. When have you offered no-strings-attached service to others? What was that like?

5. Spend some time in prayerful reflection, asking God to reveal to you a person or group of people who are different than you to whom you can offer no-strings-attached service.

A New Way of Listening

This morning, Jarrod invited us to continue living into our identity as Easter people by embracing the new way of listening that the resurrection makes possible. But in those last two words lies the key: the resurrection makes possible a new way of listening, it doesn’t automatically make it happen. If we are to become people whose lives are characterized by a new way of listening, we’re going to have to make an effort, to be intentional, to deliberately cultivate the skill of listening well. To that end, I invite you to watch the following videos that will continue the conversation we began this morning and challenge and inspire us to grow in our ability to listen well.

Deep Listening

Questions for reflection on the “Deep Listening” Video:

1. What does deep listening mean to you?

2. Have you ever had an experience where you felt as if God or another person listened to you in a way that seemed extraordinary? Describe it. To what do you attribute your feeling of being heard?

3. What barriers do you send when you try to listen deeply to another person? What helps you to move past those barriers?

4. Think of a time when you listened deeply to God speaking to you. What helped you to listen? What barriers to deep listening did you experience?

5. Do you have any advice for someone who wants to listen to God, but has more experience talking to God, or maybe even feeling as if God isn’t available?

6. Do you have any concerns or reticence about considering deep listening as a spiritual practice? What are they?

Listening as a Virtue

Questions for reflection on the “Listening as a Virtue” Video:

1. Have you ever had an experience where you felt like you just needed someone to listen and instead they only seemed interested in advocacy, in defending something or doing something? Describe it. How did it make you feel?

2. What are some of the ways that you cultivate curiosity so that you can listen well to others?

3. In what ways does listening produce humility? Tell of a time that listening produced humility in your life.

4. In what ways does listening produce compassion? Tell of a time that listening produced compassion in your life.

5. What is one specific commitment you can make this week to cultivate listening as a virtue in your life?

 

For more thought-provoking videos, check out The Work of the People.