March 13, 2023 -


How God invites us to join him in transforming our broken world

Jonathan Tremaine Thomas

We chat with Jonathan Tremaine Thomas, the founder and president of Civil Righteousness, a movement that pursues restorative justice and reconciliation through spiritual, cultural and economic renewal. He talks about his own calling while sharing practical ways to dream with God and see our lives, communities and cities transformed by the values and leadership of His kingdom.

Episode Reflection:

Invitation to Explore

Jonathan Tremaine Thomas encourages us to develop a “holy imagination” to be able to see the ways in which God is inviting us to partner with Him in the renewal of this world. God has wisely and strategically placed you in the time and place you find yourself, in order to work with and through you to release new and fresh ways of being in the world. 

Take a few moments to breathe slowly and ask the Lord where He might be inviting you to partner with Him in the work of reconciliation in your community? Ask Him to help you notice what He is doing beyond what you can simply touch, see, and hear.  

Scripture to Study

Be good to your servant while I live,

    that I may obey your word.

Open my eyes that I may see

    wonderful things in your law.

I am a stranger on earth;

    do not hide your commands from me.

My soul is consumed with longing

    for your laws at all times.

You rebuke the arrogant, who are accursed,

    those who stray from your commands.

Remove from me their scorn and contempt,

    for I keep your statutes.

Though rulers sit together and slander me,

    your servant will meditate on your decrees.

Your statutes are my delight;

    they are my counselors.

 (Psalm 119:17–24)

Wise Words to Consider

“Tears are a sign of the tenderness and the nearness of God. And so that’s why Scripture tells us that those who sow in tears will reap in joy. We need more tears because it’s a sign of us having soft hearts. So that’s been a sustaining truth for me as well. I’m gonna pay attention to what moves my heart, what moistens my eyes, and then try to get closer to it because my destiny might be somewhere in there.”

—Jonathan Tremaine Thomas

A Prayer to Lead You

O Lord our God, your thoughts are higher than our thoughts, your ways are higher than our ways. How we long to have our eyes opened to your thoughts and your ways so that we can see how you are at work.

 Open our eyes so that we are no longer constrained by what we can think or do but instead lean into all of the possibilities of what you are able to accomplish. You have placed each and every one of us in the time and place we find ourselves for a redemptive reason, to bring reconciliation and flourishing to the world around us. 

By your Spirit, empower us to walk into your invitation to partner with you for the kingdom of your Son. It is in His mighty name we pray. Amen.  

A Practice to Begin

Jonathan introduced us to the spiritual practice of fasting as a way to heighten our ability to hear God’s voice and see the world through his eyes. He said fasting helps us awaken our spiritual selves.

If you do not have medical limitations that may prevent you from fasting, consider starting with one meal a week and slowly increasing to one day a week. Pray during your fasts and take note of the ways in which you become attuned to God’s voice and begin to see beyond your own perspective. 

Questions to Answer

Jonathan explained that justice is a manifestation of Jesus’ kingdom on earth and encouraged us to  dream about what it looks like when all the spaces of our society come under the leadership and the value system of heaven. 

What are some areas in your community that are in deep need of the justice and righteousness of Jesus’ kingdom?

In what ways are you “going with the flow” with the values of the world and in what ways are you reflecting the values of heaven? 

What are some ways you can change your most intimate spaces (e.g. your family, your friendships, your church community) to be a better reflection of Jesus’ kingdom?

Resources to Help

Civil Righteousness University 

John Mark Comer with Jonathan Tremaine Thomas, Live No Lies: Episode 2,  Spiritual Realities Behind Racism, Trauma & True Peacemaking


Jonathan Tremaine “JT”  Thomas [0:02] So it’s like, okay, I see devastation in this community. But God, what do you see? What’s really going on? I see the tragedy, and I feel it. But what do you see? You said you would bring beauty out of ashes. So help me to see and understand. 


Chealsia Smedley and Michele Davis [0:20] Welcome to the Created For podcast: a space where our everyday lives intersect with God’s redemptive story. Where together we learn from diverse voices, explore our unique callings and pursue communal flourishing. We’re your hosts Chealsia Smedley and Michele Davis.


Michele [0:40] For our first episode of season four, we are talking to Jonathan TremaineThomas, the CEO and President of Civil Righteousness. At our 2023 Created For Wholeness event, Jonathan invited us to activate our holy imagination. Today, we’re excited to share what was an intimate, edifying and Holy Spirit-filled conversation about how God calls each of us to partner with him to bring wholeness, reconciliation, and flourishing to our communities.


Chealsia [1:07] Jonathan Tremaine Thomas, thank you so much for being here with us today. I want to start by giving you an opportunity to share more about Civil Righteousness.


JT [1:17] Absolutely. First of all, thank you so much for having me. And it’s just a joy to be a part of what God is doing with you all. 

Civil Righteousness is a movement where we’re pursuing reconciliation and restorative justice through spiritual, cultural and economic renewal. But we’re organized as a 501 c3, and really our heart is to mobilize the church and to equip her to lead in the pursuit of making wrong things right. From a biblical center, through the character and the nature of Christ, we believe that justice is a manifestation of His kingdom on the earth and the only way to see that in a substantial and transformative way is through having a right alignment with the heart, the mind, the will, and really the ethos or the value system of heaven, which is where righteousness comes in. 

So the word, or the name, Civil Righteousness came from this reality that we believe that inequity or injustice demands civil rights, but iniquity or sin and transgression demands civil righteousness. And so it’s really more of a concept of dreaming. What does it look like when our communities, our relationships, our ethnicities, and the kings and kingdoms of the world come under the leadership and the value system of heaven?


Chealsia [2:43] That’s such a beautiful vision, just to be able to see God’s Kingdom really invade all the spaces of our society. I would love it if you could share more about your calling and how God put Civil Righteousness on your heart.


JT [2:55] Yeah, you know, I can’t really even think about it without thinking about the context that I was raised in. Raised by a mom who was born in Philadelphia, a dad who was born in the deep south and Union South Carolina. And they were both born in the Jim Crow era, and my dad, in particular, being raised in just an unbelievably racist, toxic southern environment. But he was a barrier breaker. So at 14, he got a full time job. He would go to school during the day and then work third shift all night in a textile mill. And by the time he was 21, he had saved up enough money to not only buy a new home, but to have it built. Think about the context of the era, the challenges he was facing, socio-culturally. 

So he raised me with a heightened awareness of race and culture and ethnicity just because he could not navigate his formative years without it being front and center in his daily living. And then my mother moving down from Philadelphia, suddenly was shocked by the reality of the South. She came from a family of artists and thinkers and philosophers and entertainers and entrepreneurs. So it was really me being raised in this house with a unique mixture of deep thought and hard work, race and religion. Jesus was at the center of it all. So I began to think very deeply about these types of issues. From the time I was maybe 10 years old. 

I say all that to say that by the time 2014 came around and Mike Brown was killed in Ferguson, I had already given my life as a full time missionary and was serving in some violent communities in America doing gang intervention and that work put me close to the need for cultural and economic renewal as well as spiritual renewal. When Ferguson happened and Mike Brown was killed and the nation suddenly exploded in response to police brutality, I didn’t know that my upbringing had uniquely equipped me to be a peacemaker, and to function in the ministry of reconciliation. 

So I began to be invited into cities all over America to speak to faith communities and civic organizations about reconciliation. And Civil Righteousness was born out of those years of obedience and beginning to see movement on the streets as we were encouraging the church, not to shrink back, but to be present in the places of pain. 2020 happens, George Floyd moment, and our movement suddenly went from really small and conceptual to wide and virally growing. And we’ve just been trying to be faithful and keep up ever since.


Chealsia [5:50] So you talked about growing up in this home where race and religion are at the center, where Jesus was at the center. And then having this experience of being in ministry, seeing how it wasn’t just about spiritual renewal, but also about cultural and social renewal. Were those things always held tightly together for you? Or did you ever experience some distance?


JT [6:11] That’s a great question. I believe that my mom, in particular, always had a vision for renewal in the sense that she would see the poverty that we lived around and the Lord blessed her in her profession. She was one of the first, black, female, high ranking, executives in the Hanes Corporation, she climbed the ranks in the executive space but had a heart for the poor and had a heart for transformation in our little, small town. 

Just through her example, I learned very early that faith is not works driven, but faith without works is dead. And I saw how she would go the extra distance. Her expression of love was, make a lot of money, give it away. At Christmas, we’re not going to just go do a whole lot of fun things. We’re going to serve the homeless, and we’re going to visit the senior citizens in the nursing center. I began to piece together that wait, these things that we talk about in church have to have flesh and bone on it, it has to be lived out and walked out in our world in a real way. 

I had a few different family members who were civil rights activists and thinkers. So then that came into play as well, as I began to get older and see and start to slightly grasp some of what they were saying, I saw that there was a chasm between the two in a lot of spaces. But I was also seeing how various members of my family were beginning to marry their theology to their sociology.


Chealsia [7:43] Yeah, in the black church in the 60s, there was such beautiful marrying of the church leading the Civil Rights Movement. And then also I know that one of those relatives is Nina Simone. And so I would love to hear how you feel God placed you in this kind of legacy, or how he gave you the confidence to step out and join the things that people have done in the past?


JT [8:04] I would say with my aunt, Nina, those who are familiar with her work understand that she was really a prophetic voice. She was speaking truth to power. She was calling out wickedness in the structures and the systems of America, in the foundations of America, through her art, through her music.

 And in our family because we have so many that were clergy, for many years there was no theological paradigm that you could be a devoted follower of Jesus and also be called to be a prophetic voice in society versus in the pulpit. Just in our family, there was a major divide. And my mother was a bridge builder, the music and the creativity flowed together with the calling to serve Jesus and follow Jesus.

And with Aunt Nina, she was very bitter and angry. You could say she was one of the most public and vocal leaders of the deconstruction movement when it comes to even faith as it relates to justice issues. But yet, her music was so infused and ingrained with the sound of the theology that she grew up with, her foundation in the church. But unfortunately, she died a very bitter, very angry person. 

And so as I navigate today, these spaces and these conversations, where I see so many that are deconstructing their faith due to what they perceive to be a lack of clarity or a lack of engagement from those who profess to follow Christ, and as these new social justice movements are springing up that are negating the biblical orthodoxy or the place of our faith that sustained our ancestors through the historic Civil Rights Movements,I’m seeing a lot of the things that my aunt even personified in her mental health conditions lay hold of a new generation of social justice leaders–anxiety, depression– that I think it’s helped me to say, okay, God moves through family and there’s an anointing on my family that I am carrying and responsible to carry. 

But I also have to be vigilant that I don’t allow the enemy to animate the different hard places of my heart, or my emotions. You know, my aunt Nina was very confrontational. And I can be very confrontational, I have no problem with being confrontational. But I also have to be vigilant to allow the Holy Spirit to help me to navigate this age, and carry this calling, which I believe she also carried, and so many others in my family carry, in a way that can bring wholeness and healing not only to my soul, but also to others.


Michele Davis [10:53] Wow. I’m curious, how has it been being an advocate in these faith communities, and to really persevere in doing that over and over again for 10 years and to still see some of the same problems persisting?


JT [11:07] Yeah, in Isaiah 42, it speaks of the type of justice that Jesus brings, it speaks to him as being the anointed one. So the prophet Isaiah, basically prophesied that this Messiah is coming and one of the primary things that he’s going to do is bring justice. It says, “He will not grow weary, and He will not grow tired.” And in my own strength, wow, I get so tired. I get tired of having the same conversation. I get tired of speaking to the same types of people. 

But in His strength I know 2 Corinthians: 5 says, he has committed to us the word of reconciliation, and given us the ministry of reconciliation. So the entire gospel is a gospel that reconciles and restores. What I found is that when I am physically tired, I need to rest and be quiet, but also allow Him to do the work through me. And since He doesn’t grow tired, or grow weary, I can only point to this supernatural kind of sustaining grace of God at work to open up new doors and new avenues and to do the work where He sends us to go. 

One really prime example is a year and a half ago, I was invited to speak in Portland, Oregon, for the very first time, I’d never been there. And honestly, it was June 2021, I was absolutely exhausted. I had been in countless cities around the nation from May 2020, to June 21. And my whole world was just nuts between COVID and  the George Floyd moment. I had to do three Sunday services that weekend that I was invited to at a church called Bridgetown. I didn’t know anything about the church and I stayed up all night  preparing a message, and I had writer’s block, preacher’s block, whatever you want to call it. 

And I said, “God, I’m done. I’m totally, I have nothing to say. I’m finished. There’s no oil in my lamp. And I guess it’s over.” And so I went to sleep at a little past midnight. And at three in the morning, the Lord awakened me in my sleep. And I heard, and I know this sounds wild, but it is what it is,I heard the Holy Spirit singing Isaiah 61 liberty over the city of Portland. So I opened my Bible and read Isaiah 61, which is like a life  passage for me. I know it by heart, but I opened it anyway at three in the morning. 

And the Holy Spirit downloaded a brand new message of fresh perspective. I probably preached Isaiah 61, 100 times in my life. And yet, the Holy Spirit was just inserting fresh language and fresh understanding. And I stayed up from 3am to well all day and I delivered the word and it not only produced so much response in the local church that I was there to speak at, but it began to produce a response in the city, to the point that today we have a Civil Righteousness presence in the city of Portland now. The local church has partnered with us to pioneer some new justice works and systems and structures and programs to integrate a whole new model of what Civil Righteousness looks like within the life of a local church in that city. 

It all proceeds from a place of surrender and saying, “God, I have nothing but you have it all.” And so he released a fresh wind and a fresh grace. And I think that’s the key is that we have to lean not on our understanding. We can’t live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. We need to be honest with ourselves when we’re tired and say, you know what, we need a word from you now, we need your idea, not ours. And he gives strength. 


Michele [15:07] Oh, my gosh, my heart is so full and tears are in my eyes just hearing you talk about that. That’s just really edifying and encouraging.


Chealsia [15:16] I was like, is it weird that I’m about to cry?


Michele [15:19] No, I mean, only if it’s weird that I am too. 


JT [15:24] Well you know what, another thing I’ve learned is tears are great. Tears are a gift from God. And we need more of them, we need more of them. And that’s the other thing in this type of work. And just in life in general, the pain points, and whether it’s tears from sorrow, or tears from joy, tears are a sign of the tenderness and the nearness of God. And so that’s why Scripture tells us that those who sow in tears will reap in joy. 

We need more tears, because it’s a sign of us having soft hearts. So that’s been a sustaining truth for me as well. I’m gonna pay attention to what moves my heart, what moistens my eyes, and then try to get closer to it, because my destiny might be somewhere in there.


MUSIC [16:10]


Chealsia [16:21] Civil Righteousness is about building altars and building tables. And so I would love it if you could talk a little bit more about how you’ve seen God transform altars of pain into altars of His presence, and then about the tables you’ve been able to build.


JT [16:37] Sure, one of the things that’s kind of lost on our culture, particularly here in the western church world, is we live as though what we can touch and see with our hands and with our eyes in the natural, is more real than what is in the Spirit. And the truth is, all things are spiritual.But there is a supernatural world deeply at work and embedded all around the world that we can see. And so we often don’t think about what has happened in the spirit when an injustice occurs, when a life is taken, when a murder happens, when blood is spilled on the ground.

We see in Genesis that blood has a voice, the blood of Abel cried out from the ground and the Lord heard his blood crying out. When we have an understanding of blood sacrifice and what that does, and even blood covenants do in the spiritual world, then we understand why even throughout the Old Testament in Numbers, the Lord says do not defile the land where you live through the shedding of blood. He says blood pollutes the land. 

So then that frames the Scripture, 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I forgive their sins and heal their land.” So the land is physically sickened by bloodshed. And so any city where injustices  have happened, whether it’s wars, whether it’s slavery, whether it’s human sacrifice, whatever those things are, the blood that’s shed in those places literally has a voice and it impacts and even empowers spiritual activity in a city and a region. 

And I don’t normally go into all that publicly without hours and hours of teaching. But the point is, the Lord understood this even before I did. And so He gave us a strategy to go to these places in every city where injustices have happened of any sort, and every city has them, whether it’s a socioeconomic dividing line due to historic redlining, or human trafficking or prostitution, places that have violated the image of God within humanity. There are spiritual powers and strongholds attached to these physical places.

In the hood, where I’ve served for many years, if a dude is killed his homies will come and bring 40 ounce bottles of liquor. They’ll put teddy bears and pictures and graffiti where the person was killed and they literally build an altar to that person and they’ll come  and they’ll pour out libations ,drink offerings, which is what the Old Testament would call it, at that altar. And really, what they may, in the natural, only think they’re commemorating a homie who fell, but in fact, there is spiritual activity happening beyond that. 

So God gave us the strategy to go to the altars, and to invite the presence of Jesus and to appropriate the finished work of the Cross to that altar to say: we thank you, Lord, we confess, we repent for the blood that was shed here, whether it was the blood of George Floyd or the blood of Breonna Taylor or the blood of whoever, whatever. We repent for that. And we thank you, that the blood of Jesus.. What can wash away our sins?  What can make us whole again? Nothing but the blood ofJesus. The blood of Jesus is powerful so we invite Jesus and we’ll take communion in these places and we’ll usually do a one hour prayer meeting. And we’ll stand with tape on our mouths. It looks like a protest, but it’s a prayer meeting, and we’ll stand in silence.

And on the tape, it’ll say what we’re hoping for: peace, healing, unity, hope, restoration, joy, or whatever it may be, mercy. And so before the public, they’re like, oh, what kind of protest is that? That looks cool. Can we join? And what we found is that it presents a wide open door for the gospel, people will join us who aren’t religious at all. But we’re saying, hey, we’re praying in the name of Jesus, but you’re welcome to stand with us for one hour of silence and they’ll join us. And God does stuff. And it’s amazing. We’ve actually seen whole communities that were deeply riddled with violence transformed through consistent showing up doing these things. We’ve seen hotels, where prostitution and drug trafficking and sex trafficking was happening, shut down. We’ve seen violent riots turn into altar calls as the presence of God supernaturally descends. It’s been unbelievable. We have story after story of what happens when the presence of God comes.

Then I know I gave you a very long answer. So I’ll just hit this table piece. From there, we move to the table. Martin Luther King Jr. said that he had a dream that one day the sons of slaves and former slave owners would sit together at the table of brotherhood. Well, we believe that the finished work of the cross, what Jesus did was create a family, a multiethnic, multicultural, multigenerational family.We build tables, we go into places where conflict has happened or where healing needs to happen and we seek to empower followers of Jesus, to know how to create safe spaces, to have really difficult conversations, and maybe even get offended, but to know how to stay at the table, and create an environment where it’s safe to work through your offenses and to find one another and to move into a place of real understanding and healing. 

A lot of times when injustices happen, or misunderstandings happen, we don’t spend enough time at the table to find one another. We try to move immediately to solutions. But we can’t get to a solution unless we see resolution in our hearts and we’re able to reconcile with God and with one another, whatever the issues may be. So we’ve done that from a city wide level to as small as one or two people, just creating spaces for us to find one another around the table, under the leadership of the Lord.


Chealsia [22:41] I’m so glad that you shared all of that. It’s really inspiring. And I think so many times we can feel just overwhelmed with the things that are happening around us. This understanding that prayer itself is action, and that once we start praying on behalf of people, engaging in the fact that this is spiritual, that’s when you see God break strongholds. Yeah, so it’s just encouraging to hear about how that’s happening in our cities. How would you encourage someone to participate in this kind of work where they are?


JT [23:12] So Civil Righteousness is ultimately an idea of what it looks like when our communities take on the character and the nature of Christ in this way. In many senses, what we’re saying is, as a believer with a connection to God, what has God put in your heart? You know your community better than I do. Better than I ever will. But what idea sourced in relationship with God, did He give to you? Maybe it’s a business, maybe it’s a charter school, I don’t know. But whatever God’s put in you to bring into this space to create reconciliation, wholeness, or shalom, and flourishing in your community. If it’s submitted to the leadership of God, that is Civil Righteousness.Go for the dream in your heart, as long as it’s been vetted by the Lord, like, hey, this is submitted, like you know, purge it, cleanse it, but go for it and we will be your biggest champions. 

But on the other side, if someone says, “hey, but I want to formally connect with Civil Righteousness as a local organizer. I could utilize the support, the help of a network and like-minded people. I want to grow in understanding the ministry of reconciliation.”  We have a few things. One, we have an e-course that we call Civil Righteousness University, and you can access it through our website, We have cohorts, you can either sign up and go through it by yourself, but it’s much better if you’re doing it with a group of people for accountability purposes and conversation and growth. We do 10 week semesters, that’s an option. Two, you can contact us and just tell us who you are, where you’re from, and we have someone on our team that will get in touch with you to explore how we can come alongside your local church, maybe your community group, your small group, your family, your business.


Michele [25:10] That’s really helpful. And we can link some of that in the show notes too. I think that a lot of people are hungry for examples, wanting a community to not feel alone. That kind of community is really helpful for people who want to see change in their space around them.


JT [25:29] Absolutely. We work with all people, but we focus on the church because if your primary place of developing cross cultural competency, or we call it your reconciliation quotient, is in a classroom, at a public university, then that’s a failure of the church. This gospel says, “my house will be called a house of prayer for all ethnos,” all ethnicities, it also says, “and this gospel will be preached to all nations” all ethnos. Our communities, our spiritual communities, should be places, where if anywhere we can have these conversations we can have it in those communities. 

So we have to really fight for truth in this space. And we have to also be brave. And we can start as simply as finding someone who you know votes differently than you, or is maybe a polar opposite of you. But yet they also profess to know Jesus and be a follower of Jesus, like, hey, let’s have lunch and at this lunch, I specifically want to talk about the things that most people type about back and forth and jab each other about on social media. We’re gonna come face to face and let’s commit to a journey together, like your goal is not to change the way they vote, their goal is not to change yours, but to come together and to say, can we enter into a covenant relationship. Covenant says, this cannot be broken. It’s kind of like a marriage. 

A contract says if you say all the right things, do all the right things and deliver on my timelines, we can stay in a relationship. But if you break any of those things, we’re out. We’ve got to move past that and we’ve got to get to covenant because God is a God of covenant. You say, you know what, I want to build a covenantal relationship with someone who doesn’t look like me, who doesn’t think like me, who hasn’t had my experiences, and I want a relationship where anything goes, you can say anything to me, you can cuss me out, but you’re not going to drive me away. You know? And I can say anything to you. And we are committed that we’re going to work through this thing and walk together. When that happens I have seen miracle after miracle.  Then you can expand the table, we’re gonna invite a few other people into this. 

And that’s difference-making. Sometimes we think because it is overwhelming, we have to form a new organization and lead a protest and march in Washington DC. No, it’s really as simple as the one.


Michele [28:05]Whew. That will take a work of the Spirit. 


JT[ 28:06] Yes.


Music [28:08]


Chealsia [28:21] Going back to what you said earlier, this idea of asking yourself, what is the dream that God has put on my heart? In your Created For talk you shared about the importance of activating our holy imagination. What are some spiritual practices that God has used to awaken holy imagination in your life and some advice that you would give someone else?


JT [28:42] I am so glad that you asked me that. For one, I think that we have to look at history and know that, as King Solomon said, “there’s nothing new under the sun.” There are amazing figures in history who lived through times and through experiences that are more challenging than the times that we live in, who somehow tapped into the imagination and the mind of God. Not only to survive those times in history, but to thrive and to create something that would have generational impact, which is why we know who they are today. 

So I would say first of all, read biographies of great heroes of faith and practice. And one of those for me was a man named Brother Lawrence, who wrote a book called Practicing The Presence of God. He talked about knowing how to access and commune with God in the mundane of life. He was a dish washer, for decades. And so when I read those accounts that helps me, when I read the accounts of martyrs and just their spiritual tenacity and commitment I want to embrace what they do in my life, the monastic traditions and early fathers and mothers of the church. So number one read and begin to assimilate into our day and into your life that which has worked in the past. 

Two, from that I really developed a practice of fasting. You know, nobody likes to fast, but Jesus fasted not because he needed to, but because he was modeling a way for us. And the truth is, fasting kills our flesh, it weakens our physical frame and it strengthens our spiritual, inner being. One example is those who are maybe hearing impaired will have another sense that’s heightened or those who are visually impaired– they may not be able to see very well, but they have a really sharpened sense of hearing. They’re using a different neural pathway to navigate the world. And so that’s what happens when we fast. It’s like our physical man is incapacitated, but our spiritual selves are awakened and there’s a heightened sense of connectivity, hearing God’s voice, processing and seeing the world through his eyes. 

I know some people have medical limitations, but it’s as simple as, hey, start with one meal a week, there’s one meal a week I’m gonna miss. And then maybe you can increase to, there’s one day a week, you know, but the discipline. And the Lord will help you. And that in my personal life has been an incredible key to accessing the mind of God. And then there was a prayer that King David prayed in Psalm 119, verse 18, where this is King David, right? He’s got songs written about him, he’s done it all. He’s slayed giants. 

And yet he says, “I will sleep the sleep of death unless you open my eyes to behold wondrous things from your law.” David says, “open my eyes.” He says, “I’m a stranger in the earth, don’t hide your commandments from me.” There was a desperation in him to see beyond what he could see, to know beyond what he knew, to deeply know God, and to know God’s ways. That prayer,  of God, I want to know your ways. I want to see what you see, and that communion that gets developed with him. So it’s like, okay, I see devastation in this community. But God, what do you see? What’s really going on? Okay, I see the earthquake in Syria and Turkey. And I see the tragedy, and I feel it, but what do you see? Like, what are you going to bring out of this? You said you would bring beauty out of ashes. So help me to see and understand. 

And so as you ask that question, I see the Lord being willing to release answers. And if we think at some of the great, even artists throughout history, even the great colleges that exist today, like Harvard, and Stanford and Yale, many of these were started by evangelists who had an awakened imagination, a holy imagination, and God gave them a grand idea that was totally impossible with men but absolutely nothing too hard for God. 

I think that’s the key is we have to know that we were created in the image of God and we were created to co-create with Him. And so I think it’s just reframing our hearts and our lives and our minds to say, wow, God really does want to release new and fresh ideas and systems and ways of being in the world through me. Like He desires to partner with us and release His creative power in us and through us being transformed by the renewing of your mind, through the word of God. Learning how to practice meditating on His Word. So Psalm 119:18, I literally meditated on that one scripture for a full year. I didn’t read anything else, except that, I was like, God, I want to understand fully what it means. What was David’s cry? What did he see? What did he long to see? As I meditated God began to open my eyes and my mind, and suddenly I had intelligence, that I’m like, where did this come from? Ideas. I’ve never thought of this before, systems, structures. And I’m going, wow, no man could teach me this. This had to come from the Lord. Hopefully, that’s helpful.


Chealsia [ 34:32] No, that is really helpful. This is so practical. When you fast, here’s a scripture to think about. Here’s a question. Ask God to show up. This expectancy of, I know he’s going to speak to me. Yeah, I’m going to do that. So thank you. 

We talked about so much today, and it was amazing, but what’s one takeaway that someone listening who thinks, okay, how can I participate in God’s redemption of my community today? Like what’s one thing that you would leave them with?


JT [35:05]The first thing that came to my mind was Acts 17, where it says that God determines the borders and the boundaries of our dwelling place and our times. He very strategically placed you and us in the hour in which we live, in the city in which we live, at this moment. He determines the boundaries of our dwellings. So know that there is great, unique and specific purpose for every season of your soul and every season that you may find yourself in, the relationships. And even the most painful parts of our stories or what we’re going through, there is a redemptive purpose. So I would say, again Jeremiah 33, “ask and I will show you marvelous things that you do not know.” Ask the Lord, what do you have for me? And then step toward it. 

In a practical way, Moses felt deeply unqualified to lead Israel out of their bondage. And God said, “Moses, what’s in your hand?” Moses was making all the excuses as to why he was not the one. And He says, Moses, what’s in your hand? And Moses had a stick, that’s all he had. And then God told him what to do with the stick. And then God animated the stick. 

So I would say what is the stick in your hand? I don’t have anything but a high school GED or man, I don’t know how to do this, I think I want to do this but there’s no way. I’ll ask on behalf of the Lord, what’s in your hand? Take what’s in your hand. Throw it on the ground and say “God, I’m sowing this, where I am. In this season, in this space, in this time of life. I’m throwing it on the ground like seed and I just need you to animate it, and just watch what He does. 


Chealsia [37:02] God, show us who you are. Show us your ways. How you’re inviting us to uniquely partner with you to bring flourishing and redemption in our communities. Whether your next step is to walk around your neighborhood and pray and repent in the places where injustices occurred, or to meditate on just one verse of Scripture, have lunch with someone different from you or step toward the dream that God has placed in your heart, He is with you, He loves you and isn’t it amazing that God invites us to participate in His holy work of reconciling and redeeming all things?


Michele [37:48] For more ways to continue journeying with us, hit subscribe in your favorite podcast app, check out the show notes for any links we referenced and then go to for a guided reflection based on this episode. 


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