What is Easter?

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Easter weekend is more than just remembering something that happened in the past. It has to do with your own life, death, and redemption. It has to do with who you are, what you feel inside, how you know things aren’t right in yourself, or in the world — but it is a celebration of He who defeated death for us, and in His life lie all the answers to every eternal question, longing, and yearning we feel – we, who are still marred by sin. We, who know the answers and solutions to life can’t come from within us. We’ve tried that before and it always fails. We are excited to look outside ourselves for real satisfaction, joy, and meaning. In His resurrection we get to celebrate in the glory of another – in His glory which he has given to us!

If you are a Christian, don’t let Easter or Christmas be like every other holiday we have – bunnies and Santas are nice but these times of year celebrate the real, personal, eternal truths of who Jesus is, what He’s done, and what it all actually means. These are the most important, impactful things out there that we, our kids, and our world need. If you’re not into holidays period, that is fine. And really every Sunday should be Easter Sunday for us. But as Moses mentioned when instructing the Israelites about the Passover memorial day, “When your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ You shall say…”, I think we ought to be prepared for questions from kids about our holidays. You know, kids – the ones that ask a million questions?

Christmas is alright, but I absolutely love Easter. To me, it represents hope. It’s a remembrance of that day when the Son of Man, Jesus of Nazareth, defeated death because he just did not deserve it. He had lived in the world we all know and dread where you get what you pay for, where you are held to a standard of 100% perfection. It’s the world where God requires you to be perfect, where Jesus says to be perfect, and if you are not – you die. Jesus lived in this same world but he didn’t do a thing wrong. Every thing he did was righteous. By his life, he broke through Adam’s curse, and death just could not hold him down. He didn’t need to trust in a bloody lamb which would represent the future perfect sacrifice for God’s people – he was the very thing those lambs, Passover meals, prophets, priests, and kings all represented – Himself! His active obedience proved himself righteous before God’s law, which no man had ever done, before or since.

The Easter weekend is also a remembrance of the Son of God who bridged the gap between God and man. God’s only son, sent by God the Father to die in order to reconcile us to the Father. God the Son who took the form of a man knowing he was coming here to suffer and die, all to restore our relationship with the Father. It reminds me of the Greeks and their stories of gods coming down to earth and interacting with humanity. Only, this actually happened.

On that glorious Sunday, heaven and earth collided, and the spiritual met the physical. I say that because, even though physical death is something we see that is rooted in the Fall and our sin problem, it is such a common spiritual reality that we see it as normal when someone dies. It is so common that people get lulled into thinking that physical life and death is all there is. However, when Jesus physically rose from the dead, it was so abnormal that it really proved to people the spiritual realities of what was going on. Maybe he really was blameless? Maybe he really was God? We all feel broken, and we all die, so maybe he who defeated death wasn’t broken and messed up like us? Maybe what he said was true? Maybe there is a kingdom of God?

His resurrection also proved God’s love for us physically. It (He) was something you could touch, and see with your eyes. Even people who wrote Jesus and his followers off as nuts, or as believers in fairy tales couldn’t deny the physical man standing before them. All God’s promises and assurances in the Old Testament were validated physically – in front of real people’s eyes. All those years of hoping and praying, signs and shadows (with many seeing it as hocus pocus, pie in the sky wishful thinking); now it was here, and you couldn’t deny it.

“A man who was dead is now alive, his followers are healing people, and we’re beginning to see how the ancient Scriptures point to Him as the Messiah!” That is how I imagine those early Christians reacting.

Just as people today remember where they were when they heard Elvis was dead, JFK was dead, saw the man on the moon, or saw the events of 9/11, those people near Jerusalem who saw Jesus after he had died forever marked their lives by it, as did their kids and grandkids. Even those who didn’t believe all the meaning behind it still acknowledged what had happened. It was such a big deal that the whole world still marks time by His life today, 2,000 years later.

And it was such a big deal, that Christians still look to Jesus’ death and resurrection to make us right before God. To give us peace with Him. To quench that burning desire in our souls for things to just be right. Jesus’ work is the very grace we need, since our own works just don’t do the job. God knows that – that’s why he gave us His Son! It really is an amazing thing.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (It ain’t there!!!)

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What is Joy? [Poem]

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There is a thing I’m finding out.

It’s really true, I have no doubt.

It has to do with: What is joy?

A subject which, since as a boy,

I’ve struggled with, and has been real,

Complete with shadows which appeal

Straight to the heart which was made for

Pure joy itself, and nothing more.

And so within a lonely tension

I’ve struggled with this comprehension:

Just what is joy, and how’s it found?

And why can’t I see greener ground?

And who with certainty can say

Just when to leave, and where’s the way?

The problem is, I’ve always thought

Of joy like something sold or bought

Like: here is what you’re sposed to do,

Just X, Y, Z to a happy you.

But what, in fact, I’ve seen take place

Are happy people in the race.

They may not even know the way

Or what they’re doing the next day.

Yet still they run, content to be

To just be happy, hopeful, free!

And what it is, I’m finding out

That they’ve got along the route

Is not a certainty of mind

Or some sure knowledge that they’ll find

Some better thing along the way —

Their minds aren’t on another day!

What they’ve learned along the trip,

Is joy within relationship!

It’s what they have within their soul

They makes them joyful, happy, whole.

And so this thing I’m finding out

It makes me want to scream and shout!

People aren’t just there for kicks,

Joy is found in relationship!

Joy’s not a thing that’s other than

What happens, when, within a man,

He has someone along the way

To just be with, content, today.

Someone, like him, perplexed by fate.

With whom he can commiserate.

Or someone who within his eyes

Will stare and not his soul despise.

And likewise, he, at will can glare

Upon his friend, a peaceful stare.

And so most people when they see

A friend they know, or family,

They see a chance to bond again

To reconnect with that dear friend.

They’re not like “Crap, it’s her”, “Oh, Hey”

“I wish I could get on my way.

Because I’ve got this stuff to do,

This stuff, which once I know I’m through,

Will let me then be happy, free,

So you be you, and I’ll be me.”

They don’t see life like that at all.

They see each moment, big or small,

In terms of those around them there.

And any joy a soul can spare,

They’ll bring it out of them, in fact,

And make it big – then throw it back.

And so within this back and forth

A thing is born and starts to morph.

It grows into it, bit by bit;

This thing we call “relationship.”

Now at this time I’d like to pause

And contemplate the root, the cause.

Just why is it that joy is found

Not by yourself but at the sound

And sight and feel of someone else;

Who’s not just there and has a pulse,

But seems to be there by design,

And there at just the perfect time?

I think it speaks to who God is,

And to his Son, who made me His.

To Jesus Christ, Who long ago

From up above came down below,

To take my grief and make it his.

It’s really true, I know it is.

To take his perfect joy divine,

To lose it all and make it mine.

I can’t explain just how or why,

And still I will believe a lie.

But at my core I know it’s true

He bled and died for me and you.

He left His own community

To give his joy to you and me.

To save us from the shame of sin,

To save us to a life with Him!

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Life Is Broken – But God

Life is not all cut and dry. It is not all neat. Things don’t happen like they should. This is not an exception, it is the rule. We are all broken. Everything is broken. Life is not like I thought it would be as a kid. As a kid I had the belief that life was very predictable, certain, and neat. That if you did the right things and worked hard enough, things would turn out just as you planned them and you would be happy. Real life is NOT like that. It is not a formula. Life is messy, confusing, seemingly random, and broken. But the good news is that there is a God who is using this broken life in such a way that, when we look back on it from heaven, we will say “I’m glad it happened that way!” Only then will we realize fully what God was up to.

I think that this is the best of all possible worlds.

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Just When You Think That All Is Lost – poem

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Just when you think that all is lost,
God’s grace prevails again.
He intervenes despite the cost,
All for your soul to win.
For you for whom He gave His Son
To suffer in your place.
For you with whom He fought and won
To lift your lowly face.
And now He shows you everything
You thought you may have missed.
Good things prevail despite the pain,
The pain is but a mist.
The pain we feel was met before,
It is no new found thing.
This pain our silent Savior bore
That we may shout and sing.
That we, the ones who caused it all,
The ones who are to blame!
That we, the wretched of the fall
Would know no sin or shame!
What kind of God would do all this?
What kind of God is He?
Why leave a place of perfect bliss
To die upon a tree?
He is a God who cares for us,
Who left his throne above.
He is a God of selflessness,
He is a God of love!

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Who Cares What Other People Think – poem

Alone I roam the roller rink.
Most people stare without a blink.
They say I am the missing link.
Who cares what other people think!

 

My mind is whack and out of sync.
I have one friend – he is my shrink.
I leave my dishes in the sink.
Who cares what other people think!

 

I cannot whistle, snap or wink.
The stuff I own – it’s rinky dink!
My favorite color’s neon pink.
Who cares what other people think!

 

The world, it seems, is on the brink.
I’ll do my thing and cause a stink.
Then I’ll relax and have a drink.
Who cares what other people think!

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It Is Quite A Mystery (poem)

It is quite a mystery
Why He bled and died for me.
Why from heav’n to earth He came,
All to take my sin and shame.

And not only did He take
My sin and die for my sake,
But He also made me be
Righteous before God, as He.

Now He as I, and I, He.
This is the great mystery.
One with Him forevermore,
Makes me wonder why? What for?

Why would He give up so much
To become a filthy wretch?
And why give me all for free,
All the stuff of royalty?

What He says is pretty clear,
If you have the ears to hear.
Love for us is why He came;
To the glory of His name.

For greater love hath no man,
Than He who came by the plan
Of the Father, and who gave
His life for my soul to save.

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This Life Is Like A Wedding Cake (poem)

This life is like a wedding cake;
It’s all thought through before you bake.
And every detail must be right
Or one mistake could kill the night.
But then the wedding roles around
Where everyone is gathered round
And no one seems to care at all
Or even notice one small flaw
About the cake, which was before
Examined so intently for
The proper look, and feel, and taste,
Even the texture of the paste!
But now the guests don’t seem to care;
They eat it the thing with joy to spare.
The bride and groom, and the planner,
Even they have lost the manner
They once displayed about the cake,
Which now they all at once forsake,
And act as though they never cared,
About the cake or how it fared.
Yet if they’d known that what they feared
Would come to pass (the cake was smeared!)
They surely would have raised some hell
And moved both heav’n and earth as well,
To guarantee the perfect sight,
To make for sure the cake was right.
And so it is with what we see
In life and sociology.
The thing performed is not the same
As what was planned before the game.
Yet those around don’t seem to care;
They only know of what is there
Before their face and all the rest,
So just get up and do your best.

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