Living the Resurrection Life as the Body of Christ

Archive for the ‘CONFESSIONS OF OUR FAITH’ Category

GOOD RISING

The first blog in my blogging ministry is called LIFE MATTERS based on the thought that “your life matters to God.”  It is cross-posted on both Blogger and Word Press.  The following post, which originally appeared Easter 2011, is the most popular of my posts on that site. – STEVE

I have a very good friend who is Greek Orthodox. Last week he offered me some words of blessing. He said it in Greek, but I won’t attempt to write in Greek. Roughly translated it means, “Good Rising.” Throughout Holy Week, Greek Orthodox people greet one another or bid each other good bye with these words, “Good rising.” They are words that anticipate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, They remind people to live in eager expectation for that occur.

On Easter the words change. “He is risen.”

For Christians, Easter is the most important day of the year. The Apostle Paul makes it very clear as to why:

“But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.’ – 1 Corinthians 15:12-19

The resurrection is the foundational event for the entire Christian experience. An empty cross reminds us that all of our sins have been forgiven. An empty tomb reminds us that nothing every again will separate us from God. Empty grave clothes in that tomb remind us that death no longer has the last word.

It is a reminder that there is Truth sets men from, that Truth is a person named Jesus Christ, I love this quote from Clarence Hall:

“Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.”

I love this cartoon by the late Johnny Hart:

 

This is the heart of my reflection for you on this Easter Monday. Christ has risen! May you know “good rising.”

WHEN IT ALL FALLS APART

As we prepare for Lent, this post from Tammie Gitt living3368 is very important.

The taste of the bread … a reminder of your body broken for me.

The taste of the cup … a reminder of your blood for me.

Communion and betrayal.

Oneness and separation.

Wholeness and brokenness.

All these thing were part of a single day in your life, Lord, but aren’t they all part of our lives over time?

One day we feel we have it all together. The next is as if it has all fallen apart.

The thing to remember, though, is the light of hope.

You did not stay in the grave.

You rose again.

Even now you usher is into the presence of God.

ASH WEDNESDAY

This personal reflection by Mark Roberts reminds us of the depth of meaning that Ash Wednesday brings to Easter People.


What is Ash Wednesday?
by Mark D. Roberts

What is Ash Wednesday? For most of my life, I didn’t ask this question, nor did I care about the answer. I, along, with most evangelical Christians in America, didn’t give Ash Wednesday a thought.

But then, in 2004, Ash Wednesday loomed large in American Protestant consciousness. Why? Because on that day Mel Gibson released what was to become his epic blockbuster, The Passion of the Christ. For the first time in history, the phrase “Ash Wednesday” was on the lips of millions of evangelical Christians, not just Catholics and other “high church” Protestants, as we anticipated the official release of The Passion.

I grew up with only a vague notion of Ash Wednesday. To me, it was some Catholic holy day that I, as an evangelical Protestant, didn’t have to worry about, thanks be to God. In my view, all of “that religious stuff” detracted from what really mattered, which was having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In my early evangelical years it never dawned on me that some of “the religious stuff” might actually enrich my faith in Christ.

During the spring of 1976, my first year of college, I was startled to see a woman who worked in my dining hall with a dark cross rubbed on her forehead. At first I wondered if it were a bizarre bruise. Then I noticed other women with similar crosses. It finally dawned on me what I was seeing. Here was my introduction to Ash Wednesday piety. These women, who were are Roman Catholic, had gone to services that morning and had ashes placed on their foreheads. I felt impressed that these women were willing to wear their ashes so publicly, even though it seemed a rather odd thing to do. It never dawned on me that this would be something I might do myself one day.

ash-wednesday-girl-5.jpg

Fast forward sixteen years, to the spring of 1992. During my first year as Senior Pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church, I learned that this church had a tradition of celebrating Ash Wednesday with a special worship service. It included the “imposition of ashes” on the foreheads of worshippers. I, as the pastor, was expected to be one of the chief imposers! So I decided it was time to learn about the meaning of Ash Wednesday. I wanted to be sure that the theological underpinnings of such a practice were biblically solid, and that it was something in which I could freely participate.

Here’s some of what I learned . . . .

IT IS A BAD, BAD WORLD

Cyprian lived 200-258 A.D.  A letter to a friend provides something for us to think about in 2010.

“It is a bad world, Donatus, an incredibly bad world. But I have discovered in the midst of it a quiet and good people who have learned the great secret of  life. They have found a joy and a wisdom which is a thousand times better than any of the pleasures of our sinful life. They are despised and persecuted, but they care n0t. They are masters of their souls. They have overcome the world. These people, Donatus, are Christians … and I am one of them.

BEACH PARTIES AND BAPTISMS

 

Sharing a testimony

In the past year the student ministry at my church has exploded. Called BURN it seeks to help kids develop a deep desire for God. A Wednesday night youth worship gathering is the front door and chief engine used by the Spirit for this ministry. It is led by a passionate and grounded young man named Jeremy Moyer. Instead of the typical youth group that is, to quote Ed Stetzer, “a holding tank with pizza,” Burn seeks to help kids become leaders and influencers of their generation. When this began our “youth group” had 12 kids. By the second semester of the school year, the numbers had swollen to 100. Many of these kids are unchurched.

In March Jeremy preached a series on commitment called “Real vs Fake.”

 

Do you affirm your faith in Jesus Christ?

One evening 16 of these kids decided to become Christians. The next week there were four more.

That’s when Jeremy came to ask me about baptism. These kids needed to baptized and he already knew that it would be a powerful opportunity for those kids to witness to their newfound faith.

My church has a beautiful 150 year old marble baptistery in the sanctuary. We began to plan to secure it on a Wednesday (that’s when the Burn worship gathering occurs) to conduct the service.

The next day Jeremy came to see me again. “Do the baptisms have to be in the church?” “no,” was my response.

“Well these kids want to use the occasion to tell their stories to their friends, many of whom are not yet Christians. Those kids won’t come to the church.”

 

One of our original kids

What was then created was a Saturday Night Beach Party the night before Palm Sunday at the nearby rec center and its pool. And that night with 75 kids in attendance and about a dozen of our elders and youth leaders (and a few unchurched parents), 12 kids shared their personal testimonies and Jeremy and I baptized them. It was one of the most moving worship experiences in the history of our 177 year old congregation. (It was also the first time I ever had a baptism with a life guard on duty.)

Easter morning we showed the pictures as our call to worship with the simple announcement “This is what we are all about as a church.”

An encouragement hug for a new believer 

One of the new kids already in our church family 

A new disciple of Jesus Christ 

THIS IS MY KING – KING JESUS!

Dr S.M. Lockridge has one of the most inspiring confessions that Christians can make.