Monday, April 12, 2010

Jacob gave this poem at a speech contest last week.  He did a great job and we are very proud of him!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Alleluia! Christ has Risen! He has Risen Indeed! The tomb is empty! Despite the plans of men, God did not fail; Jesus rose victoriously from the grave! Our lives have changed forever.

One of my favorite Easter memories is from the first Easter I spent in Peoria. Because I was involved in the worship service I was part of the processional. The processional Cross was covered with a black hood and the cross on the altar was covered in black as well from the “Good Friday” service. As we started to walk into the sanctuary you could hear the brass boldly and triumphantly playing and as we proceeded down the aisle the black was removed from both of the crosses. It was a representation of the veil of sin and death being removed forever. Jesus had gone to the Father on our behalf and now we too could come before God. It was one of those holy and sacred moments that I will remember forever.

A little later on in the service we were singing “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” and we were singing the fourth verse, “He lives, my kind, wise, heavenly friend; He lives and loves me to the end; He lives, and while He lives, I’ll sing; He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King!” At that moment I looked up at the beautiful statue they have of Jesus on the altar- and for the very first time I noticed the nail scars on His hands. I could not finish the rest of the hymn because I was so overwhelmed with emotion. Jesus, the King of all creation, died for my sins. I put those nail scars on His hands. I knew that I had been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus, even though I did nothing to deserve it. I couldn’t sing the words with my mouth, but I was singing them in my heart.

Can you imagine the joy that Mary felt on that first Easter morning when Jesus first said her name? That Joy is ours because Jesus is calling us by name. He is saying, “(your name) come and walk with me. I have won the victory over sin, death, and the devil for you; your life will never be the same. You will never have to be separated from your heavenly Father; I have made that sacrifice on your behalf. Come and discover all that I have to offer you, come and rest in the Joy, Hope, Love, and Peace that you can only find through me.”

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Alleluia! Christ has Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Today we remember that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Sometimes I think we say that phrase without remembering what it really means. The word crucifixion comes from the word “excruciating.” To be crucified is the most horrific and painful death a person can suffer. We can only begin to imagine the physical pain that Jesus suffered. Jesus also suffered spiritually and emotionally in a way that we never will. When He cried out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” it was because at that moment, Jesus was separated from God. Now how could Jesus, who is also God, be separated from God? That has always been a great mystery – even to the greatest of theologians... He, who was without sin, became sin for us all and suffered separation from God. That is the only way we could be saved. Jesus knew what would happen and yet the night before He told His Father, “Not my will, but your will.” Our sins nailed Him to the cross, but His amazing love for you and for me held Him there.

If we would have been standing there that day we would have also heard Jesus say, “It is finished.” Jesus did not only say this, He shouted it out. “It is finished,” is three words in English; but in Greek it is one “Tetelestai” as it would be in Aramaic. And “Tetelestai” is the victor’s shout; it is the cry of a person who has won through the struggle; it is the cry of a person who has come out of the dark into the glory of light, and who has grasped the crown. So, then, Jesus died a victor with a shout of triumph on His lips.

“Here is the precious thing. Jesus passed through the uttermost abyss, and then the light broke. If we, too, cling to God even there seems to be no God, desperately and invincibly clutching the remnants of our faith, quite certainly the dawn will break and we will win through. The victor is the person who refuses to believe that God has forgotten them, even when every fiber of their being feels they are forsaken. The victor is the person who will never let go of their faith, even when they feel that its last grounds are gone. The victor is the person who has been beaten to the depths and still holds on to God, for that is what Jesus did.” (William Barclay)