Every year we celebrate Easter with symbols of spring while modern reenactments of holy week portray the proverbial characters.
But if you think you know the Easter story, you may want to think again.
The last week of Jesus’ life was filled with conspiracy, corruption, power-plays and a host of Jewish symbolism. We can easily miss the rich cultural details surrounding his death and resurrection.
If you want a deeper understanding of the Bible this Easter, check out these profound yet often missed details. Continue reading
Let’s be honest. There’s pressure to put the happy in our holiday.
And if gift-giving, family gatherings, and expectations weren’t enough, we’re told to do it all with a bit of cheer.
But what if you don’t feel merry or thankful? And your season isn’t bright?
My hope and strength for this life are rooted in the next. Because of the resurrection of Jesus, I can be fearless in both life and death.
The resurrection is our foundation for life and death.
The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation and pinnacle of the Christian faith. Remove it, and our entire faith collapses like a house of cards, for “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Cor 15:14).
There are many theories that try to debunk the truth of the resurrection but none of them are sufficient given the entirety of historical evidence (you can read more about those here). Even Lee Strobel, an atheist, skeptic and seasoned journalist for the Chicago Tribune, set out to disprove the resurrection only to discover an overwhelming amount of historical evidence that confirmed it as fact, not fiction (you can read his book, the Case for Christ or watch the movie on Netflix).
Contrary to popular belief, we are not just pining away on earth until we finally get to heaven. We can experience the abundant life Jesus promised here, now, in this present life.
Because of the resurrection, eternal life starts now.
The fact that Jesus is alive is what makes the Good News so great. This means we can have fellowship with him today and experience the abundant life he promises for those who believe.
By nature, the word salvation implies that we are saved from something.
The Gospel isn’t a self-improvement program. It is a liberation movement.
And liberation is only needed if I am a slave.
The truth is that all of humanity is enslaved to sin. The word sin means to “miss the mark”; we are by nature law-breakers and fail to meet God’s perfect moral standard.
“For all have sinned…everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin…for whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved” (Rom 3:23, John 8:34, 2 Pet 2:19).
Life is unpredictable. In the span of three decades, I’ve already lost more than I care to lose: family, friends, a job, dreams and health.
When you’ve experienced recurring loss and grief, it can create a cycle of anxiety and fear over what else you could lose.
Salvation, for one.
Many times I have been gripped by the panic that I could lose my relationship with God. Or that Jesus will forget me when death darkens my door. Could I do something to jeopardize my eternity? Will my faith be enough?
I know Jesus has forgiven me. But too often I live like this forgiveness isn’t full or free. I allow my past to define me. When I fail, I fear God will be mad at me. And though I don’t admit it, I’m still trying to prove my worth so that God will accept and approve of me.
But the resurrection proves I am forgiven.
The resurrection proved that Jesus died, not for his own sins, but ours alone. “For death has rightful claim only over sinners” but death had no hold over Jesus (Acts 2:24). The resurrection proved that Jesus had the authority to forgive sins and showed that God not only accepted Jesus’ sacrifice and payment for sin, but He declared Jesus innocent by raising him from the dead.
I caught her gaze and she looked at me. She mustered a smile, but her eyes betrayed her. To others, she looked happy. But I knew better.
Her shoulders hunched from the shame she carried; that nagging guilt that told her she was useless, worthless, and a burden to others. The lines etched in her forehead revealed the anxiety and pain that plagued her on a daily basis. Fear of present and future circumstances hovered over her like a dark cloud.
She looked discouraged. Overwhelmed. Burdened. Weary.
Dejected, I tore my gaze away from the mirror. Continue reading
For some, Valentine’s Day is not always a happy one. The pressure to fit a year’s worth of romance and love into one day comes with its own set of expectations and disappointments.
If you’ve been jaded by relationships, you may feel broken-hearted, embittered or let down by love.
But at the risk of sounding cliche, there is someone who will always love you well.
Jesus loves you. Perfectly. Always. Forever. Regardless.
Maybe you’ve heard it so often that its meaning and impact has faded over time. Perhaps your own wounds, experiences or relationships have tainted your view of God and His love for you. If others have rejected, despised, blamed, ridiculed or abused you, you may fear Jesus will do the same.
But Jesus loves you differently. The way He treats you and interacts with you is not the same way others do. Continue reading