Tag: Easter

Empty Tomb, Full of Hope

Today is my most favorite day of the year. It has nothing to do with the Easter Bunny but with the hope from a risen savior.

I think most of us have experienced the death of a loved one. This is a painful thing to experience and we feel that sting that death has caused. Today gives us hope because the resurrection of Jesus Christ takes away the sting and the power of the grave. Because He lives, we will live. I will admit that I have gotten a little bogged down about what happens when we die. I am still not sure whether we stay in the grave under the resurrection or if we immediately go to be with Jesus when we die but it doesn’t change my hope.

The most encouraging scripture is when Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25)

Years ago when I was in Jerusalem waiting in a long line to walk inside of what was believed to be the Garden Tomb, the guide made the comment: “Everyone is waiting in line to see an empty tomb.” He was right. Those of us who have been taught about Jesus all these years finally got to see for ourselves that the tomb was indeed empty. The empty tomb reinforced our hope in the power of Jesus’ resurrection and the promise He made to believers.

The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important event in history and irrefutable evidence that Jesus is who He claimed to be – the Son of God. Sure, there are doubters and haters about this but it still doesn’t take away our hope which energizes believers on what today means to us all.

I can’t offer you scientific proof of the resurrection and I don’t expect to convince you with this post. I can only tell you of my hope. Everyone believes what they believe. I tell you as it says in the old hymn: “You ask me how I know He lives. He lives within my heart.”

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Awesome Songs of Easter

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Easter Sunday was always my favorite day to attend church. It was a tradition for me which started at an early age. When I was a child it was about wearing new clothes to church and the Easter Egg Hunt after church. As I grew older, I learned to appreciate the positive message of the resurrection. It has always been exciting to hear about that morning when Jesus walked out of His tomb. Good Friday became an even better Sunday.

During a period of my life, I was a church youth leader and my favorite activity was to direct the Easter program at church. I was always one who was a bit eccentric and liked to do things different. Each year when I planned the Easter program, I would pick a powerful Easter song and have our young people to play roles in acting out the song. These programs were a lot of work but they were always very fulfilling when they were performed. I always had a wonderful group to help me. We had fun but they were all also very committed to what we were doing.

My early productions were rather basic but I found ways to improve each year. The year I discovered the effects of dry ice was an awesome discovery as I learned how to create fog or smoke effects, especially when the stone was rolled away from the tomb. Another year I managed to save tubes of fake blood from Halloween to use them for the productions. The blood was so lifelike that one elderly lady didn’t like it and left. I’m not sure what she was expecting from us acting out a song called “This Blood Is For You”.

Since I would always use modern contemporary Christian songs, there were always the traditional people who would express their dislike for our “worldly” music. In other words, we weren’t acting out songs from the church hymnal.  That’s okay because everyone’s tastes are different, I just liked using songs that were effective to stir the emotions of people and understand the importance of this day.

It was exciting to bring life to some awesome Easter songs. When I refer to Easter songs I am referring to songs about the resurrection.

Here is a list of some of my favorites along with a link to a performance of that song:

  • “He’s Alive” by Don Francisco (Listen)
  • “Arise my Love” by Newsong (Listen)
  • “The Champion” by Carman (Listen)
  • “He Lives” by Lakewood Church by Cindy Cruse Ratcliff (Listen)
  • “Rise Again” by Dallas Holm (Listen)
  • “Was It A Morning Like This” by Sandi Patty (Listen)
  • “Jesus Is Alive” by Ron Kenoly (Listen)
  • “Celebrate Jesus” by Don Moen (Listen)
  • “Because He Lives” by Bill and Gloria Gaither (Listen)
  • “I’ve Just Seen Jesus” by Sandy Patti and Larnelle Harris (Listen)

It’s very difficult for me to pick a favorite from the list above.  I can only say that they all have their own ways of bringing out hope and maybe cause a few goose bumps to appear when you listen to them.  I think the first one that I remember which really stuck with me was the first time I heard the song “He’s Alive”.  My first time hearing this song was not the Don Francisco version but one sung by a man that has meant a lot to me.  He was my first counselor in Youth Camp many, many years ago.  He is an awesome banjo player and he performed a memorable version of this song.  I have never forgotten it.

So if you are looking for an awesome Easter song today, I highly recommend any of those on the list above.

Although not an Easter song, the final scene from the movie “Passion of the Christ” is perhaps the best movie scene which depicts the resurrection.  I think it’s pretty powerful.  You can view the scene below:

 

 

What’s So Good About Good Friday?

goodfridayThis morning I walked into our building and noticed that our cafeteria is closed for “Good Friday”.  Seriously?  It isn’t even a federal holiday and they are closed?

Well, honestly, Good Friday is NOT a holiday nor should it be.

And what’s so “good” about Good Friday?

Good Friday is the Friday prior to Easter Sunday which recognizes the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.  Yes, it’s a Christian thing so what’s so good about a day when Jesus was brutally beaten and suffered death on the cross?

If you need a reminder about what happened, you need to watch the movie “Passion of the Christ”.  I have only been able to watch it once.  It’s pretty graphic and closely accurate to what happened.  I warn you that the movie is pretty graphic.  You will gain a whole new understanding of how Jesus suffered and died.

And this is supposed to be good?

It is good because of the suffering and death of Jesus, as brutal as it was, fulfilled God’s plan to save people from their sins.

So why did a man have to die to save people from their sins?

Yes, I know it’s a little difficult to understand but you would have to go back in history and understand the culture at that time.

After Adam and Eve sinned the world changed.  Sin is the wickedness in each of us that causes us to act selfishly, to rebel against God, and to hurt one another.  In the Old Testament, Gold instructed people to set aside the day of atonement to make sacrifices for their sins.  They were to bring an innocent, blemish-free animal as a temporary atonement for their sins.  God gave a temporary means of forgiveness through the death of animals.  The problem with this method was that no amount of sheep or other animals could remove the sin from the world.  Jesus came as the only human being in all of history who was completely pure and without sin.  In God’s plan, it took a blameless human to become the ultimately sacrifice for sin.

This whole explanation can really get twisted depending on which religion you listen to.  It’s difficult to grasp the fact that someone who died a horrible death thousands of years ago could still affect us today.

I’m not expecting this blog to convince you if you don’t believe.  That’s totally up to you.  There is no way a person could intellectually convince you through scientific of historical facts.   Even if you go to the site of the crucifixion, it would still be hard to believe.  I have been there and seen the place and I have to tell you that the bus station next to the location kind of doesn’t fit what we imagine it to be.  But when you think about it, when, in any other point of history was a perfect situation for God to choose the time period that He did to do this?  Yes, just imagine if something like this happened today?

Good Friday is really about blood.  The blood atonement that Jesus gave for the sins of the world.  The Bible states that blood was the symbol for life.  Old Testament sacrifices were only temporary and only pardoned for a short time.  This atonement was a weekly thing but when Jesus shed his blood on this day, He voluntarily gave himself for all time and no need for future sacrifices.

So, really, Good Friday is good for us.

If you want to see a powerful music video about Good Friday, watch “This Blood is for You”