Easter Weekend: on how art echoes purpose & hope in a desperate world

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It’s Easter weekend – but you already knew that.

 

In past years blogging, I’ve made a big deal about this holiday – my favorite holiday, that is – and written posts, and tweets, and I’ve jumped up and down over what Easter means to me.

 

This year’s a little different.

 

Not because I’m not excited, no. I’m thrilled. But Easter means something a little different to me this year, something a little deeper, something I hold a little tighter to my heart than in years past.

 

This day means everything to me, and it’s difficult to find the words to describe it well. Continue reading “Easter Weekend: on how art echoes purpose & hope in a desperate world”

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Simply The Cross

Simply The Cross

A low-key post today. Wherein I discuss the cross, and sin, and Jesus.

Does anybody remember back in April, when I did a four-part blog series on the Resurrection? Well, perhaps some of you are newer here, and don’t remember, but that’s okay. Basically, I talked about what the Resurrection of Jesus really means. (I’m not too fond of my older posts, seeing as I was still figuring my way around this blog and attempting to grasp at the essential threads of writing and blogging, among other things. So I won’t link up to them here. However, if you’re really curious and want to read them still, use the search bar on the side of the website to search for “The Resurrection” posts.)

I know it’s not Easter. I know that I’m talking about the Cross. It’s just about exactly halfway between Easters. Still, I love the significance of this Holyday in our lives. Because it honestly doesn’t matter that one Sunday a year we talk about Jesus dying and raising from the dead, it matters that we think about it every day. The weight of sin and the power of the Resurrection aren’t to be taken lightly.

So today, I want to address this. Specifically, the Cross and the Grave.

Yesterday, I was pondering this topic when a revelation hit me.

A lot of us may have grown up in church, like me, and practically lived there. Although that can be a really great thing, and strengthen our faith when we’re young, we may also take Biblical truths for granted. Perhaps simply because we’ve learned to recite them. It’s so easy to.

“Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He was buried and rose from the dead three days later.”

What hit me yesterday was the connection between this pretty-much-every-Christian-has-memorized mantra and Galatians 2:20.

Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Crucified. Killed. Destroyed. Buried deep in the grave. That’s what happened to Jesus.

Remember how He took the sins of the world upon Himself, and then He died? Well, guess what. Those sins – the sins that once defined us – died too. I have been crucified with Christ means that the sin was crucified too.

Then Jesus rose from the dead, but the sin didn’t. Our sin that condemned us to death stayed DEAD. When Jesus came back, sin didn’t. And what defines us now is Jesus, who took the place of sin in our hearts.

Christ who lives in me is the one that empowers me to live a life pleasing to God.

It’s not my effort.

It’s not my good deeds.

It’s not me.

Faith is it. Living by the strength of the Holy Spirit is it.

And if Jesus didn’t love us and give Himself for us, we’d still be hopeless.

Hope isn’t a wish, it’s assurance. We have assurance that we are forgiven because the weight of sin is gone.

Doesn’t mean we won’t mess up and still sin now. But condemnation is now gone because of grace.

And between grace and the Holy Spirit, we won’t want to sin any more.

So that’s the connection. I know it’s simple. Very simple, in fact. But sometimes, this church girl needs a reminder of the everyday things, not just the Easter things. Or at least the reminder that they’re connected.

COMMENTS, ANYONE? I’d love to hear from you. Any simple revelations lately? Can anybody relate to tending to tune out truth? Any thoughts on this post? How about this topic? Comment below in the little comment box that’s calling out for you to type into.

*aj

The Resurrection: Part 4

  

Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope that you had a wonderful Easter Sunday. Now, I have one last post in my Resurrection series and I like having one last thing to hold onto from the Holy Day. 🙂  So, without further ado, here is post #4 in this Easter series. Thank you for reading!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t think that most people want to die. I mean, usually, to die means to suffer. And if you’re not sure of where you’re going, dying isn’t exactly something that you look forward to. Am I right?

We celebrated Easter a few days ago. If you haven’t noticed it already, Easter is my favorite holiday. Why? No, it’s not because of the candy, or because I get to see my family and friends (although that’s fun too). It’s because I get to rest in the assurance of my salvation, that sin has no power over me. I am not punished for what I’ve done. What I deserve — Hell — is not given to me, because I have placed my faith in Christ alone to save me.

Let’s read 1 Corinthians 15:50-58.

“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O death, where is your victory?

    O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

I love these verses because — like I said — we have victory over sin and death. But let me back up.

Verses 50-53 talks about the Blessed Hope.

“I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.”

To simplify, we (believers) have hope. H. O. P. E. Some of us may never experience death, but be taken to heaven in the ‘twinkling of an eye’. We will be changed! We will be given immortal bodies!

I know that earlier I said that we don’t need to worry about dying if we know where we’re going. But this is even better. Not only do we have the assurance of Heaven, but some of us won’t even die at all. Woah. I find that extremely awesome!

Okay, now for my favorite part. 15:54-58.

“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O death, where is your victory?

    O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

When the perishable puts on the imperishable and the mortal puts on immortality (AKA when we are given new bodies and we become live-foreverable) this saying will be able to be quoted in the present tense.

Christ has defeated death. Death is conquered by victory, the victory that came by Jesus’ death and resurrection. We are victorious over death — we are not owned by the devil and sin that drags us to Hell — we are SAVED.

Sin and death have no power over us! NO POWER!

And for the last verse, we are to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord our labor is not in vain.

We are not working for others, we are working for God. Our work is never wasted in God’s kingdom. We live to give glory to God, and that is never in vain.

I know that Easter has passed. I know that today is not Easter Sunday. But the truths we celebrate are the same all year round.

We have been saved. Sin and death have no power over me any longer, because Jesus has done the amazing thing — conquered death.

Easter is about the amazing love of God. It’s about the joy that it brings. It’s about the hope that we’ve been given. It’s about the peace that now rules our hearts. It’s about how we didn’t deserve what was given to us, which is what makes the resurrection so beautiful. Salvation is a wonderful thing because we fully deserve to be punished for our sin. It’s about this amazing grace bestowed upon us.

God is not out to get us. He is out to save us.

And this is why I love the resurrection so much.

Mankind rejected Him, but even still He came.

To conquer death, sin, and the grave,

though not deserved, He took my blame.

Isaiah 53:5-6 pretty much sums it all up.

“But he was pierced for our transgressions;

    he was crushed for our iniquities;

upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

    and with his wounds we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;

    we have turned—every one—to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

    the iniquity of us all.”

*aj

The Resurrection: Part 2

  

 

Happy
Tuesday, beautiful world! Hooray, we all made it through another Monday.
 So, I’m super excited about this week…because two things are happening.
1) IT IS EASTER THIS SUNDAY! Woohoo! Y’all know that Easter is my favorite holiday.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to climb onto their roof and dance and shout to the
world that their sins are FORGIVEN?!
I would, but my roof is slanted and I could possibly fall off and die if I did
that. Ah well. And 2) My BIRTHDAY is on Thursday! So all in all, this should
prove to be a wonderful week! Alrighty, I’m going to end my little blabbing
intro and say what I always do: thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy!

 

 

Resurrection. Beautiful word. It literally means to come back from the
dead. Now let me ask a “Sunday School” question to make sure you’re not
sleeping. (#guilty!)

 

What
is Easter?

 

Sunday
School answer: the very first Easter was the day when Jesus
rose from the dead. But what does that mean? And is that really the most
important part?

 

Let’s
look at that in 1 Corinthians 15:12-22.

 

“Now if Christ is
proclaimed as raised from the dead,
 how can some of
you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain
and your faith is in vain.
 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we
testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he
did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.
 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in
your sins.
 Then those also who have fallen asleep
in Christ have perished.
If in Christ we have hopein
this life only,
 we are of all people most to be pitied.”

 But in fact Christ has been
raised from the dead
,
 the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come
also the resurrection of the dead
.
 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 

 

Alright. That’s a lot of information. Let me try to break it down so
it’s easier to understand.

Let’s look at the first section, verses 12-15.

Now if Christ is
proclaimed as raised from the dead,
 how can some of
you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain
and your faith is in vain.
 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we
testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he
did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.”

 

Paul was writing to the Corinthians,
in his first letter to the Corinthians. These people did not all (even as
Christians) believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead.

The
Corinthians, having a Greek background, believed in the immortality of the soul
but not in the resurrection of the dead and therefore some of them either did
not believe that Jesus was raised or
they had an inconsistent faith.

Now,
this creates a problem, and I’ll share it in a minute. If we say that Christ was raised from the dead, we cannot say that there is
so resurrection of the dead
. If we believe that He is alive, we must
believe that we also will be made alive at the rapture (physically, not just
spiritually).

Now
this is the problem. Let’s take a look at verses 16-19.

 

“For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised.And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in
your sins.
 Then those also who have fallen asleep
in Christ have perished.
If in Christ we have hopein
this life only,
 we are of all people most to be pitied.”

 

If Christ has not been raised from the dead, there is no
Easter.

 

Because
the wonder of Easter is not only that the resurrection of Jesus
is amazing, but that our sins are forgiven. That is where we get our hope.

 

 

If Christ has not
been raised, your faith is futile and
 you are still in
your sins.
 

 

Everything
rides on this one fact: the dead will rise again. If we do not believe this, we
have no hope. Forget the bunnies and peeps and chocolate. Without this amazing
hope, we are l.i.t.e.r.a.l.l.y. hopeless. Without the resurrection, we are not
forgiven.

 

But before you get caught up in thinking that we really are hopeless, let’s read verses 20-22.

 

But in fact Christ has been raised
from the dead
,
 the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come
also the resurrection of the dead
.
 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

 

Christ with 100% certainty has
been raised from the dead. That’s not only biblical, it’s historical. Because
of Adam, we have died – both
spiritually and physically. But now, because of Christ,
we have hope that both we will rise from the dead at the rapture (Jesus instantly taking all believers to heaven), and
also because of Jesus’ resurrection,
we will live forever with Him. Isn’t that so encouraging?

 

Easter
is amazing. If I put aside the candy and festivities though, is it still that
amazing?

 

Yeah,
actually. Without all the fluffiness of the holiday, Easter is even better.

 

*aj

The Resurrection: Part 1

  

Happy
Saturday everyone, and happy early Easter again! I’m just so excited about Easter.
Yay! So, in honor of my favorite holiday, I’ve decided to do a mini-series for
the first time on 1 Corinthians 15 (a chapter about the Resurrection) leading
up to Easter (that’s 4 posts). I hope you enjoy!

 

For
today, I’m going to be focusing on 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. Here it is so we can
read it. 

 

Now
I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

 

For
I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that
 Christ died for our sins in
accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the
third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,
then to the twelve. 

Then he appeared to more than five
hundred brothers at one time
,
most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared
to James, then to all the apostles.

 

 Last
of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of
the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
 But by the grace of God I am
what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. 

On
the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the
grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and
so you believed.

 

In the first section, we
read about this AMAZING gospel that we have been saved by and what it means for
us. First of all, we have received it, we stand in it, and we have been saved
by it if we truly believed. Now, I find that exciting.

 

 

Let’s spend some time on the second section now.

 

1)      Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures. I just find that amazing, so let me explain.Jesus wasn’t just some guy. He was blameless and holy and perfect, the only person who could have paid for the sin of the world. And this wasn’t just a random occurrence; it happened in accordance with the scriptures, planned from eternity backwards (the beginning of infinity) and foretold thousands of years beforehand in the Holy Scriptures. IS THAT NOT AMAZING?!

2)     
He was buried, and he
was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.
Alright,
let’s talk about the “he was buried” part. Joseph of Arimathea wouldn’t give up
his tomb to a non-dead person. Read my…uh, 
words. Jesus. Was. Dead. He was
beaten 39 lashes, lost just about all of his blood, his heart burst, his side
was pierced…you get the horrifying picture. Jesus
did not just pass out; he died, and was rightly buried. But then, something
happened. Something only God could do. He raised Jesus
from the dead. And not just that, but
in
accordance with the scriptures
. This was yet another miracle
that was planned and foretold from eternity backwards. IS THAT NOT MIND-BLOWING?!?

3)     
He appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the twelve, then to more than 500
people, then to James, and all the
apostles.
The twelve disciples couldn’t have stolen the body
and pretended he was alive. Why would they have done that? That would have
hindered Jesus’ message from going
out. And 500 people couldn’t have hallucinated that Jesus
returned all at the same time. Just saying. HE ROSE FROM THE DEAD, PEOPLE! AND THAT IS EXCITING!

 

I saw a play a few years ago of Godspell, a play aboutJesus’ life. Don’t get me wrong, the play was great. But there was one thing that got on my nerves. At the end of the play,Jesus died. The end. He didn’t rise from the dead. And ifJesus didn’t rise from the dead, our salvation is null and void, because the point of his rising from the dead was to show His conquering of death. The only person in the universe who could have conquered death would beJesus. If our Lord could not conquer death by His resurrection, nobody could have. Without Easter, we would have no hope. Without the resurrection, we are still lost.

 

And now to the last section. I just want to touch on a piece here. I love verse 15:10a, which says, But
by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.”
Essentially,
Paul is saying this: “Look here. I’ve
gotten to preach to you because of God’s amazing grace that He has poured out
on me through Jesus. He has given me
the chance to tell you about salvation in Christ
because of who He is, not who I am. And I am taking advantage of every
opportunity He gives me to share this grace with you, because of this amazing
thing He has done for me.” Now, is that not so WONDERFUL?!

 

So here is something to think about: if there’s more than one way to be saved, why did Jesus– the son of God – have to die and rise from the dead?

 

*aj