Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day 2015

In recognition of  Earth Day and the ongoing global warming crisis, I would like to ask everyone to make a small sacrifice.  Could you please take the time to burn some gasoline?  I would suggest at least 20 gallons.  Now I know that most of us don't have the free time to go out driving around aimlessly today, so I have a couple alternative suggestions. 

The first would be to simply pour the 20 gallons of gasoline into an appropriate open container such as your back yard fire pit.  In the interest of safety, you should probably light it by means of a flaming arrow shot from a safe distance, though most earth day supporters would also cheer a reduction in population, no matter how small.

If you just can't get away from work for the sake of the environment, then please consider getting a jump start on gasoline burning by leaving your car idling in the parking lot during business hours.  Sure, that won't burn as much as one might like, but consider this; you can increase the burn rate significantly by the judicious placement of a brick on the foot feed (yeah, I grew up on a farm; for those who didn't, the foot feed is the gas pedal).

Now, this modest contribution to global warming will cost you about $50 depending on your local gas prices, but if enough of you contribute, the rewards for all of us could be significant.  April 22 and here in southern Minnesota we had snow flurries yesterday.  Global warming - give me some of that!  And remember, its for the children.

(If you have your own suggestions on how we can increase global warming, feel free to add them in the comments section)

Saturday, April 4, 2015

He is Risen!

Luke 24:1-7 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead was miracle, to be sure, but not the only recorded instance of someone coming to life again after dying. We have the case of Elijah raising a young boy from the dead in the Old Testament. You remember the story. Elijah had been staying with a woman and her son. She had only a handful of meal and little oil, but it miraculously never ran out. Eventually the boy took sick and died, but by the power of God, Elijah raised the boy back to life. Some years later his protégé, Elisha, performed a similar miracle in raising a young boy who had died from a head injury.

Shortly before his own death and resurrection, Jesus himself brought his friend Lazarus back to life. Lazarus had been ill, and Jesus seemingly "dragged his feet" in going to him on his sickbed, where his disciples apparently expected a healing to occur. Instead they arrived after Lazarus had been dead for long enough that as it is described in the KJV "he stinketh."

If, then, the resurrection of Jesus Christ was not a unique event in history, why do so many claim that it was the most significant? For that answer we have to understand the significance of his death. The death of Jesus Christ was not significant because of his death on a cross, for many men were crucified in Jesus' day. No, Jesus death on the cross was significant because of who he was and why he was being killed.

Christ Jesus is the spotless lamb of God, pictured in the Passover, who was slaughtered as a payment for our sins. During the crucifixion, God the father poured out his wrath on his beloved Son just as though it was he that had committed all of our sins. That's what makes the resurrection of Christ so important. It is the proof , given to all of us who believe, that his suffering and death was an acceptable payment for our sins.

But let's not just gloss over that word sin too quickly! Sin is the reason that the suffering, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ had to take place. That reason is often passed over lightly, or even ignored. The term "sin" will likely evoke one of several responses when it is brought up. Some will be indifferent to the term "sin", seeing it as an archaic concept, with no relationship to modern life. Others will find the mention of sin to be uncomfortable or even offensive. Immediately they will feel that they are being judged. And for a few, the revealing of sin will bring conviction. There is a fine line between the latter two. Offense has its beginnings in conscience but it is filtered through pride.  Conviction of sin, on the other hand, is a work of the Spirit of God.   

Few, it seems, have much idea what the origins of this word "sin" is. The words that are translated as "sin" in the Bible mean to "miss" or "to fall short."  That doesn't sound so serious now, does it? And it wouldn't be, if it were man's standards that we were falling short of.  But that is not the case. Taking sin "lightly" is a result of taking God lightly. It is a result of a lack of understanding the holiness of God. Until you start to get a glimpse of God's holiness, none of this "suffering, death, burial, and resurrection" of Jesus Christ can be of much meaning to you. because "sin " will not have much meaning to you.

Every place in the Bible that we see a man get a glimpse of God's holiness, we see them taking it very seriously. Isaiah fell to his face and despaired that he was a man of unclean lips. Upon seeing "the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord," Ezekiel fell on his face. John says in the book of Revelation, that when he saw Christ in his glory, he fell at his feet as dead. If you do not take sin seriously, then it is because you have no grasp of the holiness and the glory of God.

Do you want to know what you are falling short of? God has spelled it out very clearly. The ten commandments are a good place to start. Go to Exodus 20 and see for yourself. Thou shalt have no other God's, thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not covet; those are just few of them.

The Bible teaches us that we are all sinners, and for some, that fact is a comfort of sorts. "We're all in this boat together, so its no big deal if I am a sinner."  But the truth is, in the end God does not deal with us as a group with respect to sin. He deals with us as individuals. Did you notice how those commandments began with the pronoun "thou." Thou is singular. It means you as an individual.

I believe that standing before God on judgment day will be a very lonely place. Just you and your sin in front of a God that is Holy. Consider what that might be like....


Lonely, that is, unless you have an advocate. One to stand up for you and say "he is guilty, but I have paid the price for his falling short. I have lived a life in which I never fell short of my Father's expectations even once, and I did it in this sinners place. I have purchased him with the price of my blood. He is mine." Yes, the judgment will be a very lonely place for many, but not so if you belong to Jesus!

If you belong to Jesus, then his resurrection is the most significant event in history! It is your proof that his suffering and death on the cross as a payment for your sins is acceptable to God. Doubtless some of you have that assurance. But if you are wondering how you can have Christ as your advocate; how you can belong to Jesus - it is as simple as turning away from your sin and trusting that he paid the penalty for them.  Bend the knee to your risen King!