Easter|‘Running’ Away [v38]

APRIL 2002

GREETINGS — A women was driving home one evening and noticed in her rear view mirror the huge truck behind her was a bit too close for comfort. So, she stepped on the gas and sped up hoping that she would lose the truck.

But as she increased her speed so did the truck. Now she was getting a bit more scared and abruptly exited the freeway. Yet, the truck stayed right behind her. At the top of the ramp she quickly turned right onto Main Street thinking she would lose the truck in traffic—but the truck ran the red light in order to keep up with her, staying right on her bumper.

Reaching a point of panic, she turned into the first service station, slammed on her brakes, bolted out of the car and ran frantically into the store screaming for help.

The truck driver, being right behind her, swerved to the right side of her car, sprung out of his truck, and ran directly for the back door of her car. He then yanked out a man that was hiding in the back seat.

The truck driver saw from his high vantage point, as he looked down, that the would-be rapist was hiding in that woman’s back seat. He was not trying to harm her, but rather trying to save her—even at the risk of his own life.

She was ‘running away’ from the wrong person. How many of us are running away from the wrong person? Running away from God—and His provision of atonement of the real message of Easter—our sins and the judgement associated with them. God’s plan is always for good and not evil—even if it doesn’t appear to us that way at times. His plan and desire is to ‘rescue’ us just as the truck driver did for the woman.

Easter is about “satisfying” God’s requirement of the atonement for our sins—and He has offered us a free gift for doing just that—His Son’s death on the cross. The Bible says, “For our sake God made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God…See, now is the acceptable time;” [2 Corinthians 5:21-6:2]. It satisfied everything, and prepares us for our most desperate need in life—not food; not shelter; not a standard of living or planning for the future—it is to have a personal relationship with our Creator—forever!

Jesus came to this Earth for this one reason—to ‘pave’ the way for us to have a way to get to Heaven—and be absolutely sure of it!  He said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, except by me” [John 14:6]. Those are a lot of exclusive words for one short statement—and at first blush, are very narrow, exclusive, even arrogant claims. Isn’t this claiming an awful lot for Himself?

As author C.S. Lewis said, if the Jesus who said this was not the God he claimed to be, then his words would imply a silliness and conceit unrivaled by any other character in human history.

How do we know that he wasn’t just talking about following his path or his teachings?

I don’t think so. He made a series of “I am” statements . . . I am the living water . . . I am the light of the world . . . the bread of life.  He said that he was one with the Father, if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen God.  He also claimed to forgive sins.  Not just the sins committed against Him, but all sins, as though He was the one offended in all sins, as though this were ‘His’ world and ‘His’ rules.  He said His death was voluntary and that his death would pay the penalty for the sins of everybody else. Specifically, He said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies;” [John 11:25]

Many have a genuine respect for the wisdom of Jesus’ teachings and really have no doubt that He was a great teacher and a great prophet—but God himself?

These are huge issues—but, I’m not sure they’re all that complex. There really is such a thing as real truth to be discovered. 2 + 2 IS 4! Everything is not relative. Just because someone is sincere, that doesn’t mean their view is right. Because truth doesn’t equal sincerity—and truth is narrow. We ought to be kind and tolerant and respectful to all people, but we have a responsibility to reject their false ‘ideas’ and seek the truth. The big question for all of us is…WHO DO YOU THINK JESUS IS?

So can anyone be absolutely sure about Him? Is the old easy ‘standard’ of Him being a good teacher work anymore? Is there any evidence to ‘prove’ any of this?

I think it’s absolutely right to demand evidence. So, what about the evidence for His resurrection—the ‘holiday’ we just celebrated? If He predicted His own death and resurrection and actually pulled it off…wouldn’t that be enough evidence?

How about the scores of predictions that were made in the Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) about the coming of the Messiah which were perfectly fulfilled by Jesus, even though the prophecies were foretold hundreds and hundreds of years earlier? Things like His family lineage, His place of birth, events surrounding His birth, the fact that He’d be rejected by His own people, His arrest, crucifixion, His resurrection, and all those with remarkable details.

If you haven’t made a decision about Jesus, may I encourage you to investigate the evidence. Don’t put it off or ‘run away’ from making your determination. Take a look at all of this from a ‘higher vantage point’. Ask God to ‘rescue’ you from your unbelief. If you honestly seek Him, He will show Himself to you—in a way that will ‘speak’ to you directly!

Blessings….
Mark

LIFE’S DEEP THOUGHTS (v38) for APRIL 2002
(NOTE: Please send your ‘thoughts’ to me at: mbesh@ameritech.net)

I am glad to organize and distribute more ‘stuff’ if y’all send it to me… Thank you’s to:

Linda Besh

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THE EASTER LILY
The white lily, the symbol of the resurrection, is the special Easter flower. Rabbits and colored eggs have come from pagan antiquity as symbols of new life. Easter Monday egg rolling, a custom of European origin, has become a tradition on the lawn of the White House in Washington, D.C.

The white lily stands for purity. Artists for centuries have pictured the angel Gabriel coming to the Virgin Mary with a spray of lilies in his hand, to announce that she is to be the mother of the Christ child. The lily is also the sign of the Resurrection. The lovely white Madonna lily was used for years as the Easter lily. It often failed to bloom in time for Easter, however, and so Bermuda lilies were substituted.

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HISTORY OF THE EASTER BUNNY
The Easter bunny has its origin in pre-Christian fertility lore. The Hare and the Rabbit were the most fertile animals known and they served as symbols of the new life during the Spring season. The bunny as an Easter symbol seems to have it’s origins in Germany, where it was first mentioned in German writings in the 1500s. The first edible Easter bunnies were made in Germany during the early 1800s. And were made of pastry and sugar.

The Easter bunny was introduced to American folklore by the German settlers who arrived in the Pennsylvania Dutch country during the 1700s. The arrival of the “Oschter Haws” was considered “childhood’s greatest pleasure” next to a visit from Christ-Kindel on Christmas Eve. The children believed that if they were good the “Oschter Haws” would lay a nest of colored eggs. The children would build their nest in a secluded place in the home, the barn or the garden. Boys would use their caps and girls their bonnets to make the nests. The use of elaborate Easter baskets would come later as the tradition of the Easter bunny spread through out the country.

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EASTER COOKIES
(To be made the evening before Easter)

You need:
1 – cup whole pecans
1 – teaspoon vinegar
3 – egg whites
1 – pinch salt
1 – cup sugar
1 – zipper baggie
1 – wooden spoon
1 – tape
1 – Bible

Preheat oven to 300 (this is important-don’t wait until you’re half done with the recipe)

Place pecans in zipper baggie and let children beat them with wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested he was beaten by the Roman soldiers. Read John 19:1-3.

Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1teaspoon of vinegar into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28-30.

Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11.

Sprinkle a little salt into each child’s hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus’ followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27.

So far the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add 1 cup sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him. Read Psalms 34:8 and John 3:16.

Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God’s eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3.

Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoon onto waxed paper covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus’ body was laid. Read Matthew 27:57-60.

Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and TURN THE OVEN OFF!!!! Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus tomb was sealed. Read Matthew 27:65-66.

GO TO BED! Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus’ followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20 and 22.

On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus’ followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty. Read Matthew 28:1-9.
[Source unknown]

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You make a living by what you earn; you make a life by what you give.
[Mark Besh]

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FATHER’S LOVE LETTER
Essentially, this ‘flash’ presentation is the message of Easter—our Heavenly Father is offering us a way to have a “right relationship” with Him—forever. It is literally a series of still photos (mostly of nature scenes) with paraphrased scripture verses over the images. The audio track is a moving song titled “Faithful Father,” which was written and performed by Brian Doerksen.

This presentation is brilliant in its simplicity because it allows for a clear communication of the message. And it is the content of the letter —the quotes from scripture—that have so much impact. When I first viewed this, I literally stopped everything I was doing. I was riveted to the screen and captured by the clear expression of God’s love for me. It is very rare for something to grab my attention like that. Many times it is easy for the artist or the production to dilute the truth of what is being communicated. But that is not the case here. The message is crystal clear from the beginning.

I encourage you to check out the Web site (link below) where you can view the ‘flash’ presentation and the complete text. It is well worth your time!

Faithful Father Lyrics
(background audio song)

Father, I can’t explain this kind of love.
This kind of grace.
I know I still break Your heart.
And yet You run to welcome me.

This is my song of praise to You.
For who You are and all that You do.
From the moment my life began.
You have been faithful.

Father, I love the way You hold me close.
And say my name.
I know when my life is through.
My heart will find its home in You.

This is my song of praise to You.
For who You are and all that You do.
From the moment my life began.
You have been faithful.
You will be faithful.
Forever faithful.

This is our song of praise to You.
For who You are and all that You do.
From before the world began.
You have been faithful.
You will be faithful.
Forever faithful.
[Brian Doerksen-Copyright © 1996 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing]

http://www.fathersloveletter.com/fllpreviewlarge.html
(Father Heart Communications-Copyright 1999)

[Received from Linda Besh]

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EASTER DAY
Thirty days hath September,
Every person can remember;
But to know when Easter’ll come
Puzzles even scholars, some.

When March the twenty-first is past
Just watch the silvery moon,
And when you see it full and round,
Know Easter’ll be here soon.

After the moon has reached its full,
Then Easter will be here,
On the very Sunday after
In each and every year.

And if it hap on Sunday
The moon should reach its height,
The Sunday following this event
Will be the Easter bright.
[Anonymous]

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THE SECRET TO OPENING A ROSE
Once a little boy was trying to open a flower bud. Under his persistent efforts the blossom fell apart in his hands. Exasperated, he looked at his mother and asked, “Why does the bus fall apart when I try to open it, but when God opens it the flower is beautiful?”….then he answered his own question, “Oh, I know! When God opens the flower, he opens it from the inside!”

That story demonstrates the difference between being conformed and being transformed. The former forces someone’s personhood or a group’s identity from the outside. The latter opens up the individual or the community from the inside. The difference in results is dramatic. When God opens persons from the inside, they can be the uniquely gifted in individuals they were created to be, revealing dimensions of God’s grace in a particular combination that no one else can.
[Marva J. Dawn]

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RESURRECTION?  PROVE IT TO ME
“Raised from the dead? Sure. Right. And I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.”

That’s how “Doubting” Thomas might have responded if he had lived in the 1990s. “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.” He’d seen dead people before. And Jesus was dead. He sounds like sophisticated rationalists of the Twentieth Century. “It isn’t plausible,” they would contend. “It didn’t happen.”

But what if it did happen?

Thomas was convinced when Jesus appeared to him, reached out his hands to Thomas, and said, “Put your finger here.”

Thomas dropped to his knees. “My Lord and my God!”

It was self-hypnosis, you counter. The disciples wanted to believe that their Lord was not dead, so they just invented it out of whole cloth.

Really? Let’s look at some of the evidence.

1. First, Jesus’ body was missing. If the Jews could have found it, they could have stilled the preaching of Jesus’ resurrection that filled Jerusalem. But they could not.
2. Next, the body wasn’t stolen. The Romans had no motive. The Jews had no motive. But, you say, the disciples stole it. There is the matter of the Roman guards, and the disciples’ initial disbelief when the women brought them the news early that Easter morning. This brings me to my third point.
3. If the disciples had stolen the body, you wouldn’t expect them to risk their lives. People don’t die for what they know is not true. But the disciples put their lives on the line, and nearly all were eventually martyred for their faith. They certainly believed it.
4. Followers of Jesus in the city of Jerusalem grew from a few dozen to thousands upon thousands soon after Jesus’ resurrection. They believed it was true.
5. Even contemporary documents refer to the event. Thallus the Samaritan, Suetonius, Tacitus, Pliny contain references to Jesus. Jewish historian Josephus writes about Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. They knew something had happened.

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is actually more plausible than any other explanation. That’s why we Christians make such a big deal about Easter. That’s why we celebrate.

Jesus’ resurrection means that death is not the end. That though my body may lie mouldering in the ground, Jesus, whom the Father raised from the dead, gives me eternal life. Ultimately, we Christians believe, our bodies, too, will be raised from the dead.

And since Jesus is not dead, people can encounter him today. You can know him through a personal relationship. I could point to lots of people who can testify what Jesus has done in their lives to bring them from the brink of disaster to peace and meaning and joy. He changes people for good.

If you’re not sure can’t really say you’ve met this risen Jesus, this Easter Sunday why don’t you slip into church to seek him. And perhaps in the midst of our celebration, you’ll find him for yourself.

He’s alive…that’s what Easter is all about!  [Dr. Ralph F. Wilson]

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DEEP THOUGHT:
Real love is not giving people what they deserve, but giving them what they need.
[Adrian Rodgers]

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Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ‘pool’ to receive from, and more to share with!

Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing—I would like to give credit where credit is due!

Experience the ‘power’ that flows from Christ’s resurrection and into your life on a daily basis. The apostle Paul said it well: “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings…” [Philippians 3:10]

Mark

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Disclaimer: All the above jokes & inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright are used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

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