Tag Archive | Heaven

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CITIZEN (PART 2)

Passport kingdom of god

Dear Friends,

In my last post, I shared some thoughts about what it means to be citizens of the Kingdom of God, specifically the blessings inherent in it.

For one, when we are born again by faith in Jesus Christ, we gain the undeserved privilege of being called a child of God. We are given His Holy Spirit to dwell within us and to transform us to be more and more like Him. (Romans 8:29).  Our focus as His own now turns from the earthly to the eternal. As we grow in our faith, the goal is to align more and more with God’s purposes and His glory. We strive to do his will, as stated in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done”. (Matthew 6:9-13).

Jesus commissioned His disciples, (and all of us), to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:16-20).

So you see, as citizens of the Kingdom of God we are given a holy mission that transcends whatever obligations we have that is earthly. A citizenship by any definition is not only to know the blessings of belonging, but it is also an opportunity to gratefully serve that to which we belong.

So, to continue this series, let’s look at our citizenship in the Kingdom of God in terms of our commissioning. Is there a sense of responsibility I bear as a citizen of the Kingdom of God? What does being a citizen mean from this perspective? I thought of a few:

Responsibilities of a citizen would include:

Allegiance – If I am a citizen of a country, this means I give up all prior allegiance to any other nation or sovereignty. If our citizenship is in the Kingdom of Heaven, we align ourselves with God first, above all else. The motivation is gratitude for what we have been given. We are told in Exodus 20:3-5 to cast way any idols that could become bigger than God to us:

“You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me” (Exodus 20:3-5).

Defense – If called upon, I am to defend my country. Even more so,  for someone who professes to be a Christian, am I not called upon to stand up for my faith, to speak up when my God’s name is taken in vain? Sadly to admit, I have fallen short, and I’m convicted of these words:

 But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15)

Here Peter says it in a nutshell…be alert, always ready to stand up for your faith. Our attitude shouldn’t be argumentative and aggressive, but done in love and respect in order to share the hope we have.

Obey the laws – If we obey the laws of the land, how much more should we obey God? Yet, here again is the key: God does not demand compliance out of a sense of duty, but from the heart. We as Christians long to do what is pleasing to Him, not necessarily because He has decreed it, but because He has enabled us to want to (if we willfully submit to Him) by the Holy Spirit.

One final word: As a good citizen of this country, I’m supposed to obey the law and follow the decree of the land, but what if a given law goes against what God has said? What do I do then? If you are a Christian, what would you do?

I don’t think it will be long until we are all personally confronted to give an answer, one way or another.

 

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CITIZEN

Passport kingdom of godWe in the U.S (if you haven’t noticed) are in the middle of an election year. In light of the present threats we face, I believe that the outcome will be pivotal to this country. Without getting too political, let’s just say that I believe this election could mean the difference between a steep decline or restoration for our country.

As I think about the times we live in, I have to remember two things that bring me back to faith:

1) God ultimately rules over the offices of the government and our leaders. There is no one who holds a prominent position that has not, or will not be used for His purpose. (Romans 13:1).

2) Although we are citizens of this country, as Christians, we ultimately hold a greater citizenship in the kingdom of God:

Philippians 3:20 says, “Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ”.

This encourages me to focus on God’s great and mysterious plan until the day when He will make everything right. It got me thinking about what it means to call ourselves citizens of a given country. Then I looked at God’s word and what it says about our citizenship in heaven. Here’s a little perspective I thought you might enjoy:
Being a citizen means:

1) I have certain rights and privileges within the country to which I belong – Here in the states, it means many things, from voting to getting certain jobs.

Being a part of the kingdom of God means far more. For one, Galatians 4:4-7 tells us that we are given the undeserved privilege of being joint heirs with Christ Himself:

“But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.”

2) I have the protection of citizenship – in the case of unrest or emergency, being a (US) citizen can be helpful to obtain assistance. We can seek asylum in U.S. Consulates or call upon the government while abroad.

Being a part of the kingdom of God is to be protected by Him from anything that would sever our inheritance or citizenship. We read in 1 Peter 1:4-5 of this inheritance:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Just like citizenship does not come without certain requirements, notice here that this citizenship, this alliance with God comes to those who are born again, (made spiritually new) because of Christ’s death for us and His resurrection. This not only involves belief, but a covering of sin, obedience to Him, which is the righteousness of Christ. It is trust in Him alone, and living out of that faith as evidence of our salvation.

3) Last, being a citizen means I have a confirmed passage back into my country. For example, as a law-abiding individual, this status is meant to give me the security of knowing that I am recognized back into my home with relative ease.

I remember once many years ago when I was traveling abroad, when our borders were more secure. We had landed in New York, a very busy airport for international flights. I vividly remember airport security waving those of us with US passports right through the gate while a very long line of non-citizens were held back for further screening.

As great as this nation is, I’m pretty sure we will all want heaven’s gates to open to us even more. The word of God tells us clearly what will provide the only passage:

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

May none of us ever know the frightening judgement of separation from God. If you have not done so, I plead with you today, in love and not condemnation, to trust Christ alone for His gift of salvation, while the gate is still open for you.

A MEMORY OF MY MOTHER

“Hi Mom, anybody home?”

I knocked on the door and walked in at the same time.

“You didn’t tell me you were coming over!” she’d call back, slapping her face for added drama.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t because I didn’t want you to feel like you had to make any food for me.”

“But it’s not right not to have anything for you!” she’d always counter back at me. “HarRAM”, she’d say in Arabic, a phrase she used, which loosely translated means “you poor thing!”.

And on we’d continue. This particular conversation would be repeated many more times between my mother and I while she was alive.

She was the type that always gave of her time and talents, and boy, was cooking one of them!

Cabbage rolls, stuffed grapevine leaves, pan-fried fish that was all so filling, so comforting. She made the best grilled eggplant that I tried to duplicate once but failed miserably.

I didn’t want her to fuss, really…because I knew she would, and that wasn’t fair to her.

What I didn’t realize was that she took joy in serving, that she wasn’t just being polite, she really felt distressed that a virtual spread wasn’t on the table to meet me at my surprise appearances.

Even in her last years, when she couldn’t stand for long periods of time, I would see her seated at the stove, doing the best she could.

…and when we gave back just a little to her, you would have thought we gave her the moon by the way she would go on and on in gratitude.

Stranger, friend, or family — Give her an ounce of kindness and she’d repay you with an extra amount.

She loved her family, and she loved the Lord. She gave her life to both, fully and without holding back.

Now, exactly two years to the day she left us, I can see her smiling at peace, living in the mansion God prepared for her, seated at the table, serving, laughing, feasting in Heaven.

Picture of Mom (2)

WHY I DON’T BELIEVE THAT “HEAVEN IS FOR REAL” IS FOR REAL

Nearly five years ago, a young man by the name of Alex Malarkey made the claim that he died and went to heaven after a horrific car accident. He detailed his experience in his book, “The Boy who Came Back from Heaven”, which became a best-seller.

Just a couple of weeks ago (January 15, 2015), this same young man said that the story was a lie, that he made it up to get attention.

“I did not die. I did not go to Heaven,” Alex wrote. He continued, “I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible.”

It seems to me that if fallibility was suspect in any book written on the subject of near death experiences, it certainly hasn’t effected their popularity. The genre known as “heavenly tourism” include many best-sellers – Betty Eadie’s “Embraced by the Light”, Don Piper’s “Ninety minutes in Heaven”, even “23 Minutes in Hell” by Bill Wiese.

“Heaven is For Real” Book Cover

The more recent “Heaven is for Real” tells the story of four year old Colton Burpo’s visit to Heaven during an almost fatal emergency appendectomy.  After the Malarkey recant came out, the now fourteen year old Colton wrote his own letter stating that he stands on his word.

This got me thinking. Those once on the bandwagon with Malarkey now agree his story was a scam, based on his own statement. Let’s just say, hypothetically, that Colton Burpo comes forward tomorrow and says his story was a scam as well. Wouldn’t those who believed him do an about-face? It seems odd to me that what is labeled as “truth” one day would then be “false” simply based on what the speaker says it to be.

After all, if someone says they went to Heaven, who are we to judge their experience?

And that is my point in writing today. Does experience determine truth? If it does, a reasonable conclusion is that there is no limit to what we call theology. Our doctrine would morph from one experience to the next. From someone else’s experience to the next.

Curious about the entire buzz, I rented Heaven is For Real”, the movie based on the book, this last weekend.  It’s a feel-good, family oriented movie in many respects. There’s a sprinkling of scripture and a positive view of Christianity, and yes, that’s good. I’d like to continue to say good things about it, since saying anything other than a glowing “thumbs up” to spiritually-oriented “wholesome” films is often seen as unloving or critical. That’s not my heart in this at all, but I am passionate about seeing life through the filter of scripture. In fact, as believers we have a responsibility to be discerning, and Biblically speaking, there’s a lot wrong with this story. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 says, “…Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.” In this day and age, that can be challenge. That being said, I am convinced that Burpo’s story cannot possibly be true. I don’t necessarily doubt his sincerity. He and his family could very well believe he went to Heaven and back, I just don’t believe He did. However, as I’ve always said, consider the issue and decide for yourself:

THE FOCUS OF HEAVEN

First and foremost, of all the scriptural accounts of any mortal vision of heaven, (which include only four people – Isaiah, Ezekiel, Paul, and the Apostle John), there’s one common denominator. They all focus on the all-encompassing, glory of God. To behold the glory of the Maker of the Universe staggered them speechless, as we would expect it to. Isaiah was immediately mortified by his own sinfulness, crying out, “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5)

Paul perhaps is the most demonstrative. In 2 Corinthians 2-4 he writes, “I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows.  And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.”

He, being the Apostle Paul and the founder of the early church, out of humility doesn’t even identify himself as the one who visited heaven. This is a picture of a man who is absolutely stunned by His vision. He is petrified with a holy awe. He doesn’t even dare to broach the thought of talking about it; he is hushed silent.

What’s more, with the exception of Paul, all recorded revelation was for the purpose of communication of prophesy for what was to come. If God restricted his revelation to a few for a specific message which is already written in His word, why would He have anything more to add to a four year old, or anyone else for that matter?

In contrast, Burpo (told by his father), describes Heaven in entirely man-centered terms. He mentions angels singing to him, not to the King of kings. Apparently these angels saw it more fit to serenade him as he sat on Jesus’s lap rather than Jesus himself…unlike the angels and holy creatures described in Revelation 4:8 and Isaiah 6:1-3 that continually sing “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty” around the throne of God.

THE COMPLETED CANON

We can ask ourselves the same question we ask of any of these modern near-death experiences. Can we trust that these men are telling the truth? The answer is yes, by virtue that their experiences are written in scripture. Furthermore, since the canon is closed (that is, the gathering of books together to complete the Bible), no other revelation can be validated in the same way, neither can it be altered.

The words of Proverbs 30:6 are pretty straightforward: “Do not add to his words, or He will rebuke you and prove you a liar.”

As a Christian, I believe that God’s word is precise and complete (1 Thess. 2:13). It doesn’t change from one day to the next. (Luke 21:33). It must be the plumb line to measure any claim, otherwise, we are tossed by every wind of doctrine. (Ephesians 4:14).Tell me, friends, are we really believing the Bible if we latch on to whatever sounds right without checking it against God’s word? Where is our solid anchor if not God’s word?

OTHER CONCERNS

There are many other direct contradictions in the movie (and excerpts from the book) as compared to scripture, but here are just a couple that put the Burpo’s account into question:

  • At the end of the movie, a very handsome picture of Jesus is painted by a young lady (Akiane Kramarik) who claims this image comes from a vision from God. Colton identifies this image as an accurate depiction of Christ. However, this is in direct conflict with scripture, which describes Christ as having had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. (Isaiah 53:2) 

    Jesus picture

    “Jesus, Prince of Peace” painting by Akiane Kramarik

 

  • Little Colton describes Jesus having “markers”, on the palms of his hands and his feet. However, the Romans actually drove spikes through a victim’s forearms rather than the palms. It seems that Colton’s description falls more in line with pictures of the crucifixion or resurrection he may have seen in a children’s book.

OBJECTIONS

“What’s the big deal?” You may ask… “these stories and others like them have inspired faith and brought hope to many”. While this may be true, my question in response would be “to what faith would this draw someone?” Is it toward hope in scripture, or is it toward a greater clinging to the supernatural “signs and wonders, anything goes” mentality?

Futhermore, where a nebulous foundation of faith exists, there is a foundation for false teaching and a skewed center of worship. We are opening the doors to a seductive realm of possibility that God never intended. Any time we rely or depend on anything that isn’t in the Word of God, we are depending on our own understanding, and that undermines God’s word.

But what about all the information that little Colton knew that he couldn’t possibly have known had he not “gone to heaven”? He said he recognized his grandfather who died before he was born, and met a sister who died before she was born. To this I can only say that there can be many explanations, even though they may be mysterious to us. It could be a connection to lost memories or a supernatural impression on the mind’s blank and unconscious state. It’s possible that the explanation is not mysterious at all, but a coaching and/or influence by those around him. It could be due to conversations overheard, responses to prodding and even embellishment of a child’s imagination to please those around him. Due to the world we live in, the unexplained, apart from scripture, does not prove the truth that anything is true in my mind.

 THE GOOD NEWS

I realize that many of us have loved ones in Heaven; I realize there are strong feelings on this subject. We long to know how those who have gone before are doing, what they are seeing and experiencing. Stories like these appeal to our sense of imagination and wonder. They spark a “could be” mentality with convincing descriptions. However, let us bear in mind the warnings in Scripture: “For Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light”, (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

But here’s the good news: Without a doubt, if your loved one trusted Jesus Christ for their salvation, their Heaven is far greater than any of the accounts we are reading today. We all have our Heaven is for Real story, and there’s an age-old book that already has all the details we need to know for now. Rest assured in this hope and be encouraged.

The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether.” (Psalm 19:7-9)

Have you seen this movie or read any of the books about visiting Heaven or Hell?  What are your thoughts about the recent statement by Alex Malarkey?

 

THOUGHTS ON MY MOTHER’S PASSING (ONE YEAR LATER)

A year ago today my mom went to be with the Lord.

And today, He has especially given me His assurance of victory and peace…

Of my mother’s comfort and joy,

Of newness and hope,

Of victory over all, when it’s all said and done.

Though there were days I wondered if we’d ever survive, we stood today at her gravesite, and I marveled that we not only made it through, but I knew that He had carried us through.

Today was one of those days that you think God may have turned up the colors on the Earth. Especially bright, sunny, with a just-perfect, soothing breeze. When we played the Hallelujah chorus by Handel, (a piece she loved), I couldn’t help but think that it was a small peek at the beauty she is seeing and hearing in heaven.

A year ago, I heard another wonderful song, “Grace Falls Down” by Christy Nockels. It kept running through my head when God comforted my mother after an especially hard day. It kinda became a theme of God’s goodness and care for her in my head:

 

As I was leaving the gravesite and got into my car today, I turned on the radio. Guess what was playing?

Amazing Grace

How sweet the sound

Amazing Love

Now flowing down

From hands and feet

That were nailed to a tree

As Grace flows down and covers me

 

What a reminder that He has covered my mom with grace, in her life, and now in a greater way I can’t imagine in heaven. As I walked the park later today, I noticed the same brightness, and His creation seemed to speak one word: Peace.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3: 22-23)

Yes, life is hard. Sometimes it is a horrible nightmare. We will suffer. We will be in anguish. There will be days when we may doubt His presence. ..but He can and will snuff that away. He whispers his comfort and a heavenly “told you so” when we look back on His faithfulness. And having shown this, we see a small way that He will ultimately provide the final victory. Besides, He said He would:

“And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” 5And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” Then He said to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end…”(Rev. 21:4-6) 

Christ has the last word in all of this. Just wait and see.

 

See the original post: “Thoughts on my mother’s passing at Easter

KEEPIN’ IT REAL: MY THOUGHTS ON LIFE AND DEATH

Clouds

I’ve learned a few things in the last several months. No matter how prepared you think you are, the death of a loved one will still take you by surprise. It’s nothing less than surreal to know that the only thing that separates him/her from eternity is that one last breath.  When the chest heaves for the final time, you can’t snatch the air and give it back to them …and although you are close enough to hold their hand, they will cross the greatest gulf – over which they will never leap again.

And so we are rendered speechless, both in an odd mix of denial and wonder.

That’s when I realized how distracted I am in my little world. The passing of a loved one took me out of the mire of the mundane, even if just for moment, to see the greater realities of life. The impressions I got seemed to overflow as I jotted each down and now  want to share with you. Some of these realities include:

The reality of faith – To see a loved one go is to understand that what we believe in this world bears weight in the next. We can’t just sashay through life, simply wearing our faith as a badge. Christian or not, we all have to content with the fact that Jesus Christ claimed to be God. This Man fulfilled over 300 prophesies and defied death with evidence that can’t be ignored.  He also happened to claim that no one would go to God the Father except through Him. (John 14:6). Pretty powerful words – so whether we believe it or not, we all have to answer the question: “What will you do with Jesus Christ?” Do you believe He is the Son of God? To be neutral is to reject Him. Given His strong words, I’d say that the reality of faith is immensely important…and not just faith itself, but what and who we believe in. The consequence is too great. Faith matters because eternity matters.

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27)

The reality of heaven – I remember a sermon I heard about heaven a few years ago. It left me so amazed in its description of the glory of God’s eternity that I walked out of church literally feeling like we are living on a tiny crumb liable to blow away. It peeled back my blinded eyes just long enough to see how small we are, long enough to see how our existence is a blip on the radar of this universe.  Now, to add to that the knowledge that my mother is there, and that she knows heaven not just intellectually, but experientially is mind-boggling. It became more personal. It’s peaked my interest even more, and now I want to know all I can about this glorious, very real place. I recommend reading the book of Revelation, which describes heaven with as much detail as God would have us know. I also recently picked up John MacArthur’s “The Glory of Heaven”, a book which is as comprehensive and descriptive on the subject as I’ve ever seen.

“However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

The reality of the gift of life– If you are or have been a caregiver, you know that it leaves little time for much else. I saw it as privilege, but I ran on adrenaline, bracing myself for the long haul. Down-time felt like spun gold. Since my mother’s recent home-going, I have a sudden increase of time. I want to see this time for the value that it is. I’m thinking of starting a ministry of some sort, perhaps to meet different needs around me and to write more. I don’t know what the future holds, but I am excited to pursue what God would have me pursue.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)

The reality of death itself – Death distresses us, not just for the separation it brings, but because it is the sum of the effects of sin. When it arrives, it presses down upon each one of us as the very evident weight of our depravity. As I witnessed my mother fade away, I realized the failure of our own flesh. These bodies of ours, however resilient, however life-supporting, however glamorized or useful, is not really who we are at all. It is merely the wrapping that houses the soul. Without the soul, the body is literally just a shell. It will fail us. It will stiffen and grow cold. No wonder Paul described this packaging as “jars of clay.”…

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

The joy is that we know that we don’t have to have hope in anything corruptible, but we know that the corruptible is cast away. We can look forward to leaving these old shells behind when God Himself gives us a new and glorious body. We look forward to the day when all the suffering, all the pain and struggle will be over, to His great name and glory.

What is it about struggles that allow for greater awareness and spiritual perception? Have you ever noticed that you have heard more from the Holy Spirit when you are in a meditative mindset?

THOUGHTS ON MY MOTHER’S PASSING AT EASTER

Picture of Mom (2)

It isn’t Easter anymore, so I’m sure this doesn’t make the most “on time” post entry, but it is one that I simply have to share.  I spent last week making service arrangements for my mother, who passed from this world just in time to meet the Lord on Resurrection Sunday. She was in the same home she lived in for the past 20+ years when she took her last breath, surrounded by her family. I remember at the time that my dad asked if we would like to sing. So we began to sing…and somewhere in the middle of our rendition of “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, she slipped away from this world and into the arms of Jesus.

My mother was a woman who lived a life of sacrificial love, wanting nothing more than to honor God and see her family happy and healthy. She had a humility that always acknowledged God’s will and loved the old hymns of the faith. I think I will always remember her anytime I hear the Halleujah chorus from Handel’s “Messiah”. (My dad made a scratchy recording of it on, yes – a cassette tape that she played literally dozens of times. 🙂 ) She was God’s constant blessing in my life growing up, not to mention the many years she stood by me through illnesses, apartment moves, and getting ready for any big occasion. She taught me how to be kind, how to be hospitable and to always finish any job I start. I didn’t inherit her artistic talent, but people tell me I’m a spittin’ image of her, and that is good. She was always ready with a meal, lived to care for my dad, and was never happier than when we were all together at the dinner table.  She had a simple yet strong faith that loved and held on to God.

I can’t begin to imagine what she sees and knows right now. I do know one thing, though. She is praising God more than the greatest enthrallment in praise we have ever had on Earth…and she sees Christ face to face. She is laughing, greeting her siblings that have gone before, and will never shed a tear in pain again.

The timing could not have been more bittersweet or surreal, because it was on the first “Easter” that Christ took that same journey into the grave and eternity many years ago. He too, died and was buried. But there is a big difference – He is deity and physically rose from the grave.

“But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said…” (Matthew 28:5-6).

No one but deity could have risen from the dead, and no one but deity could have lived a sinless life. Jesus did both. Not only that, but He laid down that life as a perfect sacrifice, so that anyone who trusts in Him can also approach God with no fear of condemnation.

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath through Him.” (Romans 5:9-10)

It is because of Christ’s resurrection that we could look at my mother, who was a believer, and know that Jesus paved her way to eternal life. Because He rose from the grave, she too has risen spiritually into eternal life.

Check out Romans 6:5-6:

“Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection.”

As we saw her slip away, the meaning of Easter was no longer a reality in an I-believe-and-profess kind of way, but now became a  true-to-life-played-out-before-our-eyes reality.  This is where the rubber meets the road, friends. We couldn’t sing “Morning by morning new mercies I see” without remembering the greatest mercy of His rising that first morning. We are saddened, but not without comfort. While we grieve, we are not in despair. What better way to understand the significance of Easter – the resurrection of Christ, than when we need the grace of His resurrection the most?

Let’s not forget the lyrics of the rest of that song:

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

This is the meaning of Easter, folks. So I’ll go ahead and say it…let’s not dilute this holy event with the silliness of Easter eggs and a bunny!

The fact that a holy God would choose to show Himself merciful to save you and I is an unfathomable mystery. Even the angels can’t understand it. (1 Peter 1:12). For that I believe that there is continual praise in heaven, a holiday every day, so to speak. (Rev. 4:8)

So while we formally celebrated Easter a couple of weeks ago, I believe this is cause for continual praise on earth as well…so maybe this message isn’t so “not on time” after all.

I’ll leave you with His own words as the parting question: “… I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)