Posts Tagged "Easter"

Easter’s Mortal Wound – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Apr 15, 2014 in Blog | 0 comments

Easter’s Mortal Wound – Pastor Matt

The Easter celebration is filled with powerful images.  The crown of thorns shows us the sheer brutality and ironic sensibilities of Jesus’ executioners.  The Via Delorosa is marked by the stations of Jesus’ ascent to Golgotha.  And the cross is a vivid reminder of the pain caused by God turning away from Jesus.

What I love about the Bible is how everything is interrelated.  One of the most obvious interrelations is the unity between the Garden of Eden and the place Jesus died.  I have heard it said that Genesis 3 gives the very first prophecy concerning Jesus.  After Satan successfully leads Adam and Eve into sin, God says this, “he will crush your head, and you will strike his heal.”  That he is a man born of a woman.  That he will not succumb to temptation, live a perfect life and crush the head of Satan.

The he is Jesus.  Satan strikes Jesus with the pounding of a pike through his feet on the cross.  And Jesus deals a mortal wound to Satan’s head by overcoming Satan’s most powerful weapon…death.  Therefore, the death of Jesus sets off a chain of events that cannot be reversed and the doom of Satan is secured.

It is certainly true that the work of Christ on the cross (the Atonement) is marked by a number of important effects.  One effect is imputing our sin upon Jesus and simultaneously imputing his righteousness upon us.  But another effect is the ultimate destruction of that vile snake that has hounded the righteous since the first rays of the sun.

Since the children have flesh and blood (us), he (Jesus) too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil…  Hebrews 2:14

This Easter season, let’s remember not only our undeserved salvation, but also the deathblow dealt to him that would take away our salvation.

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Christus Victor – Pastor Matt

Posted by on Apr 2, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Christus Victor  – Pastor Matt

I’m the type of person that needs meaning.  If there isn’t meaning, I don’t care.  That’s why I struggled in school when teachers assigned busy work.  I couldn’t do it; there was no meaning except to keep me busy.  That’s one of the reasons why I’m a pastor.  The church is full of meaning.  The Bible is full of meaning.  Working with Christians is full of meaning.

I love the Easter season because we are confronted with the ultimate meaning: Christ’s work.  His death and resurrection have implications not just for our present circumstances but also for our eternal.  What is even more intriguing is the multiple meanings of Christ’s work on the cross, also known as the atonement.

One such atoning work is the defeat of Satan.  In John 12.31, Jesus says, “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.”  We don’t highlight the defeat of Satan on the cross as much at other elements of the atonement, but it isn’t any less significant.  And here is why.  Satan rules our world.  He became ruler after the fall of Adam and Eve.  God allowed Satan to take the reigns of power and he has done some serious damage.

See, when we talk about all the evil that is done in the world, we often forget who is the main perpetrator of that evil: Satan.  Satan needs to be defeated.  Satan needs to be judged.  Satan needs to be taken off he evil throne.  And that’s what Christ does on the cross.  He destroys the kingdom of the Devil and establishes his own rule.  How does he do this you might ask?  He defeats Satan at every turn; he heals, casts out demons, feeds, gives life, gives his life culminating in his resurrection.  The power of Satan, which seems so absolute (because he brings death), is broken by the man who was raised from the dead.

Now just as Christ’s rule hasn’t yet been fully established, neither has Satan’s ultimate defeat.  But it’s only a matter of time when Satan will be no more.  And we have the freedom to live in the promise of Satan’s ultimate demise.

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Waiting for Easter – Cassi Piper

Posted by on Mar 26, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Waiting for Easter – Cassi Piper

As Christians we know the Easter story well: On Friday Jesus was betrayed, found guilty though innocent and hung on a cross. On Sunday the tomb was found empty and the resurrected Jesus appeared to His disciples, thus securing salvation for everyone who believes. But has anyone ever wondered about Saturday?

I was recently made aware of a Facebook post where people were challenged to think about that Saturday and what it must have been like for the disciples. Not knowing of the coming resurrection, all they knew was that their leader, mentor and friend had been raced through a botched trial, brutally tortured, publicly ridiculed and then left to die in the most horrific fashion that the Roman Empire could dream up at the time.

That Saturday must have found them in a dark place indeed. Perhaps they were together, trying to lean on each other and process what had happened. Perhaps they isolated themselves, feeling disbanded and not sure where to turn. Maybe they rallied around Mary, Jesus’ mother, trying to offer comfort as she grieved.

And how did they feel? Scared? Angry? Betrayed? Did they doubt who Jesus said He was? Did they wonder if all they had sacrificed to follow him was for naught? Were they each planning their escape knowing that they by association would be next to suffer trial?

But maybe, just maybe, they felt hope. Peace. Strength. Resolve. Though they didn’t fully understand all that Jesus had taught them they could have chosen to trust. Trust that though things looked bleak, the events of Friday were not the end of the story.

We too often find ourselves in a time of waiting. Waiting for test results, waiting for a relationship to be healed, waiting to catch up or even get ahead. And we too have a choice. Do we wait with fear in our hearts or do we trust God’s sovereignty and His purposes for us? Are we angry or do we strengthen our resolve, determined to sit it out until the very end, knowing that God’s ways are mysterious, but always good?

It is my prayer for us that as we prepare for this week’s celebrations we remember that like the disciples on that Saturday we too are in a time of wait. All of us who have chosen to follow Jesus await His glorious return, when every tear will be wiped dry and we will be rewarded for our persevering faith.  Let us be encouraged that we too will one day see how our story ends and that the ending will be sweet indeed.

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Easter Love – Pastor Mark

Posted by on Mar 19, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments

Easter Love – Pastor Mark

This year as I’m approaching Easter I’ve been thinking about why Jesus did what he did.  The answer appears to be ‘love.’  Pure.  Simple.  Love.  I guess that’s why it’s called the ‘Passion Week.’

But I don’t know that I’ve ever put the ‘Love Chapter’ (1 Corinthians 13) and Easter together.  That’s usually for Valentine’s Day or weddings.  This year I have.  I’m grasping more of the largeness of God’s love (per Pastor Matt’s message).

For example, verse four says, “Love is patient.”  The Greek word means ‘patience with people’ not with circumstances. It describes someone who has the power to crush someone who has wronged him but chooses not to do so.

Abraham Lincoln was not always highly esteemed.  Early in his career one of his adversaries, Stanton, called him “a low cunning clown” and “the original gorilla.”  Lincoln said nothing.  Later he made Stanton his war minister, because, he said, he was the best man for the job.  He treated him with respect and courtesy.  The country went through the Civil War.  Then came the night when the President was assassinated.  In the little room where the President’s body was taken stood that same Stanton.  Looking down at Lincoln’s silent face, he said through his tears, “There lies the greatest ruler of men the world has ever seen.”

Like Stanton, I have not always understood why things have happened in my life.  I have not always spoken highly of God and his choices.  But he didn’t crush me.  He loved me.  He has patiently worked to shape me and make me a better man.  And He’s not finished because this Easter I’m learning a lot more, a lot more about love.

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Getting Stuck – Cassi Piper

Posted by on Nov 27, 2012 in Blog | 0 comments

Getting Stuck – Cassi Piper

A friend and I were recently swapping our best “trailer” stories. Whether they were our own mishaps, or those of a family member or friend, we shared some good laughs as we remembered times when trailers broke, came loose or suffered flat tires.

My absolute favorite trailer story involves my beloved grandpa. Grandpa used to own an old fishing boat that was transported on an even older trailer. For reasons unknown to us the previous owner had glued green Astroturf to the slides that guided the boat on and off the trailer. This made launching the boat difficult as the Astroturf created enough friction that much kicking, pulling, pushing and grunting was required to get the boat to slide into the water.

After many such battles with his trailer my grandpa was fed up and determined to find a solution. One day he found what he was looking for while watching television. The commercial he saw was for a silicone spray which claimed it made things slippery. Convinced that this was exactly what he needed my grandpa eagerly went to the nearest hardware store and purchased what he thought he saw on television and liberally applied it to his boat trailer.

The next time grandpa went to launch the boat my mom happened to be with him as they had been planning a father-daughter fishing outing for some time. As always, grandpa backed up his wood paneled station wagon until the boat was deep enough in the water where it should begin to slip down off the trailer. Excitedly, grandpa began to drive the trailer forward, fully anticipating that his boat would glide into the water with ease.  Much to his dismay however the boat didn’t budge. Even after many kicks, pushes and grunts that boat still hadn’t moved an inch!

Disappointed, my grandpa explained to my mom how he had tried a new product that was supposed to make the trailer more slippery. Upon closer examination however my mom discovered that rather than applying silicon spray as the TV commercial had advertised my grandpa had instead used silicone caulk, essentially gluing his boat to its trailer! Determined to still go fishing my grandfather scoured his wagon and found a pair of scissors which he used to cut the boat loose from the caulk. Though he finally did get his boat in the water that day, the long strips of green carpet permanently glued to his hull were reminders of the mistake he had made.

No matter how many times I hear that story it never loses its humor. However just like my grandpa accidentally purchased the wrong product, we as Christians can buy into a false Gospel, and that is no laughing matter. Many of us fall into the trap of legalism and judge unbelievers for falling short, leaving them to believe they have to clean up their life before they can come to the cross. Others cheapen God’s grace by accepting sinful behavior under the guise of unconditional love, leaving them to believe that following Christ does not require a transformation of character. Unfortunately, old habits can be difficult to unglue as feeling justified when we judge or taking pride in being tolerant can sometimes seem like second nature. And, like green carpet to a hull, we can permanently affix judgmental labels to those in our life whom we are called to love as Christ first loved us.

So, my prayer for us this week is that before we judge or write off the behavior of someone else we would rather look inward and ask God to show us where we need convicting and to give us the ability to compassionately relay His truth. Only by keeping our focus stuck on Jesus will we then be able to reflect Christ’s love and grace with the proper humility and understanding, thus projecting the true Gospel of Christ’s sacrifice while we were yet sinners and the resulting character transformation it brings to those who cross our path.

 

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners,

Christ died for us.   -Romans 5:8

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing

of your mind.   -Romans 12:2

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