Thinking Out Loud

April 16, 2017

Passion Week Songs (8) – He is Risen / Happy Day

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:24 pm

We end our series of extra posts this week with two songs that celebrate the risen Christ. First, Paul Baloche and then Tim Hughes.

 

 

April 8, 2014

Back on Message

Filed under: Church — Tags: , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 7:14 am

A year ago at this time, I got a lot of heat from a lot of readers over something I — for the most part — did not write. It was a reprint of a comment a reader left concerning a prominent American megachurch pastor who ditched the usual Easter Sunday message in favor of commencing a sermon series on personal finances. ‘Rather odd,’ I thought, but a newsy blog post anyway — since most pastors see Resurrection Sunday as a high point in the church year — so I posted it not realizing how passionate and loyal his followers were. “Touch not the Lord’s anointed,” I was told, though not in those words. If you really want to, you can read that story and the comments here

…I just skimmed over and relived all those comments all over again. I think it’s great to be loyal and supportive to your pastor. I also think it’s great to be able to step back from that subjectivity and weigh big-picture issues against the counterweight of data from other churches and ministries. The problem that took place in the comments section was that nobody was truly hearing what those on the other side of the discussion were saying…

…In any event, I decided to see what’s planned for the same church this year. I can only hope the following represents truth in advertising…

Easter 2014 at Harvest

 

April 8, 2012

Resurrection and Grace

The following is widely blogged:

In What’s So Amazing about Grace?, Philip Yancey recounts this story about C. S. Lewis:

During a British conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world debated what, if any, belief was unique to the Christian faith.

They began eliminating possibilities. Incarnation? Other religions had different versions of gods appearing in human form. Resurrection? Again, other religions had accounts of return from death.

The debate went on for some time until C. S. Lewis wandered into the room. “What’s the rumpus about?” he asked, and heard in reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity’s unique contribution among world religions.

Lewis responded, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”

After some discussion, the conferees had to agree.

The notion of God’s love coming to us free of charge, no strings attached, seems to go against every instinct of humanity. The Buddhist eight-fold path, the Hindu doctrine of Karma, the Jewish covenant, and Muslim code of law—each of these offers a way to earn approval. Only Christianity dares to make God’s love unconditional.

While I like the story, had I been present, I would have challenged the notion that other religions have verified accounts of resurrection. One of the other things that sets Christianity apart is the evidence for the resurrection; evidence which forms the themes of countless books on Christian apologetics.

But where I want to go with this today is this: If you think about it, grace and resurrection are somewhat similar ideas. The DNA present in the concept of grace is embedded in the concept of resurrection, and the DNA of resurrection is embedded in the concept of grace.

Both represent a ‘pass’ if you will.

I sin, but forgiveness is made available by the grace of God.

I die, but in expectation of being raised to eternal life just as Christ conquered death.

I avoid having to perform acts of penance or go through acts of contrition in order to recover my spiritual dignity; I simply need to sincerely ask God’s forgiveness, it is a gift from God, not involving effort or earning.

I avoid having to wonder if my remorse was sufficient, I can receive assurance from God’s Word that my transgressions are forgiven, because he is ever-faithful and ever-just.

I avoid a meaningless death, but die knowing that this is not the end; that death itself is a gateway to something greater that God has in store; something my eyes have never seen, my ears have never heard, my imagination has never conjured up.

Now, some will argue that avoiding the consequences of sin and someday experiencing the reality of victory over death is really the same thing; and I would agree. The two are linked.

But imagine — and you don’t have to — a belief system that includes both grace and resurrection.  Why would you look anywhere else?

April 4, 2010

Thoughts for Easter Sunday

A potpourri of thoughts from www.dailychristianquote.com Don’t rush through these, pause over them to grasp what the writers were discovering…


Good Friday is the mirror held up by Jesus so that we can see ourselves in all our stark reality, and then it turns us to that cross and to his eyes and we hear these words, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” That’s us! And so we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. We see in that cross a love so amazing so divine that it loves us even when we turn away from it, or spurn it, or crucify it. There is no faith in Jesus without understanding that on the cross we see into the heart of God and find it filled with mercy for the sinner whoever he or she may be.

~ Robert G. Trache


Christ died. He left a will in which He gave His soul to His Father, His body to Joseph of Arimathea, His clothes to the soldiers, and His mother to John. But to His disciples, who had left all to follow Him, He left not silver or gold, but something far better – His PEACE!

~ Matthew Henry


God led Jesus to a cross, not a crown, and yet that cross ultimately proved to be the gateway to freedom and forgiveness for every sinner in the world. God also asks us as Jesus’ followers to carry a cross. Paradoxically, in carrying that cross, we find liberty and joy and fulfillment.

~ Bill Hybels


Christ is the Son of God. He died to atone for men’s sin, and after three days rose again. This is the most important fact in the universe. I die believing in Christ. –

~ Watchman Nee (Note found under his pillow, in prison, at his death)


As out of Jesus’ affliction came a new sense of God’s love and a new basis for love between men, so out of our affliction we may grasp the splendor of God’s love and how to love one another. Thus the consummation of the two commandments was on Golgotha; and the Cross is, at once, their image and their fulfillment.

~ Malcolm Muggeridge


The Christian community is a community of the cross, for it has been brought into being by the cross, and the focus of its worship is the Lamb once slain, now glorified. So the community of the cross is a community of celebration, a eucharistic community, ceaselessly offering to God through Christ the sacrifice of our praise and thanksgiving. The Christian life is an unending festival. And the festival we keep, now that our Passover Lamb has been sacrificed for us, is a joyful celebration of his sacrifice, together with a spiritual feasting upon it.

~ John R. W. Stott


This Word played life against death and death against life in tournament on the wood of the most holy cross, so that by his death he destroyed our death, and to give us life he spent his own bodily life. With love, then, he has so drawn us and with his kindness so conquered our malice that every heart should be won over.

~ Catherine of Siena



March 23, 2010

One Sentence Every Palm Sunday Service Should Contain

Filed under: Church, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 11:59 am

I don’t care where you land on the seeker-sensitive versus traditional church continuum.   There’s one message you want to be sure to deliver on Palm Sunday, in addition of course, to what is actually sung and preached on that day:

“Our Easter Sunday service was designed so that you can confidently invite your unsaved neighbors, relatives, coworkers or fellow-students.”

Why?   Hopefully it’s obvious that Easter services should encapsulate all that is central about the Christian faith and be presented in a way that visitors — who do show up on that date after all — will feel comfortable and will understand what is being said and sung.  The congregation needs to know that a week ahead, so that they can invite people with assurance that visitors have been taken into consideration.

Why?  Because of this note I received today; “To be truthful I am leery of even bringing some non-Christians I love  to church… I think they’d be wondering why I attend.”

May that never be said of what is done on this most central, most important Sunday of the year.

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