boyradd

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Archive for the tag “Easter”

#TheGraveIsEmpty

I am writing this on Easter evening, or, as Christians like to call it, Resurrection Sunday.

Today we had a plan in place. I planned on waking up, going to a sunrise service of a new church in my area and then gathering the entire family together and heading up to PA to spend the day with my parents. If you read a previous blog post of mine, you will know that my mom has stage IV cancer and we don’t really have a lot of time with her.

Well, this morning the call came.

“Fred, get up here. Leave the kids home, come to PA. Your mom doesn’t have long left.”

My heart sank. I immediately changed all the plans and started driving north.

The plan was to move her to a hospice facility where she could finish up her final hours without pain. She was breathing very shallow and, in between each breath, was moaning in pain. When I got here, I was told by my dad that the ambulance to transport her was about an hour out.

I sat down at mum’s bedside and prayed with her. I told her to simply let God have control and stop trying to take that control away from Him. Let Him heal her, whether that be through a miraculous healing of the cancer or through ending her pain through taking her home.

I went to the place we were ordering Easter meal from to pay for it and have them donate it to a local church. After I returned I went back in to check on mum. I told her I loved her.

When I walked in the door I heard the moaning and breaths, but a few moments after walking out of the room, I didn’t hear it anymore. I asked pap and he said that she occasionally does that. This time I went back in and noticed her eyes partially opened. She wasn’t breathing.

I called to pap and he checked her. We were pretty sure she had gone home to her Creator.

We called the hospice nurse. She cancelled the ambulance and came right over and pronounced her dead at 11:45 AM.

My mom knew. She didn’t want to end her days in the hospice facility. She told us that a few weeks ago when she was in the hospital. She wanted to end her days surrounded by me and pap in her own home.

And that is how she died.

The rest of the day has been a blur. We spent time with the funeral home getting her moved and planning the viewing. We went to eat a local diner that was open today (that was such a blessing!). Then back home to go through all the old pictures and reminisce about mum and how much she meant to us.

We are having a viewing on Wednesday and then immediate cremation.

Why no funeral?

Because the grave is empty!

When mum passed through the wildwood into the place where dreams come true, she ceased to be mum and simply became a body. The essence of mum is found in the Spirit that inhabited her.

Mum loved God and people. She had a servant’s heart. As a matter of fact, she had the Servant’s heart. She had the heart of God.

So now it is Easter eve. Pap finally fell asleep. The house is quiet. The only noise I hear is the droning of the ceiling fan above and the tapping of the keys on my keyboard.

I am sitting her thanking God for taking her so quickly so she didn’t suffer too long. I am thanking Him for the opportunity to tell her I loved her before she passed from somewhere into elsewhere.

The truth about Easter is just what happened today.

The grave is empty.

Mum will not be in a grave because there is no reason for it.

Christ burst from the grave. He proclaimed to the world His return.

He gave the disciples a mission to accomplish.

Jesus’ final 40 days on earth, after exiting the grave, dealt with sharing the Kingdom of God with everyone.

There is a reason to celebrate Resurrection Sunday. Just like there is a reason to celebrate my mum’s life with my pap through the old pictures.

The reason is simple.

Power.

The power of the Holy Spirit is freely given after bursting from the grave. The power for my mum to live on through my actions and words is amplified after her death. How much more will I look at how I deal with people after seeing my mom live it.

How much more do I want to proclaim the Kingdom of God now that Christ has given us this mandate after leaving the grave.

So, what will I proclaim on the day after Easter?

I will proclaim the Servant’s heart of my mom. She embedded that in me through her gracious living. And I will take that lesson and translate it to my Christian theology and proclaim the Kingdom of God.

The Kingdom of God places Jesus on the throne. Entrance to the kingdom requires new birth (John 3:5), repentance (Matthew 3:2), and the divine call (1 Thessalonians 2:12). Jesus calls us to seek the Kingdom of God first (Matthew 6:33) and pray for it to come (Matthew 6:10). It is joy in the Holy Spirit, righteousness, and peace (Romans 14:7).

So again, I sit here in the quiet of the night.

Thinking about how to live out my mom’s servant heart and how to proclaim the Kingdom of God through all I do.

Tomorrow is a new day. A new day to celebrate the two people I love dearly who have burst from the grave, Jesus and my mom.

The Hate in your Heart you’re Hiding Well, but the Booze on your Breath is Easy to Smell

If you look online, like I prefer to do, and go to that wonderful search engine Google and type in “list of sins in the Bible,” you will get an amazing list of websites that tackle the sin problem. My favorite link to click was “40 sins that can send you to hell.” I laugh at that one because I hate to tell you, but without Jesus, ANY sin will send you to hell. I clicked another and it said that using terms like “Oh my gosh” or “geez” is sinful because it is simply another way of taking the Lord’s name in vain. If that is the case, then oh my gosh am I in trouble.

There are sins that are easy sins for the church to tackle. Those are the sins of alcoholism, drug abuse, infidelity, and many others. While for the person going through the problem feels like the world is crashing down around them, the church has a solution. We have Jesus. We set up a program around a Jesus-centered approach and tackle the problem head on.

But then there are other sins. These sins are much harder to quantify. They don’t readily show their head. They may come out only when backed into a corner (like I had happen to me recently…forgive me Mimi). These are sins like greed, misplaced anger, lust, hatred, pride, laziness, etc…. Those are sins that are not so easy to tackle.

I am going to stick with a topic that I have covered a lot lately, homosexuality. I bring it up a lot because of my late brother being gay and the fact that it has turned into the litmus test of the 21st century to tell if people are Christian or not.

Now I am not going to water this down. Homosexuality is a sin. It is a choice you make. But that does not preclude you from getting into heaven. How often do we see the televangelist screaming out or the Westboro Baptist church types screaming out in hatred that “God hates fags?” Sorry, but I have no hell to give you. That is simply between you and God.

Here is how I see it though. With this or any sin, if you want to come and stand beside me in worship, I would love to join with you in praising God. If you are gay and ask me to marry you I will tell you I cannot because of what my Bible says about the sin of homosexuality. But I am never going to dissociate from you. If anything I will spend more time with you. No, not hitting you over the head with Leviticus, but simply showing you that Christians can love.

Many people who are stuck in sin are actually hated by those who claim Christ. It is a very fine line to have your beliefs and share them with people and to be homophobic (or hate the sex offender or the wife beater or the….). If we are attacking the person and arguing just to be heard and win the argument, then we are struggling with one of those sins that are much harder to quantify. It is very easy for us to mask our hatred in Christianese.

The litmus test should not be whether a person is gay, drunk, drugged, or anything. The litmus test should be the Gospel of Christ.

Yes, living the Christian life, I truly believe, will lead to people changing their ways. And yes, I truly believe that those who are gay will make the choice to swing the pendulum the other direction (so to speak) when they realize that Jesus’ love is more than any man or woman can provide. But it should not be up to us to change any person through our actions. God has given us freedom. We can share Him and His Gospel, but if a person chooses to reject it, that is on them, not us. It is not up to us to change them. The person can only change themselves, and that is only if they truly want to change.

So whether you are battling an “easy” sin or a “tough” sin, know that Christ is right there.

We just celebrated Easter, a 3-day holiday that is all about what Christ did for our sins. It started with Good Friday, when Christ was crucified. He conquered death by dying on the cross. Sure, He could have pulled Himself off of it. But He chose to die a sinner’s death. If He would not have taken all our sins and died, then there would be no remission of sin.

Then comes Sunday where we celebrate resurrection Sunday. This is the day that Christ shows His victory over death and hell. The action was completed on Friday but the celebration happened on Sunday.

So I will ask you. Have you been hurt? Perhaps it was someone who claimed Christ as their Savior. Perhaps it wasn’t. It could be something you did to yourself like drug or alcohol addiction or maybe it was something someone did to you to cause you to harden your heart, such as rape or abuse. Regardless, Christ has died and rose again for your sins. He died for your hurt and pain. If you simply reach out to Christ, you will find that your Savior will come. He will listen. He will heal. He will call you friend and family.

I would love to hear if you have reached out to Christ. Please comment or send me an email to fred.noble777@gmail.com. I would love to get in touch with you and help you on your journey.

So What Happens on Monday?

John 16:7 – But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

Jesus is dead.

The disciples are scattered.

Fear has gripped everyone.

And then Jesus bursts from the grave, destroying the chains that fear and death have had on His followers.

It is the day after the resurrection, so now what?

Acts 1:8 – But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

POWER!

Once the power of the Holy Spirit came, the disciples went.  They went to all the areas of the world and made disciples.  They went and planted churches.  They baptized people.  Christianity grew quickly.  People were on fire!

When we embrace what Easter is truly about (no, not bunnies and chocolate), we can’t help but realize that after Jesus claimed His rightful throne in heaven that we have been given a mandate.  This mandate is just like a military command, but a military command that involves no more blood to be shed.  The blood was shed on the cross.  Christ took the one and only death needed to claim victory in this war.

Matthew 28:18-2018 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

This military mandate is to simply “GO.”

This isn’t a suggestion.  In the original documents, it says, “having gone, therefore, make disciples.”  This must be interpreted as having imperative force.  When a participle, such as the Greek word, πορευθέντες, functions as a circumstantial participle dependent upon an imperative, it gains imperative force.

Just imagine the disciples’ excitement when they heard this!

So, Christian, GO and get that POWER that CHRIST has GIVEN us!  And then GO and MAKE disciples, BAPTIZING them in the name of the FATHER, the SON, and the HOLY SPIRIT.

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