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The Harmonious Resurrection Accounts

Earlier this month, we celebrated the resurrection of our savior, Jesus Christ (actually, we celebrate His resurrection everyday, since He is our life!).  As I reflected on Christ’s resurrection from the dead and the accounts left to us by the four gospel writers, a few questions entered my mind.  Was there just one woman (Mary Magdalene) or several women who went to the tomb?  Did they see one angel or two angels?  Was (Were) the angel(s) inside or outside of the tomb?  Why was Mary Magdalene not allowed to touch Jesus but the other women did touch Him?

Have you had similar questions?

We should remember that several people can witness the same event from different perspectives.  I believe that the sources for the gospel writers provided their own perspectives of the same event.  Even one writer, John, was himself a witness of the empty tomb and resurrected Christ.

Below is a chart that I created to sort out and harmonize these four accounts.  The four columns organize the respective Scripture verses about the resurrection according to each gospel writer.  Similar sections of Scripture are color-coded to show what seem to be very similar accounts of the same event.  At the bottom of the last page, the color-coded sections are summarized to give a sequential understanding of the events of Christ’s resurrection.  In conclusion, I believe that the gospel writers present an orderly account of the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, albeit from different first and second-hand perspectives.

So, what are your thoughts?  Do you agree with this orderly representation of the gospel accounts of the resurrection of Christ?

I hope that by seeing the orderly account of the Lord’s resurrection, your faith in Him and in the surety of His Word will be strengthened.

Blessings,

Andy

P.S.:  Here is the chart  – Resurrection Harmony

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2015 in Christian Studies

 

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Faith

This past week I listened to someone preach through Hebrews 11, the “faith” chapter of the Bible.  I began to think about what faith really is and looks like.  I thought that I could write a post about faith, Hebrews 11, the faith “hall of fame”, and so on.  But as I recently laid down and had a few moments to meditate, the thought came that I should write about what faith means to me.

First of all, how do I define faith?  Well, let me use the Biblical definition:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb 11:1)

If I could put this into my own words, I would say that faith is my conviction to trust God’s promises, that I have a future hope better than this world, which hope I cannot see at this present time.  I can understand that there are things invisible through observing the things that are visible.  I understand that there is a Creator by observing the things that are created.

My faith comes from believing that God’s Word is true and that He demonstrated His love for me by sending Jesus Christ to take the penalty for my sins in his flesh.  Through believing in His Son, I receive the Holy Spirit of God, who helps me and strengthens my faith.  Through believing that, on God’s accounts, I am now crucified and raised with Christ, I now have guaranteed eternal life and victory over sin.

As I read through Hebrews 11, I see many great Biblical “heroes” who demonstrated great acts of faith.  I read about Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, the Israelites, Rahab, and so forth.  I read that people subdued kingdoms, stopped the mouths of lions, escaped peril, received ones back from the dead, and more.  But then I read that others were tortured, mocked, scourged, imprisoned, stoned, cut in half, tempted, killed, or were nomads.  The Scripture says that the world was not worthy of this later group and that they did not receive the promise of their faith during their lifetime on earth.  However, they, along with us, will receive something better from God.

Faith is not just mountaintop experiences, although such experiences are wonderful.  Faith is also walking, well faithfully, though the valleys of life and still trusting God’s promises even when we cannot see.  In Scripture, I don’t see the faith that some of these preachers on television and the radio speak about.  I don’t see God instructing us to speak the word and believe without wavering to get a new car, house, job, or money, money, money.  I once heard someone say that the world will be drawn to God when they see how he causes us to prosper.  I could understand the point trying to be made, but wouldn’t unbelievers also consider God when they see someone trusting Him when their world is falling apart around them and they have a worldly reason not to trust Him?  I’m not saying that the only way to point people to God is through suffering, and believe me I am not going about looking for more, but I want us to consider what would really make a lasting testimony of God’s grace and faithfulness in someone’s life.

My faith in God has caused me trust Him even while in the darkest valley of my life.  Faith has helped me to realize that God knows what is best for me at all times, even when evil happens to me.  He can turn that evil around to work good in me, if I don’t fight against Him.  Faith has led me to trust God at a deeper level and to set my eyes more on the unseen than the seen.  OK, that part is not always true because there are days when what I see pulls at me to indulge in…well whatever.  But through faith in believing God’s Word that says I am crucified with Christ and dead to sin, I can overcome the temptation and press on towards Christ and my promises awaiting in Heaven.  If I do stumble, I also read that even the great “heroes” of the faith stumbled at times, but God was merciful to them and he is also merciful to me.

So, what is faith?  Is it believing that God will give us our wants, or that He provides us with all of our needs?  What is our greatest need?  Is it not to have His forgiveness and mercy?  I believe that is my greatest need.  Through faith, I believe that all of my sins are forgiven and I am completely righteous in God’s eyes, not because I feel like it (because I don’t) but because God says so.

I don’t believe that faith can be stagnant.  I heard someone say that faith is not like a pond but is like a river.  We can’t rely on a one-time faith experience, but should exercise it daily to keep it vibrant and growing.

Blessings,

Andy

 

 

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Where’s the fire?

How many times have I intended to write a post, only to not find the determination to follow through?  I even started several of them, but could not seem to find the proper words to bring them to completion.  Being frustrated with my lack of passion to write, and wanting freedom from the duty to try to complete my earlier thoughts, I recently cleaned out my “draft” posts and decided to start afresh.  So here we go…

Spring is almost here.  It is the time of year when the earth brings forth new life and we celebrate the resurrection of our Savior.  It is also the time of year when a dark cloud hangs over the anticipation of a particular date – April 18.  It will be almost three years since our beloved Isaac passed on into heaven.  Even after the long cold winter we experienced, it is still difficult to be fully excited about the change in season, at least until we pass that day.

So, how am I?  Well, I wish I had some fire lit under me to tackle my callings in this life (hence the title of this post).  Most days I feel as if I float through life.  The enthusiasm that I had the first and even second year after Isaac’s death, to turn around the experience to help others, has diminished somewhat.  I still want to share with and help others who are grieving after the death of a child, but it is not my driving force and passion.  Everyday life has returned to – well – everyday life.  I go to work, Brenda home schools the children, we gather together in the evening, and we wrap-up our day.  Then we do it all over again.  Were we supposed to return to this hum-drum routine?  Or, rather, should we not be serving our Lord joyfully through the “normalcy” of everyday life (and not considering it “hum-drum”)?  How long do we have to endure this life?

I think there are really only three things that keep me going these days:  God’s word; the unconditional love and support of my wife and children; and my relationships with close family, friends, and brethren in Christ.  The word of God has been my life support.  If there is one positive from this experience, it is that I have learned to cling to the grace and truth of Jesus Christ, especially when the world offers other means of false comfort and peace.  I realize that there are things about God that I don’t understand, and I am trying to be OK with that (do I really have a choice?).  I wish I had answers to my big questions.  But if God didn’t give Job the answers to his big questions, then I should be content with the same.

Lately, some annoyances in my life have really been getting under my skin. I have been impatient with others and harbored bitterness over some perceived injustices.  I know the Lord calls me to forgive (up to 490 times right?), but doesn’t that only apply to my “brother” and doesn’t he/she have to apologize first?  You see how I rationalize my anger?  Oh yeah, I can be angry, as long as I don’t sin, right?   Anyway, I’m not liking that stinky attitude coming out of my heart.

I hope you don’t mind me just being honest about where I am spiritually.  We could really use your prayers.  I wish I could share some great spiritual insight and breakthrough with you, but it seems that I’m just wandering through the desert land.

On a lighter note, I did want to share a recent family “selfie” below.  Yes, we do have a new dog.  His name is Stride and he appears to be a collie/German shepherd mix.  He is a little over a year old.  We adopted him near the end of 2013.  We have been challenged to get used to Stride’s energy and personality, but things are improving and we are learning to accept each other.  Our previous family dog, Mikey, died suddenly in early October 2013 while we were away on vacation.  That was a very sad experience for us.  Also, our two cats that Brenda and I had from early in our relationship died within a short time frame.  So, the last half of 2013 was a little rough for us as the older generation of our pets all died within a short period.  For us, losing a pet is not nearly the same experience as losing a child, but it is sad and difficult.

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Well, I think I will actually close a post for now!  If a fire kindles underneath me, maybe I will write a little more often in the future (no promises though).

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Andy

 

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Brother Phil Robertson’s Personal Testimony… It Is A Blessing To Hear!

This is a reblog from “Settled In Heaven Ministries“, a blog that I occasionally read. The post is the personal testimony of Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” fame.

Settled In Heaven Blog

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Posted by on September 8, 2013 in News and Culture

 

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Almost Two Years

calendarToday is Sunday, March 24.  Next Sunday we will celebrate Easter/Resurrection Day.  Then we will turn the calendar over to April.  The date stares me in the face – the eighteenth.  18th.  18.  One-eight.  That combination of numbers used to intimidate me; however now they are no longer as daunting.  I remember when I used to expect every 18th.  Now, months can go by without noticing that another 18th has passed.

It hardly seems possible that over 23 months have passed from the day our lives changed forever – Monday, April 18, 2011.  That year, it was the Monday before Easter/Resurrection Day.  That day, our son Isaac suddenly passed on into the presence of Jesus.  Now, as we remember the death, burial, and resurrection of the Son of God, we also remember the death and burial of our son Isaac’s body and promotion of his spirit into Heaven.

What has happened over these months and years?

The darkness and the fog of the first months and year have lifted.  We don’t feel as heavy in spirit as often as we used to, as reflected in my early writings.  We’ve experienced joy, happiness, and peace.  We’ve also experienced anguish, sorrow, and regret.  We’ve experienced healing and relief through sharing our journey with others and receiving encouragement from others.  We’ve smiled and cried when someone shared a memory of Isaac (and those tears are healing and full of gratitude – so please continue to share!).  Though we live with continued confidence in our Savior and the goodness of God, we still have a painful scar deep in our heart.

This experience has resulted in us being known in our local community.  If we’re not careful, we can feel self-conscious in public as we imagine who may know us as “that family who lost a son”.  Positively, our experience has opened doors to relate with others that may never have been opened any other way.  We’ve been able to interact intimately with other parents who have “lost” children and other mourners.  We’ve been able to witness to God’s faithfulness through the darkest of days, even when it seemed that He had abandoned us.  We’ve tried to comfort others with the same comfort that we received.  When we don’t know what to say, we’ve learned that our presence, a hug or a firm handshake, and/or providing for some material need can speak more than any words could have at the moment.

Personally, we are being tested to go deeper and be more honest in our spiritual walk with God.  Our hearts have become more tender, especially towards others.  We’ve reexamined our lives, wondering if God was seeking retribution for some past sin.  Instead, we’ve comprehended more deeply the price that Jesus fully paid for us through his suffering both before and on the cross.  The punishment for every sin that we would ever commit (past, present, and future) was laid on Him.  I don’t see where Isaac’s death was God’s way of “getting us back”.  Do we not realize that we all die at some time?  We are all in need of repentance towards and faith in Christ.  We are not God and therefore cannot understand all of His ways.  We continue to believe that there are greater purposes in Isaac’s “untimely” death.  We are experiencing some of these purposes now in how our relationships with others have grown deeper and richer.  We expect that we will perhaps see more of these purposes, if not on this earth, then when we enter into Heaven.   Don’t get me wrong – I would rather selfishly have Isaac here with us than go through this pain of separation.  But I am content knowing that I will see him again someday – all praise and glory to Jesus Christ for that truth!

Some days are very challenging and difficult for me.  I find it hard to handle some of the trials and challenges of everyday life.  I have to remind myself that I am constantly serving God, even as I go to work.  There is no area of my life that God is not interested in.  He wants me to be a loving husband and father.  He also wants me to be a faithful and diligent employee.  I know that God will not give me more than I can handle, but these past two years have been very difficult.  When will I learn to stop trying to handle things on my own and completely rely on His strength?

Overall, we have learned to take this grieving process slowly.  One area that we are being deliberately slow is in addressing Isaac’s belongings.  Although we have passed on a few items, we still have a closet full of memories that we have not yet addressed.  We expect that, when the time seems right, we will decide what to do with Isaac’s creations and earthly possessions.  For now, we will keep them tucked away behind the closed door.

So, as April approaches and Spring begins to show its signs here in snowy Central PA, we can also feel the budding of the season of Spring in our hearts.  The long, cold winter seems to be behind us and our new lives are beginning to shine with renewed hope.  Lord, please help us to walk in the beauty and newness of Spring in our hearts day-by-day.

Blessings,

Andy

 

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Just Sleeping

Mat 9:18-19, 23-26 (emphasis added):

While he (Jesus) spake these things unto them, behold, there came a certain ruler, and worshipped him, saying, My daughter is even now dead: but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live. (19) And Jesus arose, and followed him, and so did his disciples.

(23) And when Jesus came into the ruler’s house, and saw the minstrels and the people making a noise, (24) He said unto them, Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. (25) But when the people were put forth, he went in, and took her by the hand, and the maid arose. (26) And the fame hereof went abroad into all that land.

As we recently read through this passage together as a family, I was impressed by its relevance and truthfulness.  Here, Jesus visually demonstrates His power over death by raising this girl back to physical life.  As I related this to our circumstances, I captured the truth of these words in my heart.  For our son Isaac is not truly dead, but lives.  His body is sleeping in the grave, waiting for the resurrection.  His spirit lives on in Heaven, rejoicing with his Savior, Jesus, and all of the saints who have passed on to that glorious place.  Even though Isaac did not experience a physical healing and resurrection like this girl did, the spiritual reality of this truth (he is not dead, but sleeping) renews hope to a grieving heart.

I pray that this truth renews your hope and strengthens your faith in the One who has the power over death.

Joh 11:25-26: Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: (26) And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

1Th 4:13-18: But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. (14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. (15) For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. (16) For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: (17) Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (18) Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

 

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Ray of Light

Have you ever asked God for a sign, just a little reassurance that He still cares (which of course He does, but I sometimes begin to doubt)? When you receive a sign or blessing, do you see it as from the Lord or are you tempted to dismiss it as just “coincidence”?

Last Sunday, we decided to attend the Easter/Resurrection Day sunrise service at our sister church. Never having attended a morning service at this church, we selected a pew on the left side and a few rows forward from the back door (and secretly hoped that we had not “stolen” somebody’s seat). Through the first part of the service, we sang and listened to the choir sing beautiful songs about the resurrection of Christ (I hope that I never tire of singing “Christ Arose”).

As the service progressed, I began to feel warmth on the back and right side of my neck. Then, I felt as if my head was engulfed in reddish light. I turned my head to the right and was partially blinded by sunlight that shone through a red pane in a stained-glass window and projected a ray of light onto our family. I felt like we were in the spotlight.  After the service, a church member asked me how me how I felt to have the light shine upon our family. I was actually startled by the question and was at a loss for a proper response.  Was the light really shining directly on our family?

So, should I choose to see this as merely a “coincidence” or as a blessing from the Sovereign Lord, reminding us of His presence with and favor on His children?

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. (Isa 60:1)

Still trusting and hoping,

Andy

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2012 in Family Updates

 

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