Who Will Roll Away the Stone?

I finally made it to the last chapter of the book of Mark. I’ve been reading through it in a prayerful, meditative way known as lectio divina. The day after the crucifixion of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Salome head out to the tomb to annoint His body. On the way there, they begin saying to one another,

“Who will roll away the stone for us at the entrance of the tomb.?” Mark 16:3

This stood out for me for a couple of reasons. Years ago, our pastor preached an Easter sermon around this text. I don’t remember much about that sermon, but the title stuck with me ,probably because it reminds me of myself and my own anxious over- planning — trying to figure out what might happen and how I can deal with it. If I had been one of that group of women, I definitely would be worrying and wondering. That stone was huge and heavy! How on earth would we be able to move it and get on with our task?

Of course, we know the end of the story, and they didn’t have to worry at all. The stone was already removed. They were focusing on a problem that didn’t exist any longer.

Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t plan ahead. What I am saying is that sometimes we get ahead of ourselves and fret about things that haven’t yet happened. Often when we are called to do something for Jesus, we just need to step out in faith and trust Him to roll away the stones we envision standing in our way. I need to remember this — so do you!

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

For more study of the book of Mark see:

A Beautiful Thing

The Lord Has Need of It

And He Said This Plainly

New Month/New Theme

I’m posting this for one of our authors, Martha, who is having some “technical difficulties” with the blog today.

I have always loved books and movies that clearly depict the battle of good vs. evil, where good succeeds ( The Narnia Chronicles, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, etc.). But there is one book that excels all others for telling the story of how Good wins the victory over evil: the Bible.
Our theme for April is God’s victory over evil. This is relevant to our current circumstances, for in faith we trust that God will bring us through the COVID-19 crisis and that we will be able to return to the routines of our daily lives, in God’s good time. The virus is an evil, but God will triumph.
The theme also applies to God’s ultimate victory over evil, which was achieved through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and his glorious resurrection on the third day. The fact that we will still be in quarantine for Good Friday and Resurrection Day this year reduces not at all the solemn realization that Christ died for our sins and the glorious good news that Christ is risen indeed!
Rejoice!  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5). In our isolation this Easter we should all the more celebrate what God has done, for we know that we are the people of the Living God, and he is present with us always – and  no one will take away our joy (John 16:22)!
Be safe. Be well. Be blessed. And remember, if the days seem dark, that the day of Resurrection celebration is near and our salvation is certain.
God loves you, and so do I.

Son of God — Movie Review

I just finished watching Son of God which was produced by Roma Downey (she also produced the mini-series, The Bible) and Mark Burnett.  This film follows the life of Jesus from His birth through His crucifixion.

I thought the first section, which included many of His miracles, His teaching, and calling the disciples seemed choppy and disjointed.  Many scenes were incomplete and not in the correct sequence.  Of course, one problem is, if you are quite familiar with the Bible, you quickly notice everything that seems different, or not quoted exactly right. Of course, in fairness, it is difficult to boil down several years into an hour.  I understand that, and nothing was misrepresented.

I found the portion from the Passover, including the Last Supper and Crucifixion much better and closer to the Biblical text.  Many of the scenes were moving and realistic (yes, I shed a few tears).  The resurrection and things that took place for the following 40 days, were once again compressed with some things being left out.

The acting was excellent, especially Diogo Morgado as Jesus and Greg Hicks as Pilate.

VERDICT:  I would give it 4 stars.  It would be a good choice to watch during Lent, reminding us of the suffering and sacrifice Christ endured for us.

The Quiet Crazy Easter Day by Jill Roman Lord–Book Review

This cute, sturdy board book would make a perfect addition to any toddler’s Easter basket (my copy will certainly go into granddaughter, Hailey’s).  Illustrated by Kelly Breemer, it includes colorful depictions of a host of familiar animals — rabbits, birds, wolves, fish, deer and yes, there are sheep– along with their appropriate sounds.  Humans are included, as well, as they rejoice by yelling and  shouting hurrah at the exciting news that Jesus has risen.  Words that denote sound or movement are highlighted in a variety of bright colors.

It includes a simple explanation of the resurrection which is suitable for young children– Jesus rose from the tomb to take our sins away;  He is still alive today and He hears us and loves us.

VERDICT:  I give this book 5 stars.  It would be great fun to read out loud with children, grandchildren, or a Sunday School class.                                                                                                                                    If you would like to purchase it, follow this link:

https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/the-quiet-crazy-easter-day-padded-P005821570

The Lutheran Ladies received a free copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. Disclaimer pursuant to FTC 16 CFR Part 255

For review of another book by Jill Roman Lord, check out this post:

The Silent Noisy Night by Jill Roman Lord — Book Review

Katelyn’s Question #5

What happens to people after they die?

This is a continuation of the following posts:

Is There a God? If So, What is God Like?– Or Katelyn’s Question #1

Katelyn’s Question #2

Katelyn’s Question #3

Katelyn’s Question #4

After people die they either go to heaven or hell.  If the person was a believer of Christ, then their soul ascends into heaven to be with the Lord.  In Luke 23:43, Jesus tells the repentant thief on the cross:

“I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise.”

While on the other hand, if a person did not believe in Christ, then they descend into hell.  Heaven or hell is the final destination of all human beings.

Christians are described as having eternal life, thus meaning that after their physical death, they live forever spiritually in the kingdom of God.  While their body stays buried in the ground their soul goes to heaven.  One passage in the Bible which speaks of death is Ecclesiastes 12:7 which says,

“Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was;  and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.”

Though everyone dies, in John 11:25, Jesus says,

“I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live.”

When Christ comes again, He will reunite the soul with a new body and all believers will live in the kingdom of heaven.

One Man’s Change

My husband and I recently took the teens from our church to see the movie, “The Case for Christ.”  It is the story of Lee Strobel, a journalist and atheist.  When his wife becomes a Christian, he is distressed and decides to use his investigative skills to disprove Christianity by attacking the resurrection.  Even St. Paul agrees it is the linchpin of our faith.

“And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”  1 Corinthians 15:14

After consulting with many experts in individual fields, here’s what he found:

  • The Bible is a reliable source because there are many more existing copies, and earlier copies of it than any other ancient document
  • Over 500 people could not have had the same delusion of seeing Jesus alive after the crucifixion–this would be more miraculous than the miracle itself!
  • Medical experts agree that Jesus could not have been alive when He was taken down from the cross
  • Eye witness accounts all contained the same core of the resurrection story.  There were variances in secondary details –this is exactly what would be expected.  Identical reports are suspect.
  • Jews of that time would never have chosen women as the first witnesses;  women were not allowed to be witnesses.  This could only mean they were reporting the truth.  If they were lying, they would have chosen men as the witnesses.
  • The disciples led changed lives, and were willing to die for their faith.  Who would chose to die for a lie?  What would be the motive?

I would recommend this film, especially to young or newer Christians.  It falls in the category of “apologetics.” (defending the faith).  Lee Strobel went on to become a Pastor, writer and professor.  He is the author of a number of books including “The Case For Christ” which tells his conversion story and on which the movie is based.

I’d be interested in hearing other comments on the film or book.

Times Have Changed

(“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Read the verses above and you will realize that times change.  During our life we will fill many roles and do many things, but none of them are permanent.  The good news is, bad times will pass and the bad news is well… good times will pass as well.

So, what is the message?  The author of Ecclesiastes (thought perhaps to be Solomon) is rather fatalistic.  Life will end in death;  the good man and the evil man end up in the same condition.  What is the point?  He does say we should enjoy daily life — “eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart…. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love …” (Ecclesiastes 9:7, 9).  He also instructs us to “Remember your Creator”(Ecclesiastes 12:1).  This is good advice, as far as it goes.

Luckily for us, it’s not the end of the story.  Times are different now –not because of computers and cell phones, but because we have the gospel.  We’ll still have happy times and miserable times;  scary times and peaceful times;  times of plenty and times of pain.  We still need to enjoy what we have and trust in God;  but now, thanks to Jesus, we know that death is not the end.  God sent Him “at just the right time”(Romans 5:6) to be the world’s Savior.

Thank God that Jesus has risen!  He has risen indeed!  Times have changed!

Absolutely Impossible

“I know the resurrection is a fact, and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren’t true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks. You’re telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”Charles Colson

What proved the resurrection to you?  Send us your story.

 

Michelangelo on the Resurrection

“Why do you (fellow painters) keep filling gallery after gallery with endless pictures of the one ever-reiterated theme of Christ in weakness, of Christ upon the cross, Christ dying, Christ hanging dead? Why do you stop there as if the curtain closed upon that horror?  Keep the curtain open, and with the cross in the foreground let us see beyond it to the Easter dawn with its beams streaming upon the risen Christ, Christ alive, Christ ruling, Christ triumphant.

For we should be ringing out over the world that Christ has won, that evil is toppling, that the end is sure, that death is followed by victory.  That is the tonic we need to keep us healthy, the trumpet blast to fire our blood and send us crowding in behind our Master, swinging happily upon our way, laughing and singing and recklessly unafraid, because the feel of victory is in the air, and our hearts thrill to it.”

 

More Easter Laughter

Tertullian (160-230 A.D.), an early church theologian, had this to say about the resurrection:

“It is by all means to be believed, because it is so absurd.”

In other words, who would make this us?  If someone is going to tell a lie, they try to make it a believable one.