Remember Easter

Celebrating Easter may be an excellent time to spend time with family, hide the eggs and eat the chocolate bunnies, but remember this year what Easter is – it is the ressurection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The obituary of Jesus

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Where Was the Media When the Pope Was Alive?

Today’s OpinionJournal focused in on something that was niggling at me, and now I know what it is.

On all the TV stations, we’re getting round the clock Pope coverage. Where were all these people when the Pope was alive?

Even in the current coverage of how the Pope helped bring down communism, most of the media is bypassing the theme Pope John Paul II brought to the masses. THe underlying theme of love and hope, that we are all Christian brothers and sisters struggling through momentary trials with the help of our savior, Lord Jesus Christ. Nope, the media just sort of glosses over that point.

For all the affirmation of John Paul’s thinking, notably on communism, he received little sustained support in the U.S. or Europe for the spiritual content of his message. Across 26 years, this pope–preaching holiness–has been a voice crying in the cultural wilderness.

The article is well worth reading. John Paul’s politics may have won in the East, but they lost in the West. In order to accept the pope as a champion, you also had to consider his overall message on abortion, sexual preference, stem-cell research, etc. The pope was very conservative on all these issues. If you oppose the rest of John Paul II’s message, is he still a champion?

Rejoice

I’m looking at today’s “Verse of the Day,” which is a subset of a lesson I’ve recently been studying.

Romans 5:1-5

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have [a]peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this [b]grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the [c]glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our [d]sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

I added [a] through [d] above, which are things that Christians rejoice when they accept Jesus. The first 3 are easier to understand – peace with God, grace of God, glory of God – because they sound like something you’d want to rejoice in.

The fourth is a little harder. We should rejoice in our sufferings? When I receive a new challenge in my life, my first urge is not to rejoice. Yell or cry or smack the neighbor’s cat, maybe. But rejoice?

Yes, rejoice. The challenges teach us patience and perseverence. That builds our character, and that gives us our hope. That stenghtens our faith, and then we are ready for our next challenge.

As Paul tells us, a new challenge tells us that God is working in our lives. Like smelting gold in a fire to remove impurities, God improves our character through suffering.

It would be nice if God can improve our character by giving us a new boat, but that has a tendency to make us spoiled brats instead. Only when every other thought, every other crutch is pulled out from under us, then we realize we must lean on God. It’s the only thing we have; everything else is temporal.

Over at Coffee Swirls last week, Doug discusses something similar in his Where Was God? article about the tsunami last month. Read Doug’s post in light of the verse from Romans above, and realize God is at work in the lives of those affected by the disaster.

There is also a lesson from the chapter of Luke at News for Christians who points out that this same question came up in Jesus’ day.

Just a few thoughts I’ve been mulling over this past week as I’ve considered the tsunami disaster and personal struggles that friends of faith are going through. I thought I’d share with you this morning.