Between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection

At the breakfast table this morning, my wife and I were discussing the article I’d just read about the movie Mel Gibson wants to make. The Resurrection would be the sequel to The Passion, which we have both seen and been moved by. The new movie was described as being the “biggest movie ever made,” even though it is still years away from being begun, much less released.

But the Movieguide article made us scratch our heads in amazement, wonder, and perhaps even concern. It said the movie will be about the three days Jesus spent in Hell.

That threw up an immediate red flag for us. Whereas The Passion was based on the Bible–the best we can recall, it was true to Scripture–the Bible doesn’t give any information about what happened between the crucifixion and the resurrection. If Jesus shared that information with His disciples after the resurrection, it didn’t end up in the Bible.

As Evangelical Christians, we don’t believe in Purgatory. But if Mel Gibson is a Roman Catholic, he undoubtedly  does. According to the online dictionary I checked, Purgatory is “the place where those who have died in a state of grace undergo limited torment to expiate their sins.”

Not exactly the kind of place Jesus would deserve to spend three days. After all, He lived a sinless life.

Ah, but as the Lamb of God He died for the sins of mankind. He “became” sin. So spending time in Purgatory might fit if the definition were “to expiate the sins of the world” rather than His own, which there were none of.

But there’s another issue at stake here, too. I could be wrong, but my understanding is that in traditional Jewish thought, the soul doesn’t leave the body until the body has been dead three days. Would The Resurrection go against that–or would it claim that Jesus’s body (with His soul intact) spent that time in Purgatory, only to be returned to the grave on “the first day of the week” to then break free from the tomb?

I firmly believe in the death and the resurrection of Jesus. My salvation depends on the relationship I have with God because of what Jesus did for me and for each one of us. But I can’t claim to have any knowledge of what happened between His death and His resurrection. At best, any effort on my part to explain it would be pure speculation.

I don’t think speculation is necessarily a bad thing.

But if it’s the basis for the “biggest movie ever made,” I’m a little concerned. Especially because that would make it so different from the more biblically accurate The Passion. I wonder if Mel Gibson even realizes that Evangelicals and Protestants might not be very supportive of The Resurrection.

If you agree, please join me in praying that he will have second-thoughts about what he wants to do. Your comments are welcome, whether you agree with me or not.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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Walking Sticks

I’ve seen enough pictures of the Holy Land to appreciate how important a walking stick must have been in biblical times to anyone traveling by foot. Not only for stability, but maybe even for defense against robbers and wild animals.

I’ve been reading from the Old Testament the past few weeks, and I’m in Exodus now. It’s been interesting to read once more about Moses throwing down his staff–I’m assuming that’s the equivalent of  a walking stick–and having it turn into a lively and rather frightening snake. And then God telling him to pick it up  and turning it back into a staff.

Later on, when the Children of Israel were complaining about the lack of water, God told Moses to strike a rock with his staff, and that made water flow from a rock. If I remember correctly, Moses got in trouble with the Lord later on when he tried to do the same thing on his own initiative and not because God told him to. In fact, wasn’t Moses’ disobedience the thing that prevented him from being permitted to enter the Promised Land when they finally got there?

I’ll bet Jesus used a walking stick, too. He certainly did a lot of moving around from village to village, and He and His disciples had to walk. I often wonder what His walking stick looked like. No matter what kind of wood it was made from, I suspect it had a well-worn look by the last time He used it.

I often use a walking stick, too. Not because I can’t walk without one, but because I can trip over a line in the floor. So it’s especially important for me to use one when walking at the mall or in the neighborhood. In addition to adding stability, it helps me keep my rhythm in walking. Unlike walkers in Jesus’ day, I doubt I’ll need it for defense, but you never know.

Even though a physical walking stick like you see me with in this unusual selfie adds stability to my physical movements, what’s ultimately more important is leaning on the Lord for my overall walk through daily life. David knew what he was talking about when he wrote in Psalm 23, “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Those words of assurance are comforting and good to lean on.

How about leaving a comment?

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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Fog and Haze

 

Life is full of problems, isn’t it?

Sometimes they’re little. Things that irritate or distract us, but aren’t terribly important from the viewpoint of eternity–oversleeping, burning the toast, having to scrape frost off the windshield, bogging down behind slow drivers who’re hogging the fast lane, forgetting one’s wallet.

And that’s just the beginning of the day. The list of other possibilities is endless.

No matter how small those things are, they tend to get us off to a bad start. If we’re realistic, however, we would admit that none of them is apt to change our lives for the worse permanently.

It’s like driving through a patch of fog. We know we’ll soon come to a clear spot and the rest of the fog will eventually burn off and disappear.

Too many people feel like they’re living in a haze rather than simply passing through foggy spots. Whatever they’re enduring seems endless. And hopeless. Whether their problems are financial ones that seem to keep binding them tighter, relationships that make life painful or unbearable, or a persistent physical problem the doctor can’t determine the cause of or treat successfully, those people can’t seem to see beyond the haze surrounding them.

They’re very much like these two Nicaraguan villagers. No matter how far or how fast they peddle, their road is dirt, and peddling through it will always make everything around them appear hazy.

They don’t have the power to change their situation. They can only dream of a ride like this that’s at least a little clearer:

It’s actually the same road, though, and it’s still dirty and dusty. The difference is one of perception.

God views our problems far differently from the way we do. He sees solutions we can’t even dream of.. He doesn’t enjoy watching us suffer. He wants to help.

We just need to reach out to Him in faith.

If solving the problem and removing the haze is His will, He will do so. But sometimes He seems to prefer helping us  deal with the haze rather than providing an immediate solution.

Of course that’s frustrating. But acknowledging that He’s in control can change our perception.

Rather than feeling totally overwhelmed, lost in our haze of worry and uncertainty…

 

He wants to help us see our situation more clearly:

I can’t imagine any Christian waking up each morning and saying, “Lord, give me more problems so I can depend on You more.” But I hope every true Believer begins the day with a prayer that says, “It’s all in Your hands. That’s all I need to know.”

For some reason, this blog post has been a hard one to write. I hope and pray that it’s made sense and has perhaps even spoken to a personal need. Your comments will be welcome.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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In Other Words

 

Okay, I admit it. As a writer I pay close attention to words. Obsessively close at times.

Everyone’s words. Spoken and printed. Live and recorded. Loving words and hateful ones. Kind words and unfeeling ones. Sacred words and blasphemous ones. Uplifting words and depressing words.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that I have several pet peeves regarding words and word usage. Maybe more than several, but several illustrations will suffice.

In a couple of my novels, a character expresses frustration about the use of the word awesome to describe anyone or anything but God. It’s bad enough when non-Christians are describing something pretty insignificant–“This gum is awesome”–but since they would never say God is awesome, their use of that word is simply inappropriate. Or at least a horrible exaggeration.

I have yet to find a, uh, a more awesome way to describe God’s indescribable qualities than to call Him awesome. So when a Christian says God is awesome and also describes other things that way–nothing comes close to being as awesome as God–it strikes me as a sacrilege. What makes it worse is the fact they’ve probably never thought about what they’re doing when they talk that way.

Another of my verbal pet peeves is the word famously.  I’d never heard it used that often until the last several years, although I can’t prove that its use is getting worse. Nonetheless, I keep running into famously–I can’t even stand the way it sounds, and it’s an ugly-looking word in print. Particularly in news articles. Like this line I ran into a few minutes ago, the one that inspired this post:

It follows the famous case of Kate Steinle, who was famously shot to death in San Francisco in 2015 by an illegal immigrant (etc.)

If something is famous, it’s already too well-known to need to be pointed out as being well-known. And the sentence I quoted is an especially horrific example. The “famous case”? Sorry, news writer, but it is an all-too-famous case; you don’t need to tell us that. And then to add “famously shot to death” makes that whole part of the sentence sound redundant.

Enough said. I don’t want to start sounding redundant, too.

While I’m on this soapbox, however, let me share one other word-related pet peeve. Like awesome, this one applies mostly to Christians. I’m not someone who thinks of “darn” as a substitute for “damn” or “heck” as a substitute for “hell.” And I daresay  Christians who use the word “jeez” don’t think of it the way I do.

Nonetheless, I hear jeez as a substitute for Jesus. And it’s not used in praise or adoration, but as a common expression of…whatever.

It offends me so much I’ve asked my wife not to use it when we play Words with Friends. She usually honors my request, even though the ability to get rid of a J and a Z in the same play must be frustratingly tempting.

What about you? Do these pet peeves of mine make sense? Do those things bother you, too? Are there other words that bother you? Your comment will be welcome.

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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A Prayer for Old Age

Dearest Heavenly Father–Papa–my life is just as much in Your hands as it’s always been, and I have many things to be thankful for and nothing of a particularly selfish nature to ask You for. Sure, I can think of a few things that would be nice to have, but they’re not the least necessary at this stage of my life. If they were, I feel confident You would provide them.

No, this prayer isn’t about things.

I do have concerns about my future, however. Not my eternal future, of course. I know I’ll be living with You among millions–probably billions–of other Christians when it’s my turn to “move” to Heaven.

At seventy-one, I’m not really very old. Even so, I’m conscious of the fact I’m getting older. I sense it daily. My body is no longer capable of doing things that used to be so simple, and my mind struggles all too frequently trying to remember a familiar word or the name of someone I know well. Those limitations are frightening.

But they’re are all part of aging, and it would be foolish to pray to avoid them. Instead I ask Your help in accepting and living with those limitations.

Lord, You know my greatest desire is to use the talents You’ve given me to serve You and to share the Good News of salvation with other people. You understand my frustrations at not being good at using the spoken word to do that. I’m thankful for the writing skills and musical abilities You’ve blessed me with and the spiritual truths You’ve given me to share with other people.

And the opportunities You’ve given me to share.

I’m thankful I can still participate in the nursing home ministry and share audio and video recordings of some of my songs on my website–and through YouTube. I take great pleasure in having many of my Christian novels published–and in hoping they will bless and entertain numerous readers.

Even so, the time may come when I can no longer sing or play my guitar, and the time may come when I’m no longer able to write. A time may even come when I don’t know who or where I am.

Papa God, I can’t pray “against” aging, but I beg You to keep me spiritually active to the very end. And to keep me so close to You that nothing else matters.

Please use me any way You choose…to the very end. Amen.

Do you have a prayer for old age? How about leaving a comment? 

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

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The Mouse that Roared

Funny thing. I don’t remember a whole lot about high school. Not the extra curricular activities, anyhow. Yes, I did used to enjoy attending the band concerts, and I recall going out to eat one Sunday with the members of the Spanish club–at a Mexican restaurant, of course.

Football or basketball games? Nope. I wasn’t interested in sports and–I hate to admit–I only had a limited amount of school spirit.

But one event made a humongous impression on me–a presentation of the play “The Mouse that Roared.” Amazon describes the book this way:

In Leonard Wibberley’s classic political satire, a tiny backwards country decides the only way to survive a sudden economic downturn is to declare war on the United States and lose to get foreign aid – but things don’t go according to plan.

I’m not sure I’d been thoroughly introduced to the concept of satire yet, but that didn’t matter. The idea of a tiny country going to war with America, intending to lose so it could get support from the United States, only to somehow win, seemed SO very clever.

I don’t recall details about the play–and I have yet to read the book–but I often think about it. And for what may be the strangest of reasons.

Seldom does a day pass that we don’t hear something on the news about North Korea’s apparently-insane leader and the threats he makes against the United States. As if trying to provoke us into war.

In that sense, he makes North Korea sound like a mouse roaring.

But what a difference between the book/play and North Korea. To be sure, the people of North Korea are horribly poor. But the leader–forgive me for not even wanting to learn his name–is wealthy beyond my ability to understand. And if he should declare war against us, it wouldn’t be with the intention of losing.

Not unless he’s even crazier than I think.

Nonetheless, when a country as small as North Korea holds the kind of power it appears to hold, it seems to be roaring all tooloudly.

What do you think? How about leaving a comment.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

 

          

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Talkin’ about the Weather

I wonder how many people can hold a conversation without saying something about the weather.

And why not? It’s something that’s with us constantly. We can’t get away from it, although when we’re snug inside our homes during winter or enjoying the air conditioning in summer, we can pretend the weather isn’t affecting us.

I’ll never forget Hurricane Isabel in 2003 and the effect it had on us personally. Like thousands of other Virginians, we were without electricity for almost two weeks. We visited Winn’s Baptist Church that Sunday because we’d heard they were holding a service even without power. Uh, without electrical power, that is.

But it was a spiritually powerful service, and we were really impressed at the end when Pastor Brauer asked people to divide up accordingly:

  • Those having power and willing to let people come take showers
  • Those having chain saws who would be willing to help remove problem trees

Then he told the people who needed take a shower or have a tree removed to go meet with one of those groups and get help.

Kathleen and I didn’t belong to Winn’s yet, and we didn’t realize how much longer we’d be without power, but the church was filled with such a loving spirit that I’m sure we would’ve felt comfortable asking for help.

We definitely couldn’t get away from the effects of the weather those two weeks. Probably every conversation included a lengthy discussion of Isabel.

When I was young(er), I used to say I preferred cold weather. When it’s cold, you can always put more clothes on, but when it’s hot you can’t legally take but so many clothes off, and even then you might still be too hot.

Now that I’m old(er), I find cold weather to be more debilitating. I don’t know why unless it’s just an age-related problem.

Yesterday we enjoyed a temporary heat wave–mid-thirties Fahrenheit, but it’s twenty degrees right now and only going to the mid-twenties. Even though we have heat tape on the pipes, we don’t trust it, so that means leaving a tiny bit of water dripping to keep the pipes from freezing.

See what I mean? I couldn’t even post a “normal blog post” today. I was so weather-conscious that I couldn’t keep from talking about it.

What’s your weather like? Do you have any particular preferences or dislikes regarding the weather? How about leaving a comment.

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

 

          

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