The Vital Truth of Resurrection Day

Easter

Happy Resurrection Day! Of course, it is more popularly known as ‘Easter,’ but I believe the name ‘Resurrection Day’ is more fitting to the biblical record.

Sunday, April 21, is the date in 2019 that Christians recognize and recall the truth of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead some two millennia ago.

However, also each year at this time skeptics rear their critical heads to attempt discrediting this event. Sadly, many of those same critics claim the mantle of teachers within Christianity.

One example of such was reported at a conference sponsored by the Episcopalian and Methodist denominations. One of the speakers, Robert J. Miller of Juniata College, lectured at the conference and said this,

“I don’t believe the dead body of Jesus got up and walked out of the tomb,” Miller, a Roman Catholic, similarly declared. …”We don’t find evidence that his [Jesus’] body left the tomb, that Jesus considered himself messiah or that his death would be a sort of human sacrifice to atone for sin.” Instead, Miller proposed that Jesus was to be understood as a sage.

The efforts of these critics to disparage Christian faith are morally deficient and wrong about the facts. Moreover, the goal of such people is to turn Christianity into a useful myth.

These critics also misunderstand, deliberately or otherwise, the vital nature and truth of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Resurrection Is Vital to the Existence of Christianity

EasterThe biblical record reveals the necessity of the resurrection of Christ to the faith. There is nothing more vital to the very existence of Christianity than the actual resurrection of Jesus from real death on the cross.

The apostle Paul puts it plainly in 1 Corinthians 15.

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  I Corinthians 15:17-20

There is no faith in a Christ who did not rise from the dead. If Jesus did not rise as He testified that He would, and as the biblical witness records, then Paul says you have a useless faith and no hope for escaping sin or its penalty.

Hope in Christ is based on His assurance of life eternal for those who follow Him, but it is an empty promise if He Himself did not rise from the grave. If that is the case, every person from the time of Jesus’ disciples until the present, dead or alive followed a false witness.

The fascinating thing about the critics of the resurrection, like Dr. Miller above, is that they inevitably try to deny what Jesus claimed and did, especially miraculously, while also claiming He was a great and good teacher or prophet. Miller himself claims that Jesus was really a “sage,” meaning a wise and good teacher and example.

These so-called “teachers” of the Word are trying to desperately hold onto the symbolism of Christ without any of the substance. That way, they can justify sinful actions and teaching by filling in their own version of ‘substance’ and claiming it aligns with the symbolic teachings of a wise sage.

EasterPlainly put, you can’t have it both ways skeptics. One of my favorite quotes from author C.S. Lewis of “Narnia” fame comes from another work about the reality of Christianity where he makes this very salient point.

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
― C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Thus the absolute necessity of a true, actual bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from death cannot be overstated. Unless that monumental, unprecedented event really happened, every Christian should abandon the faith and look elsewhere or nowhere for God in this life.

However, we are blessed that the resurrection did happen and Jesus is truly alive today as our Savior and LORD. The evidence for this is abundant and we begin with the words of Paul in the same chapter of 1 Corinthians.

The Resurrection Is the Historic Truth, and More

EasterThe historical case for the resurrection is extremely strong and easily refutes the nonsensical blatherings of ‘academic’ doubters. Paul himself begins chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians with multiple eyewitness testimony of the risen LORD Jesus.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 [ESV]

The key to the veracity of Paul’s writing is that Jesus appeared in person after He had died on the cross to hundreds of eyewitnesses who were alive at the time! Paul was also not the only evangelist preaching about the risen Christ at that time.

Peter [Cephas in the text] and the other apostles were preaching and teaching the resurrection as miraculous fact. The events at the cross on Friday before were well-known and Jesus’ enemies would have decimated this account if it were not true.

In the verses that follow Paul puts his and the other apostles’ character on the line. He basically says that if you find out this is a false account, then we are all false witnesses under Jewish law.

As a Pharisee, Paul would know that the penalty for committing false witness could go as high as death, [Deuteronomy 19:18-21]. In fact, all those who preached the resurrection as fact risked death from the religious and political authorities of the day.

This is the second point that gives evidence for the resurrection as a true event. The early martyrs for Christ all died believing the resurrection was real, and many of them actually saw Jesus alive after they had watched Him die on the cross!

EasterNo one risks death for something they don’t believe is true. Granted, people can and do risk life and limb for things they believe to be true but are in fact false, but that doesn’t answer the matter of the eyewitnesses.

The skeptics’ objection to this is that the witnesses saw an illusion that was really a ‘spiritual’ resurrection and not a bodily one. This means that hundreds of people all saw the identical mass illusion, which is basically an impossibility.

Furthermore, Jesus Himself rebukes this fantasy with His actions and words after He rose from the dead.

And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate before them. Luke 24:38-43 [ESV]

In other pieces, I have covered more evidence for the resurrection, such as the lack of a body in the tomb and refuted the so-called “swoon theory,” which claims Jesus didn’t really die but revived in the tomb and somehow moved the stone and escaped the notice of the Roman guards.

There are numerous excellent volumes which do a more thorough job of giving proof of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. A couple of these that I recommend are Josh McDowell’s “Evidence That Demands a Verdict,” and a small but powerful book with the title, “Faith Founded on Fact,” by John Warwick Montgomery.

If one is not particularly enamored of reading detailed books, I would recommend looking up two places I use on YouTube. One is known as Inspiring Philosophy and another is the ministry of apologist Ravi Zacharias. They have been a great aid to me in my continuing study.

The conclusion is this, followers of Jesus Christ can be sure that He has risen and overcome death and the grave, and we can all rejoice in that fact! Hallelujah, He is risen indeed!

D.T. Osborn

Sources: The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, Crossway Bibles, 2001

Featured and Top Image courtesy of Donut_Diva’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 1 courtesy of cherry red ❤’s beardy’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 2 courtesy of rogiro’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 3 courtesy of The Church of Almighty God’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image 4 courtesy of Angela Xu’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License

All other sources linked or cited in the text

Originally published in TIL Journal

Advertisements

The Reign Will Return

Ominous clouds grew more abundant, and the earth trembled beneath the old wooden cross. The winds didn’t whisper – they yelled His name, Jesus, the son of God! Wait – that was two thousand years ago… or was it?

Sitting in a cloud darkened room, I hear the rumble of the shaking heavens. The day was Good Friday, but what was so “good” about it? Religiously speaking, it was the day God’s son brutally lost His life. It was so sad! Jesus lived and died with the knowledge He was only here to fulfill a prophecy for mankind. The weight of the world rested upon His shoulders. Was His death in vain? Surely, I pray it’s not true!

One innocent man was sent to earth to change our thinking, but I wonder, what did we learn? This Easter weekend, the earth will recall the event of two thousand years ago. Astronomers announced a very rare occurrence – the moon will turn pink (of all colors) and a high energy field will surround the earth. Coincidence? I wonder and gasp at the thought of Christ watching to see who’s paying attention to His signs. Alone in my conscience, I tremble at the possibility.

Jesus didn’t live His life according to anyone else. The parables He taught was open for interpretation so He could communicate with listeners. He loved and believed in mankind with all His heart and soul. As in ages ago, amongst the belting rain and clapping thunder, can we sympathize with the saddest biblical day? For Christians, His death still vibrates in our lives, thousands of years later.

Good Friday… whoever connects “Good” with the death of our Savior? He came to release the sin Adam and Eve placed on us at the beginning of time. Jesus made a stance and was crucified to save the world. If you think you suffer today, examine the agony God put His only son through to offer us everlasting life. How can one ever repay the Lord’s mercy? How do we repent enough of our sin?

But, the sun rises on Easter, with the promise of a brighter day. The folded loincloth left behind, which covered Jesus’ face in the tomb, meant, “I’m coming back!” Let us celebrate a second chance to make it right for the Lord! As for myself, I can’t wait to stare in the eye of diversity and shake the hand of a man named Christ Jesus. We have nothing to fear when we do not question our faith.

Let the earth tremor, for our wonderful Lord created a man we call our King, who died to give us life again. The reign will return in His “Good”ness forever! www.danabicksauthor.com

May everyone have a wonderful and blessed Easter!

__________________________

Jesus’ Ministry

It’s the Holy Week for Christians, and I reverently remember our Lord, Christ Jesus. In the quiet of my domain, I search the Bible for answers to my questions such as what was Jesus’ real ministry on earth? Did Jesus practice a religion or was He a rebel who rode off into the desert eluding Roman authorities?

Jesus spread the principles of entering God’s kingdom to all walks of life in Galilee, Capernaum, Judea, and Nazareth. He started at about the age of thirty at the River Jordan near Bethany-across-the-Jordan where He called His first five disciples. Though our Savior was Jewish, his ministry often taught parables and verses from the “sacred books” which we know today as the Old Testament. But, sometimes He referred to the Hebrew Bible, specifically the five books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), the Torah, and the Book of Psalms.

As you may detect, Jesus disdained religious discord. He wanted people to love one another and love God. This was the basic concept of all His messages and the only way to heaven. Love and kindness is not a religion but an emotion, so He reached listeners through relationships rather than synagogues. When we integrate the theory of one religion into our life, God’s lessons often become overshadowed by hypocrisy, hatred, and division. Today’s religious persecution of humanity is such an example of this concept. Instead of loving one another and maintaining the state of our hearts, we fight to the end defending our religious rights. This was the exact reason Jesus’ ministry remained non-denominational – one church under Christ Jesus.

The parables Jesus taught became His primary method of speaking His Father’s words. He rarely used texts out of scriptures nor explained or commented on them. He considered this “preaching,” not teaching; instead, He left Himself open to interpretation and offered a story for listeners to ponder and ask, how can this get me into heaven? The Parable of the Mustard Seed was Jesus’ favorite.

THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF JESUS’ MINISTRY

LOVE

At the core of Jesus’ ministry were a few critical impressions which He consistently shared with everyone; foremost was love. Believers asked Him occasionally which commandment was the greatest, and His response stood with, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and all your strength.” His second favorite was, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love is the nucleus of everything right and perfect in the world. Jesus taught examples of love and compassion by healing the sick, restoring eyesight, and feeding the hungry. But, He emphasized loving our enemies for even though they are wicked, they also need love. “Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.”

FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness was the second most important concept to Jesus. He spoke we must repent of sins and ask God for forgiveness so God may forgive our wrongdoings. Jesus claimed we must forgive every time we are wronged. “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

JUDGING OTHERS

Jesus also warned His listeners not to judge others since we are all sinners. Though born sinless, He still had mercy and compassion for mankind. He often told the story of an adulteress woman about to be stoned to death (found in John 8:1-30). Jesus told her accusers, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her.” They all departed and Jesus told the woman, “Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.”

WEALTH AND POVERTY

Jesus did not speak it is a sin to be wealthy, only that we give our riches back to the Lord and others in need. He spoke of the affluent becoming too attached to material possessions for when we die, our “objects of happiness” will mean nothing. Christ used the example of a rich man who lived by all the other commandments, and he approached Him to find out how to have eternal life. Jesus replied, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” The man became very sad because he could not part with his riches. Jesus later told His disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Doesn’t say much for the Powerball today, does it?

Let us analyze your strength, as a Christian, in this situation. If Jesus were to come to you today and ask you to give up your home and all possessions to follow Him, WOULD YOU DO IT? If the answer is yes, you may find eternal salvation in heaven. If the answer is no, it is time to question your faith and love of money and objects. What means more to you – living as one with God, now and forevermore, or exploiting the riches which cease after you die and you stand in judgment by the Lord? Will it be God or your self-centeredness?

HYPOCRISY

Jesus learned of hypocrisy by observing the Pharisees. They prayed in the streets and always attended the temple, but the inside, their contemptible hearts were made of stone. He loathed hypocrisy in any form. Our sovereignty to God is a private matter and not to be exploited in crowds. You may ask why this is imperative? Because we are sinners, our actions often fall short of God’s requirements. If we expose our praise and inner thoughts of God to outsiders, yet our daily activities show different, we become deemed a hypocrite and severely judged. Many non-believers will not follow the church because of this very reason.

PRAYER

Jesus often taught the nature and power of prayer. He emphasized “The Lord’s Prayer” and said it was not for show but a private matter. “When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Prayers are to be directed to God the Father only, not angels, saints, or Mary. Jesus considered chanting of prayers to be of pagan roots, now observed in Catholic and Orthodox churches. He asked we use prayers to develop a close, personal relationship with God.

Do we see the irony in Jesus’ instruction on praying? How many large churches, today, organize huge crusades and festivals to bring people closer to God? How often do we receive an invite on Facebook to join a Watch Party where someone is screaming out the name of the Lord and asking for forgiveness? The idea churches adopted prayer methods against Jesus’ teaching is quite a dose to swallow. They walk in total disregard of the foundation of God’s word!

Christ Jesus tested and prevailed in His ministry of love, right down to His last days. He was a sinless mortal man leading the way for humanity to follow in His footsteps. Yes, Jesus paid the ultimate price for His beliefs in love.

On this day, Good Friday, I plead my faith to Him, under the cross which He brutally hung on for me and all sinners. I also pray my Father will bless my ongoing ministry for all who come searching to fill a void in their heart with our Lord, Jesus Christ. And finally I pray, friends, you find God’s peace and love on this holy weekend. www.danabicksauthor.com

_____________________

The Sleeping Saints

A simple bible scripture quietly wrapped up within the Easter season, placed a conviction on sinners and nonbelievers. Christ’s crucifixion was not in vain. Allow me to test your knowledge of an event which surrounded the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. It is written in the Apostle’s Creed.

Did you know many saints were raised from the dead along with Jesus? It’s a shocking revelation, written only in the Book of Matthew, and overlooked by many because the occurrence is not mentioned by any other author of the Holy Word. But, here it remains…

Matthew 27: 52-53

52and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

As Christ died to take away our sins, the heavens turned an angry gray and black. The earth rattled and split rocks on the sacred grounds where He hung on the cross at Golgotha. God’s power showed His wrath to the Romans who did not believe He sent Jesus to earth to prove His existence. What better way to convince them than to raise the sleeping saints from Jerusalem?

The tombs of many people were broke open in a strong earthquake. After Jesus arose from the dead, the saints raised out of their graves and returned to Jerusalem, known as the Holy City. Friends and family instantly recognized them. Though we do not know for sure who these holy people were, they stayed alive during the forty days Jesus continued on earth, after His death. It is suggested they returned, along with Jesus, to heaven.

Can we not testify this biblical event immortalizes God’s power over life and death? The resurrection of the sleeping saints reveals all believers should have no fear of death, for one day, we too, will be raised to join our Almighty Father. This gives us reason to have hope in eternal salvation, and perhaps, assurance our sins will be forgiven in heaven if we become faithful followers of God today.

Image courtesy of Redeeming Grace Church

_____________________

EDITOR’S COMMENTS:

Matthew’s Bible passage swirls in controversy. Biblical scholars feel there is no validity to it because the raised dead, seen by others in Jerusalem, was not referenced anywhere else in the Bible. They suggest we should understand this passage to be a preview of our resurrection at the End Times. But, would resurrecting the dead really be so hard to believe since it was a divine act?

Based on 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, this event would undoubtedly undermine Jesus’s resurrection. Theologians believe God has resurrected no one to eternal life as an immortal spirit yet—except Christ.

As we’ve always commented on other controversial blogs we cannot disprove any biblical passages in this life. Our wonderful Lord wrote the Bible with the message it is never to be deciphered as we see fit, therefore in my eyes…so it shall stay.

“Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

www.danabicksauthor.com

____________________

Quintessence of Faith

She stood under the cross motionless and watched her son’s holy blood dripping upon her feet. Bitterness and tremendous grief overwhelmed her soul while she stayed with Him until the last minute. The reverence of heaven exists as we can only imagine what it’s like to witness your child brutally crucified at the hands of haters. But, Mary, according to scriptures, remained passive and resisted the temptation to protest the unfairness of Jesus’ prosecution.

It is often said there is nothing worse than outliving your child. I can attest to this as I watched my grandmother sob while her son laid dying on a hospital bed. I can only imagine Mary’s anguish as she witnessed the excruciating pain Jesus suffered from the stakes in His feet and hands. In her glorious strength, still, Mary fought off her own inhibitions to be first, a mother. She knew she would make the ultimate sacrifice when she accepted God’s invitation to give birth to a Savior for Simeon warned her of Jesus’ fate.

Mary was the quintessence of faith in God. As an inexperienced, pregnant mother, she knew the truth about her son’s existence. It was her destiny to deliver a child who would save the world. Throughout Jesus’ life, Mary often feared for her son’s life, but her intuition spoke He was in God’s hands. However, on Good Friday, she must have questioned why Jesus was sent to earth to save sinners, only to be killed by them. I’m sure she also wasn’t prepared for the method of His brutal death.

It is my observation, though, Mary is to be the ultimate example of strength for parents who lose their child to senseless religious crimes. When we defend our Creator, it becomes a movement towards the only ray of light which exists in this world’s darkness. We stand under the cross to eliminate chaos and bitterness, spreading the love of God. How can it be wrong?

Mary could have easily fallen into the trap of screaming and attacking evil-doers at the presence of Jesus’s injustice. But, she walked with loyalty to the Lord in gentleness, forgiveness, and peace.

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

What a model of discipleship Mary portrays to Christians today! Let us stand in strength, under the weight of the cross, and resist the shadows of evil.

Praise His holy name! www.danabicksauthor.com

___________________________

_____________________

Off to See the Wizard

The highlight of my Easter season, when I was a child, was watching the nail-biting TV movie, “The Wizard of Oz.” I remember my tears flowing as Dorothy handed Toto over to Miss Gulch on the bike. But today, I look at this Academy Award Nominated motion picture in a different light. From a Christian writer’s perspective, the underlying message and morals in this movie are phenomenal! Let me take you for a walk down my yellow brick road…

DOROTHY

Dorothy was a character on a soul-searching mission. She was an orphan, adopted by her aunt and uncle in Kansas, yet she appeared to have a deep-rooted longing to find a true home. Insecurities plagued her because she didn’t fit in with the older relatives, and a mean Miss Gulch wanted to take her only friend, Toto, away from her. Auntie Em became frustrated with Dorothy’s antics and yelled, “Find yourself a place where you won’t get into any trouble.” Dorothy picked up Toto and said, “Is there such a place Toto? Not a place you can get to by boat or train.”

Aren’t most of us looking to fill an empty spot inside our soul – a place where there isn’t any sadness? Always seeking, we get mixed up in wrong relationships, addictions, and false idols. When we finally accept Jesus Christ into our hearts, we soon realize we have everything we need daily; and it’s not a place you can get to by boat or train.

But, Dorothy, like so many people, run from their problems. A tornado swept her from safety, and she entered another world. Her only path home was down the yellow brick road. The Good Witch of the North, Glinda, warned her to never venture off its path for darkness loomed in every corner. What a great metaphor! We must walk through life on God’s golden road only for Satan will quickly invade if our guard is down. Temptations of sin can fog a mind when difficulties become overwhelming; prayers are the answer to tackle the troubles. Seek God first before using your own solution.

The central theme of the movie centers on Dorothy’s quest to go to the Emerald City; she sought the Wizard of Oz’s help to take her back to Kansas. Along the way, the Wicked Witch of the West and her minions attack her and her friends. This is so like Satan trying to intervene in our life! By the end of the film, Dorothy discovered the Wizard was a phony, a false idol if you will. She is devastated until Glinda (her guardian angel, perhaps?) magically came to her rescue. “Dorothy,” she said, “You’ve always had the power to go back to Kansas.” What lesson did she learn from the whole experience? A heart’s desire isn’t any further than your own backyard (or in my case, a bible). The love and acceptance she wanted were always at her doorstep.

The moral of Dorothy’s story is God’s power makes our life fantastic for He is greater than any physical object or place we seek on our own. As we come to know Jesus Christ, we understand He promises to guide us because the love for His children is eternal. When we resist the enemy, we draw closer to Him, and He becomes our home. The solution to our problems is right under our nose.

SCARECROW AND A BRAIN

The first friend Dorothy met on the yellow brick road was the happy-go-lucky scarecrow who wanted the Wizard to give him a brain. It’s quite funny, often throughout the movie, he acted as though he had a brain and common sense. How frequently do we take action as if we don’t have sense? We beat ourselves up for the mistakes we make along the way and we lose forgiveness in the shuffle of stupidity. God forgives us our sins so why hold on to regrets? Did you ask God to clear your heart and mind of all the clutter which pulls your progress down? Did you diligently pray for forgiveness?

At the end of the show, it’s quite ironic the Wizard actually did not fulfill the scarecrow’s wishes. He only gave him a diploma of higher thinking. This character simply lacked self-confidence. The Scarecrow sought a higher power to confirm he could be smart. Little did he know, confidence comes from a relationship with Christ. Yes, we must be secure in God’s Word and not in our flesh. He gives us hope in times of adversity.


THE TIN MAN AND A HEART

A second character who befriended Dorothy was the rusted Tin Man. He wanted the Wizard to give him a heart, hence emotions. The Wizard of Oz told him “a heart will never be practical until it is made unbreakable.”  The Tin Man quickly learned what a broken heart was when he said goodbye to Dorothy.

Suffering hearts is a common thread among humanity. We have to trust God has a better plan for our life, thus healing us from the inside out. He replaces the feelings of rejection and abandonment with a sense of renewal. All we have to do is pick up the Bible and allow His words to soothe our soul. Once we connect with Jesus, everything changes and nothing or no one has the same power over us again. God forms a shield to protect our innocence.

THE COWARDLY LION AND COURAGE

Onward to Emerald City, the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Dorothy trotted arm-in-arm. Suddenly a large curly-haired lion jumped out from behind a tree and tried to scare the trio. The ferocious lion growled and snapped at them until Dorothy slapped him. “You should be ashamed of yourself!” The lion quickly retreated behind his own tail and cried. Throughout the movie, his fear reared its ugly head. Could the great Wizard give him courage?

We sometimes experience scary situations in life – perhaps bullying, roadblocks, and other fear factors. Hard times are unavoidable, but we can count on God to pick us up, dust us off, and help us through these failures. An important message from this is Satan instigates fear. My favorite saying is, “Where there is fear, there is no faith.” Let us rely on God for strength to conquer our personal battles for He is always in control and will not abandon us. Be of good courage for the Lord is with us every step of the way!

OUR CHRISTIAN WALK

The Wizard of Oz, though not written with religion in mind, can teach us about our Christian walk with God. We should examine our relationship with the Lord and strive, every day, to be more like Him. Draw on the intelligence of our brain; maintain a heart open and sincere and pray for the courage to stand up for our belief. If we stray along the way to the Emerald City, known as heaven, our Lord Jesus Christ will be there to lift us up. Just as Dorothy had to “learn it for herself,” our journey helps us grow to be the best Christians we can be for eternal salvation. Everything we need is in the power of God, not the ruby slippers.

The next time you watch this excellent motion picture, look for the hidden Christian parables – you will be amazed at how many you’ll witness!

www.danabicksauthor.com

_____________________

The Halo of Life

The thought of newly transplanted foliage thriving in the winter’s cold air enticed me to pray for God’s help. I raised the living room shades, and our tree was gleaming in His morning rays. It began in February as lifeless vegetation, a root ball almost too heavy for my wife and I to plant in the ground. We gently slid it into a wheelbarrow and positioned this poor sapling in front of the window. With high hopes and lots of prayers, we asked God to bless our achievement and to nourish this impressive little ten-foot red Dogwood tree.

I’m sure most of my readers heard or read all the versions of “Legend of the Dogwood Tree.” Our Dogwood, though, became special when a supernatural event occurred within a week of planting it in the yard. Amongst the dead winter sod, and obvious to the naked eye, an indisputable halo of green grass sprouted around its base. I showed my wife and a neighbor, in disbelief, and we sat to praise God. In all my years of landscaping, I never witnessed something so mystical! Halos mean the Kingdom of light, and that which dons them has spiritual power and life. Was this tree put in my hands for a reason?

A halo of green grass…image by Bicks Books LLC.

Last night, a short month after its birth to our home, the cold rains blew; this morning we opened the blinds only to discover God’s magnificent gift. Our most prized possession, the red Dogwood tree, blossomed with brilliant crimson blooms and just in time for Easter. Our hard-earned efforts yielded God’s acknowledgment of thanks for giving life to this little dogwood tree, now a sanctuary standing ever tall.

Maybe this halo occurrence is quirky to some but we’ve planted many trees and bushes in our yard, and nothing appears abnormal about them. But the little red Dogwood brightens our day, blooming blood-stained petals in the shape of a cross, along with its own halo. The Lord, no doubt, is very much in control of His creations, and perhaps He anoints them with His messages… just like this tree.

Jesus donned a crown of thorns and was crucified on a wooden cross for our sins. Whether it was a dogwood He hung from (as legend claims), or another type of wood is of scant importance. Living in the consciousness of Christ is the most essential part of being a Christian. Be aware of God’s signs – they are all around you, even in nature. Let’s understand everything good originates from Him, and He wants us to protect the halo of life.

God bless you as we prepare for the Easter season.

_________________________

__________________________

Available at all booksellers!

The light and darkness of the world?

The period of lent that led into Easter was a period of renewal. We suffer with Jesus throughout Lent, and our sins are expected to die with Jesus on Good Friday when he dies on the cross.

As Jesus resurrects into a new life on Easter Sunday, we who are his followers are supposed to resurrect too from our sinfulness into a new life. This means we leave sin behind to become new creations – the light of the world.

Are you a new creation? Have you left sin behind? Are you determined to fight sin and stand out as the light of the world as Jesus Christ?

May God grant you the grace to be that – a new creation; the light of the world; fully what he created you to be so that you will help make the world a place that people will feel happy, comfortable and safe to live in.

For now, the world is far from what God created it to be because instead of being the light of the world, a lot of us are the darkness of the world.

Special week for Christians

If you are a Christian, this week is very special to you, isn’t it? Just how special it is, of course, depends on each individual Christian.

There are Christians and there are Christians. And this is an opportunity to speak out with conviction about what you believe in as a Christian. Do you have the courage of your faith? Tell the world what you believe.

If you are a non Christian you have the opportunity to express love and solidarity with your Christian brothers and sisters. We are waiting.