Weekly Thoughts | The Resurrection

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most central and significant events in the entire Bible. It stands as a cornerstone of the Christian faith, and its importance cannot be overstated. As C.S. Lewis famously said, “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 a 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.”

The historical evidence for the resurrection is strong. As a matter of fact, there is more evidence for the resurrection of Jesus than for any other event in ancient history. There are multiple sources that attest to the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, including both Christian and non-Christian sources. These sources all point to the truth of the resurrection.

The early Christians were willing to die for the truth of the resurrection, despite the fact that they could have saved their lives by renouncing their belief. This willingness to lay down their lives for what they believed to be true serves as evidence of the reality of the resurrection. Furthermore, there were many eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ resurrection, including those of His disciples. Many of these accounts were written down and passed on to future generations. Finally, we have archaeological evidence that corroborates certain details of the resurrection narrative. This serves as additional evidence for the historicity of the resurrection.

The disciples’ transformation from cowards to bold evangelists is difficult to explain apart from the resurrection. Before Jesus’ death, the disciples were afraid and unsure of what to do. However, after Jesus’ resurrection, they were suddenly filled with courage and conviction, boldly proclaiming the good news of the gospel. This transformation can only be explained by the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. The resurrection was the event that changed the disciples from cowards to bold proclaimers of the gospel.

The empty tomb serves as evidence for the resurrection. All four gospels record that on Easter morning, Jesus’ tomb was found empty by his followers. This empty tomb serves as evidence that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, as no other explanation can adequately account for it. Furthermore, the Jewish leaders, who had so desperately sought to discredit the resurrection, were unable to explain the empty tomb. This serves as further evidence of the resurrection.

The testimonies of those who encountered the risen Jesus are significant. The gospels record multiple accounts of people who encountered the risen Jesus and were transformed by the experience. These testimonies serve as powerful evidence for the truth of Jesus’ resurrection. For example, the apostle Thomas was initially skeptical of the resurrection, but changed his mind after encountering the risen Jesus. This is just one of many examples of how the testimonies of those who encountered the risen Jesus serve as powerful evidence for the resurrection.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an event that has had a profound impact on history and continues to shape our lives today. Its validity and importance cannot be denied, and it stands as a cornerstone of the Christian faith. With all of this in mind, we can confidently affirm that Jesus did indeed rise from the dead and is alive today.

Weekly Thoughts | Random Chance

Random chance is a concept that has been around for centuries. It is the idea that events and outcomes are determined by luck or fortune, rather than by skill or intelligence. In the Christian worldview, this idea is fundamentally wrong because it fails to take into account the sovereignty of God.

The Bible teaches us that God is in control of all things. In Proverbs 16:33, we are told that “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.” This verse is clear in teaching us that God is ultimately in control of our lives and the outcomes of our decisions. We may think that chance or luck are at work in our lives, but God is always at work.

God has a plan and purpose for our lives. He has a specific plan for each of us, and He uses all things to accomplish His will. Romans 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” This verse tells us that even though we may not understand what’s happening in our lives, God is using it all for our good and His glory. We may not always understand why things are happening, but we can rest assured that God is using it all for His good purposes.

Random chance also fails to take into account the power of prayer. We may think that random chance is what determines events and outcomes, but the Bible teaches us that prayer has the power to shape the course of our lives. James 5:16 says “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” This verse tells us that when we pray, God is listening and will act on our behalf. We may feel like random chance is in control, but we can be sure that God hears our prayers and answers them according to His will.

Finally, random chance fails to take into account the power of faith. We may think that luck and chance are what determine our outcomes in life, but the Bible teaches us that faith has the power to shape our lives. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This verse tells us that when we have faith in God, He will work in our lives in ways we cannot see. We may not understand why things are happening in our lives, but we can trust that God is at work behind the scenes, shaping our lives according to His plan.

Random chance is a concept that has been around for centuries, but it fails to take into account the sovereignty of God, the power of prayer, and the power of faith. These three elements are essential components of a Christian worldview and should be taken into account when considering random chance. Ultimately, we can trust that God is in control and He will use all things for His good purposes.

Weekly Thoughts | The Importance of Church Attendance

Attending church regularly is essential for Christians to experience the fullness of their faith. It is not just an opportunity to worship and fellowship with other believers, but also provides a number of spiritual benefits. Regular church attendance offers a number of advantages, including developing and nurturing a relationship with God, creating a sense of community, staying focused and disciplined in our faith, and allowing us to stay accountable to God. Through regular church attendance, we can deepen our understanding of God and His plan for our lives, grow in our faith, stay grounded in our faith, stay motivated and energized in our spiritual journey, and feel supported by those who are also on their spiritual journey. For Christians, attending church on a regular basis is an essential part of their faith journey.

First, regular church attendance allows us to develop and nurture a relationship with God. Worship services provide an opportunity to learn more about God and His Word, as well as to spend time in prayer and meditation. Regular worship also allows us to grow in our faith and deepen our understanding of God and His plan for our lives.

Second, regular church attendance provides a sense of community. Going to church provides a safe and welcoming environment where believers can connect and build relationships with others. This helps us to stay grounded in our faith and encourages us to grow in our relationships with each other.

Third, regular church attendance can help us stay focused and disciplined in our faith. We can become easily distracted by the world and its temptations but attending church can help keep us focused on God and His will. Additionally, hearing a sermon or participating in a devotional can help us stay motivated and energized in our spiritual journey.

Finally, regular church attendance can help us stay accountable to God:

We can be challenged to live out God’s Word and be held accountable for our actions. Additionally, we can be encouraged by others in our congregation and gain a better understanding of what it means to be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ.

Through regular church attendance, we can develop and nurture a relationship with God, create a sense of community, stay focused and disciplined in our faith, and stay accountable to God. We can also deepen our understanding of God and His plan for our lives, grow in our faith, stay grounded in our faith, stay motivated and energized in our spiritual journey, and feel supported by those who are also on their spiritual journey. By attending church regularly, Christians can live out their faith in a way that honors God and serves as an example to others.

The Divinity of Christ at Christmas

Introduction

Christmas is a time for celebration, joy, and peace. It is a time for families to come together and to reflect on the beauty of life and the people in it. It is a time to take stock of the things that matter most, like love, faith, and hope. The Christmas season also serves as an important reminder of the birth of Jesus Christ and God’s plan for the world. The Christmas story begins with the promise of a Messiah who would be sent by God to save the world from sin and bring salvation to mankind. This promise is fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ, who Christians believe to be the one and only son of God. The divinity of Christ has long been a source of debate among theologians and scholars. However, when one looks at the biblical accounts and other historical evidence, it becomes clear that Jesus was always intended to be more than just a moral teacher or prophet – he was and is God himself. In this essay, I will make a case for the divinity of Christ by discussing the prophecies of his coming, the fulfillment of those prophecies in his life, his miracles and other supernatural acts, his ministry on earth, and his resurrection from death.

Prophecy Fulfilled: The Coming of the Messiah

The prophecy that God would send a messiah can be found throughout both the Old and New Testaments. As far back as Genesis 3:15 there are predictions about a savior who will set humanity free from sin and death: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” In fact, there are over three hundred prophecies in Scripture that detail events in the life of Jesus Christ before they occurred. These prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus’s life in remarkable ways. He was born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), descended from King David (Isaiah 11:1), lived a sinless life (2 Corinthians 5:21), performed numerous miracles (John 10:37-38), was rejected by his own people (Isaiah 53:3), was betrayed by one of his own disciples (Zechariah 11:12-13), was crucified (Psalms 22:16-18) and rose from the dead (Psalms 16:10). Each one of these prophecies concerning Jesus’s life were fulfilled in him, making it impossible to deny that he was indeed God’s chosen Messiah.

Miracles & Supernatural Acts

Throughout Jesus’s ministry he performed numerous miracles – from feeding five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish (Matthew 14:13-21) to raising Lazarus from death (John 11:43-44). These miraculous acts are evidence that Jesus had divine power over nature, an ability that only God could possess. Additionally, he had knowledge about things only God could know – such as what people were thinking (John 2:24-25) or who was going to betray him (Matthew 26:21-25). Moreover, Jesus claimed to be equal with God in other ways too. He said he could forgive sins (Mark 2:5-10) which only God has authority to do, he claimed authority over death (John 8:51-57), and he said that anyone who had seen him had seen the Father (John 14:9). All this provides further evidence that Jesus was much more than just a teacher or prophet – he was truly divine.

Ministry on Earth

Jesus did not come simply as a teacher or prophet; he came as Savior and Redeemer. He preached about love for others, mercy towards sinners, forgiveness for wrongdoings, hope for those who are lost, compassion for those in need, faith in God’s goodness, humility towards one another and so much more. He also healed countless people, cast out demons and inflicted justice where it was needed throughout his travels on earth. By doing all these things Jesus showed us how we should live our lives according to God’s will. Not only did he preach about it but he also practiced what he preached through his ministry on earth. These acts are further proof that Jesus is more than just a man – he is indeed divine as well.

Resurrection

Perhaps most importantly of all is Jesus’s resurrection from death after being crucified on the cross. His resurrection serves as proof that God accepted Jesus’s sacrifice for our sins which means we are now able to have everlasting life with him in heaven if we accept him as our Lord and Savior. In addition to this biblical evidence of this incredible miracle there is also evidence from non-biblical sources such as Jewish historian Josephus Flavius who wrote about Jesus Christ around 95 AD which serve as further proof that Jesus really did rise from death after being crucified on the cross.

Conclusion

When viewed together all this evidence serves to strongly support the case for the divinity of Christ. From prophecy fulfilled in his life to his resurrection from death – we see clearly how Jesus is not just another prophet or teacher but truly divine as well. This truth is fundamental to Christianity and at no time is it more apparent than during Christmas when we celebrate Christ’s birth into this world – a birth that marked not just an event but a turning point in history as well. So let us take this season as an opportunity to remember this incredible truth – that Jesus was always intended to be God himself – so that we may forever keep faith in his love and grace for us all!

Meditations | The God of Peace

The world has gone crazy, hasn’t it? We have mandates for a vaccine to just be able to work, people are being banned from their own countries and the world is holding its breath as tensions rise across the globe resulting in rioting. Our relationships are failing due to a lack of communication, distrust, and misplaced morals. Our health is faltering since hospitals are understaffed, too few beds for patients, and stressed out medical professionals. Poverty. Destruction. Peril. Everywhere you look bad news is inbound. 

What are we to do? It makes you just want to stay under the covers in fear. 

In the first century A.D the ancient Christians were under the same type of assault. Caesar Nero made the case that all Christians were to be rounded up and executed for, at least publicly, burning down Rome. During their trials, however, there wasn’t enough evidence to convict them of arson, so what did he do? According to Tacitus, a Roman historian, Nero accused them of “hating humanity”. Then they were slaughtered. They were crucified, they were beheaded, exiled, or burned at the stake. Nero would use them as garden lights while having parties for dignitaries. 

Paul was very aware of what was going on, he was sent to prison himself for preaching the gospel, as a proud Roman citizen Paul appealed directly to Caesar and during that time Nero (most likely under God’s grace) allowed Paul to leave. Paul knew the trials ahead for the Christians and would often write to the churches in epistles. These epistles were not only there to reprimand the churches, but also to encourage them in this difficult time. 

Phillipians 4 has some fantastic encouragement for Christians as we see our current world falling down around us and the governmental order changing. Paul knows the persecution that these Christians will go through and are going through as he went through it himself. He starts off his message with this “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice.”(Phil 4:4) This is marked insanity, these people are about to be KILLED and Paul is telling them to rejoice? Then in Philippians 4:5, Paul tells them to be reasonable, they’re about to be hung, crucified and beheaded, but they are to be reasonable? Right after he tells them what to do in these times and this is what I really want to examine. In Phillipians 4:6-7 he tells them: 

“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the PEACE of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

So First of all he says, “The Lord is at hand”. He takes the words from the conversation between God and Jeremiah in Jeremiah 23 God asks Jeremiah a rhetorical question, “Am I only a God at hand and not a God far away?”(Jer 23:23), the God replies “Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? Do I not fill the heavens and Earth?”(Jer 23:24). Paul tells us that the Lord is always here, he’s always with us. Christ never forsakes or leaves His own. As you read this right now, He is with you. 

So because He is always with us, what does Paul tell us? “Don’t be anxious about anything”! Christ, the God of creation is always with us, why would we be anxious? We have the ability to go to the very real Lord of this Earth in prayer to ask for ANYTHING. So he concludes this thought with “In Everything by prayer and supplication with THANKSGIVING make your requests be made known to God.” Paul has gone insane here, Not only does he tells us to stop being anxious, but he also tells us to be THANKFUL for whatever is making us anxious. 

I want to stop right here, why should we be thankful? Your spouse leaves you, your house burns down, whatever happens and what exactly in that very moment is there to be thankful for? You throw your fists up to the heavens and get angry. 

The very fact that you can still be angry should make you fall on your knees. God could have taken your life, He could have done a lot worse yet, He is in complete control. So even if you are angry, even if you are sad or depressed about life’s situation, you are still alive and you can thank God that He is still on His throne. 

And because you know He is there, because you know that He is on His throne, because you know whatever is causing you anxiety, is also reminding you that you are alive, as Christians, we have a blessed hope that God is always in control. That should put us in perfect peace. Indeed Paul writes that it is a peace that passes all understanding. 

See, the God of peace isn’t only the God of peace because that’s His attribute, He is the God of peace because He is always in control. He is a God at hand and far away, He always sees us and knows our hearts. And now because of our Savior in Heaven, we have a mediator who can relay our emotions in an earthly way to the Godhead. So our God can more personally affect each of our emotions differently to give us peace in our hearts and minds. 

Meditations | Independent Toddlers

No, I’m not starting a #Dadblog. I’m definitely not one of those types. So don’t worry your little heart, but I am going to talk about being a whiny, bratty, rotten toddler. And I’m going to accuse you of being that too. You have anxiety, you cry, you throw tantrums. You’re probably nothing more than a grown toddler.

Now think of that toward perfection, think of that toward our Father in Heaven. It’s funny because when we’re little-and I’ve mentioned this before-we look up to our parents for everything, including how to act. We instantly become embarrassed as a toddler when we see other children acting up or screaming in a store because that’s how we act sometimes. Now think about it like this, we’re in a stressful situation and maybe no one is helping. Our advice from our friends suck, our hypothetical partner isn’t helping and we’re a sobbing, angry, anxious mess.

Now, as a parent looking at a toddler doing this, we’re instantly annoyed to no end. Why can’t they just quit and realize it’s not that bad! Why can’t they just know this is for the best? Why….we ask. God asks the same thing, he wonders why we’re not listening, why we’ve blocked Him out in all of our anxiety and urge for control. He doesn’t understand why we can’t just give in and stop sobbing.

In the Bible we are told either by angels, by prophets or by God himself to “Fear not”. 365 times in the King James Version of the Bible is this phrase used or something like it.

In Genesis 15:1, God comes to Abram and tells him “Fear not, for I am your shield; your reward shall be very great”. Why would a non-personal, inauthentic, creator care so much about one man? Even though God chose him as his patriarch for a civilization, why would he care that much to reassure him of anything?

After the Israelites are established as a nomadic nation, God comes to Joshua, the chosen leader of the people and tells him multiple times to “not fear” within the same conversation! Joshua 1:9 starts off with “Have I not commanded you?”

Finally, we get to the most quoted part of scripture that we can look at concerning this, and at this point I think it’s amazing. Over thousands of years God told whoever He was speaking to, “Don’t be afraid”. It reminds me of helping a toddler on the monkey bars. We tell them don’t be afraid! I’ve got you! Just put your hand over hand on the bars and you’ll make it through. We even make feeble attempts to show them. No matter what we do, they still look at us in sheer terror. “Mom/Dad, I’m afraid”, “Mom/Dad, I can’t do this”, “Mom/Dad, will you hold me?”

In Isaiah 41:10 God tells the coastlands through Isaiah the prophet, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God; I will Strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous righthand.” But this time, after thousands of years of saying this, He says something else in Isaiah 41: “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand…” Thats the kicker isn’t it?

We go and tell them on the monkey bars what to do, how to do it and we reassure them we aren’t going to let them fall. More often than not, what happens? We end up holding them across. God finally said, “you’re incapable of trusting in me as I want, so I’m going to make sure you know I’m there. I will walk with you and hold your hand through it.”

We as adults are nothing more than independent toddlers. We make the wrong choices, we disagree with what God explicitly tells us to do, and just like the Israelites we go after every shiny thing that comes along. What happens when bad things happen then? What happens when God chastises us? What happens when everything falls apart? We run to Him. We tell Him we’ve been bad, we tell Him we’ve screwed up, we tell Him the horrible rotten things about us, because He’s the only one that can make them stop.

As I’ve said before in prior posts, God always gives us an exodus. Even if we have to pay for our bad choices we know he is “Faithful and Just to forgive us of our sins”, it may not be that moment and it may not be a year later, but God will always make sure He holds our hands through it. Because you and I are far short of glorified adulthood in the eyes of God.

Meditations | A Light Burden

Today I thought we would do something a little different than we usually do. I thought we would perform a commentary on a certain aspect of scripture, almost like an expository sermon. I feel like we as Christians need to hear this message specifically, not because we don’t know it, but because we don’t actually practice it.

Continue reading

Meditations | Forgiveness

Ah, the hardest part of our charge as Christians toward the world. It’s even harder than loving the world, even though these two go hand in hand. This thing, this forgiveness, is something that is often misunderstood and almost as misunderstood in Christianity as the word “love”. These two terms have taken a whole other meaning in our modern lexicon. 

Continue reading

Meditations | Mercy

Much like Grace,which we have already gone over, Mercy is another word used often to describe God and His actions. Most people would describe mercy is “receipt of a favor or consequence which wasn’t deserved”, while I agree with that definition, I think we can come to a better conclusion!

I think as we go through this quick study, God’s grace (defined as: Someone in Authority bowing down happily to give a gift to someone in lowly stature, such as a peasant) and mercy will jump out of the page more for you and you will be surprised at how beautiful our God really is. 

Mercy in English comes from Anglo-French ‘Merci’, which means as ‘Pity or Thanks’ while Merci comes from the Latin Merced- which means ‘Paid Wages or reward’. The word in Greek is very similar, it is the word ‘Eleos’ (ἔλεος), which according to Strongs NT concordance means “mercy; kindness or good will toward the miserable and afflicted, joined with a desire to relieve them” 

I think we’re getting to the bottom of this but, we need more information. Our final source will come from the Hebrew word that is used in the Old Testament to describe God. Then, like we did with Grace, we’ll combine them and get a median definition. 

In the Hebrew, the most commonly used word to mean mercy is ‘racham’(רַחַם), which means compassion. I think something else interesting that we can add, is that this word also means ‘deep’ or ‘bowels’. So it means: something at the very center of someone’s being. 

So what have we understood as a full meaning of mercy? Mercy from a combination of all languages used from the original manuscripts and then our current language means simply “Compassionately pays the price due to the miserable and afflicted in an effort to relieve them”

Let’s break this new definition down. (Now you’re saying, this sounds just like the original definition only wordier) God not only continually pays the price or the wage due to us daily out of compassion simply to provide relief, but He also does this compassionately or literally ‘with passion’. As I said earlier that definition of ‘Deeply’ will come into play. He feels so strongly and cares so much about the miserable and the afflicted, which is all of humanity, that daily He passionately takes away our dues for our screwups. What wages would need to be paid for our sin? Paul tells us in Romans, “the wages of sin is death”. 

So if we have a gracious and merciful God what does that actually mean? In one sentence, we come to this conclusion. God happily and passionately bows down to provide favor in order to distribute relief to the poor and afflicted and pay the price due to their continual failures. That my friends, is what I wanted to write this whole time. 

You ask why my blog is named ‘Something Extraordinary’, that right there is the reason. An all-powerful God in Hellenistic thought would have ignored us and moved on to a different planet, in Egyptian thought He would have destroyed us or made us slaves, in Babylonian thought He would be sacrificing our children to appease him. 

But God, who is rich in mercy, joyfully and passionately sent His only Son to die on a cross for our sins in order to provide relief for the poor, afflicted, pitiable and woeful to pay one price for our failures: past, present, and future.

Jeremiah wrote in Lamentations “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” 

And that, my friends, is Something Extraordinary. 

Meditations | The Infinite God

“The Lord said to Abram”

Genesis 12:1, CSB

This is a strange start to a meditation, and it’s a simplistic verse. You’re all asking me, why would you put THAT as the verse for today. Well, it is a very important verse, something that we need to look at in depth. This isn’t even a post about faith really, it’s much more than that. It’s a look at ourselves and how little we know about God and who He is. 

I want you to look at this verse, there is no context before this besides simply showing Abram’s lineage after Babbel. So there is no context, this just starts like it says above. How strange of a verse, right? 

God didn’t announce himself in this verse, nor did he introduce himself. He just started talking. Personally, I think God was trying a different way to reach His creation using this message since walking with them, flooding the earth and scrambling the languages didn’t work. Maybe He was trying a more diplomatic approach. 

Abram went along with what He said, and personally I would have to if I heard a disembodied voice promising to protect me if I followed His lead. Anyways, I’m off topic here, and I’m most likely going to do a series on this later down the line.

The most astonishing thing here is, simply, God never introduced himself. He never gave his name. 

Well, he gave it later on. His name is Yahweh. 

Nope.

That’s what WE call him, His creation. That’s not actually His name. See, it’s an attribute of him. Knowing how important names are, biblically and in modern times, one would think we would actually know His name. 

Yahweh comes from a shortened version of Exodus 3:14 “I am that I am”. He was basically telling Moses “I was, I am, and I will be. I am the constant.” This was later shortened down to Yahweh

The Biblical scholars will now say “His name is EL.” No, that’s not right either. El was taken from a Canaanite god (who ironically was depicted as a golden calf [catching on yet?]) and replaced in Hebrew to name God ‘God’ and also to use generally as the word god. 

The Israelites also took names from other gods around to attribute to their God. The living God, but that’s not the point.

The point of all this is simple, we are much too small and ignorant by nature to know God. If we have any presumption of who God is while we’re praying, if we happen to even imagine he’s something that He’s not, then are we really praying to the living God?

We don’t even know His name, we just understand some attributes about Him. The closest we are ever going to get to know God is through His son Christ Jesus.

This is why it’s so important to have a relationship with Jesus, to know our creator through His son. Solomon, one of the wisest men to have ever lived, wrote in Proverbs 9:10:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”. 

That word fear could be translated as ‘awe’.Even the wisest man to ever live couldn’t even begin to contemplate who God is. We are to begin our journey of knowing God through awe. Once you take apart all the preconceived notions of who you think God ought to be, and start actually worshipping the living God who sent His son as redemption for sin, you will begin to understand him. 

Take time during prayer today to seek Him first. To see who this God actually is, because I guarantee that idea you have of him is finite. We all know our God is infinite. Once you remove that you will really begin to see our father for who He is. Maybe we don’t know His name, but His actions are much more profound.