Big Easter surprises

Image from: https://www.gospelimages.com/paintings/66/the-women-return-from-the-grave-after-jesus-resurrection

Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James (and possibly other women) had come to the tomb of their teacher and friend.

The earth shook and rumbled with an awesome force. Something great was about to happen.

A holy being suddenly appeared.

Surprise!

This strong and mighty angel was bursting with bright light and illuminated the atmosphere. Its robe radiated with pure white light. This was one of God’s holy angels sent to assist in God’s work.

The angel began to roll the stone away, uncovering the tomb.

The guards on duty that day, who were tasked to guard the tomb of the crucified Jesus, were now trembling in shock. Being completely overwhelmed, they sat in disbelief and amazement by what they had just witnessed. They had never seen such a powerful display of power from heaven.

Surprise!

God’s holy angel told the women there’s no reason to fear. It said, “Jesus is no longer here. He’s come back to life. Come inside the tomb. Check it out. Take a look for yourselves.”

Surprise!

The angel told them, “You’ve seen where his body had once laid. He’s alive. Now, go and tell Jesus’ disciples that he has resurrected from death. Jesus is no longer dead. He is now alive.”

Overwhelmed with joy and excitement, they made their way to Galilee.

As these two women approached Jesus,Jesus appeared and said to them:

“Hey it’s me! Surprise!

Good morning. What a great morning it is this day.

You must be in shock, I know, but there’s no need to fear.

Check me out. It’s really me, your’s truly, Jesus of Nazareth, your old friend. Touch me yourself. Feel that I am indeed real. I have skin and bones. I have nail marks on me. I’m not just a ghost or an apparition.

They looked at Jesus. Surprised and bewildered.

They touched his two ankles, his feet and felt that his body was real indeed.

He was not a ghost or apparition. He was real indeed.

Then they worshiped Jesus.

What a great surprise for these women this day. Almost too much of a surprise to take in. Almost too unbelievable if they hadn’t seen him for themselves.

Jesus then told the women, “Go now, and tell my brothers to start heading up to Galilee. I will meet up with them there.”

So off they went to inform the disciples of this great news.

Indeed, it was a great day, filled with big big surprises.

Happy Easter!

On Saturday when the world stopped

Between Friday and Sunday, the world stopped.

The earth shook. Thunder and lightening beamed and rumbled across the earth.

A people in bewilderment wondered what in the world has just happened?

Jesus was hung on the cross and was forced to accept his own death–to be killed.

He had once told the leaders of the people that “this temple” would be destroyed and rebuilt in three days.

Now that Jesus has died, how can a dead man rebuild a temple? A man once alive is now dead.

Did God in heaven make an empty promise?

Did God truly love humankind?

Did God truly love his Son?

Did God make a mistake in sending His Son into the world?

Was God swindled out of His Son?

God gave His one and only Son to die for humankind. His Son is now dead. What now?

God gave his Son as a ransom and took upon himself the sins of humanity. For what?

Between Friday and Sunday, the world awaits… for something.

It does not know what is to come. Uncertainty hangs in the air with a hint of expectation. The third day is coming.

That unsightly zit

We wonder about how people in this world can inflict such pain on others. We wonder about how evil can exist in this world. Think of the most evil person in the world. We point out the evil and call it out and name it. It’s especially horrifying when evil is done to us.

Truth is, we also do harm against our friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. The harm done is just more apparent when it’s others doing it to us.

This sickness called ‘original sin’ begins as microscopic viruses–invisible. We don’t know we have it we’ve been infected. Eventually shows up. When others point out our wart or zit, we are embarrassed. When it comes out, it’s rather ugly. We try to cover it up. We might even go as far as turning our face the other way, wearing a ball cap or shades. Anything to hide the unsightly zit.

Sin is like this too. When it comes out, it’s unsightly. It shows in how we mistreat other people. We don’t even know why it happens, but it happens. The Apostle Paul said in Romans 7:15, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

This spiritual sickness in the human race leaves no one untouched. It describes who we are, not only as human beings, but also as redeemed Christian people. It explains why we as Christians still sin. There is no sin we are incapable of committing as human beings. Some call it total depravity. We cannot escape its grip and only Jesus can release us from it.

Jesus, thank you for forgiving me of my sins. Release us from this grip. Help me forgive people in this world who have hurt me. Give me strength to bless them because I cannot do it on my own. I’m incapable of forgiveness but with your help, I can. I want to walk in your paths of righteousness, holiness, and experience your peace, joy and love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The human condition: infection of original sin – Luke 18:9-14

As people, we want to believe that humans are innately good and born pure. We prefer to imagine ourselves far away from the sins that only the worst of sinners commit. The more heinous the sin, the more we distance ourselves from these sins.

We do this all the time. Ever catch yourself outspokenly critical of bad people? You know, those ‘others’ who commit the big crimes. It’s almost like we intentionally and publicly display our hatred of sin in order to prove to others (and even to ourselves) that we are unlike those ‘bad sinners.’

Making contrast-comparisons doesn’t makes us any less of a sinner, nor any better of a Christian. Sometimes, we fall into a mode of being critical of others, and at other times, being judgmental. We hide our self-righteousness behind a veneer of righteousness.

Pharisee and the tax collector

Jesus told a story or parable about a pharisee and a publican:

Jesus told this parable to certain people who had convinced themselves that they were righteous and who looked on everyone else with disgust: 10 “Two people went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed about himself with these words, ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like everyone else—crooks, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector12 I fast twice a week. I give a tenth of everything I receive.’ 13 But the tax collector stood at a distance. He wouldn’t even lift his eyes to look toward heaven. Rather, he struck his chest and said, ‘God, show mercy to me, a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this person went down to his home justified rather than the Pharisee. All who lift themselves up will be brought low, and those who make themselves low will be lifted up.”

Gospel of Luke, chapter 18, verses 9-14, Holy Bible (Common English Bible)

Each person, has been impacted by a sickness at birth. This sickness has impacted even our ability to make decisions. The only way out is to depend on God’s grace and mercy.

By placing ourselves in a lower position, we can see ourselves for who we really are–as both a saint and a sinner at the same time. As Christians we are simultaneously redeemed and yet still sinful. Until that final day when the Lord Jesus returns to earth, we will become fully redeemed. In the mean time, we are still bound by original sin.

The cure: God has provided us a cure from this infection of original sin through a spiritual rebirth and renewal in the Holy Spirit. This is made possible only through faith or believing in Jesus who died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. By believing this (through faith alone) we are made holy (or sanctified) and righteous through the washing of God’s word as we repent each day. Though I am weak, it is God who strengthens me each day.

The Source of our Rights and Freedoms

The Source and Defender of our Rights and Freedoms

In Canada, we have been inherently endowed with human rights and freedoms.  We recognize these rights and freedoms not because we received any of it from the state. We recognize these freedoms as blessings from the Sovereign One. It is from the Sovereign who graciously provides blessings. Such blessings of life and liberty come from one Source. We point back to the Source as an acknowledgement of God’s grace.

On earth and in these earthly kingdoms, such as the lands of the British Commonwealth, the Sovereign is represented by a regent, that is, the appointed person in the Queen or King of the Commonwealth. As a child of the Commonwealth, we do well to acknowledge this true and Sovereign One. As humble and glad recipients of these blessings that flow down to us, we also do well to give glory back to the Sovereign God for such Providence.

Our natural expression as recipients result in worship of the holy Sovereign. Thus, we will come full circle—from being recipients of free speech to one who freely offers worship. As natural citizens who receive rights and freedoms, we also use our rights and freedoms to live out our lives as free citizens.

Today, her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second remains as the defender of the Faith and is the regent of the heavenly Sovereign. As Canadians and subjects of the Crown, we honour the defender of the faith, her Royal Majesty. She is the representative of the Sovereign God from whom we have received our natural and inherent rights and freedoms.

Our Rights and Freedoms are recognized:

2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association.

Section 2, The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The freedom of peaceful assembly in section 2(c), is one of the fundamental freedoms of a Canadian citizen. Peaceful assembly is a right of every Canadian citizen.

Another fundamental freedom in section 2(b) is freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression. These two freedoms of assembly and expression are inherent rights of each Canadian citizen. It expresses the right of every Canadian to freely assemble and to express their thought, belief, and opinion.

All peoples of Canada have freedom of speech to speak and share one’s religious opinions and beliefs, to preach and speak from one’s faith, and to freely assemble together to sing and worship according to the dictates of one’s conscience.

Our churches and places of worship are sacred assemblies of peoples of faith who worship together in community. Worship is a sacred act of all individuals which must never be encroached upon by anyone. When these rights and freedoms are infringed upon by the state or government, we must not hesitate to recognize such infringement as violations of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Such freedoms are usually the first encroached upon and are a bell-weather of government overreach. People of faith are most sensitive to such infringement.

Our Purpose and Destiny

To continue to live freely as Canadians, we must vigorously and continuously strive to protect and defend our inherent rights and freedoms to worship, to speak and to assemble. As we sing the national anthem, O Canada, we are reminded to “stand on guard for thee.” The object and purpose of standing guard is to defend our God-given rights and freedoms. This is why Canada is called by God to be one of the most free nations on earth.

Sometimes, I wonder if we have begun to lose our God-given freedoms. I wonder if we have forgotten about the One from whom we have received our blessings of freedom. If we have, we may be in danger of losing our rights and freedoms. We pray this will never happen.

As Canadians, we ought to be concerned about the potential loss of freedoms. Perhaps many of us have begun or have already fallen asleep. We have been put into a deep slumber where we cannot awaken to our purpose and destiny. Some might only be half awakened but still remain half asleep.

We have not fully awakened to the knowledge of our Source and Sovereign. If we fail to recognize the Sovereign One, we will inevitably fail to recognize what we have been endowed with as creatures of the Creator. Occasionally, there will be times when we must vigorously defend our freedoms. In the face of tyranny, Canadians will rise up to push back against tyrannical policies that infringe upon our rights and freedoms.

Canada, God is calling. God is calling you. Arise from your slumber. Awaken from your dreams. Awaken from your slumber and arise. (e.g., Ephesians 5:14; Romans 13:11)

If we were to begin to awaken and recognize the source of our freedoms, who is the Sovereign One and the Creator of each individual, we can begin to acknowledge who we are in relation to the Sovereign. As Canadians, we are blessed to be subjects of the Sovereign One, the holy and mighty one of Heaven and Earth. Our hope as Canadians is that each person, each citizen, either naturalized or born by birth, come to a full awakening as recipients to one’s natural rights and freedoms. This is part of our destiny. May this destiny be manifested fully one day.

[added video link]: The last living signatory of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms:
Honourable Brian Peckford, former Premier of Newfoundland

Ten Commandments: Do not slander

Moses gave one of the Ten Commandments: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16).

Lawyers use terms like libel, defamation or false witness. Today, we tend to use words like lie, smear, vilify, and character assassination. The term slander isn’t used as widely these days.

16th century theologian Martin Luther said: “this commandment pertains to public courts of justice, where on may accuse and malign a poor, innocent man and crush him by means of false witness, so that consequently he may suffer punishment in body, property, or honor.

Luther also said, “Every report, then, that cannot be adequately proved is false witness. Therefore, no one should publicly assert as truth what is not publicly substantiated.” (Large Catechism, Book of Concord, 1529). Claims must be substantiated or proven. Our courts of law still need substantiated evidence.

In 1529, Luther taught about speaking truthfully in court. Today, it can still apply to all people, yes, even to politicians. It reminds us to refrain from bad behaviour like slander, character assassination, malignment, vilification, and defamation of another.

During the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa, Canadian truckers were standing up for their freedoms. They were rallying in protest for the federal government to drop the vaccination mandates. Mandates had affected their livelihood and ability to drive their long-haul trucks across the U.S.-Canada border. It affected their income, their ability to work, their ability to pay their mortgages on their homes, and loans on their rigs. Many lost their work and ability to support their families. Truckers are down-to-earth hard-working folks. They are now forced into a very vulnerable situation. They were also ignored by this prime minister, Justin Trudeau.

As we watched the news and heard Trudeau slander these peaceful truckers and protesters, I was horrified and could not believe my ears. He had slandered the truckers as racists, misogynists, nazis, etc. I had never heard slander to such a degree from the mouth of a prime minister. His words have divided the people of Canada on a national level. This has caused irreparable damage and this is exacerbated by a misuse of powers when he invoked the Emergencies Act (or War Measures Act). This was urged on by his deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland in order to promote World Economic Forum’s globalist agenda.

It was hurtful to listen to this kind of rhetoric from mainstream media (or legacy media). My response was shock, horror, and sadness. I was very disgusted and disappointed with Prime Minister Trudeau and with the mainstream media. I was not alone. Millions of other Canadians and Americans also feel this way. Today, I have switched off mainstream news almost completely. There is a deep sense of betrayal, like as if a knife has been stabbed in the backs of the people. A large portion of people across Canada, vaccinated or unvaccinated, feel they have been betrayed by Trudeau and this government.

Moreover, the legacy/mainstream media are not doing their job in holding the government accountable. They are supposed to do what they were trained to do in journalism school. Mainstream media and journalists seem more akin to state propaganda than the fifth estate. They are now controled by Trudeau and is not effective in holding the government accountable. Democracy has waned to its lowest point in this nation’s history and is in desperate need of good governance.

These mandates (federal/provincial/state) have divided people, co-workers, friends and families. They’ve been very harmful to national unity. It weakens a nation. It has pitted one group against another. It has cast a superior attitude of the vaccinated against the unvaccinated. Science has now shown that the vaccinated are not immune to transmission of the virus. Each person, vax’d or unvax’d, can all transmit the coronavirus to others. We need to see each other as equals again. All citizens want and deserve equal access to work, to all services, and to travel across borders.

We can never go wrong when we portray others in a truthful and honest way. The golden rule is to treat others the way we would want to be treated. To go a step above this is to treat others as they would want to be treated. Truckers wish to be treated with respect, fairness and dignity. They want to be heard.

This commandment of “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” is an ethic that needs to be reviewed and taught in our universities and colleges again. It is not an archaic teaching. It is as relevant for today as it was four thousand years ago.

Vilifying good people who protest peacefully will potentially bring grave repercussions—no matter how much one might disagree with the others’ views. Falsely slandering others is libellous, and defamatory. It is character assassination. It is blatantly dishonest and divides a people, relationships, society and a nation.

Will there be a strong Canada in the near future? Nobody knows. Good people must take a stand. Good people must come out to take up space on the political landscape. Good people must come out to bring order and good governance. Otherwise, Canada’s future will be hanging in the balance.

The Catastrophe of Canada | Rex Murphy and Jordan B Peterson

Are you a “hypenated-Christian”?

I might be a hypenated Christian. I serve under the Baptists today although I was trained and ordained in the Lutheran church. I originally came from the evangelical and pentecostal churches. Some might call me a Bapti-costal or a crypto-Lutheran, Bapto-Lutheran or Luther-costal, or whatever hyphenated Christian.

I meet many people who are no longer part of the church. Some are lapsed Catholics, and some are also lapsed evangelicals. Some are searching or are visiting different churches and do not consider themselves belonging to any single denomination even though they may have been baptized in that denomination.

Today’s church is in flux. Amongst evangelicals, many have moved from one denomination to another and have never given a thought to staying with one denomination forever. I have done my share of church hopping in my young adult years, especially during college years. Many of my friends were also in the same boat. It is much like how many move from one job to another these days. Church, life and work are not static but always changing.

Organized religion is feeling less organized these days and will continue in this direction for the foreseeable future. For whatever reasons, some people change churches. It might be theological, or spiritual, or because they had friends or family who attended a congregation. Some return to the church of their childhood where they attended Sunday school, youth group or confirmation.

My sense is that people are looking for real spirituality. They want something that is genuine. Denomination is not a big concern. They want something spiritual and yet has meaning for their lives.

Has this been the case for yourself? Do you also consider yourself a hyphenated-Christian?

Why do we say, “He is Risen”?

Hallelujah! He is risen! He is risen indeed!

On Easter Sunday, we in Christ, will say together “He is risen!” Why do we do this each Easter morning?

The witnesses in scripture told the disciples that Jesus is risen from the dead.

Matthew 28:6-7 says, “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

Mark 16:6 says, “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.”

Luke 24:6 says, “He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ Then they remembered his words.”

In Scripture, Jesus predicted His own resurrection. His followers did not understand what He was saying to them, but after He returned, they understood.

Matthew 16:21 says, “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

Mark 8:13 says, “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.”

Good Friday – when they crucified our Lord – INRI

If you ever watched a Jesus movie with his crucifixion and noticed a sign above his head says INRI (Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum). This means Jesus Nazareth, King of the Jews.

Before his execution, Jesus was flogged, which was a customary practice intended to weaken a victim before crucifixion. Crucifixion was an especially painful method of execution and was perfected by the Romans as such. It was reserved for the worst criminals, and generally Roman citizens, women, and soldiers were exempt in most cases.

During his flogging, the soldiers tormented Jesus, crowning Him with thorns and ridicule. Jesus was forced to carry his own cross. Yes, his own cross! It was good that Cyrene help Jesus to carry it the rest of the way to Calvary. He was nailed between two thieves because his enemies felt he deserved a thief’s death.

In churches that observe Good Friday, the altar is stripped bare. Holy Communion is not taken. A fast may be done. It is a somber day.

With Catholics, there may also be a veneration of the cross to recognize the death of our Lord.

May the cross help all of us remember what Christ went through in his death. It was for us, for the atonement of our sins. May we be grateful for his death, but we will also arise with joy in his future resurrection.

Wishing those a blessed Holy Thursday

The central observance of Holy Thursday is the ritual reenactment of the Last Supper. The holy day falls on the Thursday before Easter and is part of Holy Week.  Jesus celebrated the dinner as a Passover feast. The Last Supper was the final meal Jesus shared with his Disciples in Jerusalem. During the meal, Jesus predicted his betrayal.

Some liturgical churches will do the washing of the feet because Jesus washed his disciples feet. There would also be the stripping and washing of the altar. 

Maundy Thursday’s emphasis on ritual washing also gave rise to the ancient tradition of spring cleaning. It’s interesting that this is related to the Jewish custom of ritually cleaning the home in preparation for the Feast of Passover. Everything was to be cleaned and polished in preparation for the Easter celebration.

Wishing those who observe Maundy Thursday / Holy Thursday a blessed readying for Easter.