Things I Heard In Church: A Primer on Smallpox

The smallpox virus killed 80% of children and 30% of adults who contracted the disease. Smallpox, also known as the red plague, was one of the most devastating diseases in history, until Edward Jenner came along. Edward Jenner’s work changed everything. He made people immune to the virus by infecting people with a virus. He made people immune to smallpox by infecting them with a different pox virus: cowpox. Two hundred years after Jenner, the World Health Organization declared smallpox eradicated.

It turns out, Jenner’s story is analogous to Jesus’ story…

For more, listen to Dave Teixeira’s teaching on 3/27/2016, 11am, Everything Changed

Easter And Your Fear Of Death

fear of death

The Fountain

Kathy and I just finished watching The Fountain, starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. IMDB describes the movie this way: “As a modern-day scientist, Tommy (Jackman) is struggling with mortality, desperately searching for the medical breakthrough that will save the life of his cancer-stricken wife, Izzi (Rachel Weisz).”

Jackman’s character Tommy is obsessed with finding a cure for his wife’s cancer to the point where he devotes nearly all his time to his research, often at the expense of his relationship with his dying Izzi. He’s consumed with finding the answer to the problem of death.

Death, Dying, And Easter

I think Easter is one of the most relevant times possible for us to explore our anxiety over our own mortality. I know there are some this Easter who are struggling with the fear of death. And there’s a logic to it because the reality is, despite the amazing progress of science and medicine, one statistic about death remains completely unchanged: 100% of us die. And that inspires fear.

Life insurance companies know this. We see them play on this fear in advertisements on TV and on the internet. The content creators of mass media also recognize our fear of death. When they feature articles about health remedies that promise to help us live longer, they know they’ll attract readers, listeners, and viewers (which in turn attracts advertisers–some of which might be life insurance companies).

But what we fear, I think, is not death itself, but Continue reading

Which Thief Are You?

Easter thief on the cross

Crosses Path, Lourdes, France

In our last post we looked at why Jesus had to die. We looked at a great truth: how he had to die because of what you already know about yourself. How you already know the hurt your anger causes, and how it rears its ugly head too easily and too often. You already know you look at things God wouldn’t have you look at, say things God wouldn’t have you say, do things God wouldn’t have you do.

You know, and so does God.

But God’s love is so powerful, if you just humble yourself and talk to Him, and confess those sins you committed against Him–He will forgive you. Look at Jesus, hanging on the cross, in the very process of dying, yet what did he say to the thief hanging next to him?

The thief said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, Continue reading

What You Already Know About Good Friday

Easter why did Jesus have to die? Good Friday

Why did Jesus have to die?

Why did Jesus have to die? Why did he die on Good Friday? The truth is, you already know. If you let your conscience loose long enough, you already know your anger hurts people you care about. You already recognize you put images in front of your eyes that God, out of love, would have you avoid. You already know how slow you’ve been to step up and contribute to your family, the way you know God would have you to.

You already know you lack humility before God.

You already know.

And so does God.

Why?

God is perfect. And God’s justice is perfect. And God’s love is perfect. So what is He to do then? How can God reconcile His perfect justice with His perfect love? Here we have a seemingly impossible dilemma because one thing is certain: you sin against God, and so do I, and so does every living human being on the planet. Even a glance at Matthew chapter five confirms it. (Matthew 5:21-48) Yet when you look at the life of God in flesh and blood, when you look at the life of Jesus Christ, it’s impossible not to see how He loves us, in spite of our sin.

So what is God to do then, with His perfect justice and His perfect love? God Continue reading

Looking for the Living Among the Dead

Easter Jesus Christ Risen living among the dead

Why do you look for the living among the dead? -Luke 24:25

A Dead Sparrow

The bird hit the big picture window like a bug hits a windshield. It didn’t fair well. The little sparrow fell to the deck floor some six feet below the point of impact, which was marked with feathers stuck to the surface of the glass. It lay on its side at first, then it slowly rolled over and extended its legs up toward the sky. It was almost cartoonish. The only thing missing were a couple of ‘Xs” over each eye. My kids heard the “THUMP” and ran out onto the deck where the bird lay.

“We need to pray for him dad!” They insisted.

Wow. This is awkward. I had taught my kids about the power of God, and the power of prayer, and the importance of faith. It wasn’t that I didn’t have faith. I had faith alright. I had faith I’d be planting that sparrow in the back yard with all our other dead pets. But what could I do? My kids were expecting a miracle.

So we prayed. Continue reading

Back From the Dead

Back from the dead

Christ’s Empty Tomb

Speaking to the Pharisees, Jesus said,

“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40 emphasis mine)

“But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me.” (John 5:45-46 emphasis mine)

Jesus is saying here, the scriptures are all about Him. And, in our Genesis study, in chapter 37, we’re about to enjoy a beautiful Old Testament picture of Jesus’ life in the story of Joseph. The picture is so compelling, God devotes a full quarter of the book of Genesis to Joseph alone. He is one of only two main characters in the Old Testament for whom there is no mention of sin (Daniel is the other). We’ll see Joseph greatly humbled as Jesus was greatly humbled, but, in the end, greatly exalted — as Jesus was greatly exalted. It’s impossible to read of him and not see the striking parallels between his life and Christ’s. All of the Old Testament testifies of Jesus but it may be that nowhere else is it more obvious than in the story of Joseph.

Here comes that dreamer! Joseph’s brothers said to each other. Let’s kill him, this one who dreamed of us bowing down to him. After, we’ll lie to our father about what became of him. Then we’ll see what happens to his dreams.

They hated Joseph, even as Jesus’ brothers hated him. The only problem with their plot was that Joseph’s dreams weren’t really Joseph’s dreams, they were God’s dreams. So when they plotted to kill him, to put a stop to those dreams, they might as well have tried to stop the wind from blowing, or the sun from shining, or the rain from falling. They were God’s dreams and God’s dreams always come to pass.

Satan plotted to kill Jesus to stop God’s dream for His Son. And on Friday, it appeared he was successful.

But on Sunday…

I am so glad for Jesus’ resurrection. I am so thankful He’s alive and available to enter into a relationship with me. I’m so blessed He’s there for me to communicate with. I’m filled with faith because He validated all His teachings and promises by dying and rising again. I’m so grateful His claims of divinity were confirmed.

God’s dream for His Son was realized, as God’s dreams always are.

I’m so very thankful.

He is risen.

But I’m also thankful for something else. I’m thankful Jesus not only rose from the dead Himself, but He brings others back from the dead as well.

While Jesus is on His way to heal the daughter of Jairus the synagogue ruler, people meet Jairus on the road and tell him, Your daughter died, so, why bother Jesus with it anymore?

Jesus overhears this, leans over, and tells Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

Then He grabs Peter, James, and John, and goes to Jairus’ house where people are already mourning his daughter’s death by wailing and crying. Jesus says, Why all the fuss? She’s not dead, she’s just sleeping. But they laughed at Him.

So He sends everybody out of the room except for her father and mother, and the three disciples, He takes her by the hand and says, “Talitha koum!” which means, Little girl, get up!

Right away she stands up and starts to walk around. Of course everyone’s blown away. And get this, Jesus gives strict orders not to tell anybody about what happened. (Mark 5:35-43)

Jesus brings people back from the dead.

In my own life I can’t tell you how many times I had a problem, the kind of problem where anguish wells up inside of you. I found myself praying with everything I had, asking Christ to raise something from the dead. And He did.

Maybe you’re someone who’s feeling dead right now, or near death, or your project is dead, or your marriage is dead, or your job is dead. Maybe there are people around you who are wailing and crying. Maybe there are people around who laugh at you whenever you talk about hope.

Take heart because Jesus specializes in these situations. He’s Someone good to have in your corner. Someone good to have a relationship with, the kind of relationship where you can call on Him if you’re in trouble. You may need Him to bail you out. You may need Him to raise you, or your relationship, or your whatever, back from the dead. You may need to pray, to ask Him, with everything you have, to bring something back from the dead.

And anytime you ask for help, the better you know the person, the easier it is to ask.

So my advice to you? Get to know Him well and remain close to Him, for the rest of your life. You never know when you might need Him to say, “Talitha koum!”

He is risen.

[Image via James Emery – Creative Commons]

[HT ChristianBeliefs.Blogspot.com]

Teens Find Dead Body During Easter Egg Hunt

In Des Moines, Iowa, a couple of teenagers were participating in an Easter egg hunt in Des Moines park. In their quest for eggs they wandered off a bit from the main group and found something they didn’t expect — a dead body. (see KCCI Des Moines for more)

On the original Easter Jesus’ followers were also surprised but for a different reason. They came expecting a dead body but found none.

Jesus has risen.

Praise God.

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 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.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Matthew 28:1-10