Tag Archive | Easter

Resurrection Day Thoughts (Thank You)

The dust has finally settled from a very busy Holy Week, and things have finally slowed down a bit as I share a few thoughts.

Abba's House Wide

Easter of 2017 was  wonderful day! From spending time with church family (and seeing a lot of new faces) to spending time with family and friends as we worshiped together, laughed, ate, and celebrated with thanksgiving and grateful hearts the gift of salvation and the hope that resurrection brings, Easter was a very special day this year.

WorshipWhile we gathered to celebrate Jesus, and the victory that He won over the devil, death, Hell, and the grave, we were reminded that His victory did not come without cost or consequence. Courage, sacrifice, humility, meekness, and lowliness of heart are all attributes at the ready for all who would follow Him. While I am eternally grateful for the sacrifice He made — the only sacrifice by which we can hope to be saved — my gratitude runs deep as well for the people of God and the obedience and diligence which they exhibited on this most Holy day.

I would like to thank all of those who helped care for the dozens of children who came to the house of the Lord on Easter (and every Sunday); folks who forego the experience of worship and teaching in order to minister to the upcoming generation of infants, toddlers, and small children, and take care of their needs with joy and love.

I thank all of the men and women who greeted people with smiles and kindness, assisted visitors, gave directions to those not familiar with our campus, and who diligently walked the parking area throughout the service, making sure things stayed safe and secure.

Abba's House busI thank all of those who volunteered on the Abba’s House bus, and provided a reliable and safe way for the underprivileged of our city to get to and from church to hear the Good News of Jesus’ love.

Vol 3I thank the dozens of volunteers who sacrificially gave of their time during the weeks before Easter; making phone calls, handing out water bottles and invitations at ball games, recreation parks, and places of business, and giving a smile to a stranger in need — inviting friends and strangers to join us on Easter.

I want to thank all of the musicians and singers who led us in worship, and helped create an atmosphere in which the King of Glory was exalted and glorified.

I want to thank all those in our bookstore, who served with joy, and provided refreshments to let us feel just a little bit more at home.

I want to thank all of those who volunteered as support and technical staff, who kept everything running smoothly so the rest of us could see and hear, and enjoy His presence undistracted, not just in the House, but across the world.

I want to thank every member of Abba’s House for making a welcome and inviting place for our guests.

I want to thank our entire staff who worked tirelessly to provide all of our volunteers with the support they needed, and who worked as a team to make the day a very special one.

Abba's House Med WideI want to thank Pastor Ronnie Phillips, Jr for joining me on stage as we shared from our hearts the message God had given both of us for day, and who ministers beside me with an anointing and heart for people.

Last but not least, I want to thank all who joined us — if even for the first time — in the House or online. I hope you came with an expectation, and left with a sense of the greatness and glory of the Most High God. I pray that your life was touched for eternity through our time together, and that it will not be the last time; that you will choose to join us again and become a part of the family we call Abba’s House.

You are ALWAYS welcome at Abba’s House!

God bless!
Pastor Ron

What’s In A Word?

American author Russell Bradley Jones tells the true story of seven Russians taken captive many years ago in Finland. They were to be put to death at sunrise. As they waited through the long night some cursed, some cried, some called out for their mothers. One named Kos Kinen began singing an old Christian hymn.

“Where did you get that you fool?” they asked.

“My mother taught it to me.” he replied, “and I am giving my life to the Jesus my mother taught me.” “In a few hours I will be with my Savior.”

By 4:00 a.m., Kinen had led the other six men to faith in Jesus Christ. At 6:00 a.m. they marched out to be shot. They requested to die with their faces uncovered, with arms stretched to heaven they sang…

Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Safe on His gentle breast.
There by His love oe’r shadowed.
Sweetly my soul shall rest.

They were shot. Forgiveness turned their doom into a moment of glory.

Dore CrucifixionDuring the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, He never verbally attacked His accusers, cried for compassion, hurled desperate insults at His captors and torturers, or spelled out the doom awaiting those responsible for the circus of a trial He had forced upon Him. Pastor Rick Warren summed it up best in a comment he made during a Q & A session at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in 2016…

We are most like Christ when we are silent in the face of our critics.

The Bible tells us that Jesus remained silent in the face of the hate, ridicule, and false accusations. Even as He hung on the cross, His thoughts were of others.

A Word of Pardon.

“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do…” ~ Luke 23:34

  • This was the word of a Son who had influences with the Father.
  • This was the word of a Savior who was giving His life for others
  • This was the word of a Priest who stands between sinful humanity and the wrath of God
  • This is the Word of Pardon for all who will receive Him.

A Word of Promise.

“Today you shall be with me in Paradise” ~ Luke 23:43

Even in the darkest of times, His thoughts were still of redemption. As this thief hanging next to Him repented, the sinless Lamb of God made a promise of eternal life to this man who was paying the price for his bad choices.

A Word of Care.

“Woman, behold your son! [John], behold your mother!” ~ John 19:26-27

In the middle of all this, Jesus, as the first born, took care of His earthly mother. Jesus gave that assignment to John who carried Mary to Ephesus where she lived for Jesus until her death. Jesus did not shirk His earthly responsibilities.

A Word of Passion.

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” ~ Matthew 27:46

Here is the High Priest alone in the Holy of Holies. Here is the scapegoat alone in the wilderness. Here is the dark moment when the humanity of Jesus is at its peak.

“God forsaken of God” – who can imagine it? Here is how it should read, “My God, My God, why? Hast thou forsaken me?”

The answer is no!

The Apostle Paul said that “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19). He felt forsaken that you and I might never be alone.

A Word of Suffering.

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” ~ John 19:28

Again we see Jesus’ humanity! In the awful agonies of crucifixion, Jesus suffered intense dehydration. He became thirsty, that we might drink from His fountain of Life.

On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. ~ John 7:37-39

A Word of Triumph.

“It is finished!” ~ John 19:30

Jesus’ words here have four meanings.

To bring to a close.
To finish a performance on task.
To fulfill all obligation.
To pay the bill in full

Jesus brought to a close all of the law and prophets.

Jesus finished the tasks of suffering.

Jesus paid for our sins in full.

Jesus finished off Satan.

A Word of Glory.

“Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” ~ Luke 23:46

Despite what the priests, Pharisees, Romans, and Pilate may have thought, there was never a moment when Jesus was not in control of His destiny. Even during each horrific moment on the cross, Jesus was still in charge and was still Lord.

This same Jesus — Messiah, Lord, Triumphant Conqueror, and King —

… wants to be the Lord and Savior of YOUR life!

Are your sins forgiven? Do you know Jesus Christ? He died for your forgiveness.

Like the Russian prisoners at the beginning of this blog, you can receive Jesus today!

Here’s how.

The Lazarus Conspiracy

There was a buzz on the streets of Jerusalem as pilgrims flocked to the city for Passover. Rumors swirled that the Messiah could possibly be there. But those rumors were being fed by the fact that a man named Lazarus was there as well.

Yes… THAT Lazarus.

LazarusThe dead guy.

Word of the miraculous resurrection of this man from Bethany had already spread like wildfire. Just weeks before, Lazarus was lying dead in a tomb.

Stone. Cold. Dead.

When Jesus showed up, His presence did little to dissuade their sorrow. Even before He made it into the village proper, Lazarus’s sister Martha came out to meet Him.

“Lord, if You would have been here my brother would not have died”, Martha exclaimed, probably in mid-stride.

Mary, Lazarus’s other sister, waited until Jesus got to town before she fell at his feet, echoing the same exclamation of hopelessness. The display of genuine mourning moved Jesus, in spite of the fact that He knew what the outcome of the day would be. Although God, He was human as well, and subject to human emotions such as sorrow. Lazarus had been His friend, and although the irony of the moment was not lost on Him, He also was not immune to its emotion either.

“Remove the stone”, came the command from the Master upon arriving at the entrance to Lazarus’s tomb.

“But Lord… he’s been in there for four days! What about the stench???” inquired the always practical Martha.

Again with the doubting????

“Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” Jesus’ tone with His reply made them think better of asking any more questions. They rolled the stone away, and after lifting His eyes to the heavens in a brief prayer of thanksgiving to the Father, Jesus set His focus on the opening before Him.

“Lazarus! Come forth!” Jesus commanded into the darkness of the cave.

Moments later, a grave-linen-clad Lazarus appeared within sight of all who were gathered there.

Even in first-century Judea… news traveled fast.

Now Jesus is in Jerusalem, Lazarus is there, and the subsequent attention that both were attracting was not all positive. While the rumors of the Lazarus miracle had attracted the attention of certain Greek converts with a fired-up desire to see Jesus, the religious crowd had other plans.

Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus. ~ John 12:9-11

So… Lazarus has died, Jesus shows up four days later and raises him from the grave, the people are now flocking to Jesus in droves, and your big plan is to kill the guy Jesus just raised from the dead???

Really?!?!

Maybe if they had spent as much time studying the prophecies as they did in scheming and plotting, they would have realized what Jesus then revealed to these Greek converts — a traditionally scholarly bunch.

“The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. ~ John 12:23

In this statement was a huge paradigm-shift. Up until this point, Jesus had — on multiple occasions — declared the opposite; “My time has not fully come” was the reason given on more than one occasion and for more than one reason. But now He was declaring that His hour HAD come!

But what hour?

Jesus understood that the hour had come for the season to be realized.

While the priests were busy plotting against the diversion of the Lazarus conspiracy, every prophecy about Jesus was falling into place. All of the prophetic chess pieces were falling into place, and the Pharisees and chief priests were mere pawns.

The prophecy about His death was about to be fulfilled.

All of the typology of His passion was about to be understood.

The stranglehold that Satan had on the human race was about to be broken.

Jesus understood that His entire life had led up to this moment; the whip, the garden, the betrayal, the mocking, the crown of thorns, and the cross. His entire life on this earth had been a road to the cross. Before time began, God knew of humanity’s fall, and had His kingdom planned (Matt. 25:34), His people chosen (Eph. 1:4), His salvation finished (Heb. 4:3), and the cross and the redemptive blood of Christ planned (1 Pet. 18-20). As the saying goes… “it was over before it started.”

Jesus understood that the hour had come for the seed to be sown.

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. ~ John 12:24

Jesus saw the giving of His life in harmony with the ancient principles of seed-time and harvest. He was not forfeiting His life. He was giving His life. It was not martyrdom but rather an investment. As Lord of Creation, He understood the Laws of the Harvest

You must sow to reap.
In order to get a harvest, you must first plant seed (John 3:14-15)

You reap what you sow.
Jesus sowed righteousness to release a resurrection life.

You reap after you sow.
Jesus knew what was coming, and knew what He had to do (Heb. 12:2).

You reap more than you sow.
Just as a single seed births an apple tree that produces thousands of apples, Jesus sowed His life, and reaped a new human race.

Jesus understood that the judgment being executed was not His execution.

Jesus knew going into His crucifixion that the real judgment was not the one handed down by Pontius Pilate, but was the two-fold judgment being sealed by His death on the cross.

Christ1Everything the human race was and is in Adam was judged on the cross. (Rom. 5:18)
Jesus knew that all of the history of mankind until that moment was being judged at that moment, and that, in three days, everything would be different.

Satan’s judgment was assured. (Col. 2:14-15)
Satan was “the prince of this world”. He was the cherubim over all the planet earth until his fall. In Eden, he tried to regain what he had forfeited. At the cross, his infernal plans were thwarted once and for all, and he was stripped of his authority.

Jesus understood the attraction of the cross.

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”
This He said, signifying by what death He would die. ~ John 12:32-33

The cross was an ugly thing. It was one of the most diabolical methods of torture and death ever devised by men. All along, Jesus knew it was coming. Yet, because of Jesus death, that very cross — repulsive to the Jews and a cause of scandal to the Greeks — had a drawing and saving power no one can explain.

They still can’t.

 The cross is more than two ugly wooden timbers fastened together, or a piece of beautiful jewelry to be worn. The cross is the crossroads of human history — the focal point that every moment before pointed to, and every moment since is dependent upon.

You see, the Cross is:

 “of all times the turning point;
   of all history the crucial point;
   of all love the highest point;
   of all salvation the starting point;
   of all worship the central point.”

The Cross and the Bystander

Chalk outline - personWe have now in America what is referred to as The Bystander Effect. This “psychological phenomenon” was brought to light on March 16, 1964 when a young woman named Catherine “Kitty” Genovese was brutally stabbed to death while walking to her apartment at Kew Gardens in Queens, New York City. A man named Winston Moseley had decided he was going to kill a woman that day, and it didn’t matter who it was. Driving around, Moseley spotted Genovese, and followed her to a parking lot. He got out of his car, and when she began to flee, he quickly caught up to her, and began stabbing her. As Genovese screamed, “Oh my God, he stabbed me! Help me!“, Moseley continued his attack. Amid her cries for help, a neighbor eventually yelled out of his window, “Let that girl alone!“, at which point Moseley fled the scene of the crime. Lying wounded and dying, not one of the estimated three dozen+ people who either heard her cries or saw the attack came to help Genovese. After ten minutes of lying there wounded, her attacker returned, and continued to stab, rape, and rob Genovese. By the time Moseley left, and help finally arrived, it was too late. Twenty-eight-year-old Kitty Genovese took her last breath en route to the hospital.

Was her life nothing to those that heard her cries
and did nothing in those early morning hours?

Wikipedia describes the Bystander Effect as…

“… a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present. The probability of help is inversely related to the number of bystanders. In other words, the greater the number of bystanders, the less likely it is that any one of them will help.”

There once was a man who walked the dusty roads of the Middle East. He was kind, compassionate, and full of wisdom. Crowds large and small gathered to hear him speak, and his words brought life and hope to those who heard. However, regardless of the words he spoke, kindness he showed, and good deeds he did, the “Establishment” hated him. He rocked the boat of their belief system, upset the apple-cart of their status-quo, and for that — they deemed — he was worthy of death. Accusations were brought, false witnesses told lies, a friend betrayed him, he was given a mockery of a trial, and sentenced to die.

But death wasn’t good enough. The Establishment needed to make an example out of him, if for no other reason, to discourage copy-cat rabble-rousers.

They began by striking him and mocking him. They blindfolded him, hit him, and made sport of his captivity. Since this cruelty wasn’t enough to elicit a response, they ramped up the abuse. He was tied to a post and whipped 39 times with a device designed to tear the flesh from his body; nine strips of leather, embedded with broken pottery, bone, metal, and any other sharp edge that would help accomplish its goal. This “scourge” was raised by the muscled arm of a soldier who showed a knack for inflicting the most pain and damage, and 39 times it fell with the ferocity of a pack of wild dogs descending upon its victim.

When he survived that unimaginable beating, the rest of his sentence of death could be carried out. The “electric chair” of that day was called a cross — a heavy beam of lumber with a cross beam. The victim would be nailed to it, forced to hang naked before the world, dying from his wounds, exposure, and asphyxiation. To add insult to injury, the soldiers tasked with his execution forced him to carry his own instrument of death through the dusty streets, being mocked, spit upon, and humiliated along the way. At one point, when he finally collapsed for the last time under its weight, the soldiers accompanying him pulled a man from the crowd, forcing him to carry the load the rest of the way to the spot of execution.

Upon arrival at a place known by the locals as “The Place of the Skull“, his cross was dropped onto the ground, and he was forced on top of it. Spreading his arms out on the cross-beam, massive spikes were driven through each wrist, with one being driven through his overlapped feet. Once it was certain he was secure, they raised the cross and dropped it into a hole in the ground, the velocity of his body weight jerking hard against the spikes.

And for six hours, Jesus hung between Heaven and Earth… and died… for you.

Chalk outline - crossIs His sacrifice nothing to you?

If you could cure AIDS, wouldn’t you want everyone to know it? If you could stop cancer, would you keep quiet? If you had the method to put an end to Alheimer’s, would you keep silent?

If you are a believer in Christ, you have a testimony.

As one saved by Jesus’ precious blood, you have an amazing story to tell.

As a Christian, you have the incredible witness of a Gospel that
transforms lives… and it is criminal to keep it to yourself.

Are the lives of those around you who are dying — lost without Jesus — nothing to you?

In a YouTube video, illusionist, comedian, and renowned atheist Penn Jillette had this to say about Christians who share their faith…

And I’ve always said, you know, that I don’t respect people that don’t proselytize. I don’t respect that at all. If you believe that there’s a Heaven and Hell, and people could be going to Hell — or not getting eternal life, or whatever — and you think that, “Well, it’s not really worth tellin’ ’em this, because it would make it socially awkward”, and atheists who think that people shouldn’t proselytize, “Just leave me alone. Keep your religion to yourself”… How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you and you didn’t believe it —that truck was bearing down on you — there’s a certain point where I tackle you, and this is more important than that.

At Easter, we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and His triumph over death, Hell, and the grave! What better time to introduce a friend to the risen Savior that can save their soul, and transform their life. Christian, it is time to get serious about our witness. It is not enough to be a bystander, watching the masses pass by — beating a path to Hell — and waiting for someone else to tell them of Jesus’ love. He has called YOU. You are the one to tell His story. You are the one they are waiting for.

Is it nothing to you?

Maybe not… but it is EVERYTHING to them.

 

Easter header

 

He’s Alive!

Vietnam Wall

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” ~ John 11:25-27

It was the fall of 1965…

I was a Freshman at Clarke Memorial College in Newton, Mississippi, and was studying for the ministry at this junior college preparing to go the next year to Samford University. It was the height of the Vietnam War and I had just heard another high school classmate had been killed in that far-away place. This guy was more than just a classmate though… he was a friend. During my last 2 years in High School, there were daily postings of our young classmates that perished in Vietnam.

The next spring I was preaching on Easter Sunday at a church without a pastor. The auditorium was jammed with over 250 people, and I rose to bring a message of hope. As I preached on the text from John 11:25-27, I saw, in the back of the room, a young man in uniform. The more I looked at him, the more familiar he seemed. However, my vision was about as bad then as it is now, and without my glasses (trying to look cool), I could not quite make him out.

VietnamMemorialAt the invitation and altar call, he started down the aisle. As he drew closer, his face became more and more familiar. It was my friend that had been reported killed in action. Come to find out, he was actually MIA, made it out of the war alive, and made it home.

Before he got to me I cried out, “YOU’RE ALIVE — YOU’RE ALIVE!!!” The emotion I felt as this young man seemingly walked out of the grave overcame me. Joy overwhelmed the whole congregation!

I think we must have felt, in a small way, what that first week after Easter must have been like!

In a small way, I understand how the disciples must have felt. Having lost the One they loved — their Teacher, Master, and Friend — all hope seemed lost.

But on that first Easter morning, all creation must have resounded with joy at the news, when the words were first proclaimed…

He’s Alive!

On Easter, we celebrate our risen Lord. We remember the sacrifice He made, and the victory He won. We come together as believers, from every nation and tongue, to proclaim the Good News the angel told the disciples on that day… HE IS RISEN!

As we celebrate our risen Lord this coming Sunday, I hope that you will find a house of worship and join with brothers and sisters of faith in joyful adoration of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

If you are in the Chattanooga area, I’d like to personally invite you to join us at Abba’s House. Our service begins at 10:30.

Maybe you are shut-in, and can’t get to a church. At Abba’s House, we live-stream our services, so you can tune in and be a part. Visit abbashouse.com/live to join our worship service online.

From our house to yours… Happy Easter!

HE IS RISEN!!!

Come Home for Easter

20140416-153053.jpgAs I write this, it is a beautiful (albeit unseasonably chilly) day in Chattanooga, TN. Although it hasn’t seemed like it the past couple of days (30’s and rainy), spring is in the air (as is the pollen), and that means a time of new beginnings: New foliage, new life, new birth… Tennessee is such a beautiful place in the spring.

 

20140416-153206.jpgThis Sunday is Easter, and while there are a hundred things I could say on the subject of our Lord’s resurrection, and the significance of this day, I simply want to invite you to join us at Abba’s House for Easter. We will be celebrating all that this day means, and we would love for you to come and be a part.

 

Maybe you haven’t been to church in years? Easter is a time of new beginnings. There is no time like the present to start again.

Maybe you feel unworthy of the sacrifice that was made for you? We all are. However, a relationship with Jesus is not about our worthiness (or lack thereof) – it’s all about His goodness.

Maybe you’ve been hurt by a church in the past? If you have a bad experience at a restaurant, does that mean you just stop eating? It’s time to let go of those experiences that keep you bound and trust God to show you the place you belong.

20140416-153301.jpgThe fact is, you can probably come up with a hundred reasons why you can’t make it to church this Easter. What I’m encouraging you to do is to have the courage to recognize that ONE reason why you should, and follow that voice.

And chances are, even if the reason isn’t there — the Voice probably is… inviting you to come.

Our service begins at 10:30a.m.

This is your invitation. It’s time for you to come home.

Pastor Ron

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