Featured

The Old Testament and Resurrection

Yesterday in the Easter Sermon I spent a good bit of time talking about five key verses of scripture from the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, that point to a view of life after death. We would rightly call these resurrection verses in light of Jesus and the empty tomb, as well as the explicit teaching of the New Testament, particularly landmark passages like 1 Corinthians 15.

29793238_1625326457502462_6478750614299633978_n.jpg
Me preaching on Easter, or am I playing Rock, Paper, Scissors?

 

The compilation of these five verses comes from Millard Erickson’s epic theology book Christian Theology, on page 1201 of my copy. It is not in his section on the work of Jesus, but rather on “Last Things” which I find fascinating. So, if you missed them yesterday because you were dazzled by my homiletics (or, like most of the 7 or 8 billion people in the world, weren’t there) here they are.

  1. Isaiah 26:19, “But your dead will live; their bodies will rise.  You who dwell in the dust, wake up and shout for joy.  Your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.”
  2. Daniel 12:2  “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.”
  3. Psalm 49:15, “But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself”
  4. Psalm 17:15 “And I—in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.”

Erickson doesn’t list Job’s ancient words. I find this to be a glaring omission, for they are the most New Testament sounding of them all and are my personal favorite. As I said, it is part of my funeral liturgy, and for good reason.

“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.  And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-26).

I’d like to point out as well that Erickson does in his work what theologians always do–offer serious caution about reading too much into these words. I know where he is coming from, but I think his caution is too strong. The Bible teaches us about Jesus, and though the language is imprecise in the Hebrew texts, it is still applicable and I believe appropriate at Easter.

AIRPLANE MODE AND OTHER ADVENTURES

This going to work every day again has been a difficult adjustment. The biggest adjustment has been reacquiring some skill sets that I previously had mastered, but lost due to atrophy. It is true–use it or lose it. Here are some things I need to work on:

1. The important skill of remembering to turn your iPhone to airplane mode if you intend to use it to read scripture during a worship service. Easter Sunday it was still dark (and rainy) when the sunrise service began, so I thought myself clever using my iPhone to read the scripture because of the backlight. In the middle of Isaiah my phone asks me if i want to update. I tell it no. It asks if tonight is good. Rather embarrassing.

2. I had forgotten how hard announcements are. I flubbed them up royally yesterday, and even had to rearrange on the fly. Once upon a time announcements were seamless to me and I spoke the language of “put on your calendars” and “you will not want to miss” as if it were my mother tongue. Now I stammer and stutter all the way through.

3. Time management is the hardest. I grossly overestimated how much time I had between small group and worship service yesterday.

1185390_977050488996732_403074358922312865_n
Another skill to reacquire is keeping my eyes open while preaching.

The result was we started everything several minutes later than we intended, thus pushing everything late.

4. Temperature control, for me, is vital. If I get too warm when I am preaching my throat gets hoarse, I cough, and then I feel myself losing energy. That happened yesterday because I did not make certain the thermostat was set at the right temperature. By the time I left the building, I was in need of hydration and a throat lozenge. I used to be on top of things like that, but somehow along the way I’d forgotten.

5. I didn’t make it to the back of the building quick enough on any of the first three weeks. That has got to change, because I have found, through the years, that a lot of pastoring happens at the back of the door after a worship service.

There are other things I’ve got to re-learn, but these are the ones that are bothering me on this Monday morning.

QUESTIONS FOR JESUS ON GOOD FRIDAY

Which hurt more, the whip, the nails, the public ridicule or the fact that Peter denied you?  I think I know the answer.

Father, forgive them–Really, because that is a little hard to swallow?

Why did you use a Persian loan word to describe heaven to the thief, because, honestly, that kinda freaks me out?

Was Pilate sympathetic or a jackass?  I can’t really tell from the Scriptures and I need to know.

Why were your female followers braver than your male followers?

Had you met Joseph of Arimathea before–not in the way that God meets everyone but in the way that you in your humanity you might have sat and chatted with him ahead of time about what to do with your body?

As they gambled for your clothes, did you think about Judas or did you think about me?

In the courtyard, when they were whipping you, how did you keep from calling them each by name and scolding them?

When they pushed the crown of “thorns” upon your sweaty “brow” did you reflect on Adam and Eve and remember a better day?

Why did it have to be a cross?  I mean, if death for atonement is all that was needed, wouldn’t a quick thrust from a Roman short sword through the neck been just as effective?

Can you help me reconcile my own emotions on this–because I’m glad you did it, but at the same time I hate that you did it?

Do you think Satan really thought he had won, or did he know what was coming in a couple of days?

This is a hard question, especially to ask of God, but I still wonder it so here goes:  Do you ever regret it?  I ask because I’m not sure we’re worth it.

FRIDAY THE 13th STORIES: FREE PLOTS

Freitag_der_13._im_Kalender[1]

As you probably know, Greenbean is not a superstitious person.  I trust in the Lord, and he is not whimsical.

However, I enjoy a good spooky story.  Not gory, but spooky.  One of my favorite things about pastoring was every year at children’s camp I would tell a spooky story (okay, age appropriate spooky for 4th graders) around the campfire.  My book has the word “Haunting” in the title and my new novel (hopefully published next year) has elements of spooky in it, so I really like a frightening tale.  I even have my own line of monster stories, Deep Cove and Deep Cove: The Party Crasher.

So, I give you a gift today on this Friday the 13th.  I give you five free plots for a story that I think would be frightening, or at least, freakish.  The first and the last are my favorites.

Plot One:  In the year 4023 religion has melded with pop culture so much that towns all across North America sacrifice bunnies on an altar of chocolate every Easter as atonement for sins.  A group of misfit students discover the truth in ancient writings they found buried on the “world wide net” and they decrypt it.  Eventually, they attempt to convince their traditionalist bunny slaughtering elders to change their ways and return to the true way of faith.

Plot Two:  Come to find out, cockroaches and mice are sentient and have formed an alliance against humanity and cats.

Plot Three:  During a freakish meteor storm, the magnetic poles of the earth change and everybody in North America begins speaking with an Australian accent and Australia begins to systematically invade countries in the Middle East.  Meanwhile, Russia begins growing coffee and Brazil becomes world’s largest exporter of rice.

Plot Four:  In the not too distant future time travel is invented but it is controlled by McDonald’s and the Wal-Mart.

Plot Five:  This is a mash-up.  Because the wizards in the wizardry world of Harry Potter keep causing so much trouble in the real world, MI6 sends James Bond to Hogwarts to solve the problem.  After seducing the much older Hermione, he teams up with the noble Ron to stop the ever growing power of the megalomaniac Harry Potter.  Turns out, a wand is much slower than a Walther PPK.

So there, some free plots to think about on this Friday the 13th.