JESUS IS ALIVE!

(April 01, 2021) Carol Round reminds us of the miracle in Matthew 28:5-8…

This scripture tells that ‘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.’ 

An empty tomb
The women were looking for Jesus. They were looking for their precious Jesus to anoint his body with spices, but he wasn’t there. The tomb was empty. How could that be?

Startled by the appearance of an angel, the women are afraid. Wouldn’t you be too? Imagine their racing hearts.

On the way to the tomb, they had asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance to the tomb?’ (Mark 16:1-4). The women had been so intent on their mission, that they had overlooked the obstacle in their path.
Yes, Jesus had told his followers that he would rise from the dead on the third day.

But can you imagine their thoughts? Even though they’d seen him perform miracle after miracle, their finite minds could not grasp what he meant by this rising on a third day… his resurrection from the grave as we know it.

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RESURRECTION REFLECTIONS

(April 01, 2021) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian writes…

Some years later at a meeting of ministers, a retired minister posed the question, ‘Does it really matter whether or not the body of Jesus physically came alive again? Perhaps his physical body did not rise from the tomb, but he rose as a spirit being and that is what the idea of the resurrection is really about.’

Throughout history people have responded in different ways to that amazing historical event of Christ’s resurrection that occurred 2000 years ago.

1. It has been challenged
From the first Easter day the fact of Jesus’ resurrection has been challenged!  Even his disciples didn’t accept it when they were first told about it… and Thomas categorically stated, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it’ (John 20:25). 

And just over 20 years after the resurrection Paul wrote to the Corinthians, ‘… some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?’ (1 Corinthians 15:12).

Clearly there were some people in that church who did not accept the fact that Jesus rose from the tomb.  And there continues to be those who identify with the church but challenge the truth of the bodily resurrection of Jesus.

It has been considered as:

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THE JOHN 3:16 TWELVE GOLDMINE TREASURES

(April 01, 2021) Honouring the memory of the late missionary statesman Dr George Forbes, we run one of his Easter blogs, a reminder that the real message of Easter is a precious goldmine treasure:

Easter is an annual holiday celebrated by many millions around the world.

  • For devout followers of Christ it is a highlight of the year; a time to give thanks to God for his great gift of the Saviour. 
  • For many others it may be the one-day they attend or think about attending a church, because it seems the right thing to do. They hope it might help when the day of accounting comes.
  • For a vast number of people it has no meaning… so they simply treat this time as a holiday break from normal routines.

Easter’s great truth
Millions of Christians commemorate the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus, especially at Easter, though most also celebrate the great victory of Calvary every time they take communion.  Many Christians say that they regard Easter as the most important celebration of the year.

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THAT BLACK DOG

(March 22, 2021) Trevor Pugh shares his testimony…

Thank you, Connecting with You contributors Pastor Charles Schwab, Dr Jim McClure, Geraldine Brandt, and Dr Robert and Maureen McQuillan for your articles this month (Links below*).

I appreciate you all sharing this journey, especially Pastor Charles’ very open candidness.

That constant companion
DepressionThe Black Dog – has been a constant companion, biting away at me since l was young – unloved, uncared for, and hurting so much inside.

It was while being ‘bitten yet again’ at age 40 that I thought I had the final solution to such ‘bites’… suicide!

That dark night l held a rifle under my chin and was pressing on the trigger, when l suddenly stopped and decided to go outside and call into the night sky.

‘Why?’ I wondered as I stood there outside, making a lot of noise and shouting inanely.

My shouting woke my wife, Jan, and she rushed out to see what was going on, who or what I was yelling at.  With her help I sensed God speaking to my heart and l quieted down. I ended up going back to bed, although secretly thinking, ‘Anyway, I can suicide tomorrow.’

But praise God in the morning, l felt different! I had called out to God and he had heard me! (more…)

ENDURING CHURCH PRINCIPLES – PART 1

(March 22, 2021) Dr Jim McClure, straight shooting theologian, shares important church growth principles…

 This past year has been a challenging time for churches throughout the world as each local church has attempted to redefine how to perform and survive as a church.

The Covid-19 experience has been challenging and at times oppressive, and, because of the present state of the world, we who belong to the church could so easily sink into despair. But for one fact – God is still in control!

I believe that the challenges of these days may prove to be a positive thing for Christians and churches as it may challenge us to look more seriously at what we honestly believe, to whom we are unmistakably committed, the significance and relevance of how we live as Christians and how we operate as the body that we call the ‘Church.’

There are many Christians today who somehow have embraced the idea that the church as we find it in the New Testament provides a perfect picture of what the church of today should be like. But… the letters of Paul, Peter and John illustrate that the churches to which they wrote were clearly not perfect principally because they were composed of imperfect people – like every church today!

Some time ago I read an article that was titled, Getting Back to the New Testament Pattern. It was based on Acts 2:40-47 and listed 13 items which the writer claimed represented the biblical pattern of Christian worship and behaviour for all ages. In fact several the items listed in the article were never part of the church beyond the first months of its existence after the Day of Pentecost. (more…)

THAT DREADED ‘D’ WORD — DEPRESSION

(March 19, 2021) Charles Schwab shares very openly, very personally from his heart and life experience…

The ‘D’ word – Depression – is extremely relevant to Christians today! Depression is real, and the church needs to face that reality appropriately.

‘Mental illness and Christians’ is in the news fairly regularly.  In 2013 Matthew Warren, the youngest son of high-profile mega-church pastors Rick and Kay Warren (Saddleback Community Church, California), took his own life after a long struggle with unrelenting depressive illness.  Reports are that he had received the best medical, counselling and pastoral support available. And there have been others before and after that.

Later, Matthew’s grieving father tweeted caring supporters, ‘Grieving is hard.  Grieving as public figures, harder. Grieving while haters celebrate your pain, hardest.  Your notes sustained us.’

Failing to understand
The church and Christians have often failed to understand depression and how to deal with it.  Consequently, there are some shocking and demeaning views held by people who ideally should be able to show positive care, understanding and help towards the mentally afflicted.  So often, for various reasons, this has not been the case.

Depressive illness has a special meaning for me, not the least reason being that in 1998, at age 53, I had to leave my pastoral role because of it.  I had been diagnosed by a psychiatrist as suffering from chronic anxiety and depressive illness that rendered me unemployable. Unemployable in any field!

Some years later I asked him again for his professional view about my situation and the future. His reply was in words I could understand, and I received them kindly in the spirit in which they were given.  They were not offensive, but illustrative of the truth as it is medically understood.  My psychiatrist is exceptionally good at his profession, someone I respect and admire who has helped me a lot.

His words were, ‘You can’t unscramble an egg.’  So, medically speaking, I’m stuck with it. (more…)

MASKS AND MARRIAGE

(March 17, 2021) Maureen McQuillan responds to a troubled young wife who wrote…

Dear Pastor Maureen
My marriage is becoming divided over the issue of wearing masks. I wear masks because it seems right to obey the laws.  My husband feels that to wear a mask is to cave into the fear rampant right now and submit to the control of a government that wants to close everything down from schools to churches.  My husband doesn’t even go inside stores or churches now.  How can we live together with some measure of peace?
Seeking peace,
Cynthia (not real name)

Dear Cynthia

I’m sorry to learn that you’re having this issue… but I understand your concern as any division between married couples leads to other troubles!

I agree with you that obeying the law is the right thing, the Christian thing, to do. It’s also commonsense! After all, we wouldn’t dash out across a busy road when safety crossings have been provided by the law! Traffic moves so fast and so does covid-19 and its offshoots. (more…)

WORD OF PROPHECY

(March 14, 2021) Robert McQuillan responds to a young man’s question …

Dear Dr Robert
I have a question. Can you tell me what
is a word of prophecy?
Jono
(Not real name)

Dear Jono

Prophesying means a Christian (not necessary only a church leader or minister) under divine inspiration from God boldly bringing a word – a message, short or longish – to bless and encourage people. Paul mentions it in 1 Corinthians 12 as being one of the nine supernatural manifestation gifts of the Holy Spirit (Hence the divine inspiration aspect, not from one’s imagination ‘making things up’ just to please, win favour or misguide).

It’s a  gift that’s used in faith (itself one of the nine gifts), believing that we’re being directed by the Holy Spirit. (more…)

GOD HAD OTHER PLANS FOR COVID-19 ‘LOST CAUSE’

(March 12, 2020) Cece Hang’andu from Africa, studying at the Los Angeles-based Lighthouse Christian Academy, brings a good news testimony…

Lisa Martin was induced into a coma to save her life, a risky procedure that she woke up from luckily at the last minute.

Just when doctors asked her family members if they could take her off life support and let the ‘lost cause’ die, Lisa Martin woke up from a 40-day Covid coma.

Hospital acknowledges God’s miracle
‘God had other plans,’ a December 31 hospital statement says. ‘On the 11th day, Lisa broke out of the sedatives and began following Jeff with her eyes and she even moved her hand.’

Now Lisa, a 49-year-old mother of four, is being called a ‘miracle patient.’ In all, she spent 59 days on a ventilator at Memorial Satillo Health in Georgia, including the induced Covid coma. She suffered a frontal lobe stroke during the health ordeal.

When Lisa didn’t come out of the coma (her eyes were fixed), hospital staff approached the family October 20 and asked them to make the hardest decision of their lives: Take Lisa off life support. (more…)

OVERWHELMED BY GOD’S STRONG LOVE

(March 11, 2021) Amber Varela, studying at Lighthouse Christian Academy, Los Angeles, brings shares a ReachOut testimony...

On 24-hour shifts, rifle-ready Lee Yih would peer across the border into East Germany, guarding against Soviet troops that never came. On his days off, the U.S. Army soldier fought with his wife and got stoned.

‘I was really aliened, Lee says. ‘I was just a loser, just not functioning in life.’

Before he lost his way in life, Lee Yih says he was born with great ambitions to be rich – a stark contrast to growing up as the offspring of a date rape in a single parent home. Being Asian, he felt like an outcast among all-white classmates in Mount Joy, Iowa.

Feeling lonely, unloved
‘I hated to be Chinese. I told my mom I wanted to be white. In the town where I grew, there were no other Chinese people and I wanted so much to fit in. Basically, I had no identity.’ His mother bristled at his rebellious rejection of Asian culture, so she shipped him off to Taiwan to learn Chinese when he was 15 years old.

‘I got worse problems because where once I felt so Chinese in Iowa and so foreign and not fitting in, now I was really not fitting in because I’m in China and so American!’ he recounts.

Then a friend invited him to a Christian camp. ‘I got snookered into going to a Baptist youth camp,’ he remembers. (more…)