Monthly Archives: March 2016

Secular or Sacred? Own Your Easter! (Not just another Easter bashing lesson)

egg-bunnyAt this time of year, I am reminded of the great Easter egg hunts in the 1st century. James, John, Peter, and the others gathered their dyes, colored their eggs, and waited for a bunny to magically produce chocolate in them. Or…no, not at all, uh uh. “Easter,” as it is practiced today by so many, was never commanded by God, never practiced by the Apostles, and wasn’t considered by the 1st century church. So why is it one of the biggest events of the year? Let’s consider.

The word Easter has its roots in the Old English Easterdæg, from Eastre, from Proto-Germanic Austron, a goddess of fertility and spring. You say, “what does that have to do with Jesus?” Well, nothing. But the Passover, and subsequent death, burial, and resurrection, occurred in the spring. And so, this word that deals with sunrise (especially sunrise and the celebration of the spring equinox), from austra, “to shine” (dawn) became indicative of Jesus’ empty tomb on Sunday morning.

Once the idea of Easter was introduced, and Christians began practicing an annual remembrance of Christ’s resurrection, confusion ensued about what day it should be celebrated. And by the year 325AD, when the Council of Nicaea met, there was enough confusion that the council felt the need to decree that the annual day should be observed on Sunday (that is the day He arose after all). But they did not select a specific Sunday; that would not be decided until much later. To be clear, this day was not confused with the weekly gathering, a clear-cut command and example we find in the New Testament to gather in His name. Christians were not 1x/year Christians.

Also, please understand; none of this implies in any way that the facts surrounding Jesus, or the Biblical accounts, have in any way been tampered with or perverted. All it proves is that well-meaning individuals, who wanted to show the importance of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, took it upon themselves to celebrate this day. And therein lies the problem. Is Easter a secular holiday or a sacred one?

Notice, we already had a sacred day, given by God. When God wants a religious commemoration, He gives a specific day or He gives a clear example by His servants, in scripture. And even a quick glance at the Bible proves that this gathering took place every Sunday, a day we call “the Lord’s Day.” And so, ‘remember His death until He comes’ is the motto of Christian worship.

But if Easter is a secular holiday, then why all the talk of Jesus? In other words, just call it what it is – a celebration of the spring that has some “hand-me-down” leftovers from pagan ideas of ancient cultures. But that idea gives many Christians pause. Is that allowed? If we add in a little Jesus stuff, does that somehow cleanse it and make it better? Of course it doesn’t! If you are going to do it, just let it be what it is….a little fun.

But…own your Easter. Will it be sacred or secular? There is nothing wrong with playing games, painting eggs, and enjoying some chocolate. But if you want to worship God in the way He wants to be praised, go to church this Sunday and celebrate the Lord’s power over death…and then do it next Sunday…and the Sunday after that too…and, you get the idea. And have a Happy Lord’s Day, because, He lives!

Quitting Sin…Cold Turkey?

cold turkeyWhen I was young, I didn’t like taking off Band-Aids. They hurt. So I peeled them back slowly. But, with time, I learned that there was a better way – one quick pull. As we mature, we learn that it is better to face our pain today rather than slowly over time. And, it turns out that science agrees!

According to a recent study on quitting smoking, researchers showed that a group who tried to quit smoking “cold turkey” was more successful than the group who did so over time. Even more telling, was the fact that those in the group who quit “cold turkey” were far more successful at quitting for good. And, with smoking listed as the leading preventable cause of death, according to the CDC, knowing how to quit effectively is important.

Smoking may be the leading preventable cause of death, physically speaking, but sins are, of course, the leading cause of spiritual death. In fact, sin is the only cause of spiritual death. And, unfortunately, the mortality rate is 100%.

Quitting sin is the greatest challenge humanity faces. After all, “all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God” (Roman 3:23), and everyone bears the shame of sin (1 John 1:10).

But, thankfully, there is good news! You can quit “cold turkey!” Jesus expected it: “From now on sin no more” (John 8:11); “do not sin anymore” (John 5:14). Why was that Jesus’ answer to sinners? Because Jesus knew what researchers have discovered…“cold turkey” gives us the greatest chance of success.

You see, the “over time” smoking group was like many Christians are today. They make a decision, but continually long for the old life. They look back like Lot’s wife did with Sodom. They fail, because they fail to sever. Many of us seem to want to quit sin on our schedule rather than God’s. But that method isn’t successful, and God expects more.

So what does “cold turkey” look like, spiritually speaking? Surely, it doesn’t mean never sinning again, does it? No. But an immediate and convicted reaction to sin is the most successful path to righteousness.

When we realize our sins and our condition, we should go before God’s throne like Isaiah did in Isaiah 6. Our realization of sin in our lives and the damage sin inflicts, must cause us to have woeful, repentant hearts. And we should make every effort to sever sin from our lives.

It doesn’t mean we will be perfect. And it doesn’t mean we will be sinless. Quitting “cold turkey” includes putting all my trust in Him to keep me in the fruit of the Spirit…even when I fail. Dying to self is harder when it is done piecemeal, longing for the old life. Living in the love of Christ is a decision that is far more successful when done, “cold turkey.”

 

The Bible Says To Respect, IRF4 Or Not!

gray geneIn England it is spelled grey, and in America, gray. Some color swatches give different shades for each. But however you spell it, commercials have long encouraged us to wash it “right out of your head!”

Scientists have been in hot pursuit of the cause of hair color change for a long time. But until recently, “graying” remained a mystery. Thanks to the discovery of IRF4, though, we may finally have an answer!

According to a study published Tuesday, Kaustubh Adhikari, a research associate in cell and developmental biology at University College London, has helped identify a “graying” gene. And, while stress, diet, and environment do appear to play a role, having the IRF4 gene seems to be a dominant factor in graying. So…for those who hate the gray/grey/IRF4, good news: scientists may soon wash it away…forever!

Some people fear the gray – perhaps because of vanity, perhaps because it reminds them of their mortality. Others embrace the gray and call it a “silver lining” or “wisdom whiskers.” But “going gray” is about more than just color; it is about life.

In fact, “gray beards” and “silver lined ladies” don’t need gray in their hair to have wisdom. And even if scientists alters or eradicates the gene, the Bible reminds us to respect the wisdom of the aged, IRF4 or none.

From God’s Word:

  • Job 12:12 “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.”
  • Leviticus 19:32 “”Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged.”
  • Timothy 5:1-3 Never speak harshly to an older man, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father…Treat older women as you would your mother…”
  • 1 Peter 5:5 “You who are younger, be subject to the elders.”
  • Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to them…”
  • Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother…”
  • Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

So remember to give a little respect, whether or not it comes lined in IRF4. Don’t forget, you’ll be there one day too!