Tag Archives: Resurrection power

Are you in “the pains of childbirth?”

Easter changes everything. The resurrection of Jesus Christ established historical precedent. It also provided immense ramifications for his believers: not only a new and wonderful life after death but an abundant life right now. His gift of the Holy Spirit provides a measure of that same resurrection power in our own lives – power to live victoriously in spite of the troubles we face.

While this is true, it doesn’t always seem that way, does it? We look around and see the world in disarray, hurting and despair wherever we turn. Everything seems in a state of decay, slowing dying. Even our scientists observe that all things are bent toward entropic deterioration and decay. Whether we’re faced with crushing pain or a deep sadness over our lot in life, or whether we’re facing the pain of disease that ravishes our body, it’s sometimes hard to think that things are going to get better. It seems that we, along with the whole world, groan for resurrection. (Romans 8:19)

It looked that way on the Friday Jesus was crucified. All hopes and dreams were dashed. Jubilation was replaced by deep sorrow. Confidence lost out to fear. It was the darkest hour of all time. That was Friday. But Sunday was coming! Sunday would (and did) change everything. Sunday brought the resurrection, new life, restored hope, and renewed faith. When things looked like they could not get any worse, they suddenly became miraculously better – much better!

“The whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth, right up to the present time.” (Romans 8:22) Did you catch the comparison? The excruciating pains of childbirth are real but they are temporary.  Temporary pain is exchanged for the joy of new life! We understand that in the hospital labor room. But can you see this truth in the labor room of your present pains, your current sorrow, and your very real disappointments? As dark and terrifying as they seem, they are about to give birth to new light and new life, if Jesus is at work. Temporary suffering, even if it is for a lifetime, is not forever. All things will be made new. Just as the first two chapters of the bible speak to the creation of heaven and earth, the last two chapters speak of the new heaven and earth. And here we are in the middle of that magnificent story of God’s redeeming love. The resurrection power of God takes us from the pains of childbirth to the miracle of new life. We experience that restoration “on earth – as it is in heaven” when we allow God’s Spirit to renew us in the midst of our present trial.

How does thinking about your current struggles change when you consider them like the temporary pains of childbirth, about to give birth to a new, more abundant and victorious life? A life that may be “hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. . . Death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-12

LIFE is at work in you. New life in the presence of death and decay, joyful hope in the presence of current sorrows, victory snatched from the jaws of defeat. This is the abundant life Jesus offers to each of us. It’s yours, and mine, for the believing and receiving.

I don’t know about you, but I’m trading my sorrows for the joy of the Lord.

Does resurrection matter?

Some people, even some professing Christians don’t believe in the resurrection of Jesus and therefore question the possibility, of their own resurrection. There are all sorts of opinions about what happened after he died, but this is how the bible describes Jesus after his resurrection:

He spoke saying, “It is I myself.” His disciples saw his nail-pierced hands and he invited them to touch him. He said to them, “I am not a ghost.” Jesus walked on earth in his resurrection body. He stood on a shore where he cooked fish. He invited his friends saying, “Come and have breakfast.” The risen Jesus walked and talked with the men on the road to Emmaus. Mary recognized his voice when he called her by name. Though his resurrected body was physical in every way, he was able to appear in a room with the disciples even though the door was locked. Not only was his body resurrected but we learn of resurrected relationships as we read of how we demonstrated his love for them. He talked with them and trusted them with the great task of reaching others in his name.

By all accounts, this fully persuades me to believe that the resurrection story is literally true. Not big news, you say? Why is this important? The real resurrection of Jesus is the foundation for our faith and the model for our future too, and the focal point of our hope. As Paul says, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins…(and) we are to be pitied more than all men.” (1 Corinthians 15:17,19) If Christ didn’t conquer the grave, neither could we. Our sins would remain as testimonies against us. Not only that, but from where would come the power for us to overcome the world of difficulties we face? What if you put a sticky note ensxribed “Resurrection Power!” where you would see it throughout the day? Do you think reflecting on the resurrection power of the risen Jesus would make a rearl difference in your life?

John Piper states, “Christianity is  not a platonic religion that regards material things as mere shadows of reality. Not the mere immortality of the soul, but rather the resurrection of the body, and the renewal of all creation is the hope of the Christian faith.” Whenever we long for things to be better, in a pure sense we are longing for heaven, life as it was always intended to be, full, abundant, satisfying, joyous and meaningful. When you find yourself wishing for a more just and fair world, for more love and less hatred, for a pure uncorrupted body and unspoiled nature, maybe you could take a moment and realize you are really longing for a bit of heaven. Can you imagine, not only a perfect body uniquely created for your personality and nature at peace, but also perfectly restored relationships?! It’s what we work to achieve now and will fully experience in heaven. “Just as we have born the likeness of earthly men, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven (Jesus). 1 Corinthians 15:49

As I reflect on the passion, sacrifice, death and resurrection of Jesus this Easter season, I realize that what I understand about heaven is essential to the view of who I am right now and where I am headed. We have one life to live. It is not one path on earth going here and there, and a different one in heaven, but one path we walk, eternally connected across the bridge of this life to the next.

Beyond the curse in your life


The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10


Are you enjoying a rich abundant life, full of passion and purpose, blessing in each day, a cup overflowing with goodness? Or do you feel lately that too much joy and prosperity have been stolen from your life and see life as a glass less than half full? If we find our days abundantly filled with goodness, it seems that it doesn’t take long for something to come along and threaten to steal that away from us. It’s the nature of the life we live in a world that has been cursed since the fall of man. In Genesis 3:14-17, God cursed the devil for deceiving the woman and because man did not listen to God, he cursed the ground as punishment, making life one of toil. You might wonder, “Will it always be that way?” Thankfully, the answer is NO.

While it seems Satan foiled God’s good plan for you, nothing could be further from the truth. From the very beginning, God promised he would send a rescuer, a redeemer, the very one we desperately need to restore and renew our lives, to recover and return us to how he designed us to live.

God’s plan is to save you for an eternal life of joy with him and to give you an abundant life on earth, invincible to the circumstances that come upon you. Satan’s plan is to snatch the souls of men and women before they accept Jesus, or to destroy their joy and make them live miserable lives as defeated Christians, never feeling good enough. He wants us to give up on God, or at the very least to become so busy that we easily forget him in our daily lives.

God’s plan is “to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, Jesus.” (Ephesians 1:10)  ALL things, not some. All joy and strength, love and grace, truth and hope. While God lives in heaven and we live on earth, his plan is that there be no separation between the two. Randy Alcorn states, “There will be no more divided loyalties or divided realms. There will be one cosmos, one universe united under one Lord – forever. This is the unstoppable plan of God. This is where history is headed.”

The question is not only who will reign on earth forever but who reigns in your heart right now? Does God have full dominions and authority in your life? Does he fuel your ambitions and goals? Or does he just have a tiny slice of your morning prayer and Sunday worship? Do you know anything that is able to reclaim, rebuild, restore, and redeem the woes of your life like God? Before sending his disciples out to spread the good news, baptize, and teach those they met, Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” Do you know why he said that? It’s because his same all powerful authority was available to them through the power of his indwelling Spirit in them.

That same authority is available to you and me – today. His authority, if we accept it, has authority over our pain, our disappointment, our sorrows, and our despair. While the day is yet to come in heaven when there will “no longer be any curse” (Revelation 22:3), we have victory over the power of the curse now, through themthe indwelling Spirit of Jesus.  It’s realizing the paradox that God’s answer to our prayers is “already and yet to come.” We pray confidently because we know he has already won the battle and his good outcome is secure.

My very best days are those I remember to begin by asking the Holy Spirit to take over my agenda, to interrupt my “precious” plans, and to heighten my senses so I will be aware of those around me so I can see them through his eyes.

Observes Alcorn, “Under the curse human culture has not been eliminated, but it has been severely hampered by sin, death and decay. But have hope. One day, sin and sorrow will be forever thwarted and his goodness displayed as far as the curse is found. The curse is real but it is temporary,”


While we wait with eager anticipation, let’s live with the resurrection power of Jesus in our lives now.


What you believe is important


It seems everyone has an opinion on everything. From things that seem silly like does Bigfoot really exist to serious matters like how to be good stewards of this planet and how to be good stewards also of this life we’ve been granted. The truth is, believing in Bigfoot doesn’t make him exist and merely disbelieving the legend doesn’t make him a myth. The truth of whether he is or isn’t isn’t influenced by our beliefs. Similarly, something much more serious like climate change is not made true or false by what we believe. But what we believe can change US and how our lives impact our world.

This isn’t a commentary on Bigfoot or climate change. But perhaps it’s a stepping stone for us to think about what we do believe and the impact it has on our life. For example, I might believe someone said something with the motive of offending me. After all, I feel offended. But my opinion of their motive does not make it their motive, right? What we believe doesn’t make something real but what we deeply believe changes us.


Someone said the most profound question in life is this: “Do you believe Jesus is who he said he was?” Your opinion doesn’t change reality but it can change you. I have good friends who say “yes, he is,” and it appears to me they generally model their life according to that belief. I have other friends who say no or aren’t sure and they model their lives accordingly. And some of those who don’t believe seem to me to be very genuine, kind, and loving people that I respect and love. Some don’t want to think about the matter at all and that believe also impacts their lives. The truth is, our opinions about things don’t change reality but they change us.


Paul wrote a letter to the church at Corinth about such a matter (1 Corinthians 15). It seems some of them believed that Jesus lived, maybe even was the Son of God, but evidently did not believe that he was resurrected from the dead. Paul responded, “If Christ has not been raised (from the dead) our preaching is useless and so is your faith. Your faith is futile, you are still in your sins.” (V14 and 17) The consistent message of the New Testament is that we are indeed sinners and need a Savior, that Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins, was resurrected, and that we too will be resurrected even after death. If God’s claims are true, whether we believe or don’t believe, our eternal lives will be impacted by that truth. Of course, the opposite is also true, as Paul states. If God’s claims are false, then our faith is in vain.


Our beliefs don’t influence only our eternal state. They influence our life now. Everyone believes in something. If we don’t believe in the power of the resurrected Jesus, we believe in the power of something else – ourselves, our family, our country, our passionate causes. If I set myself on the decision-making throne of my life then I have to rely on my “wisdom” and my natural skills and abilities and passions to guide my life. I’ve tried that and it never worked well for me. Everything falls short, especially me.


But what happens when we believe – really believe – in the resurrected Jesus? We come to believe that God’s Word is really true in all aspects of our lives; that when Jesus talks about giving us his Spirit to teach, convict, comfort and strengthen us, it’s a reality, not just some religious doctrine. It means the reality of the resurrected Jesus lives in the heart of the believer. His authority, his power, his ability to love those you really don’t like, his compassion for people you might look down on, his grace, his forgiveness, his patience, his self-control, his strength and his hope are yours despite the circumstances you face or even the emotions you feel. “He has put everything under his feet.” (V27)


God’s encouragement to those who believe in his Son is this:
“Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the Lord, because you know that your labor is not in vain.” (V58)


How is what you really believe impacting your life?


What difference does the resurrection make?


The day after Easter, it’s worth pondering, “What difference does the resurrection of Jesus have in my life?”


Some people, even professing Christians, believe it was just a story. (How in the world can people who call themselves ‘Christian’ still come to such a conclusion?) And for some who do believe, Easter is more of an event than a lifestyle. Church attendance swells on Easter Sunday and then dwindles to normal the week after. We turn the page of the calendar and move on. Of course, we’re thankful that Jesus conquering the grave means His followers also will share in that promise when our bodies die. But is there more?


Think on this. What if Jesus hadn’t risen from the dead? What if He remained in the tomb forever? He would be just like all the other ‘good’ teachers, wouldn’t He? We could say, “He was such a good teacher. I want to try to be like Him.” His life would inspire us to higher ideals, but we’d be left on our own to sort out how to accomplish that. Furthermore, if He was just like all the other ‘good’ teachers we’d be tempted to blend all the ‘good’ teachings into our lives: a little Christianity, a little Hindu, a little Buddhism. We’re told it’s ‘extreme’ to believe in “THE way, THE truth, and THE life.” And so it becomes easy to fold Christianity into a part of our life, rather than being our life.


But Jesus couldn’t have been just a good teacher. He claimed to be the Son of God. What good teacher would lead His followers to believe a lie if He was a mere man? And what believers would follow a lie to their persecution and tortuous death . . . for centuries to follow? And what difference did the resurrection of their beloved master and Lord make in their lives?


Following His death they were huddled in fear, guilt, and depression. Hopelessness and despair defined their days. They must have been asking, “What now? Should we go back to our routine manner of living?” They didn’t have long to ponder this because three days later they had real encounters with their risen Lord. They saw Him with their eyes. They touched Him with their hands. They talked with Him and fellowshipped with Him. And then they came to understand His compelling purpose for their lives.


While He walked on earth, Jesus interacted personally with many. After His resurrection He gave His Holy Spirit so that ALL could encounter Him any time, all the time, at the same time, now and forever. Because Jesus conquered the grave, we share in His promise that our death is not final, that true believers also will be resurrected unto eternal life. But amazing as that is, there’s more!


Because Jesus rose from the grave, we have hope for today! Because Jesus conquered death, Jesus-in-us can conquer life and all we face. For those who live in His Spirit there is resurrection power, not only in heaven, but for living – today.


You’ve heard about the historical Jesus. Maybe you’ve tried to incorporate His teachings into your life. But have you had a personal encounter with the real resurrected Jesus? Ask Him to be Lord of your life and let His resurrection power make a profound difference in your life, not only for eternity but for today.


“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33



Crucified With Christ day T-4

Some of you have noted how my chemo schedule starts on Good Friday with similarities to being crucified with Christ. Understand, my situation bears NO real resemblance to the actual pain Jesus bore. But Paul did write of certain similarities: Galatians 2:20 states the reality for all true believers: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

It is the goal and process of the Christian life, to increasingly align with Christ who lives in us, to crucify and transform our sinful bodies. In a small sense, my immune system and bone marrow which protect and sustain my life, will be crucified, destroyed. The new marrow will be grafted into my body and start to take control.

My 19 year old male donor (from the USA) has O+ blood. I am B+ so at some point I too will become O+. So my blood will no longer live but my donor’s life giving blood identity will live in me. I will take on his immune system and allergies, if any. Jesus produces a new nature that gradually takes hold in the life of His followers. I’m not sure what the effects of having 19 year old blood cells circulating in my system will have. But I am thinking having the blood of a teenager might rejuvenate me in a number of ways. Bear with me if I develop an affinity for Rap! Seriously, I’m so impressed and thankful that a young man would willingly save the life of a stranger by signing up to be a stem cell donor. Some of you have asked if I can have contact with my donor. I understand we can send anonymous notes via the donor center and after one year can meet each other if mutually agreeable.

In the transfusion that Jesus offers His followers, there are often battles of the will involving which master will be followed. Similarly in this situation, there are usually battles between the host (me) and the graft (donor). These are sometimes short lived, sometimes lifelong, sometimes rather minor, other times serious or life threatening.

No worries today, though questions remain. The first two rounds of chemo went well; two to go. THIS is the test of our faith: is it real enough to bear the crucifixion and does the hope it offers bring absolute peace in the midst of the darkness and trial? I am confident it does. Your prayers strengthen that reality as we count down to T day zero and beyond. Doctors say days 7-10 after transplant may be rougher. I have my armor on for such a fight (Ephesians 6:10+). Your prayers strengthen us both more than you know.

With crucifixion power, the ability to endure death of self, comes also resurrection power which is celebrated on Easter and everyday, the ability to rise victoriously from that ‘death.’ I’m ‘reckoning this to be true’ in my life. Be blessed seeking any ‘crucifixion’ and ‘transfusion’ of power you may need to guide your life toward God’s best!

“I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”
Philippians 3:10-11