Why I celebrate Easter

Everyone is looking forward to the extended weekend and the opportunity to ‘down tools’ and take a break. Thousands of people take the chance to head out of the city and into the bush to camp for what is the last opportunity before winter kicks in. People spend more money than they were expecting at the Easter Show and carry home more trinkets and fairy floss than they really need. Others catch up with family or just take it slow enjoying hot-cross-buns and chocolate eggs…

But as with all holidays, the trimmings often overrun the reason for the break and the message of the moment – it seems like the central themes of Easter become less and less mentioned and less and less relevant to the people who are happy to have the 4 day holiday.

The fact is that Easter has the potential to be the centrepiece of your calendar: above all other celebrations, it depicts the reason for real hope and answer to all the issues that plague our society.

At Easter we remember that Christ came, that he lived and that he gave his life as a substitute for us so that we do not have to be separated from God and we have the opportunity for peace with each other. Christ demonstrated his potential for influence by the fact that even though he died a hideous and vindictive death, that death could not hold him! Early Sunday morning the tomb was empty, the stone was rolled away and the world changed forever!

“But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.”                    Matthew 28:5–8

 

This is why I celebrate Easter – this is what runs through my mind as I relax, eat chocolate and eat hot-cross-buns. Because of Easter I have hope that lasts forever and joy that cannot be taken away! That is message worth running to deliver!

Have a great Easter!  

The ultimate turnaround!

When was the last time you experienced something turning from good to bad unexpectedly and without warning?

Perhaps it was something really superficial – like ordering a meal from the menu and when it arrives it doesn’t look anything like you expected. Perhaps it was something a bit more important – a task that you thought was going well suddenly takes a turn for the worse and you are left confused and embarrassed.   Perhaps it was something that leaves lasting effects – the breakdown of a relationship or losing someone who was really close to you.

The truth is that we all suffer losses throughout our lives: we lose our innocence; we lose our youth; we lose friends; we lose opportunities; we get injured; people misuse us; hopes fade; we make mistakes; disasters happen and… we eventually come to the end of our lives.

I am sounding every depressing today and that is not my purpose – the fact remains that all of us have (and will) have moments or seasons in our lives where good turns to bad and we are left with an opportunity to respond.

Our choices are either despair or hope.

This is why I love Easter – this is why I celebrate it above all other times of the year – the benefits of Easter pervade every aspect of my life and stand as a powerful hope to us all.

Easter was the ultimate in good turning bad. Jesus – the kindest, humblest and most generous individual – is killed brutally because of jealousy and fear. He had called all men and women back into relationship with God through Himself and the response of the world was to crucify Him.

All our hopes and possibilities seem to die with Christ on the Cross – and yet this is why I love Easter. He is taken down from the cross, placed in a tomb which is sealed and guarded, three days later He rises from the dead to prove and proclaim that He is the Son of God and that hope is alive for all!

If it were not for the good turning bad we would never have seen it turn around yet once more!

Easter is your opportunity, to celebrate hope and to present those ‘bad’ situations in your life to Him… all your hurts, disappointments and pain; all your failures, shortcomings and shame.

He has an answer for them all.

For the words, which rang out on that first Easter, still ring out as loudly today…

“Do not be afraid, He is Risen!”  

Take a fresh look!

What did you see last week?

What are you looking at today?

Is it something that is awe-inspiring, life changing or revolutionary?

Many of the promos on TV promise that certain shows or exposés are going to ‘change your life’ when in fact they are nothing out of the ordinary; actually they barely pass ‘interesting’.

Perhaps you are heading to the Easter Show hoping to see something spectacular, or maybe you have something else planned that will bring before your eyes something out of the ordinary: a blockbuster movie; a bush walk to an unvisited destination; an art gallery or a sporting event that promises to be a spectacle.

What are you going to look at this Easter?

As always, I hope that you enjoy your celebrations, I hope you feel the warmth of the presence of family and friends, I hope you are relaxed and refreshed by a few days off – but I also hope that your eyes are open and that you see what there is to see.

I hope you don’t only see chocolate or entertainment or the limited confines of your ‘normal’ life – I hope that you see what there is to see.

I hope you see love on display as you look at Jesus Christ who was willing to die for you.

I hope you see hope confirmed as the reality of death is overthrown as Christ is raised to life.

I hope you see faith alive and well as millions of Christians word-wide celebrate Him…

but most importantly I hope that you see Him!

 

If you look at the sun in the sky unshielded, you will hurt your eyes, it will change you but not for the better but if you take a fresh look at the Cross this Easter it could transform you and dramatically impact the limitations and challenges of your life.

This is what happened to the Roman Centurion who was in charge of Jesus’ crucifixion…

“So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!””                                            Mark 15:39

 

So whatever you do this Easter – take a fresh look at the Cross and see something new!

My Old Suitcase

I have come to the sad conclusion that the time has come and I am going to have to make a change.  It is not a huge change in the scheme of things but it is something that has served me really well for the last 15 years but unfortunately has come to the end of its life.  I am talking about my favourite suitcase…a hard shell black case with a built in system for packing my suits, shirts and pants so that I don’t look like I have just stepped out of a dirty clothes basket.

I cannot count how many trips I have been on with this case.  It has travelled through Asia, Africa and across America.  It has been on every type of plane I could imagine, in boats, trains and in dugout canoes.  It has served on overnight stays and has been my only wardrobe for weeks at a time.  It has followed me faithfully on its four wheels everywhere I have led it and has never let me down.

When I think about how many kilos of luggage it has carried it must amount to thousands and I am amazed at what has been stuffed into it over many years… but the time has come and on each of my last 3 trips, a different wheel of my trusty case has broken and cannot be fixed, so it is time to retire my old friend and find something new.

 

When you think about things which you can rely upon what springs to mind?  It may be an item like my suitcase or it maybe a person you love and trust. The truth is that very few things last the test of time and those that do should be cherished.

 

This weekend marks the 35th anniversary of my becoming a Christian. For the last 3 and a half decades I have been getting to know Christ and have been placing my trust fully in Him. Unlike my suitcase He shows no sign of wear and tear and His presence with me is more effective, supportive and comforting than ever.  His work in my past gives me confidence for His work in my future and I walk into it with joy.

 

This weekend is also Easter – the commemoration of Christ’s death and resurrection – the images of the Cross and of the Empty tomb – the reasons for our eternal hope.

I can think of no better tribute than to continue to trust Him and I invite you to do the same!

Part way through!

Have you ever got part-way into a job and thought that it would never end? 

No matter what task you take on, it seems that there will be moments that really test your patience and your resolve to see things through to the end.

Whether you are building a wall or writing a book, at some point you are going to struggle for motivation and/or doubt that you will ever be able to complete the task you started.  

Some people are great at starting things… around their house they have started painting a bedroom; making a pathway and building a carport…the only problem is that they are not so good at finishing. 

Either they got bored with the task, didn’t have skills for the task or really just didn’t think it through when they started!  When was the last time you started something really important?  When was the last time you finished something really important? How much time do you spend on the important stuff anyway?  As I have got older I have begun to realise that every day I have counts and even though I may only lay a few important bricks today, eventually I will finish my wall!  I have decided to concentrate on those things which are really important – my life, my family and my ability to positively impact those around me.

I hope that you are joining me in these great tasks as we follow the leading of the Master Builder… “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” Heb 12:2 

How long did the chocolate last?

 Was it savoured lovingly or devoured ferociously?  What type of chocolate consumer are you?  Are you like my brother who would not even begin to eat an egg until after the whole family had finished theirs (thus enjoying rubbing in the fact that he still has some)?  Or are you like me:  wake up as early as possible and eat as much as you can, just in case something goes wrong and there is no other time! This many days after Easter I am sure that much of the $200 million worth of eggs sold in Australia has been consumed, but I do recognise that some people (who misguidedly believe that rationing is the best policy) will still have some left.  I wonder if we forget the reason for the eggs as quickly as they disappear from our fridges?

I really hope not and I hope that Easter has not already faded for you because it is so much more than eggs and lasts so much longer than the most highly desired confectionary on the planet.   So in this week after Easter, I pose a simple question…What did Easter mean to you and what does Easter mean today?  See, it is not a celebration that is meant for a few short days but a reality that determines your way of life.Jesus came to earth, lived and died for us and was raised to give us a way of being right with God. 

 This is a truth that one week after Easter must not be forgotten!

Achievement

It took six years but it finally happened!It took 4 operations but it was finally achieved! Six years and two weeks ago I broke my leg whilst hiking the Milford Track in
New Zealand; last week I finished the task by returning to complete the walk that I thought might never end.
I now have a photo of myself standing on the rock on which the accident took place.  This rock had been a defeat in my life but it was now a point of victory.  I (carefully) stepped down from this rock and continued my journey, enjoying the wonderful views and the incredible environment which surrounded me. Easter is a time when we celebrate a symbol that at first appears as a defeat but in reality becomes the greatest victory that the world has ever seen.  Jesus was nailed to a cross and His life was taken from Him and so this image should fill us with dread and cause us to cower in despair. But the cross is not a picture of defeat because Jesus did not remain in the grave.  On the third day He rose from the dead and displayed His power over sin and death for all.  

The rock on the
Milford track was a painful memory but has now become a tale of victory.  The cross was an instrument of death but it has now become an opportunity for eternal life. 
Don’t let your Easter simply be about chocolate eggs and white rabbits.  Allow the power of the cross to impact you again!