Remembering the Reason for the Easter Season

Easter cross

A common aphorism at Christmas time is “Remember the Reason for the Season.” It’s a great reminder that Jesus, Our Savior, was born on Christmas day to come into the world as a baby to die as a man on a cross and resurrect three days later on Easter. So at Easter season, why don’t we say: “Remember the Reason for the Easter Season”?

I don’t recall ever hearing that slogan used at Easter. Do you? It’s not on flags, banners, buttons we wear, or even Easter cards or mentioned in Easter sermons. I wonder why not?

The “Easter season” has similar distractions as Christmas that can take our focus off Jesus and His sacrifice for you and for me. Easter commemorates the foundation of our Christian faith. Without Easter, there would be no hope. Easter is the reason we have forgiveness for our sins and the assurance of eternal life. As the apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians:

Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.

I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said.—1 Cor. 15:1-4

In my new release, Forsaken God?:Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, in the chapter on Remembering His Sacrifice, I wrote:

As Christians, we understand the extreme sacrifice God and Jesus endured: God gave his One and only Son who became the last sacrificial lamb dying in atonement for our sins. Jesus died a painful and horrific death on a cross for you and for me. At Easter, we celebrate Jesus’s resurrection three days later, and he lives today at the right hand of God—preparing a place for his followers who will someday join him in eternity. And he lives within the hearts of believers.

How could we ever forget such a sacrifice, but we do.

crucifixion

During the Easter Season, our focus can turn to church services, performances, cantatas, pageants, new clothes, brunch, family gatherings, special dinners, decorating, egg hunts, Easter baskets . . . all good things. But before we know it . . . one of the most meaningful days of the year is over. We probably went to church, said a prayer before meals, maybe even read some Bible passages about the Last Supper, Gethsemane, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection. But did we take time to solemnly remember and praise God for…the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus . . .

39 lashes

A crown of thorns

Hands and feet nailed to a cross

The 10,000 angels he could have called to rescue him

The world’s sins he took on himself

Feeling forsaken

The torn veil

Shed blood

The final cry, “It is finished!” (Pg. 217, Forsaken God?)

I pray this Easter season finds you refreshed and renewed in your relationship with Christ, and the purpose He has given each of us to keep the memory of Easter alive and vibrant, every day in our hearts, speech, and actions. Let us never forget:

“You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14 (NLT)

Hallelujah!

Happy Resurrection Day!

Janet

Other Easter Posts:

What Does the Moon Have to Do with Easter?

Share the Good News of Easter

How to Share the Easter Message with You Children and Grandchildren

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What Does the Moon Have to Do With Easter?

With Easter fast approaching, I knew you would all find this guest post by Linda Rooks fascinating. I know I did! You’ll want a copy of her new book The Bunny Side of Easter for all the kids in your family. Leave a comment below to enter a drawing for a copy!

 

moon with rabbit cropped

Connecting the Easter Bunny to the True Meaning of Easter

By Linda Rooks

Easter comes on April 5 this year. So in about a month it will once again be time for Easter baskets, colored eggs, and the celebration of the resurrection.

I imagine several of you are even now checking to make sure you’ve got it down on your calendars. Chances are that like me, you may have trouble keeping up with the date for Easter each year. Last year, Easter came late at the end of April, and the year before, Easter came at the end of March. Ever wonder why the discrepancy? Why the date changes from year to year?

The Significance of the Moon

The date for Easter differs each year because it’s determined by the moon. Easter always comes on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the advent of spring. When I first discovered this, I became fascinated with how this came to be and why the lunar calendar plays such a significant part.

The way that God’s creation meshes with our daily life is always a thing of wonder to me. God uses His creation to speak to us in many ways. He used the star to guide the magi to the manger where Jesus was born. He uses the rainbow as a promise that he would never again destroy us. He uses the seasons as well as seeds that sprout into living things to teach us about life, death, and resurrection. Jesus even said that if the people did not turn out with their Hallelujahs to praise him on Palm Sunday that the rocks would have cried out in praise instead.

So when I discovered that not only did the moon determine the date for Easter, but ancient storytellers in the East had seen a rabbit in the moon, I became even more fascinated. Could all this connect with the Easter bunny somehow?

A Story of Faith, Compassion, and Courage

I never did find an answer to that question, but when I decided to write an Easter book for children, the moon became part of the story, and, of course, the rabbit in the moon had to play a part as well. For what I further discovered is that in the shadowy patches of the full moon, I could actually see the image of a rabbit. His body is on the left side of the moon and his ears are at the top. I even borrowed a little from the ancient storytellers to tell the story. But the moon is only a small part of the story . . .because the thrust of this little adventure focuses on a story of faith, compassion, and courage that turned an ordinary rabbit into a hero and taught an angel about God’s omnipresent love and the power of prayer.

The heroic bunny became the Easter bunny and as a result he got to go to the moon and become the rabbit on the moon.

Fun, huh?

           

The story begins on Easter eve when three animals—a mischievous rabbit, a plucky duck and a playful monkey become lost and must face a fearsome tiger. A little angel is kind to them, but her doubts about God’s omnipresence put her in danger when a fearsome tiger emerges on the scene. The question then becomes: can the three animals save themselves and the little angel who was kind to them? Will the angel discover the truth about her power? The bunny comes to the rescue to save her even though it may mean sacrificing his own life to do so. His act of heroism makes him the Easter bunny. The Bunny Side of Easter is a tale of fears faced, friendships gained, and faith discovered.

Bunny Side of Easter Cover 200-2

On Easter morning, when you watch your children scurry about the yard looking for Easter eggs, you may feel a disconnect between the legend of the Easter bunny and the real meaning of Easter. If so, The Bunny Side of Easter can fill the gap, taking children on an exciting and charming adventure with hints of allegory that point children to the true significance of Easter.

And when the next full moon appears, take your children out under the nighttime sky to look for the rabbit in the moon. Together, you can make a fun new discovery that will likely become a monthly ritual and a delight to all.

Head shot - FFWC 1-cropped

As author of The Bunny Side of Easter, Linda W. Rooks takes her life-long love of children’s books and uses it to tell a winsome, but exciting adventure that points children to the real meaning of Easter. Her first adult book, Broken Heart on Hold, was published in 2006 and continues to minister to women in broken marriages. Linda’s writing has appeared in a number of national publications, including Chicken Soup for the Beach Lover’s Soul, Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian Woman and HomeLife. She has appeared as a guest many times on TV and radio talk shows across the North American continent.

Leave a comment to enter drawing for copy of The Bunny Side of Easter. It would make a great Easter gift!

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Share the Good News of Easter

Cowboy Easter Breakfast

Traditionally, Christmas and Easter are the two occasions when people who don’t normally attend church will put on their best clothes and go to church. Or maybe a neighbor or family member has invited them to attend and they feel obligated. Whatever the reason, it’s always a good thing when people hear about the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. For some, this might be the year the gospel message resonates in their hearts and minds—they stop resisting the call to become a follower of Jesus.

Invite Someone to Church on Easter

We don’t know when or where conversions will take place so that’s why we need to continue offering everyone an opportunity to receive Christ’s invitation. Maybe your heart has become hardened by the rejection of numerous invitations to attend church with you—don’t let that happen. Don’t give up. You never know when God has planned for them to say, “Yes”!

Plan an Outreach Event

How about having an outreach Easter breakfast, or picnic or brunch or street BBQ in your neighborhood! During conversations, be open with why you celebrate Easter and what it means to you. Be prepared to answer questions.

Our church hosts a Cowboy Easter Breakfast down by the river behind our church. People in the community attend from every walk-of-life and every faith. It’s a great time of eating breakfast and drinking coffee around the campfires and there’s always a gospel message and testimonies.

Two years ago, when we had only lived here a year, I was asked to be the Cowboy Breakfast speaker. I felt humbled, hesitant, and excited. I said I would have to pray and know that God really wanted me to do this.

The awesome thing about living the Christian life is that when we pray, God answers—maybe through reading the Bible, or a sermon, or song, or even movies or TV. This time He used the big screen. We were at our kids’ church, The Pursuit in Meridian, worshipping and singing when they put Acts 20:24 on the screen:

 But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. Acts 20:24 (NLT)

Since my writing and speaking ministry is About His Work Ministries, I knew this was a message from the Lord assuring me that my work was to tell the Gospel story and the Good News that JESUS IS ALIVE! I also knew that there would be many unbelievers at the breakfast and God was giving me an opportunity to be a bold evangelist.

Let Your Children Participate

Encourage your children and grandchildren to invited unchurched friends to go to Sunday School with them on Easter and to come to your outreach event.

When I spoke at the Cowboy Breakfast, my then 6-year-old granddaughter Katelyn shared the microphone with me to recite John 3:16. I was so proud of her! Just this week she told me, “Grammie, I want to share John 3:16 at the Cowboy Breakfast again.” Could we be grooming the next family evangelist? Grammie-Katelyn-Cowboy-642x250

God blessed Katelyn and me with a boldness that morning to share the Gospel. Here’s what one attendee remarked:

I wanted to let you know how much I appreciated your message at the Cowboy Breakfast. It was clearly presented and probably the best explanation that I have heard so that people are not confused about making a commitment to Christ. So often people are afraid to say what is needed because they are concerned about offending their audience. It was import that you were clear on what sin is and how to make a personal commitment. I also received feedback from members of our Vineyard Home Study Group that were pleased that the truth could be so clearly spoken.Thanks again for the time and effort that you put into preparation for those who needed to hear this message.

Share Your Testimony

Last year at the Cowboy Breakfast, my husband Dave shared his testimony of turning from a self-motivated man to a man solely motivated by Christ. IMG_4102

Who needs to hear this Easter what Christ has done for you and can do for them?

Cowboy Easter Sunday Mornin’—Rod Nichols

On an Easter Sunday mornin’
‘fore the sun has yet to rise,
the roundup crew will gather ’round
to await the newborn sky.

It’s a cowboy sunrise service
neath the purple, gray and gold,
in remem’brance of a story,
that’s the greatest ever told.


Someone may say a word or two
in a simple, cowboy prayer.
Another hand may lead a hymn
for the boys still kneelin’ there.


Then the sun will climb toward heaven
from below the eastern range,
like the Lord’s ascent in glory
as it lights the darkened  plain.

When the service, then, has ended,
and the day has been reborn,
each man will know the gift of life,
on an Easter Sunday morn.

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5 Reasons to See The Son of God

Son of God

This past weekend, the movie Son of God opened in theaters around the country. Hubby and I had the blessing of seeing it on Saturday in a wide-screen theater. Many pastors encouraged their congregations to see this movie. According to USA Today, we came out in force—Son of God came in second for box office sales over the weekend, knocking the movie Lego off top place:

Son of God, the Biblical tale that drew support of pastors nationwide, took second with $26.5 million.

The debut met expectations and was propelled in part by prominent ministers that included Joel Osteen and Rick Warren, who distributed thousands of tickets and urged vigorous turnout for the drama about Jesus’ life.

While analysts consider devout audiences an underserved demographic in Hollywood, Ray Subers of Box Office Mojo says that Son was considered a “total wild card” when it came to predicting ticket sales.

When the film was announced last year, “many scoffed at the project,” he says.

The movie “is, after all, attempting to get people to pay movie theater prices for content many have already seen via The History Channel’s popular mini-series, The Bible,” Subers says.

But audiences gathered en masse for the movie, which scored an A- among moviegoers, says CinemaScore. Critics were more skeptical: Just 24% gave it their blessing, according to Rotten Tomatoes. But 81% of fans said they enjoyed it, according to the site.

Five reasons why pastors wanted their congregations to go see Son of God on opening weekend and continue to see it at theaters:

 

1. To Send a Clear Message to Hollywood

The USA Today article described “devout audiences” as an “underserved demographic in Hollywood.” When Hollywood takes a risk, as 20th-Century Fox did with Son of God, Christians need to show our support. Opening weekend numbers make news and Son of God coming in second was huge! Those of you who haven’t seen it yet, need to go soon. If a movie isn’t bringing in revenue to movie theaters, they won’t keep showing it.

We sent a clear message with the millions who watched the television mini-series The Bible and Hollywood took note. So even if you saw The Bible, give the same support to this movie if you want to see more movies we can stand behind come out of Hollywood.

2. Son of God is Our Story

Son of God portrays the ministry of Jesus, the agonizing cross, and glorious resurrection—every Christian’s heritage and testimony. Christ died and rose again for us. We should never tire of telling, hearing, or seeing the story behind our salvation. We need a reminder of what Christ endured to give you and me eternal life and the ministry responsibility for each of us to continue.

3. Son of God tells the Easter Story

Son of God ushers in the Easter season. As churches prepare programs, cantatas, and services, this movie reminds of what we’re celebrating. Jesus died a horrible death for us, but He arose and lives among us. The movie is a depiction of the Gospel story—the Good News.

4. Son of God is Biblically Accurate

I knew what the actors’ next words were going to be because they were from the Bible! Watching the Bible come alive is exciting, and you’ll know more Scripture than you thought you did.

5. Son of God is an Outreach

Invite unchurched neighbors and friends to go to the movies with you. There is also a Son of God Bible study, so offer to host a small group Bible study in your home after you see it at the movies.

We, the “Devout Audiences,” Can Make a Difference—For Good or Bad

Many scoffed at the Son of God project and predicted it’s failure, but the faithful came out and showed that the moral majority are mighty in numbers. We can make a difference. We don’t have to put up with the junk that typically comes out of Hollywood.

Here’s the caveat: We negate the impact of Son of God coming in second place on opening weekend, if next weekend we go watch R-rated, or even some PG 13, movies. In January, I wrote a blog post “Be Careful Little Eyes What You See,” and suggested running every movie through the Ephesians 5:1-10 grid. As a reminder, verses 3-4 warn:

“Sexual immorality, impurity, or greed. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes”? According to God: “these are not for you . . . Such sins have no place among God’s people.”

There are more faith-based movies coming out in upcoming months. Let’s cast our vote by seeing these movies and abstain from seeing any movie that would offend The Son of God.

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