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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

He Lives
"He Lives!"

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"The Lord is risen indeed" (Luke 24:34). "But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead" (1 Corinthians 15:20). "It is the Lord Christ whom you serve" (Colossians 3:24).

Brooksyne telling storyWhat a joy to gather Sunday with other believers and proclaim our faith in the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ. I still recall the powerful narration line in a song Brooksyne directed during an Easter musical many years ago that declares, "It's not a fable nor a fairy tale but a true accounting of Jesus Christ, God's only Son." AMEN!

Ester is our "official" church photographer and enjoys taking photos to post on the church Facebook page. She does a great job (Dad's honest, unbiased opinion!) and many have commented concerning enjoying her photos.

Following our Easter service she placed a number of photos up, including one that shows Brooksyne who appears to be scolding, even chastising the congregation with her pointer finger upraised. Hardly appropriate anytime but especially not on Easter! Brooksyne looked at the photo and said, "Wow! Why did I look so cross, and why would Ester snap that expression, and worse, why did she post it?" Then we recalled the moment that she took the photo and today we'll share "the full story".

The service ended with the grand old testimonial hymn, "He Lives". My favorite line in this hymn is, "You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart."

As the choir assembled Brooksyne shared this background story about
the hymn with the congregation.

Alfred AckleyIt was in 1932 that Alfred Ackley, a minister, met a Jewish man to whom he began witnessing in evangelistic meetings, but the man resisted the Christian faith. He asked, "Why should I worship a dead Jew?"

That statement played on Alfred's mind as he prepared his Easter Sunday message. Rising early to prepare for the day, Alfred flipped on the radio as he shaved and was astonished to hear a famous liberal preacher in New York say, "Good morning – it's Easter! You know, folks, it really doesn't make any difference to me if Christ be risen or not. As far as I am concerned, His body could be as dust in some Palestinian tomb. The main thing is, His truth goes marching on!"

Old time radioAlfred wanted to fling the radio across the room. "It's a lie!" he exclaimed. His wife rushed into the bathroom, asking, "Why are you shouting so early in the morning?"

"Didn't you hear what that good-for-nothing preacher said?" Alfred replied. (Stephen's note: Brooksyne says that sounds like something I would say when truth is being attacked- she's right.)

That morning, Ackley preached with great vigor on the reality of Christ's Resurrection and he did the same at the evening service. But later that night, he was still worked up about his friend's question and the morning's radio sermon. "Listen here, Alfred Ackley," his wife said at last. (The above photo of Brooksyne shows her dramatizing Ackley's wife as she tells him, "Listen here..."), "It's time you did that which you can do best. Why don't you write a song about it and then maybe you'll feel better?"

Alfred went to his study, opened the Bible, and re-read the Resurrection account from Mark's Gospel. A thrill went through him, and he began writing the words to "He Lives." A few minutes later he was at the piano putting it to music, not dreaming it would become one of the church's most triumphant Easter hymns still sung some 83 years later. (Story from "Then Sings My Soul" by Robert J. Morgan.)

Consider the words of that liberal preacher,
"You know, folks, it really doesn't make any difference to me if Christ be risen or not." That's a sentiment many hold today about the resurrection and many other core Christian doctrines. But most certainly it does matter!

The first daily text is an ancient declaration of faith which can too easily become a mere cliché.
"The Lord is risen indeed." In just five words it expresses the bedrock truth of Christian faith, "The Lord is risen indeed" and we, like Ackley, need to feel it with strong conviction deep within our soul. This is especially important as true believers testify of the message of their resurrected Lord to the world. 

Some may smile and say regarding the message of Christ, "That is a touching story isn't it?" Others, like the liberal preacher, think it doesn't really make any difference whether it's real or not. (In fact to many in our increasingly postmodern world truth doesn't matter on many issues. We sure see that in politics.)

Many have "Easter faith" expressed by those who "believe" when they attend church on Easter or other such special holy days. But then they go about their lives ignoring God, at least until the next special church event!

But authentic, saving faith is life transforming in the lives of believers 365 days a year - for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a genuine, historical event, validated by clear accounts of eyewitnesses. The Scriptures strongly denounce any notion of it being merely a touching story, a fable or a fairy tale. "And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

In yesterday's message we referred to two early eyewitnesses who declared to the disciples, "It is true! The Lord has risen." For forty days after His resurrection, He showed Himself and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive (Acts 1:3). And many years later a mightily transformed Peter reminds his readers that, "We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty" (2 Peter 1:16).

Today let us faithfully serve the risen Savior. Let us boldly declare to the world that our Lord is risen indeed as we walk daily in the resurrected power of our Lord Jesus Christ!

One more reflection: For many, many years I have appreciated the story of a young child who believed in the Lord Jesus. A proud and ungodly professor who said to her: "My dear little girl, you don't know whom you believe in. There have been many christs. In which of them do you believe?" "I know which one I believe in," replied the child. "I believe in the Christ who rose from the dead!"

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying man Daily prayer: Father, Your Word declares that Jesus rose from the dead. The eyewitnesses to this glorious miracle were initially in disbelief but when they were face to face with Jesus they were filled with jubilant hope. It is because You live that we live also. You've put our sin nature to death and raised our spiritual nature to life. And one day our physical nature will give way to death but because of Your power over the grave we will be resurrected to eternal life. Praise be to God, the Lord is risen indeed! Amen.

Robert J. Morgan 11/30/14
Today we quoted a story from Robert J. Morgan's hymn background book, "Then Sings My Soul". He's a prolific writer that we have enjoyed for many years. Last fall we met him at The Donelson Fellowship Church where he has pastored over 35 years, near Nashville Tennessee.

Easter choir 2015
Here's the uncropped version of the photo of our choir Ester took on Sunday when Brooksyne is telling the hymn story.

Twizzler bites
Too funny!
As we finished our message today we both decided to walk to the mailbox (still trying to get in those 10,000 steps a day). A large envelope from a local friend/DE reader arrived with my name on it. What could Mary Ann be sending me, I thought! Upon opening the envelope I broke into uproarious laughter and Stephen joined me as well. Enclosed were two bags of mini twizzlers (one for each van). Included was this message: "Enjoy the twizzlers. Be sure to keep in your car for those days you are famished and remember to lock your car doors." Obviously she read the message we shared here and succeeded in amusing us.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"He Lives! (I Serve A Risen Saviour)"  Video  Blue Rock Mennonite Youth

"He Lives"  Video  Local musicians from the Prestonwood Baptist Church

"I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary"  Video  GVB

"The Easter Song"  Video  Keith Green

Our church Facebook page with Ester's photos

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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