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May 19th marks the birth of the church universal when the Holy Spirit was given to the early Christians ten days following the ascension of Christ into Heaven. Join Dr. Dan this Sunday at 1:30 Eastern Time (12:30 Central) as he teaches on the significance of Pentecost from Acts 2. If you can’t join him lives, visit the Archives for “Biblical Principles For Kingdom Living to listen at your convenience. www.tenacityradio.com
This Sunday, Dr. Dan turns to Hebrews 6:4-6 to discuss how some Christian just take a taste of Bible doctrine now and then without taking in enough spiritual food to bring them to mature faith and stability in the Christian life. Join him this Sunday or visit the Archives to listen to this or other previously aired messages at your convenience.
In a message titled, “Learning to Walk”, Dr. Dan teaches from Paul’s letter to the Philippian Church from Chapter 3:17 through Chapter 4:1. Join him this Sunday afternoon at 1:30 Eastern Time for “Biblical Principles For Kingdom Living.” If you cannot join him this coming Sunday, you can access the message through the Archives at Tenacity Radio for listening anytime. Messages are listed by date. Jesus is Lord!
In the program this Sunday, Dr. Dan teaches from John 11:1-45 in a powerful illustration worth remembering concerning the raising of Lazarus. Join him this Sunday at 12:30 Central for this post Easter message. If you cannot listen live, visit the Archives to listen to this and other previously aired messages anytime. Jesus is Lord!
This Sunday, Dr. Dan address “A Question That Demands An Answer” as he teaches from the Old Testament book of Job and the Gospel of Mark in teaching about the resurrection of Jesus and what this means to Christians today. If you cannot listen to the progrm this Sunday at 1:30 Eastern Time, ytou can visit the Archives at Tenacity Radio to listen to this and oither messages at your convienience. Messages are listed by date.
“Responding To Resurrection”
There was once a man who purchased a parrot and for five years he waited for it to talk to him. The parrot never uttered a word, so the man was on his way to the pet store for help. Crossing the street, the man failed to see an oncoming car. The parrot saw the car and yelled, “Look out!” But the man did not see the car quickly enough and was knocked to the ground. Fortunately, he only suffered a few scratches and bruises. He got up muttering, “This dumb parrot caused this to happen. If I didn’t have this parrot, I would not have been on the way to the pet store and I would have not been hit by that car.” Turning to the parrot he asked, “Why, after five years, did you decide to talk.” The parrot looked at him and said, “Because you were not in a position to listen until now”
Happy Easter! We gather once again not to welcome spring with the traditional secular symbols of colored eggs and the Easter bunny and the arrival of spring, but to celebrate the resurrection of Christ from the dead! Are you listening? Are you in a position to hear this good news once again?
The disciples were certainly surprised, because they were not in a position to listen. When Jesus was with them during His three year ministry, He never mentioned His death without mentioning His resurrection. But even His disciples were not in a position to listen. They were thinking of a kingdom and Kingship and their role in that Kingdom.
He is risen! Are you in a position to hear this good news? I hope so! On this beautiful Easter morning, we gather rejoicing in the empty tomb as a climax of Holy Week. Since last Sunday, we have followed our Lord through the last supper He had with His disciples, His betrayal at the hands of Judas, His crucifixion and His death on the cross as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. But Holy Week as a week of sorrow over the necessity of that sacrifice has turned into the joy of an Easter morning. Are you listening? I hope so, because the resurrection of Jesus is good news that we have to share with others in hopes that they too are in position to hear.
Unfortunately, there are people all around who believe in the resurrection of Jesus, but it has no impact on their lives. They take it for granted and are not really listening to the difference that the resurrection can make in their lives.
Several years ago, I recorded books on tape for the Oklahoma Library For The Blind. I recorded a wide variety of books but one was a depressing read at the beginning of the project. The book is titled, “In the Presence Of Mine Enemies” by Howard and Phyllis Rutledge about Howard’s experience is a POW in Viet Nam from 1965 to 1973.His wife shared about her experiences of being the wife of a POW and how she handled his long confinement, unsure if he would ever be released. Mr. Rutledge shared how he discovered his faith in the midst of adversity, because in his own admission he revealed that although he was a Christian, he was not listening when he was free to words of life that would impact his life until he was forced to listen.
During his long years of imprisonment, often in solitary confinement, Mr. Rutledge wrote, “During those long periods of enforced reflection, it became so much easier to separate the important from the trivial; the worthwhile from the waste . . . Now, the sights and sounds of death were all around me. My hunger for spiritual food soon outdid my hunger for a steak. Now I wanted to know more about that part of me that will never die. I wanted to talk about God and Christ and the church. But in solitary confinement there was no pastor no Sunday School teacher, no Bible, no hymn book, no community to guide and sustain me. It took prison to show me how empty my life was without God. It took prison to place me in a position to listen.
Mr. Rutledge then related how he began to remember verses of Scripture and hymns to sustain him. By the time of his release, he knew hundreds of Scripture verses and hymns by memory. When he began this project however, he admitted that it was a struggle. “Now, when I needed them, it was too late,” he wrote. “How often I wished I had really been listening to God and working to hide His word in my heart.
He is risen! Are you listening? Really listening? I hope and pray so! What is our response to this good news of an empty tomb and our Risen Lord?
First, we are not to be afraid. An angel said to the women who had come to the tomb, “Do not be afraid.” If the resurrection does anything, it destroys our fear of death and replaces our fears with hope that just as Christ broke the chains of physical death, that same promise is for us as well.
Was it not Jesus who told His disciples I John 14:2-3, “In my Father’s house are many dwelling places? If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may be where I am.”
The empty tomb of Jesus shatters our fears and gives us renewed hope that beyond physical death there is life in the presence of God. At Easter, I have fond memories of friends and family members who are now with the Lord. I am sad when I think about how I miss them, but I am not afraid because of the promise of the resurrection and that I will see them again one day because eternal life awaits all who trust in Christ as Savior. I do not need to be afraid because Christ has paved the way for an eternity with God because of what Christ has done for min ding for my sins. I do not need to be afraid of feeling that I have not been good enough or because I have not kept God’s laws because my salvation does not depend on me and my righteousness, but Christ and His righteousness! We need not be afraid! But I am saddened by the fact that there are many who have no clue. They are not litening.
A tired old woman approached the first desk she saw in an insurance office in Minneapolis. When asked what she wanted, she presented a policy and explained that she could no longer make payments on the policy. It was hard for her to find work and what little she earned was hardly enough to pay her rent and utilities. After investigating, a clerk saw that the policy was very valuable. She was warned to do all she could to maintain the policy and suggested that she discuss the matter with her husband. She explained that her husband had died three years earlier. The clerk responded, “My dear, this is a life insurance on your husband, not you.” To her surprise, she received a refund of the three years of premiums she had paid plus the value of the $100,000 policy. Whe her husband told her about the policy, she wasn’t listening! Thinking he had bought a policy to insure her life, it was actually a policy to insure his!
The greatest benefit of all time became due when Jesus died on the cross. Thousands of people try to make payments on their own salvation, while all they need to do is accept the immeasurable gift that is theirs through the death and resurrection of Christ? Are you listening? I hope so!
But is a curious animal. Like a cat that will risk all nine of its lives out of curiosity, we must see to believe. We are all like doubting Thomas and will only believe when we have seen for ourselves.
So it is that there is another response to the resurrection. The angel told the women, “Come and see!” The eyes we look through are eyes of faith in God’s word. Even history attests to the resurrection. Our calendar is even based on it! And we can travel the world to visit famous graves of past religious leaders, but Christianity is the only faith in the world which can triumphantly point to an empty tomb as a symbol of a leader who died but still lives and who passes that promise on to His followers.
But we must see to believe. Jesus was right when He said that we must approach Him like a little child. Children are quick to believe on the spot without answers and explanations. A Sunday School teacher told her class that there were no real miracles in the Bible. “Take, for instance, the crossing of the Red Sea. This body of water was probably only six inches deep.” A little boy in the back of the room shouted, “Praise God for the miracle!” The irritated teacher asked, “What miracle?” He said, “God drowned the whole Egyptian army in six inches of water.” That had to be a miracle!”
If you must see to believe, look around you at spring unfolding before your eyes. But better than seeing inside the empty tomb ourselves is to know the reality of the presence of Christ in your life through the ministry of His Spirit and to see that Spirit of the risen Christ in others. There are ways we can see that Christ is alive today, for He lives in you and me!
I serve a risen Savior, He’s in the world today;
I know that He is living, whatever men may say;
I see His hand of mercy, I hear His voice of cheer,
And just time I need Him, He’s always near.
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart;
You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!
After we have seen through the testimony of the Word of God and the testimony of His presence in our lives through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, was are we to do with this good news? The third response to resurrection is to go tell! The angel told the women, “Go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead . . . .”
This continues to be the most important responsibility we have as Christians today. If all we do is sit in our churches in our piety and have a self-serving faith, we fail to obey this command. We are to be lights to direct others to saving faith in Jesus Christ.
When Benjamin Franklin tried to persuade the people of Philadelphia in street lighting, he did not just talk about it. He hung a lantern on a long bracket in front of his house. He kept the glass brightly polished, and he carefully lit the wick every evening at sunset. People saw the light in the distance and when they walked in its light they found that it helped them avoid sharp stones and other obstacles in the road. Eventually, others placed lights at their homes, and soon all Philadelphia recognized the need for street lighting!
Are you listening? I hope and pray so! Do not be afraid, for He has risen. Come see the place where the Lord lay and go share the good news. The Lord has risen indeed!
Dr. Dan Eischen
“What A Waste”
As Americans, we waste a lot of recourses daily that is staggering when viewed by seconds and minutes. We throw away 106,000 aluminum cans every 30 seconds. The flight attendants serve up a million plastic cups on U.S. air flights every six hours. We go through 2 million plastic drink bottles every five minutes. We throw away 426,000 cell phones every day. We use 1.4 million brown paper grocery bags every hour. We use 60,000 plastic bags every five seconds. We use 15 million sheets of office paper every five minutes. In fact, we discard enough aluminum to rebuild our entire commercial air fleet every three months – and aluminum represents less than one percent of our solid waste. We toss out 14 percent of the food we buy at the store. More than 46,000 pieces of plastic debris float on each square mile of ocean. What a waste!
We don’t encourage waste because it’s a waste of money and not good for our planet. But there is a school of thought that can be called “the power of waste” that suggests that only through wasted resources we can change the world. Let me give you a few illustrations.
I’ve known only a few people in my life who have found creative ways to deal with waste; what others throw away. My mother was a prime example. When walking her dog in the condominium complex where she lived for several years, she would carry her “pooper scooper” to take care of that kind of waste, but when walking by the dumpster, she would use that instrument to pick out what others threw away to make good use of a lot of things. Every now and then, she would find new things till in the box with price tags on them; obviously stolen from nearby stores. If she could use these items herself or give them as gifts or she would give them to her church for their annual garage sale the proceeds of which would be used to help pay the church apportionments.
She would find blankets and dishes, pots and pans and even a crockpot still filled with a roast, carrots and potatoes! Speculating that the tossing of a crock pot with a complete meal must have been the result of a marital dispute, she took it home, cleaned it out and gave it to me. On one of her dumpster dives, she pulled a dulcimer. The head was broken off and a few strings were removed, but she noticed inside a sticker bearing the name of the man who manufactured it at the Hillbilly Dulcimer Shop in Springdale on December 15, 1981. She gave it to me, and on a trip to Arkansas I looked up the man who had made the instrument. He was not happy to learn that his dulcimer had ended up in a dumpster, but he repaired it and sent it back to me. The sticker inside the instrument indicated the number one hundred, so he looked up the person who purchased who still lived near my mother. I can’t play the dulcimer but I still have it in my home.
My mother then was able to take waste from other people, rescue it and put it to good use somewhere else. She stood just less than five feet tall and I laugh to myself getting a mental picture of her reaching into these large dumpsters using the pooper scooper to grasp hard to reach items. She found a creative use of waste.
It may interest you to know that the computers and cell phones we use today came about as a creative use of waste. Back in the 1970’s when the cost of computing power was expensive; engineers used transistors on microprocessors for information processing. These transistors could only be used one time. But one engineer named Alan Xerox decided to do something about the problem of discarding these transistors and discovered a way they could be reused multiple times. To experiment, he began using them to create cartoon screens on screens which could be erased and used again. The end result was the creation of the Macintosh computer. By inventing the ability to reuse transistors instead of throwing them away after one use, Mr. Xerox paved the way for the computer. And as you know, his paper copier was the first of its kind.
In the gospel reading today, Jesus, in the last days of His life, is in the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus sitting at a table. Mary takes “a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, ad anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the whole house was filled with the odor of the ointment.” (John 12:3) The ointment that Mary used is described with a phrase that is also present in Mark’s account of this story and can best be translated from the Greek phrase “muru nardu pistacase palotaloose” which is best translated as “luxurious and luscious.” It is often translated as perfume which does not do it justice because perfume can be very expense, yet it can also be relatively inexpensive. This ointment that Mary used was imported from India and was the most expensive ointment available in Israel at the time. A pound of this ointment would have come in a jar about 3 inches high by 5 to 6 inches in diameter costing in our currency today about $12,000! One wonders where she got it! Certainly not at the local Wal-Mart!
Although this image may disturb some here today, Mary was massaging the feet of Jesus with this ointment and then as an act of passionate love, letting her hair down and rubbing the ointment into His feet with her hair. In the ancient world, the only time a woman would take her hair down was when she was making love. So, this description of Mary wiping Jesus’ feet with her hair is presented as an expression of intense love that she is giving to Jesus in preparation for His burial. The implication is that this pound of ointment worthy of a king is used by Mary to communicate her love for Him. The cultural norms in relation to anointing were universal in the ancient world, and ancient people did extravagant things for the deaths of their kings like build pyramids! There is a reference in The Song of Solomon which reads,”While the King sits at his table, my spikenard sends forth its fragrance” (Song of Solomon 1:12).
The scene shifts to Judas identified by John as the “the one who should betray Him” (John 12:4) “What a waste,” Judas shouts in apparent rage. “Why was not this ointment sold for $12,000 and given to the poor?” (John 12:5)
The act was certainly not a waste to Mary as she was expressing to Jesus; an action reserved for kings and priests. But to Judas, the act was a gigantic waste of money.
This raises an interesting question. When is waste not wasteful? Most of us resist waste. We give a child an expensive gift for his birthday and he seems to have more fun playing with the box! We say, “It would have been less expensive for me to just wrap up a box and give to him!”
Sometimes, wasting is less expensive than not wasting. Take printers and copiers for example. When I was at Wetumka I was constantly having problems with the copier machine because most of the time it would print not only the sheet I wanted, but the copier would expel two or three additional sheets. I called a repair person at Shawnee who determined that the rubber wheels used to grab the paper were worn ad he replaced them to solve the problem. “Have you been running these blank sheets back through the copier?” “Of course,” I replied. “Why waste paper.” “In this case,” he said, you should have thrown the blank paper away.” Then he explained. “When paper goes through a copier, whether it is being printed on or not, it picks up a static charge that causes the printer to jam.” That’s an example then of the fact that wasting is less expense than wasting.
Here’s another example to make this point, again from Wetumka. Our communion steward was Lena Morgan. She was born in Germany and married an American soldier who moved her from her home in Germany to Wetumka. She retained a slight accent when she spoke and was faithful at her task on preparing communion as well as cleaning up following the service. One Sunday following worship I walked into the kitchen and caught her washing the used plastic communion cups! “How many times have you washed and reused the same communion cups,” I asked. “Oh, let me see . . . well it was before you came about a year ago and probably a good deal longer before that.” “Lena,” I said, “These plastic communion cups are designed to be disposable. A box of 1,000 cups cost $12.000 which is less than a penny a cup.” “Well, she said, “We’ll just have them longer!” Noticing that some of the cups were chipped I convinced her that someone could get a cut lip on one of these or possibly get sick if one caught a germ from a cup that was not washed properly or at the right water temperature.” I actually did convince her despite her argument at saving money that there are times when wasting is less expensive than wasting.” “By the way,” I asked, “how fresh is the grape juice you used today.” “Bought that big bottle about three months ago to save money,” she said. “That explains why it tastes a bit odd Lena. Pout it out and just buy a couple of those little bottles of juice each month. Better to be safe than sorry.”
No, we don’t want to encourage waste, but the story of Mary who anointed Jesus with expensive ointment suggest that we may need to rethink when extravagances are really not wasteful at all. Wasted time, wasted effort, wasted talent, wasted money, wasted resources, wasted commitment, and wasted life. Some of these may indeed be true squandering, but we can’t ever be sure. We can only tell by the final outcome. A young person who drops out of college. “What a waste,” we say. But he or she turns out to be a published author. A young person gets a college degree and decides to live among the homeless. “What a waste of a good education’ we say. But this person establishes a homeless shelter where the unfortunate can find food and lodging and opportunities for work. A copier that no longer jams, a congregation that is free of illness thanks to disposable communion cups. And after all, what was the outcome for Jesus? Some may say that His death on the cross was a costly outpouring of God’s love for the world. As followers of Christ, we can see the results of God wasting His love on us. We are a waste! But a waste worthy of saving.
One of the most misrepresented passages in the Bible I the verse where following Judas and his rant about giving the money to the poor, Jesus said, “You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” (John 12:8) But as John clearly states, Judas was a thief and his interest in helping the poor was really a way for him to help himself because “he was a thief, and bore the bag, and bore what was in it.” (John 12:6) Even Jesus knew the heart of Jesus and that the poor would never see any of the money from selling this ointment. .
We face this same issue often in the use of our money given for charitable purposes. I get a lot of calls from charities asking for money. Unless you hang up on these calls, they will not take “No” for an answer, but simply move on to their next script. Since they are exempt from the national “do not call list” here is how I handle them. I agree to send them a donation. Then I get on my computer and go to “Charity watch” or “Charity Navigator” to see how much money is spent on programming and how much is spent on fund raising and salaries and pensions for administrators. If significantly more money is used to benefit the people the charity says it represents, I send in my donation. If not, I send them a copy of the Internet page showing how they handle their finances with a letter saying that based on my discovery I will not keep my pledge. Please do not call me again.” So far, that works! There are of course legitimate charities like Boys Town, The American Red Cross and others, but we need to know that our dollars are going where we expect them to go Even Jesus knew the heart of Jesus and that the poor would never see any of the money from selling this ointment. Some have used this verse to justify the permanent existence of the poor as an excuse from any responsibility to care for them which is not what Jesus means in this statement. Jesus knew that money used from selling this ointment would be embezzled.
This then is a story that begins with a description of the dinner that Lazarus and Mary and Martha gave for Jesus, clearly in gratitude for His raising Lazarus and giving him new life. The anointing of Jesus’ feet by Mary is a gesture of supreme love to which Judas responds with hostility. But Jesus recognizes what she has done and asks Judas to recognize it as a supreme act of mercy prior to His death. Judas never understood who Jesus was and what He was doing. But Mary understood and her act of love and devotion continue to inspire us and move us toward a deeper of love and devotion to our crucified and risen Lord.
Let us pray: Heavenly Father, there are times in our lives when being extravagant is the only way we can express how profound ad deep our love is. We know that our extravagance is wasteful. But Lord, we want to express the profoundness of our love, the depth of our gratitude ad a continuing desire for more of you. Accept then the wastefulness of our worship of you! Amen.
Dr. Dan Eischen
Lent 5 – 3.17.13