I used to think that as a Christian, I should know all the answers to life’s questions. And if I didn’t know an answer, then I could ask God, and He would give me one. It was cut-and-dried. God was like the library – full of information. I just had to wander down the aisles until I found the volume that contained what I was looking for. Then I ran into hard questions that seemed to have no answers.
Years ago, I cried out to God to let me in on His answers. I prayed and prayed for His wisdom. And it seemed to me that God was unwilling to talk. So I became angry and scared. In some of those worst months of my life, I remember clearly telling God, “I don’t doubt who You are. I don’t think I ever could. But I do doubt Your relevance in my life. If You’re not going to answer my questions, what good are You to me?”
The longer I live, though, the more I’m convinced that much of faith is about asking questions. And it’s believing even when I don’t get answers that makes faith faith. I’ve come to understand that if I could explain everything about God, then He wouldn’t be very big – or very God-like – at all. The mystery is that God is at once personal and knowable, yet never fully knowable. And I’m learning to accept, even embrace, that God’s ways are not my ways (Isaiah 55:6-9).
Steven James, author of “Sailing Between the Stars,” says, “I’m glad I don’t serve a deity I can cram into my brain-sized understanding of the world. If I could, I would be more than human, and he would be less than God. Mystery always exceeds knowledge, always swirls out beyond the borders and encircles the whole. By definition God must be bigger than my knowings, or he couldn’t be who he is.”
Not since the height of the Second World War, when Australia was advancing on Japanese lines in the Pacific in April 1943, has Easter and ANZAC Day come so close. So rare an event, they won’t collide again for nearly 30 years.
It is regular practice for churches to celebrate the sacrifice of Christ at Easter and the sacrifice of servicemen and women on ANZAC Day, but is ok to compare the two and celebrate them together in the house of God?
Some churches have decided to celebrate them both in the same service and even go as far as comparing the two sacrifices. This week, an Anglican church in Sydney posted a card to residents inviting them to attend an Easter/ANZAC service stating that both “remind us of [the] selfless sacrifice of others willing to give their lives to bring peace to this world”.
The Anglicans are not alone. One Catholic diocese in New South Wales suggests Christian worshipers do everything they can, not to disconnect the two remembrance events. The Most Reverend Peter Ingham, Bishop of Wollongong, says “the reason why I say do not disconnect Anzac Day from Easter is because both celebrations are about sacrifice and the fruits of sacrifice.
This week, as we celebrate Palm Sunday and look ahead to Good Friday and the Easter weekend our focus is on the reason for Easter. Why did Christ have to die? Was there no other way? Click on the link to answer these questions and more as you access a week of Easter devotions and resources, like the devotion and video below as you Travel the Road to the Resurrection.
Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.—Matthew 26:13
As you read the New Testament, you can’t help but notice how little it says about the major events of world history. You might think Scripture would mention Rome and all its mighty conquests. But it doesn’t. Instead, God brings out nuances that are entirely different.
Here in Matthew 26, for example, we find a unique story that God wants us never to forget (see verse 13). It was the incredible sacrifice that a woman made for Jesus. What was it that she did that so impressed the Lord? Was it a miracle or some great teaching? No. It was a heartfelt act. There in the home of a man named Simon, this woman took a jar of expensive perfume and anointed Jesus with it. Why is this so significant? Her actions are memorable because she seemed to recognize that Jesus needed to be anointed for His burial (see verse 12). So with complete abandon, she gave Him everything she had.
Mark’s Gospel tells us her perfume cost more than 300 denarii (see Mark 14:5). In these times, 300 denarii was the equivalent of nearly a year’s wages. But it wasn’t the gift that mattered. It was her heart behind the gift. It was her motives that touched Jesus, because He knew she sacrificed nearly everything for Him.
Are you doing all that you can for the Lord? Some people, like many of the dutiful Pharisees, will only give what is required. They will try to get by with the bare minimum. In many ways, we can be like that too.
Today, won’t you commit to serving the Lord above and beyond what is required—like this woman did?
With Koorong bookstore encouraging group bookings to see the upcoming movie 'Like Dandelion Dust', showing in cinemas later this month, it was interesting to take a look at an interview by Crosswalk with Kevin Downes, the filmmaker and co-founder of ChristianCinema.com:
For many kids growing up in church, watching the requisite "Youth for Christ" video is just part of the whole youth group experience. But for filmmaker and co-founder of ChristianCinema.com Kevin Downes, a 30-minute "Youth for Christ" video was far more than a spiritual rite of passage. It was the beginning of a lifelong passion.
"I was in my early 20's when I acted in a ‘Youth for Christ' film called The Crossing," Downes shares. "I not only loved every moment of making it, but when I was seeing how people would draw closer to Jesus by watching, well, I knew God had me in the right place, and I wanted to make films for the rest of my life."
Even with a clear sense of what he wanted to do with his life and ministry, Downes didn't pack up and move to Hollywood in search of his first break. Instead, the Theater Arts and Geography major decided to dive headfirst into the film business by making his first movie with a few of his closest friends and his brother, Bobby.
"My goal is to make films that inspire and move the spirit. I also want to encourage people to love their neighbor through stories that examine the human spirit," Downes says. "We all have a story to tell, and I think the most inspirational story is the one that comes from the depths of despair and pain. Jesus' journey is the most inspirational story and certainly the benchmark."
Despite a growing collection of films to his credit, Downes isn't slowing down any time soon. In fact, he's currently promoting what he feels is a "groundbreaking" effort in the faith-theme film arena, Like Dandelion Dust, which is based on a novel by Karen Kingsbury and stars Academy Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino (At First Sight, Mighty Aphrodite). Already the winner of numerous jury and audience awards at major international film festivals, Like Dandelion Dust will release this month.
Church planting and growth has been a focus for most of my ministry. I frequently lecture and speak on church planting and have been actively involved in many church plants. Under God's hand and direction, my wife, Kaye, and I planted the