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Pastoral Ponderings

posted 4/11/2015

Faith - Believing is not Necessarily Seeing

By: Pastor Clint 

I was reflecting on the story of Thomas found in the Gospel of John 20:19-31 when a story that I had heard years ago came to mind about a man who, in the face of a particularly severe storm, stubbornly refused to abandon his home, and prayed that God would save him from the torrent.

The story goes that as he finished his prayer, a fireman in a Humvee came to his door and, offering to bring him to safety, told him he should evacuate his house because it was in imminent danger of flooding and his life was in peril. The man politely thanked the fireman, but declined his offer saying that he would be ok because God would look after him and save him.

The water began to rise at an alarming rate, and now was halfway up to the second story of his house. A neighbor, gravely concerned for his neighbors’ safety, risked his own life in a small boat to offer him safety. Again, the man refused saying that he would be ok because God would look after him and save him.

The situation was now grave; the water had risen to the third story of his house with no sign of receding. This time, a Coast Guard helicopter flew overhead and lowered a rescue swimmer to his window. The young Ensign pleaded with the man to accept his rescue, but again the man refused saying that he would be ok because God would most certainly save him.

Finally, the torrent consumed the man’s home, and he drowned.

Shortly later, he stood before God, and somewhat confused with his situation, asked Him why he let him drown. God, somewhat annoyed with him, replied, “first, I sent you a fireman and a Humvee, but you did not accept my grace. Then I sent you a neighbor and boat, but again you refused my gift. Finally I sent you a brave Coast Guardsman and a helicopter, and still you did not recognize my grace. I offered you all that you needed to survive, but you would not recognize or accept my gift of grace. What more could I have done? No, I didn’t let you drown, you drowned yourself.”

By His grace, God has promised to provide for us all that we need, but how often, though we may have great faith, are we too stubborn in our own plans to recognize or accept His gift because it does not appear to us as we think it should and not as God has presented it. How often do we look for signs, and though they are right before us, reject them? How often does God Himself stand face to face with us, yet we do not see Him? How often do we allow our faith to turn to doubt?

Consider the Disciple Thomas. As much as he wanted to believe that Christ had risen; as desperate as he was to know that Christ was indeed alive, he doubted as we see in John 20:25: “So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe."

On it’s own, this would lead you to believe that one could not believe; one could not recognize and accept God’s awesome grace, His gift of a living Christ, unless He physically showed Himself to you. But, when we hear the rest of the story in verses 26-29, we find that this is not true :

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you." Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side.

Do not doubt but believe."

Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"

Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe."

I leave you with a question for your own “ponderings”; must we see in order to believe, or is our faith built on believing without seeing? Like the man in the story, will we drown in our stubbornness and doubt, or will we be saved by His grace through faith accepting and recognizing “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

God’s grace, and peace, and love to you all!

Pastoral Ponderings

posted 4/11/2015 Who Will Roll Away Your Stone?

By: Pastor Clint


I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)


Friends, He is risen He is risen indeed! Death has been conquered; it has been transformed from a dark prison that we once feared into an open corridor filled with breathtaking light to take us from life to eternal life.

Who will roll away the stone for us?

When Jesus had died and was taken down from the cross, because of the late hour and upcoming Sabbath after sunset, there was no time to properly anoint Jesus’ body.

At their first opportunity following the Sabbath, the Gospel tells us that the women who had been close to Him went to the place Jesus had been placed to properly prepare His body for burial and as they approached His tomb, I wonder if they considered how the impossible would be accomplished; how they would be able to roll away the capstone that had to weigh more than a ton.

…You see friends, they were not expecting a Resurrection; they just wanted to anoint Jesus' body. If they were to honor Jesus' body in death, did they wonder who would roll away the heavy stone that covered the grave?

Imagine their suspicions when they arrived at the tomb to discover that the stone had been rolled away – and their total distraught and fear to find that a young stranger was there in His place. In Mark’s account, they were not even given the opportunity to ask what had been done with their beloved Lord. Before they could say anything, in verse 6 the young man in white tells them not to be alarmed, “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.”

He follows this incredible revelation in verse 7 with pretty clear instructions: “But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”; the first call to evangelism.

Trembling and bewildered, and in total fear the women hightailed it out of there without saying a word. Mark tells us “…the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.”

Could it be that we approach Easter in similar ways? We pour into churches, year after year, celebrating Jesus' resurrection, but perhaps a wee bewildered and afraid and not quite understanding the nature of our own. We believe that in Christ after we die, we will live again; “Christ is raised, and we will be raised.” Hallelujah!

But the Bible also teaches that Christ is raised and we are raised… right now; Resurrection is also now!

The early church understood this. In Paul's work with the early church, he repeatedly spoke of the implications of the Resurrection for Christians. Paul reminded the Ephesians that they were raised up with Christ and seated in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). To the people in Colossae, he said: "When you are buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead" (Col. 2:12). Further reminding them of the implications of their resurrection, he began with the words, "So if you have been raised with Christ . . . "(Col. 3:1). To the Galatians, Paul said, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me" (Gal. 2:19-20).

The early church was regularly reminded of the present-day implications of the Resurrection for Christians.

So then -Who will roll away the stone for us?

In Christ we are given the opportunity to experience Resurrection -- our old life behind us, a new life in Christ lying before us.

By grace, it is Jesus who rolls away the stone for us; calling to us “People of God, emerge from your own tombs and live in Me as I want to live in you; “Abide in Me, and I in you… if you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” (John 15:4,7).  

Friends, He is calling us to put behind us those things that would doom us to that dark prison and come out into the light of His unconditional and complete love.

On this Easter Sunday, on this day of blessed Resurrection, hear His call; come and accept Him and proclaim Him and be claimed by Him!

Yes, the stone has been rolled away and the tomb is empty….HE IS RISEN, HE IS RISEN INDEED! He is inviting you to come out to meet Him.

God’s grace, and peace, and love to you all!