Saturday, April 22, 2017

Book of the Month: Who Moved the Stone?


     Albert H. Ross (who wrote under the pseudonym "Frank Morison") was a prolific writer during the late 1800's and staunchly skeptical of the Biblical claim that Christ rose from the dead. So he set out to disprove, in his mind, this irrational claim. Using the synoptic gospels, Ross retraced the events leading up to Christ’s death, burial, and supposed resurrection, trying to determine if the accounts are a faithful retelling of actual historical occurrences, or if they were fabricated some time after. Ross' discoveries shook not only his world, but that of thousands who read the result of his journey: a powerful book entitled Who Moved the Stone?.


     Clearly and concisely written, this short but compelling book is definitely worth reading! I enjoyed walking with the author through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as he analyzed and verified the specifics of the resurrection account in a logical but comprehensive manner. I also really appreciated how, despite writing from a skeptical perspective, Ross is very respectful of the Scriptures. He nicely balances proving the Scriptures and reverencing them as the Word of God.


     Throughout the book, the author seems to give preferential treatment to the Gospel of Mark, occasionally even above the other accounts. In chapter 13, while examining the details of the morning of Christ’s resurrection, he strains at the phrase “they saw a young man… clothed in a long white garment,” found in Mark 16:5. Ross goes on to make the case that, contrary to the statements of the other gospels, the individual who met the women at the empty tomb was not an angel but a man. This conclusion was the only one I strongly disagreed with overall. 

My rating for this book:

4 1/2 out of 5 stars (I liked this book and would recommend it to older audiences for theological reasons)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Messy Love of Easter - Guest Post

   The wonderful Belle from Seeing Everything Else agreed to do a guest post for this Easter. After reading, be sure to check out her blog here, for which she consistently posts encouraging and convicting articles. 


Horrifying. Scandalous. These aren't the words we usually associate with Easter.

Our normal thoughts fall more along the lines of pastel flowers, cute chicks and bunnies, and Precious Moments kids kneeling gently beneath a brown ceramic cross.

And those are sweet. Those are cute. Those are clean. But they're wrong.

Because Easter, the whole of this great story, isn't cute. It isn't clean. There are no pastels; no, it's stained in vivid hues of crimson and black and wretchedness and anger and violent love. Because Easter is nothing without the cross.

But so often we're tempted to check out. We know the story, or at least, we've heard it many times. But we forget. We forget how shocking it is. How dreadful. Our sin is a horrifying, messy thing, and to think that the answer to it would be cute and clean and easy -- It couldn't be. We violently removed ourselves and were swept away from God and life and light; and only a violent love, willing to do and endure all for us, could win us back.

So lay aside your prior knowledge, your prior suppositions for a moment. Read back through all the accounts (Mat. 26-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24, John 18-21); it'll probably take about half an hour. Blow away the dust of familiarity, and read this as a story. (The Greatest One which ever was.)

As you read, can't you feel the tension, the dread, the rising anger at this injustice?

One of His closest friends comes, solely to betray Him. Peter pulls out his sword, he'll fight back and save Him! But he's rebuked, and the disciples scatter in terror. Later in that supposed-justice-hall, witness after witness rises up with eyes burning, spewing hate; but none of them agree, perhaps they won't -- but cries of "Blasphemy!" "What more do we need?" ring out. Pilate is wary of their charges, wants his sleep, warned by his wife, wonders at His silence; perhaps he'll just laugh at the Jews and send them all home -- then he shifts responsibility to Herod. Oh, Herod has wanted to hear Him, to see miracles! He sends Him back. Pilate is still unwilling, there still are special traditions, surely the people singing Hosannas a few days before will now cry for His release? -- Give us Barabbas, the murderer.  How terrible, how wrong, how gut-wrenching is this! And we haven't even gotten to the whipping, to the torment; we're not even yet to Golgotha.

We desired a murderer and thief, rather than Him. We desired our own name and prestige and comfy place in the empire, rather than Him. We desired our own rules and regulations and self-righteousness, rather than Him. Everyway and everywhere, rebellion and darkness. The Life itself, facing death on a tree.

Do you see that cross? Have you looked at it? It's not cute, it's not sweet, it's not clean. It's awful, horrible, terrifying. Splintered and broken just like we are, red with bloody pulp from the raw mess of sin, and fastened inescapably and immovably, with every movement and cry digging itself deeper in.

Look at it, shield your eyes, fall on your knees; not for some nice prayer, but from revulsion, for up there is you and me.

Or, it should be.

But it's not.

Because up there on that terrible tree is the Hero of the Story. He who didn't deserve it, He who did nothing -- nothing wrong! He's the one fastened there. He's the one screaming in agony. He's the one with His own blood blinding His eyes. He's the one there, struggling for every breath. He's the one crushed and overwhelmed by every sin that ever has and ever will be committed. The weight of all the injustices, all the horrors, and all the atrocities, poured and pummeled upon Him.

Why? -- this isn't right! This injustice, this horror, how, why would such a thing be?

For God

So loved

The world

So loved. Messy, verbalized love, that was the Word being clothed in flesh. Messy, violent love, that went to all lengths, even the giving of His life, to get us back. Messy, victorious love, that destroyed even death.

Horrifying and beautiful, scandalous and merciful. Not words which go together. But somehow, in that hinge of all history, they combined. The cross is messy. But it makes us clean.

So wake up this Easter to cleanness, to wholeness, to life. Not all cutesy or pastel; but real, solid, vivid life painted with purple and white and gold and royalty and saints and redemption. Because we are nothing without Christ. But, now, through the cross, through the empty tomb, Jesus has given us life, and that more abundantly. (John 10:10)

Fall on your knees and worship Him for His wondrous, powerful, messy love.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.

For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

(Isaiah 53:3-5, Romans 5:6-8, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 2:24)

Saturday, April 8, 2017

// Christian? //

Sitting amongst the cream of my generation
my soul was filled with lamentation.
Here, supposed Christians
flirt with temptations
display carnal affections
consider vain imaginations
lust for worldly commendations
seek ungodly occupations
forget Scriptural meditations
shirk Bible memorizations
reject sound admonitions
ignore godly exhortations
despise Biblical limitations
on the road of continual degradations
are these really Christians?

So to any reading my composition
let it be a call for self-examination.
Do I obey the Lord without indignation? 
Honor my God without fluctuation?
Serve my King without hesitation?
Love my Savior without reservation?
Cry out to Him amidst temptation?
Am I on the road of heavenly sanctification?
Am I truly a Christian?

"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?"
- 2 Corinthians 13:5