What an amazing, inspirational weekend it was this past weekend! I was moved in about every way imaginable. I wanted to give you a quick recap of what the weekend was like for me.
So I started my fast on Thursday night and Friday was a little challenging for me. I am a person who loves to eat and I was getting pretty hungary by Friday afternoon. I was determined to fight through it though because I was committed to doing this fast and was confident that it would be worth it by the end of the weekend.
On Friday night, Stephanie and I attended the Easter production that Cornerstone Church of Ames was putting on. The production was called the Great Exchange. Honestly, it was one of the most amazing and moving experiences that I have ever experienced in a church setting. I will be doing a blog in the future that will just cover what I experienced at this service. It was so moving that I want to review it, take some notes, and try to better share what the experience was like. Let’s just say that my eyes were filled with tears for most of the service.
On Saturday afternoon, my mother, her friend Brian, and I sat down and watched The Passion, Mel Gibson’s movie about the crucifixion of Jesus. Wow! I have seen the movie several times before, but on this day, under these circumstances, it really just hit me. I was overwhelmed by emotion and again found myself crying at several different points throughout the movie. If you have never seen it, I think you really need to do yourself a favor and watch it. It is so graphic. I think sometimes we tend to gloss over how horrific of a scene it was when Jesus was beaten almost to death and then ultimately murdered by his own children on the cross that Friday over 2,000 years ago. This movie gives a very realistic picture of what it probably was like. I know that after seeing this movie for the first time, I will never think of these string of events in the same way again. This movie forever changed me.
After the movie, my friend Miah Lehr came to the farm and picked me up and we went into the Pizza Ranch in Cedar Falls to attend a meeting for an alumni football game we might be playing in later this summer. As soon as we stepped into the Pizza Ranch, I immediately felt how hungary I really was. Everything looked and smelled so good. It is funny because when you deny yourself of food, your other senses seem to get stronger, especially your sense of smell. Everything smelled so wonderful. I was so tempted to just eat. Will it really make a difference? It was like being tortured. I finally decided that if Jesus could go through what he did on that weekend so long ago, then I could do this. I resisted the temptation and fought through despite my hunger.
After I returned back to the farm I continued to read a book called The Day I Was Crucified by Gene Edwards. This is an account of the events of the crucifixion and the resurrection told from the viewpoint of Jesus. It is like no other book I have read on this subject. It is not a terribly long book and I was easily able to read it over the course of the weekend, but coming from the viewpoint that it does, it just seems to overwhelm your soul with all the emotions (fear, anger, despair, hopelessness, joy, peace, hope, etc.). I have never read a book that has taken me on such an emotional journey over such a short amount of pages. I would highly recommend that you get this book and read it over the Easter holiday next year. It will totally change the way you see the events of what happened.
On Sunday, Easter morning, I awoke really early and spent some time finishing up Gene Edwards book, reading the story of the crucifiction and resurrection from the book of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in my bible, and just spending some quiet time in prayer with my Lord thanking him for the ultimate sacrifice he paid so that I could have eternal life in heaven with him. I stepped outside into the cool morning air and looked out to the east and saw the most amazing sunrises I had ever seen. It took my breath away. It was like looking at the face of God. It showed the new life that came on this day through the resurrection of the fallen Christ. I immediately took a picture and have included it here.
After going back inside, I saw a Facebook post of Carrie Underwood singing “How Great Thou Art”. I have always loved that song, but I think this is the best versions of the song I have ever heard. I have included it here at the top of the blog.
As an amazing sidenote, I had gone over 2 days without anything to eat and strangely, I did not feel hungry at all. I know that the fasting was having it’s desired effect because I felt so more sensitized to everything that was going on around me. It was giving me a focus that was much more focused than if I had not fasted.
I met my Dad and Mom at Heartland Vineyard in Cedar Falls, IA for their 8 am Easter service. The message delivered by Pastor Dan Paxton was called tight Spot.
When we are in a tight spot, the resurrection tells us:
- There is always hope!
- Jesus is always with us!
- God always has the last word!
He related Jesus life to boxing. In Round 1, Jesus was clearly the winner as he fought off evil and sin through his ministry here on earth and healing people. In Round 2, Jesus died on the cross and it looked like evil had triumphed. In round 2, Jesus does not even throw a punch. He just sits there and takes it. How many of us have been through a round 2 in our lives? Round 2 is just a part of the human experience for us here on earth. In Round 3, Jesus rises from the dead and defeats death and evil in one giant act.
What does Easter teach us? It teaches us the first thing is never the last thing. We need to fix our eyes on God knowing that he always has the last word. Tell everyone how wonderful God is. Be loving and kind to people. Good works = Good will. Good will lead to opportunities to speak the Good News!
Following the sermon, there was a four-part harmony song that 4 men did up on the stage that just absolutely blew me away. It made the hairs on my arms stand up and just made me sob. It was amazing! I was so stunned that I forgot to write down what the name of the song was, but when I find out, I will let you know.
After that service, I headed over to Prairie Lakes Church in Cedar Falls, IA and met my Mom, her friend Brian, and Grandma Rose to attend the 9:30 Easter service their. Pastor John Fuller gave a sermon called Death to Life: “Slavery to Freedom”. Jesus rising from the dead is the greatest event in history. Jesus broke the chains that bind us so we can be free. The mortality rate in the US is 100%. Death is a future reality that faces us all. We don’t have to fear death because Jesus saved us.
Peter denied Jesus 3 different times.
On the night of The Last Supper, Peter did not want Jesus to wash his feet. He was saying that Jesus wasn’t allowed access to that dirty part of his life. We think we have sins that Jesus won’t forgive. We live in chains. Don’t be chained down denying Jesus access to our lives. No one is too dirty for Jesus. don’t live your life wounded.
The second time is when Judas lead the guards to Jesus in the garden. Peter drew his sword and tried to fight the guards off. By doing this, Peter was telling Jesus “I got this one.” “I know better than you.” My will, not your will be done. In our lives, we push Jesus to the side and we end up striking out. Part of following Jesus is knowing that He knows best. We are not Jesus’ co-pilot.
The last time is when Peter denied knowing Jesus when questioned by the crowd at the temple while everyone was gathered there to learn of Jesus’ fate. At the Last Supper, Peter told Jesus that he would follow him anywhere, even to death. Now he was denying that he even knew Jesus to try to save his own life. To protect himself. He said he did not know him 3 times and then the rooster crowed and fulfilled the prophecy Jesus had spoken of. Sometimes we think that if we deny our sins, if we don’t look at or talk about our sins, that we won’t be responsible for them. This is just not true. We do not get a Mulligan. We only get this one life to live. Only one chance at this life. Jesus died so we could be free. the cross and what happened should change everything in your life. Peter kept carrying the chain and limping through life. Don’t be like him.
After this, they had a basket full of pieces of chain link. We could grab a piece of chain and walk across the stage to the cross on the stage, look at the cross, and thank Jesus for his sacrifice, and then throw our piece of chain down at the foot of the cross. It was so symbolic and so wonderful. Every time I see a chain from this day forward, I will always think of the sacrifice Jesus made and this glorious day!
After church, I returned to the farm and it was finally time for the fast to be over. We prepared a wonderful Easter meal and gave thanks to God and ate. The rest of the day was spent with family and loved ones.
This really was a truly amazing and moving experience for me this past weekend. it is one that we remain in my heart always. I am eternally grateful to Jesus and the sacrifice he made. Not my will, but your will be done!