1. How can I grow in my relationship with Jesus?
A burning ember grows cold when separated from the fire. Stay near the burn and rekindle the fire in you. Jesus gave us an agricultural metaphor that the city mouse and the country mouse understand: Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit. (New King James Version, John 15.4-5)
Rev. John Wesley (founder of the Methodist Church), taught that we must discipline ourselves to keep the means of grace through which the Holy Spirit will work in us: searching the scripture, prayer, fasting, public worship, preaching/teaching the Word and the Lord’s supper.
2. Where does it say people go to Heaven when they die?
Our culture has a false belief that everyone gets a ticket to ride into heaven. Norman Greenbaum wrote and popularized a song in 1969 entitled “Spirit in the Sky.” The lyrics capture this false theology: “Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky, that’s where I’m gonna go when I die. When I die and they lay me to rest, gonna go to the place that’s the best.” Why? What right do we have to be in the holy presence of God for eternity? God alone gives us the right when we claim Christ as Savior and God claims us as His children. We have confidence that “to be away from the body” is to be “at home with the Lord” (New International Version, 2 Cor. 5.8) in heaven through Christ alone.
3. According to your observations, which doctrines need special emphasis today?
We have an emphasis on grace in the United Methodist Church and that is always needed, but we have lost the knowledge of the holy. An emphasis on grace must be balanced with an emphasis on the holiness of God. Christians in western culture have fallen prey to secular humanism and philosophy which allows every individual to determine for themselves their own moral codes. God is AS holy AS God is gracious.
4. What is the most important thing to remember during the Easter holidays?
God still moves stones. If you are going through a tough time (and who doesn’t?), the same power of God that raised Jesus from the dead is there to strengthen your resolve and fill you with power to live victoriously. Christ conquered death and has made us more than conquerors. “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (New King James Version, Romans 8.37)
5. Why did Jesus have to die and come back to life?
The Apostle Paul gives us the definitive answer in Romans 6.
“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” (New King James Version, Romans 6.5-6)
You cannot come back to life if you are still alive. All other religions are based on a dead man or dead philosophy. Muhammad and Buddha are as dead as a snuffed out candle. Confucius is confusing and dead. I read a story about a Muslim who converted to Christianity. Someone asked him “Why?” The man retorted, “If you come to a fork in the road of life and there were two men at the fork, one man is dead and the other is alive. Which one would you ask directions from?”
6. What do you do to keep the true meaning of Easter alive in your home as well as the church?
The truth of the resurrection is kept alive in my home and church by keeping time every week to remember Christ. Every Sunday is a little Easter. When Christians gather to worship on the first day of the week, they do so as a witness to the resurrection. Because He is alive we are alive in Him.
7. Some feel that you need a new Easter Sunday outfit each Easter. What is the reason for this?
It’s a tradition to wear new clothes. It’s also a tradition to wear clothes. Thank God for that tradition! Historically, the reason for new clothes is a tradition rooted in the baptism of new believers on Easter. They would be covered in a white garment to represent that they were clothed in Christ on their special day of baptism. “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” (New International Version, Galatians 3.27)
Someone famously said, “Clothes make the man.” Not really, only on the outside because it’s not the clothes that make a man. Being clothed in Christ is what matters. Happy Easter!