Apr 24 2011

Volcanoes and Easter

When I went to Hawaii a couple of weeks ago my dream was to see hot lava flowing into the ocean.  I have seen some incredible images of this and was hoping to capture a few of my own.  Unfortunately, the Kilauea volcano was not active enough for lava to be flowing into the ocean, nor was it close enough to walk to.  I decided to do the next best thing; I took a doors off helicopter flight over the volcano.  From the helicopter I was able look down into the mouth of the crater and see red hot molten lava flowing.  It was an incredibly moving sight.

Hawaii pretty much owes its existence to volcanoes.  Amazingly enough, the islands continue to be shaped by volcanic activity.  Also, south of the Big Island, deep beneath the water, a new island (Lo’ihi) is in the process of being formed.  All of this is the result of a great force at work deep beneath the earth’s surface.  It would be hard to imagine a greater force than that found there.

There is, however, a much greater power and it is the power that Christians all around the world celebrate today.  This is Easter Sunday—that holiest of days when we recall that though Jesus was crucified on Good Friday he rose from the grave that first Easter morning.    Death, which many would have seen as being the greatest force in the world, was defeated that day.  Furthermore, the power of sin was conquered as Christ rose from the tomb.  It truly was the greatest display of power the world has ever seen or experienced.

Today that same power is made available to us through the Risen Christ.  It is something you and I can know firsthand.  In Philippians 3:10-11 the apostle Paul wrote of his desire to experience this power.  He said, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain the resurrection from the dead.”   The power of Christ’s resurrection is available to all believers today.  It is, however, a power that must be tapped. 

In Hawaii you can visit places where the steam from beneath the earth is harnessed to make power.  As Christians we must harness the resurrection power of God too.  We do so by humbly asking for it and by dying to self so that Christ can live in and through us.  We must get to the point where we can say with Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

I doubt that any of us have begun to realize the full potential of Christ’s resurrection power in our lives but it is there for us nonetheless.  On this Easter Sunday I give thanks for that power and for the difference it has made, and is making, in my life.  Happy Easter!

–Chuck


Mar 13 2011

The Power of God

RL 660The power of nature has certainly been on display in recent days.  The scale of the earthquake in Japan this weekend was of historic proportions and actually moved the country eight feet to the east.  The tsunami that followed caused waves so big and powerful that they traveled six miles inland.  Less than a week ago a volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii erupted shooting lava eighty feet into the air.  In the past week tornadoes have also ripped through a number of communities in the United States and late winter storms have caused some cities to come to a standstill.  Other areas of the country have experienced devastating floods following intense rainfall.  Yes, in a short period of time the incredible power of nature has been made manifest to all.

The power of nature is very humbling to humanity.  In the face of earthquakes, tsunamis, tornados, volcanoes and floods we cannot help but feel small.  If we are wise we will stand in awe of the power and forces of nature.  We will be even wiser if we remember that there is a greater power yet.

RL 674Throughout the Scriptures the powers of nature are acknowledged as being great but there is the consistent affirmation that the power of God, the Maker of heaven and earth, transcends nature’s power.  In Job 38 God reminds Job that it was He who “laid the earth’s foundation” and “marked off its dimensions.”  God goes on to inform Job that it was He who “shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb” and that it is He who “cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm.”

The Psalmist was wise enough to acknowledge God’s power and how nature is subservient.  In Psalm 148 he calls on the sun, moon and stars “to praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.”  He goes on to call on the “hail, snow, clouds and stormy winds” to also give praise to God for “his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.”  In the New Testament the apostle Paul summed things up for us: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made…” (Romans 1:20)

RL 692I certainly lament all the loss of life and devastation caused by nature’s power in recent days but as I have watched the images on television of the incredible power found in natural forces I have, likewise, been reminded that God—the Source who brought these powers into existence—is a force even greater.  Remembering this has been a source of comfort to me.  It is good to know that the greatest power that exists is the God of Creation and the same God who has assured us through His Son that He is for us and not against us.  And to quote the apostle Paul once again, “if God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

In Psalm 46 the Psalmist says “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore I will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.”   Today I give thanks and offer praise to the Almighty God, “our refuge and strength” and encourage you to do the same.

–Chuck

(I took the images above at Reelfoot Lake in western Tennessee.  This lake was formed in 1811-1812 as the result of a tremendous earthquake.  The force of the quake was so great that the Mississippi River actually flowed backwards temporarily.)