Easter facts

We live in a time where news items that look like facts may not be facts. For some years now, we have had to learn to handle fake news and manipulated pictures, which want us to believe in propaganda and lies. Although the scale of all this has increased with the help of the internet, the phenomenon, as such, is old.

After the death of Jesus on the cross, his body was placed in a cave-like grave. A big stone was put in front of the entrance. That was Friday evening. Roman soldiers were stationed in front of the grave. They were not there because anyone believed that the dead Jesus would escape, but in order to prevent his friends from stealing the body and claiming that he had risen from the dead.

On Sunday morning, a couple of women went to the grave in order to care for the dead body, which had been put there too hastily to be treated with spices and perfume. However, both they and the soldiers were in for a surprise.

The earth started to shake and an angel appeared, accompanied by a strong light, like lightning. The soldiers and the women actually shared the same experience, but from there they went in different directions, telling different stories.

The two Marys did as the angel had said and went to the other disciples, telling them the good news that Jesus had risen from the dead, was now alive in a new kind of body and that he would meet them all in Galilee. They were excited and joyful.

The two soldiers were afraid. They had failed to keep their orders (to keep the dead body in the grave) and faced severe punishment. However, they told their story to the religious leaders who were disturbed. The priests and elders came up with a lie and paid the soldiers to spread their false version of the event and even promised to protect them from the governor. The alternative story was that the disciples came during the night and stole the body while the guards were asleep.

As Matthew puts it in his book: “So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed.”

It is a historically verified fact that Jesus from Nazareth rose from the dead and showed himself to his followers and hundreds of people. Furthermore, he did not die and get buried a second time, but he went back to his Father in heaven. He did that in order to fulfil his promise, that the presence of God’s Kingdom would be launched on earth in a new way. God the Father would send the Holy Spirit to reside in all believers in order to make His grace and truth, righteousness and Agape love visible and available through the generations.

The important thing with the truth of the resurrection of Jesus, is not just that it is a fact. There are many facts in this world that are irrelevant to our lives. The important and beautiful thing is that, as a result, the world can be a different, better place. Jesus is now the living, victorious Saviour. Death and the evil of Satan can no longer hold us in darkness. By faith and fellowship with Jesus, we can both be and live God’s Kingdom presence here and now.

This text has been published in Die Heilsarmee Magazin #4/2017.

Osterfakten

Wir leben in einer Zeit, in der Nachrichten, die wie Fakten aussehen, manchmal gar keine Fakten sind. Seit einigen Jahren müssen wir lernen, mit Falschmeldungen und manipulierten Bildern umzugehen, die uns von Propaganda und Lügen überzeugen wollen. Dieses Phänomen ist nicht neu, auch wenn sein Ausmaß mithilfe des Internets zugenommen hat.

Nachdem Jesus am Kreuz gestorben war, wurde sein Leichnam in ein höhlenartiges Grab gelegt. Ein großer Stein wurde vor den Eingang gerollt. Das war am Freitagabend. Römische Soldaten wurden vor dem Grab postiert. Das geschah nicht, weil irgendjemand glaubte, der tote Jesus würde fliehen, sondern um seine Freunde davon abzuhalten, den Leichnam zu stehlen und dann zu behaupten, er sei von den Toten auferstanden.

Am Sonntagmorgen gingen ein paar Frauen zum Grab, um den Leichnam zu pflegen. Er war zu hastig bestattet worden, um ihn noch mit Gewürzen und Duftstoffen zu salben. Doch sowohl sie als auch die Soldaten erwartete eine Überraschung.

Die Erde bebte und ein Engel erschien, begleitet von einem hellen Licht, wie ein Blitz. Die Soldaten und die Frauen erlebten genau dasselbe, doch dann gingen sie in verschiedene Richtungen und erzählten verschiedene Geschichten.

Die beiden Marias taten, was ihnen der Engel gesagt hatte. Sie gingen zu den anderen Jüngern und brachten ihnen die gute Nachricht, dass Jesus von den Toten auferstanden war, dass er jetzt in einer neuen Art von Körper lebte und dass er sie alle in Galiläa treffen würde. Sie waren aufgeregt und voller Freude.

Die Soldaten hatten Angst. Sie hatten ihren Auftrag nicht ausgeführt (den Leichnam im Grab zu halten) und ihnen drohte eine harte Strafe. Doch sie erzählten den religiösen Anführern, was passiert war. Die Priester und Ältesten waren beunruhigt. Sie ließen sich eine Lüge einfallen und bezahlten die Soldaten dafür, dass sie ihre falsche Version von den Ereignissen verbreiteten. Sie versprachen sogar, sie vor dem Statthalter zu schützen. Die alternative Geschichte lautete, die Jünger seien in der Nacht gekommen und hätten den Leichnam gestohlen, während die Wachen schliefen.

Matthäus schreibt (28,15 NGÜ): „Die Soldaten nahmen das Geld und taten, wie man ihnen gesagt hatte.”

Es ist eine historisch bestätigte Tatsache, dass Jesus von Nazareth vom Tod auferstanden ist und sich seinen Nachfolgern und Hunderten von Leuten gezeigt hat. Anschließend ist er nicht ein weiteres Mal gestorben und begraben worden, sondern kehrte zurück zu seinem Vater im Himmel. Er tat das, um sein Versprechen zu erfüllen, dass die Gegenwart des Reiches Gottes auf eine neue Weise auf die Erde kommen würde. Gott der Vater würde den Heiligen Geist senden, damit er in allen Gläubigen lebt, um seine Gnade und Wahrheit, seine Gerechtigkeit und seine Agape-Liebe durch alle Generationen hindurch sichtbar und zugänglich zu machen.

Das Wichtige an der Wahrheit der Auferstehung Jesu ist nicht nur, dass es eine Tatsache ist. Nicht jede Tatsache auf der Welt hat etwas mit unserem Leben zu tun. Das Wichtige und Schöne ist, dass die Welt durch diese Tatsache ein anderer, besserer Ort sein kann. Jesus ist heute der lebendige Erlöser. Er hat Satan besiegt. Der Tod und das Böse können uns nicht mehr in Finsternis halten. Durch den Glauben und die Gemeinschaft mit Jesus können wir Gottes Reich hier und jetzt sein und leben.

Dieser Artikel wurde im Heilsarmee Magazin Nummer 3/2017 veröffentlicht.

The annual check-up

I have made an appointment with a new dentist. Moving to different countries (or even places within a country) means finding new dentists and doctors.

My dentist in Cologne comes with recommendations. I expect my annual check-up will be a good experience. Only then will I know if any measures need to be taken. Why do I have to do this? Do I have to? No one is forcing me! It is just the natural and necessary thing to do if I want healthy teeth.

I live, I eat, I look after my teeth (although there is room for improvement there) and I go to the dentist for regular check-ups in order to prevent decay and to have a life without toothache.

This is how The Journey of Renewal, the Accountability Movement of the International Salvation Army, works.

The book is now available in German. It will be distributed to all corps and centres and if you are interested in the ‘health’ of The Salvation Army where you are, you can buy it and read it.

It contains information, motivation, biblical reflection and ways of practical application. It should be applied individually, in your personal development, and it can be used as a good tool for groups.

The Journey of Renewal material works like my annual dental check-up. If everything works as it should, you will be encouraged. If risk areas or greater problems are discovered, you will be glad that there are tools to apply to assist in the healing process.

No one is forcing you or your corps to read the book or go through the process. However, if you want to follow Jesus with passion and in the Spirit and if you want to be part of a corps, a fellowship, that stays healthy year after year, then you do well to start this Journey.

The German booklet costs €4.

On this link, you can read more and download the book for free. In English.

Jährliche Vorsorgeuntersuchung

Ich habe einen Termin bei einem neuen Zahnarzt ausgemacht. Der Umzug in ein anderes Land (oder sogar einem Ort innerhalb eines Landes) bedeutet, dass man einen neuen Zahnarzt und andere Ärzte braucht.

Mein Zahnarzt in Köln habe ich auf Empfehlung gefunden. Ich gehe davon aus, dass die jährliche Vorsorgeuntersuchung eine gute Erfahrung sein wird. Erst dann werde ich wissen, ob irgendwelche Maßnahmen ergriffen werden müssen. Warum muss ich das machen? Muss ich? Niemand zwingt mich! Es ist einfach eine natürliche und notwendige Sache, die ich tun muss, wenn ich gesunde Zähne haben will.

Ich lebe, ich esse, ich kümmere mich um meine Zähne (obwohl es da noch Raum für Verbesserung gibt) und ich gehe zu meiner jährlichen Vorsorgeuntersuchungen zum Zahnarzt, um Verfall vorzubeugen und ein Leben ohne Zahnschmerzen zu haben.

So funktioniert Der Weg der Erneuerung, die Accountability-Bewegung der internationalen Heilsarmee.

Das Buch gibt es jetzt auf Deutsch. Es wird an alle Korps und Einrichtungen verteilt. Wenn Sie an der „Gesundheit“ der Heilsarmee vor Ort interessiert sind, können Sie es kaufen und lesen.

Es enthält Informationen, Motivation, biblische Reflexion und Wege der praktischen Anwendung. Es kann individuell, in der persönlichen Entwicklung, und als gutes Werkzeug für Gruppen angewendet werden.

Das Material Der Weg der Erneuerung funktioniert wie eine jährliche Vorsorgeuntersuchung. Wenn alles funktioniert wie es sollte, werden Sie ermutigt werden. Wenn Risikobereiche oder größere Probleme entdeckt werden, werden Sie froh sein, dass es Werkzeuge gibt, die im Heilungsprozess angewendet werden können.

Niemand zwingt Sie oder Ihr Korps dieses Buch zu lesen oder durch den Prozess hindurchzugehen. Aber wenn Sie Jesus mit Leidenschaft und im Geist folgen möchten und Sie Teil eines über die Jahre gesund bleibenden Korps sein möchten, dann wäre es gut, diesen Weg zu beginnen.

Das deutsche Buch kostet 4 €.

On this link, in English, you can read more and download the book.

Beyond Dynamissio

Sometimes words grow on you. The message you hear is like a potplant that is put into the ground, where it develops roots and spreads out into new meaning.

At the Dynamissio conference in Berlin I heard the speaker Ruth Padilla DeBorst talk about the event described in Luke chapter 4, when Jesus spoke in the Synagogue of his home village.

He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

18 ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
19     to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.’[f]

20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 He began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’

The speaker commented on the fact that the listeners were aware of God’s promises and they expected that they would be fulfilled. However, the expectation was mainly about THEM being blessed. God’s people in a land occupied by the Romans, should be first in line when it came to freedom from oppression.

They didn’t expect God´s love and favour to include all sinners, like Roman soldiers and people from Samaria, as well as the crowd of the poor and sick that Jesus hung out with.

That was then, and how is it now?

I find myself thinking that I have a tendency to expect the same things, the same blessings as the people in Nazareth.

In theory, I am all for Jesus coming to the poor, the prisoners, the blind and oppressed, but what do I and the established Christian fellowship really long for, pay attention to and dream about?

We want our meeting halls and churches filled with people, we want new soldiers and members and followers of Jesus. We pray for leaders and generous supporters. Yes, the truth is that our hopes and expectations are that God will move in this country and keep our organisation, our church going and growing. Bless us! Come to us!

Ruth Padilla DeBorst said that Jesus came to go beyond human expectations and desire for comfort. She said “Life can only be enjoyed by sharing, not hoarding or consuming”.

If I reflect on the language that we sometimes use in churches and The Salvation Army today, we often have a tendency talk about expecting more and better things from God for ourselves. That might not be completely wrong, as such, but the proclamation in Nazareth reminds us that we FIRST shall share hope, life and freedom in Jesus with all those who go without these things.

“We shall not save the world. Jesus has already done that. We need to be saved from a world of overabundance and self-reliance.” This quote from her speach summarises that we can trust God to build his church as we go with his revolutionary love and grace to where it is needed.A tool that the Salvation Army has developed to address this issue, of keeping our focus where it should be, is the Journey of renewal material.

Das Geben. / Why should I give? Prepare for joy. (4/4)

The video is in German. English text below.

Self-Denial time is also the time of Lent. It is a time for personal reflection and prayer, as well as preparing my heart for the reality of the Easter events. I would also encourage you in the holy habit of putting aside a sum of money every week, in order to be prepared for the offering on Easter Sunday.

Our giving should not be an impulse of the moment but, as in all important things, well prepared.

The message of Easter has a serious tone to it. We are reminded of the confrontation between God’s will and human ambitions. We consider the pain and loneliness of Jesus and the bewilderment of the disciples.

But, ultimately, it is a time of great joy and transformation. The new life of Jesus brought his followers together in a new, deeper fellowship.

That reminds us of how much more we can achieve together. During this time, leading up to Easter, I encourage you to be inventive in inviting others to contribute to the Self-Denial Collection. Make it fun to give! For example, bring some Self-Denial material and a collection box to your workplace. Let the young people get involved and come up with some unusual ideas.

In addition, when the Sunday arrives when you collect the contributions, rejoice together in the giving and give thanks to God when the result is announced.

More information in German on this link.

Das Geben. / Why should I give? More blessings (3/4)

the video is in German. English text below.

Why should I give of my personal income to people I do not know?

Jesus gave us the answer to this question: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” One interesting thing about this saying is, that if I asked you to find it in your Bible, many of you would look for it in the Gospels, but it is not where you would find it.

What does it mean “is more blessed”? Well one way is to remind ourselves about children at Christmas. They can get pretty excited about getting presents, but when they have prepared a present for someone else, they can hardly contain themselves and find it very difficult not to tell the others about it before they get to open their presents.

As we grow up, we start to change. We look more and more after number one: ourselves. But look around you: If the more you take for yourself really made you happy, rich people would look so ecstatic, you could not bear to look at them. But this is not what happens, is it?

Jesus explained why: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Mt 6:21) So, if we turn this verse round, we could say: “Teach your heart to give. Give regularly, give generously, give to build God’s kingdom here on earth. Give money, yes, but give also affection and love, and lots of your time.

Before you know it, you will realise that you will have amassed a treasure you knew nothing about: A treasure of blessings and friends, and brothers and sisters in the family of God.

And that’s only the beginning. Only eternity will reveal what turning our heart to the things of real value will have achieved. Will you open today a saving account at Heaven’s Bank?

This is a contribution from Lt.Colonel Hervé Cachelin.