The Champion

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By Dan Amos

Does anyone remember Carmen? In the late ’80s and early ’90s I collected a bunch of his CDs. He could really tell a story well in his songs. One of my favorites was about the fight between Jesus and Satan at the cross.

Satan celebrates a knockout on Jesus — His death on the cross. But the ten-count is done in reverse and Satan starts to panic. The crowd goes wild when the referee, God the Father, declares Jesus alive and the champion. The cross is where my sin was paid for, but Sunday morning was the victory.

This Sunday we celebrate. We clap, we raise our hands and we sing, but rarely do you see a fist pump and a throat scratching “YES!” bellowed out. If we had been Peter going into the tomb and finding nothing there and understanding why, then would have been a great time for a touchdown-style yell.

I don’t know what the celebration planned for our two services (at 9 and 11 a.m.) will look like. I’ve asked, but the planning appears to be closely held. I know for myself that outbursts of exultation come most naturally when they are spontaneous, such as at a live sporting event.

I’m looking forward to Sunday. It’s Easter and the Good News will be heard by some for the first time, or for the only time until next year. My hope is that the celebration we have will be infectious and something others want to experience week after week, day after day. And when that new believer comes up out of the water on a later day, there will be a spontaneous celebration of new life in Jesus.

He is risen!

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Living and Leaving a Legacy

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By Beau Leaman

What do you get when you add up the following?

  • monthly Jeep cruises
  • shooting guns
  • telling scary Sasquatch stories
  • a yearly men’s retreat at Evergreen Bible Presbyterian Church
  • a website with the exact coordinates of Noah’s ark
  • driving down the freeway with the blinker on
  • teaching children the Greek alphabet
  • pointing and shooting a gun at a kitchen table to see if it’s loaded
  • lip-syncing worship songs because people lost their place in the song
  • helping me put my flipped jeep right-side up
  • the love of God

What do you get? My dear friend Edward Crawford.

Psalm 99:6-7 says: “Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel was among those who called on his name; they called on the Lord and he answered them. He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud; they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.”

This week, as I was processing through Psalm 99, I realized that these men — Moses, Aaron, and Samuel — all lived a legacy. A legacy that David remembered. A legacy that David found worthy to write about. These men lived lives faithful to God. Their faithfulness reached beyond just their own generation. Each of their lives was such a powerful testimony, a legacy reaching down generation to generation, touching a whole nation. Their testimonies taught others that obedience, faithfulness, and a relationship with God is not only vital, but is who we are.

Edward Crawford died a few years ago; the cause of his death was unknown. It is a mystery how a man in good health and full of energy, a man who had just climbed Mt. Ararat, could pass away suddenly and without warning. I truly believe my dear friend had great love for his Savior and had made it his mission on earth to proclaim that love. He made it his purpose to shout God’s glory and ensure all around him knew God’s faithfulness. Although my friend didn’t finish what he had started on earth, God decided it was time to take him home, ending his life on his earth. But one thing Edward did leave was his legacy.

We’re not given the exact time Christ is coming back, or when our lives here will end. I continue to go back and look at the life of my friend because I desire what he had. I desire the way he would communicate with Jesus. I desire the way he knew God’s Word. In thinking about his legacy, I wonder what kind of legacy I am living today. How will I finish the race? How am I impacting my neighbors, coworkers, community, and friends in an intentional, purpose-driven, and Christ-centered way? My hope is that I leave a living legacy even after I have left this earth.

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Disneyland Radio

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By Nate Champneys

Think about the most difficult thing you have ever had to endure: A divorce, the death of a loved one, a season of unemployment, or worse. Did you feel you could talk to God about it? When you came to church, did you feel connected to God by the worship? Or did you feel disconnected and alone?

The reason I ask these questions is that something has been bothering me for awhile. Last year I used many Psalms as the basis for worship themes, and one thing I noticed is the large number of laments in the Psalms. Literally 70 percent of the Psalms contain lamenting (or mourning) language. I decided I wanted to do a service on lamenting, and I was very surprised to find that there are very, very few worship songs that are laments.

This brought me to take a closer look at the Church in general in this area. As I listened to Christian radio, I couldn’t help but feel a disconnect. Over and over I heard the words, “positive and uplifting” or “uplifting and kid-safe.” I felt like I was listening to Disneyland Radio because it was “happy all the time.” As I tried to think of regularly used worship songs in the church that are laments, I only needed one hand to count. I thought about my own planning of services and the lack of laments.

But if 70 percent of the Psalms are laments, that should tell us something about life and how hard it is. David, the one man in history who is referred to as “a man after God’s own heart” said to God, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13). And it’s not just Psalm 13 which speaks like this — it’s literally 70 percent of the Psalms!

This should tell us something: It is okay to be weak. It is okay to not have it all put together. It is okay to cry out to God. It is okay to be so upset that you feel like you can’t even pray. In Psalm 77, David talks about being so upset he cannot speak. Have you ever been there? I know I have.

When you look at the life of David, it is clear that very few men have had such a close relationship with God. What characterizes David’s relationship with God? Brutal honesty. David tells God exactly how he feels. He tells God when he feels alone. He tells God when he feels like God has turned His back on him.

But there is one other thing that characterizes David’s relationship with God. While being brutally honest with God in how he felt, he always moved on to remembering the faithfulness of God. Psalm 77 is a perfect example of this. David spends the first half of the chapter crying out to God in his distress, but in verse 10 the whole chapter shifts. He then says, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember Your miracles long ago.” David continues on to list off the amazing things God had done in the history of His people.

This life can be brutal and it’s okay to be weak. It’s okay to weep. It’s okay to be upset, and it’s okay to tell God exactly how you feel. That is exactly what He wants from us. It’s okay for a time, as long as that is not where we stay. We also need to remember. We need to do what David did over and over in the Psalms: Lament, weep, and cry out to God, but then take time to remember His faithfulness.

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