It was April 2011 - turn on the news, it was "The Prince William and Kate Show"! You bet! Man, forget about world crises and cash-burning gas. Who cares about disasters and deficits? The handsome prince and the classy commoner were getting married! Actually, you know a lot of ways you could remember that if you wanted to.
"Dad, can you fix this?" I used to hear that every once in a while. And with my mechanical abilities being what they were, my best answer was usually, "It's doubtful." But I would pull out my trusty tool chest and give it a shot.
There it was again, displayed for all the world to see; hundreds of thousands of people, willing to risk everything for one thing - freedom. Oh, it was a few years ago, but over the weeks in that square, we watched a powerful, real-life struggle for freedom played out in a place called Liberation ("Tahrir") Square in Egypt. Once again, as we've seen in other countries, there was this unquenchable passion to be free. And it changed the nation at that time.
One day I caught a snatch of a TV talk show which I otherwise would never have seen. But the host was interviewing a former FBI agent. He's a man who successfully infiltrated the mafia for several years, and he'd been responsible for bringing evidence in some major indictments against mob leadership. Now, one factor in his underground life was a major source of criminal income. OK, here he was, a pretty straight person, surrounded by cocaine. Well, the host asked the FBI man an interesting question. He said, "Did you ever have to use cocaine?" That's a pretty good question, I thought. After all, his life depended on his fitting in, right? Well, he said, "No, I never did." And the host said, "Well, how did you avoid it?" I liked his answer. It might even help you when you're feeling the pressure to fit in.
J. R. R. Tolkien, one of England's literary greats from a generation ago, wrote about this fantasy world called Middle-Earth, and that world has captured the imagination of millions of people in this generation. His trilogy of books known as "The Lord of the Rings" has really been popularized through three blockbuster movies that were based on them.
The final book and movie, "The Return of the King," portrays this world where the armies of darkness, which are made up of these vicious subhuman beings, are moving to destroy the last bastions of human life in Middle-Earth. But as the rightful king of Middle-Earth begins to emerge, the humans are rallied to what becomes the decisive battle against this advancing evil.
It's actually a true story, courtesy of Ida Mae Kempel. The names have been changed. Jeremy was 12 years old and he was only in the second grade, but he was seemingly unable to learn. His body was kind of distorted, and he had learning disabilities. That was evident. And his teacher, Doris Miller? She often became exasperated with him because he was squirming sometimes and, you know, making funny noises. But at other times he spoke really clearly and distinctly. It was like a spot of light had penetrated the darkness in his brain. No one could have guessed that Jeremy would end up teaching his entire class and his teacher.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Easter Eggs."
Doris Miller finally became so exasperated with Jeremy that she asked his parents to come to St. Theresa's for a consultation. When she explained that it would be better for Jeremy and the other students if, well you know, if he were in a special school. His mother begged for Jeremy to stay where he felt safe.
After they left, the teacher struggled with what to do. She wanted to sympathize with the parents. After all, their only child had a terminal illness. But what about the other students?
Well, God did something in her heart that day. She ended up praying for the patience to be what Jeremy needed. From that day she tried to ignore his noises and his blank stares. One day he limped up to her desk, dragging his bad leg behind him. And out loud, Jeremy exclaimed, "I love you, Miss Miller!" The other students kind of snickered and she was a little embarrassed.
Easter approached and Doris told her students the story of Jesus, and she emphasized the idea of new life. She gave each child a large plastic egg and she gave them an interesting assignment. She said, "Bring it back the next day with something inside that shows new life." Well, the children were excited, well that is, all except Jeremy. Doris saw no signs that he "got it." She was going to call his parents that night to explain the assignment. She forgot.
The next morning, 19 children came to school, laughing and talking as they placed their eggs in this large wicker basket on Miss Miller's desk. Then came the time to open their eggs. Well, one had a flower in her egg, another a plastic butterfly, another one had a rock with moss on it - all symbols of new life. When Doris opened the fourth egg, she just kind of gasped. The egg was empty! Yeah, it was Jeremy's.
She was going to quickly set it aside, but Jeremy suddenly spoke up, "Miss Miller, aren't you going to talk about my egg?" Doris said, "But your egg is empty, Jeremy!" He looked into her eyes and said softly, "Yes, but Jesus' tomb was empty, too! Jesus was killed, but His Father raised Him up!" The recess bell rang and the children ran out to play. And that teacher cried.
Three months later, Jeremy died. Those who paid their respects at the funeral home were kind of surprised by what they saw there. On top of Jeremy's casket, there were 19 eggs - all of them empty.
And now, our word for today from the Word of God in John 14:19 - something Jeremy really understood. Jesus said, "Because I live, you also will live." The tomb is empty. The arguments about the way to God end at that empty tomb. Our little, earthbound lives don't have to be small anymore when we open up to the power of the One who blew the doors off His grave, who died on a cross to pay for every sin we've ever done. Our questions and our fears about what happens after our last heartbeat are answered at that empty tomb.
Jesus is alive today! The question is, "Do you belong to Him?" Have you ever opened the door of your heart and said, "Jesus, I'm putting all my trust in You to be my Savior from my sin"? If you never have, don't go into another Easter weekend; don't do Good Friday without opening your heart to Him.
I'd love to help you with that, and I think you'll find encouragement to begin a relationship with Him right where a lot of other people have - at our website ANewStory.com.
Jesus has beaten what has beaten every other person who ever lived. And because He lives, you can live also...forever.
It's common to most every religious tradition, some ceremony or service where you dedicate or commit your new child to God. In some Christian traditions, it takes the form of baptism. Others have a brief baby dedication. The last baby we dedicated was our youngest child and that was more than a few years ago. I held the little guy in my hands. I don't do that anymore. Times have changed. I don't pick him up anymore. I would hurt myself badly. He picks me up literally. I mean, he'd greet me at the airport and pick me off the ground and spin me around. That's my baby. A lot of things have changed. One thing never has.
There are two words that send a shudder through almost everyone who is either in school or was ever in school, because you remember the fear that goes with these words. And if you're currently a student, you don't have to remember them at all; you're right there living with them. The words - final exam! A chill just goes through the room when you hear those words.
So we watched the Weather Channel on TV, and we changed our plans. A big storm was coming, faster than originally anticipated, so we took off almost immediately to avoid getting seriously delayed or, you know, driving on dangerous roads. It was just one of those countless times when the weather changed our plans. Like the numerous times that storms have delayed or cancelled airplane flights I was on. And, because I travel a lot, I'm a faithful viewer of the Weather Channel. It's really something to watch the weather form and move across the country, and even across the world, and to watch how often it surprises all of us, including the weatherman sometimes. Of course, these aren't random developments we're watching unfold on that map. No, not for those of us who belong to the Lord of the weather.
I've never been in a major earthquake. Well, I mean, except for the pandemic. Seems like it's shaken just about everyone and everything. One thing earthquakes do, they reveal the buildings that weren't built strong enough to stand the shock. Just like floods reveal the weaknesses in a levee or a dam. Or a flood wall that wasn't built high enough.