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.
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.
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.
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.
It was one of my wife's favorite recipes. She served it to our RHM Team at one time. I always smiled when she served what she called "Javanese dinner" because I knew what was going to happen. She'd tell the guests what's in the dinner and she'd instruct them to go through the line and pile the ingredients on in the order that they're served. And several guests are going to look at one another as if to say, "You've got to be kidding." The ingredients could include rice, chicken, celery, coconut, pineapple, noodles, onions, cheese and a hot broth poured over the whole thing. (Look, let me just quickly say, don't ask me to send the recipe. I don't do recipes. I just eat them. OK, I can't send you a recipe.) Now listen, there was often some skepticism about this menu. They couldn't understand how that would all go together. Then the guests would go through the line, they would risk it and they loved it. I saw the person who had the most doubts about what all those ingredients would be like when you put them all together. I saw them going back for seconds and thirds.
Oh, give me a break. It's not like I'm the only man in the world with this control thing. I mean, it's probably part of our wiring to be in control, huh? Like driving. If you've got four guys traveling together, you usually have four people who want to drive, but that makes the front seat awfully crowded. When a family's going on a long trip, many men make it very clear, "I'll drive." I'm one of those guys who doesn't like to ride very much. I do like to drive. But a while back, I learned a valuable lesson about this "must drive" neurosis. We had an all-day trip ahead of us and I had a full day of preparation for speaking and radio programs. I find that's hard to do with a steering wheel in your hand. Yeah, something the National Safety Council would not be excited about. So my wife drove the whole trip while I buried myself in my work. I got so much done!
It was another one of those unforgettable summers with that amazing group of Native American young people. This particular summer, we had traveled to 14 Indian reservations to tell about the hope that these young men and women found in Jesus Christ. One village we were in was typical of so many - so much violence that we were actually advised not to sleep overnight there with the team; a lot of gang activity, a ton of despair. In most places, we're there for multiple nights, but in this particular village we could only do a single night outreach event. Usually, we're outside on a basketball court where the basketball events, the contemporary Christian music and the powerful Hope Stories of the team members convene and hold the attention of a very large crowd. But this night we had to be in a gym, and when team members began to talk about the Savior who had changed their lives, we had an unusual - and very distracting - exodus from the building that was led by several big gang members.
On a foreboding day in the spring, the tornado warnings were out for this small town in Illinois. Knowing they needed to find a safe place, some folks really ran for shelter into the one basement of a restaurant that was housed in a hundred-year-old stone building. What they didn't factor into their choice was the old sandstone foundation on which that building rested. Well, the tornado roared right through the middle of the town, made a direct hit on that building, and it destroyed everything - the building, the foundation, the basement, and eight people died there that day.
Every time I go to an airport, there are a lot of planes to choose from. Sometimes I walk past dozens of gates and planes to get to one plane at a faraway gate. Sometimes I get on this little "puddle jumper" plane when I'd, of course, rather be onboard a big, sleek aircraft. I don't get on the first plane I see, or the one that's the most convenient to get to, or the one that looks like the most comfortable, or the one that looks best to me. No, I pick which plane I'll board based on one simple factor - its destination.