For “Sunday Scripture”:
I still remember the day that I asked my mother about the Easter bunny. It took courage I didn’t know I could muster.
We were in Levittown, New York, in the 1950s, and it was a warm, sunny spring day. I was 7 or 8 years old and watching my mother plant something.
This had bothered me for some time, this thing about the Easter eggs. I loved animals and was trying to make a connection between the various aspects of that cheerful holiday and what I knew to be true about nature—that rabbits had babies, not eggs. Birds laid eggs. All that led to other questions too—but one thing at a time. I just couldn’t figure it out, but I didn’t dare reveal the awful truth—that I just might not believe what my parents had told me. How could I ask a question that would disclose my distrust?
A challenge to trust
Hiding behind this doubt was another unfolding mystery. My family flew to Europe every other summer to visit my grandparents. Before the first Boeing jets came into service, some of those trips on the turbo-prop airliners took 13 hours—just to go from New York to Paris! So how did Santa Claus make it around the world in just one day? I lay awake one Christmas Eve just thinking about that.
I dismissed a lot of those thoughts because I didn’t want to know a truth that might disagree with what I’d been taught. It was easier to rationalize my puzzlement and keep trying to come up with the answers on my own—even to the disappearance of cookies and hot chocolate left out on the night of Dec. 24.
What about Christ?
On that spring day, though, I put my doubts to rest, because I asked. And my mother, disappointed that Easter and Christmas—from her perspective—would lose some of the sparkle for me from then on, exposed the charades.
It was on my mind—and almost on my tongue—that day to ask also about Jesus Christ. What about Him? Was He real or also a lie? That really worried me.
Somehow I sensed better and decided that God was different. So I swallowed my disappointment with the truth about the Easter bunny and Santa Claus and ceased questioning. Though I was happy to make some sense out of things, I had just had my first lesson in doubting.
Choosing truth in all circumstances
The Bible reveals a God who loves truth and cannot lie (John 14:6; 17:17; Titus 1:2). He commands us to follow His example and never encourages parents to lie to their children.
It was a few years before I learned that most of these common holidays did not have their roots in Christianity at all, and my parents were only doing what most parents do—copying the traditions they themselves had been taught. They were trying to make it fun for me and my siblings, without knowing where the traditions came from or if they were approved by God.
In the process, something far more important was missed, though. When I think about the new bicycles, the ice skates, the beautiful blue winter coat—all the things I received gift-wrapped from my parents but allegedly from someone I’d never met (and never would)—I wish I could have been expressing my joy and gratitude directly to them, my mother and father. I think we missed a lot of smiles and hugs.
When I had my own children, I loved giving them gifts, but not on one break-the-budget day of the year. I chose never to lie to my children. Gifts came spontaneously throughout the year, often elaborately wrapped or just tucked under the pillow before they went to bed at night. Surprises were always just around the corner (usually tied to good behavior!), and there was no post-holiday letdown involved. The joy was all mine—and theirs!
And as for rabbits laying eggs? Why not just tell children the truth?” Posted by Nancy Diraison on March 28, 2012: http://cogwa.org/christian-parenting-blog/entry/rabbits-dont-lay-eggs-so-why-do-parents-lie-to-their-kids
A Surprising Truth: Jesus Wasn't Resurrected on Sunday Morning!
“There's much more to Christ's resurrection than watching a sunrise on Easter morning, probably the only occasion when most people even think about the resurrection.
Actually, Easter sunrise services were adopted from ancient paganism, just as the name Easter came from Ishtar, the ancient Babylonian fertility goddess. Such services are actually inconsistent with biblical facts about the resurrection of Christ. And in light of their origins, they are certainly unrelated to the promised resurrection of godly people to eternal life.
Another reason a sunrise service cannot honor Jesus is that He did not rise on Sunday morning. Your Bible teaches that He had already been resurrected when Mary Magdalene came to the tomb on Sunday morning "while it was still dark" (John 20:1The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. See All...)—before the sun had even risen!
Further, it is impossible to reconcile a Friday crucifixion and Sunday morning resurrection with Jesus' clear statement that He would be "in the heart of the earth" for three days and nights (Matthew 12:40For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.See All...). You simply cannot fit three days and nights into that time frame.” From: http://www.ucg.org/doctrinal-beliefs/surprising-truth-jesus-wasnt-resurrected-sunday-morning/
What Does Easter Really Commemorate?
You might be surprised! Discover the truth of the surprising story behind one of the world's most popular religious holidays.
“Many people are amazed to find that the Bible does not mention Easter as part of Christian worship.
As a boy attending a mainstream church with my family, I was always surprised to see people at services on Easter Sunday who did not come at any other time of the year, not even at Christmas.
Embarrassed and somewhat fearful, a few of them told us they hoped that God would forgive their sins and absences because they made the special effort to come to church on Easter Sunday, which to them was the most sacred time of the year.
Others felt that a special measure of sanctification, purification and holiness was imparted to them by their attendance at Easter services.
But they were wrong, failing to realize that their faith practice was based on falsehood. None of them knew or even wondered about Easter's origins. They would have been shocked to know the truth of the matter!
Easter's pre-Christian origins and symbols
Many people are amazed to find that the Bible does not mention Easter as part of Christian worship. Neither Jesus nor the apostles ever directed that it should be observed. The word Easter appears only once in the Bible, in Acts 12:4And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. See All... Herod Antipas celebrated the pagan festival of Easter, even before Christ died.
Also not generally known is that Easter did not originate with the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Encyclopedias and dictionaries trace the term Easter variously back to Eostre, the name of the Anglo-Saxon goddess of spring, to Eostur, the Norse word for the spring season, or to Ishtar, the ancient spring goddess of Near Eastern countries, also known as Astarte or, in the Bible, Ashtoreth.
All are connected to the spring season and springtime fertility festivals which represented rejuvenation, reproduction and the life-enriching qualities of the sun. Customs and symbols associated today with Easter observance can be directly traced back to Easter's pre-Christian origins.
The New Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th edition, in its article on Easter, describes these customs and symbols as having been "handed down from the ancient ceremonial and symbolism of European and Middle Eastern pagan spring festivals." One symbol, the Easter rabbit, is called the modern replacement for "the hare, the symbol of fertility in ancient Egypt."
Another source reveals the origin of two Easter customs: "Also popular among Europeans and Americans on Easter is ham, because the pig was considered a symbol of luck in pre-Christian European culture" ( The Encyclopedia of Religion, 1987, "Easter").
"In traditional folk religion the egg is a powerful symbol of fertility, purity, and rebirth. It is used in magical rituals to promote fertility and restore virility; to look into the future; to bring good weather; to encourage the growth of crops and protect both cattle and children against misfortune, especially the dreaded evil eye.
"All over the world it represents life and creation, fertility and resurrection . . . Later [customs concerning eggs] were linked with Easter. The [Roman Catholic] church did not oppose this, though many egg customs were pre-Christian in origin, because the egg provided a fresh and powerful symbol of the Resurrection and the transformation of death into life" (article "Egg"). Complete article at: http://www.ucg.org/holidays-and-holy-days/what-does-easter-really-commemorate/
Communion or Passover? What is communion and how does it relate to the New Testament Passover?
The Feast of Unleavened Bread: The Lesson of Leaving Sin
The Days of Unleavened Bread remind us that with God's help we must remove and avoid all types of sin in all areas of our life.
Immediately after the Passover comes a festival that depicts the next step in the fulfillment of God's master plan. After God, through Christ's sacrifice, has forgiven us of our sins, how do we continue to avoid sin, since we must go on living in newness of life? How do we live as God's redeemed people? We find the answer in the remarkable symbolism of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
When God freed Israel from slavery in Egypt, He told His people that for "seven days you shall eat unleavened bread" (Exodus 12:15Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.See All...). Verse 39 further explains, "And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they had brought out of Egypt; for it was not leavened, because they were driven out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared provisions for themselves."
Continued importance of these days
During the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the apostle Paul taught the same spiritual lessons Jesus had, invoking the comparison of sin to leaven. In the context of reprimanding the Corinthian congregation for its divisions, jealousies and tolerance of sexual misconduct, Paul wrote: "Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Corinthians 5:6-8  Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?  Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.See All...).
Our observance of the Days of Unleavened Bread helps us realize our crucial need for Jesus' help in overcoming our weaknesses. And this feast is certainly a time for rejoicing because He freely gives us the help we need. Jesus, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed for the forgiveness of our sins, thus enabling us to be unleavened, cleansed of sin. More at: http://www.ucg.org/booklet/gods-holy-day-plan-promise-hope-all-mankind/feast-unleavened-bread-lesson-leaving-sin/
Today’s program on WGN, “Moses, Faith and You”
“God blessed Moses because he faithfully trusted Him to fulfill His promises. Learn how you can exercise deep, lively faith.”
On This Day:
FDR signs Emergency Relief Appropriation Act, Apr 8, 1935:
“President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorizes almost $5 million to implement work-relief programs on this day in 1935. Hoping to lift the country out of the crippling Great Depression, Congress allowed the president to use the funds at his discretion. The act was unprecedented and remains the largest system of public-assistance relief programs in the nation's history.
One of the most notable federal agencies FDR created with the Emergency Relief Appropriation Act was the Works Progress Administration, one of several New Deal programs FDR hoped would relieve the chronic and widespread unemployment citizens faced during the Depression. While FDR believed in the elementary principles of justice and fairness, he also expressed disdain for doling out welfare to able workers. The WPA, the Public Works Administration (PWA) and other federal-assistance programs created by the act put Americans to work in return for temporary financial assistance. To prevent the act from harming private enterprise, Roosevelt included a provision that prohibited federal programs from competing with independent businesses by placing wage and price controls on federally funded products and services.
Workers with the WPA built highways, schools, hospitals, airports and playgrounds. They even restored theaters, such as the Dock Street Theater in Charleston, South Carolina, and built the ski lodge at Oregon's Mt. Hood. The WPA also put actors, writers and other creative-arts professionals back to work by sponsoring federally funded plays and art projects. For its part, the PWA funded the construction of New York's Triborough Bridge and the Lincoln Tunnel, as well as the port at Brownsville, Texas.
From 1935, FDR lobbied Congress annually to continue funding the ERA Act. In total, the act allocated approximately $880 million in federal funds and created millions of jobs, although historians disagree about the long-term value of most of the WPA's projects. In 1940, the economy roared back to life with the surge in defense-industry production and, in 1943, Congress suspended many of the programs under the ERA Act, including the WPA and the PWA.”
Aaron hits his 715th home run, Apr 8, 1974:
“On April 8, 1974, Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hits his 715th career home run and breaks the long-standing record held by Babe Ruth. Aaron’s record-breaking 715th homer came in the fourth inning of the Braves’ home opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers, with over 53,000 fans in attendance at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Aaron hit a pitch off lefthander Al Downing and the ball went sailing over the fence in left center field. After Aaron rounded the bases and reached home plate, he was lifted up and congratulated by his teammates. He then shook his father’s hand and hugged his mother. Sadly, in the months leading up to the new record, Aaron, who is African-American, received racist hate mail and death threats.
Aaron began his professional baseball career in 1952 in the Negro League and joined the Milwaukee Braves of the major leagues in 1954, eight years after Jackie Robinson had integrated baseball. Aaron was the last Negro League player to compete in the majors. He quickly established himself as an important player for the Braves and won the National League batting title in 1956. The following season, he took home the league’s MVP award and helped the Braves beat Mickey Mantle and the heavily favored New York Yankees in the World Series. In 1959, Aaron won his second league batting title. Season after season, Aaron turned in strong batting performances: “Hammerin’ Hank” hit .300 or higher for 14 seasons and slugged at least 40 homers in eight separate seasons. In May 1970, he became the first player in baseball to record 500 homers and 3,000 hits. Aaron played for the Milwaukee Braves from 1954 to 1965 and then moved with the team to Atlanta in 1966. On February 29, 1972, the Braves signed Aaron to a three-year, $200,000 per year contract that made him baseball’s best-paid player. In November 1974, the Braves traded Aaron to the Milwaukee Brewers, where he spent the final two seasons of his career.
Aaron retired from baseball in 1976 with 755 career home runs, a record that stood until August 7, 2007, when it was broken by Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants. Aaron still holds the records for most career runs batted in (2,297), most career total bases (6,856) and most career extra base hits (1,477). After retiring as a player, Aaron became one of baseball’s first black executives, with the Atlanta Braves. In 1982, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.”
Waltrip beats Petty in last-lap thriller, Apr 8, 1979:
“On this day in 1979, in the Rebel 500 event at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina, drivers Darrell Waltrip and Richard Petty swap the lead four times in a last-lap battle before Waltrip finally wins the race.
The race also featured a pit stop mishap in which driver David Pearson, following a miscommunication with his crew, drove away with only two of his four tires properly changed. Pearson's car flipped over and had to be removed from the race. The embarrassing incident led to Pearson, who was a top driver, being released from his team, Wood Brothers.
At the time of his defeat by Waltrip at the Rebel 500, Richard Petty was a NASCAR legend. That same year, he won his seventh NASCAR championship, a record later duplicated by just one other driver, Dale Earnhardt (1951-2001). Petty, who was born on July 2, 1937, in Level Cross, North Carolina, is the son of driver Lee Petty (1914-2000), a three-time NASCAR champ who won the first Daytona 500 in 1959. Richard Petty began his own NASCAR career in 1958 and was a dominant competitor before retiring in the early 1990s. Nicknamed "The King," Petty won a record 200 races in his career, including a record seven victories at the Daytona 500. Petty's son Kyle (1960- ) also became a well-known NASCAR driver; his grandson Adam (1980-2000), NASCAR's first fourth-generation driver, was killed in an accident during a practice session at New Hampshire International Speedway.
Darrell Waltrip, who was born on February 5, 1947, in Owensboro, Kentucky, began racing in NASCAR's Winston Cup Series (now known as the Sprint Cup) in 1972. Aggressive and outspoken, Waltrip earned the nickname "Jaws." He won the Winston Cup championship in 1981, 1982 and 1985 and claimed victory at the Daytona 500 in 1989. After retiring as a competitor, Waltrip became a race commentator. His younger brother Michael Waltrip (1963- ) is a two-time Daytona 500 winner.”
Misty and I went down to get Jay, as he wanted to go to the church that I went to last week. After dropping Misty off at my house, we rushed down the country roads, as we were running late. Jay is never ready on time, I should have allowed for that.
About half of the congregation was at a conference, so the place wasn’t as full as last week. The guitarists and choir weren’t there. We were sitting near a lady who had a beautiful and powerful voice for the songs, which was very enjoyable, even though she was wrangling three small sons.
The sermon was “The Resurrection and Christian Hope”. This time we looked up the quoted Bible verses, as they were not displayed on the screen as it was a different elder delivering it. Each has their own way of presentation, I suppose. Afterwards people came up to me, and remembered me from last week, so I felt very welcomed. They said that they missed me for the Passover last Thursday night, until I explained that I can’t drive in the dark. That won’t happen again as, God willing, I already have the offer to go with some other residents of our little town. Jay enjoyed it, and wants to go back next Saturday.