With Easter Sunday just a few days away, the message of the cross of Jesus Christ is, or soon will be, on the minds of Christians everywhere. In the video-based study "Seven-Mile Miracle: Experience the Last Words of Christ As Never Before," North Carolina megachurch pastor Steven Furtick teaches on location from some of the most recognizable sites from the passion narrative.
Furtick, lead pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, N.C., begins with a teaching about forgiveness based on Jesus' words in Luke 23:34, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."
"I've always been gripped by the power of that statement," said Furtick, speaking from Golgotha, where Jesus was crucified. "I know that I wouldn't be able to find it in my heart to ask God to forgive the enemies that were responsible for my murderous, scandalous death. Yet the very first thing that Jesus did, which was the very thing he came to do, was to issue forgiveness in the face of his betrayers." more >>
This Holy Week will be special at Willow Creek Community Church of South Barrington, Ill., one of the largest churches in America, as it helps members and others walk alongside Jesus from Palm Sunday through Easter with on-site and online meditations.
"At Willow we are all committed to honoring Christ to the fullest extent possible over the next eight days, beginning with our Palm Sunday services," says Willow Creek Senior Pastor Bill Hybels. "By concentrating on His activities and priorities during Holy Week, we can reflect on our own choices and in doing so, we can learn a ton."
On Palm Sunday, Pastor Hybels has invited Dr. Gary Burge, who teaches New Testament at Wheaton College, to deliver a Palm Sunday message examining Jesus' final week in Jerusalem leading up to His crucifixion. more >>
Pastor John Piper launched a new, free devotional eBook, titled Love to the Uttermost: Devotional Readings for Holy Week, today. The devotional focuses on the self-giving love of Jesus Christ leading up to his death, burial and resurrection.
In preparation for the Easter holiday, the new devotional was compiled from past teachings and writings of Piper for use in personal devotions or family and group settings. There are eight devotionals, beginning with Palm Sunday and ending with Easter Sunday. Piper chronicles the steps and words of Jesus as he prepares for his own sacrificial death. He takes the devotional reader on a journey of Christ's love for them through his suffering and sacrifice.
The significance of the term uttermost is explained in the devotional. When used in relation to Jesus' willing death for the world, it means he endured "unimaginable degrees" of suffering to do so. "To love to the uttermost is to love freely, without reserve or limit, and without flaw or failure," it reads. "As we watch his arrest and trial and death unfold for eight days, we gaze on a God-man who begrudges no pain or reproach on his pathway to redeem lost sinners. This is the man who humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" – Philippians 2:8," it concludes in the introduction. more >>
A continuing congregation of The Episcopal Church held its first Easter service in a Virginia church since the majority of the members voted to break away from the denomination.
The Falls Church, a piece of ecclesiastical property that traces its origins back to the 18th century, was one of seven church properties that The Episcopal Church won in a court battle back in January.
Henry Burt, secretary of the Diocese of Virginia who grew up as a member of The Falls Church, told The Christian Post that the Episcopal service at The Falls Church last Sunday was well attended. more >>
A deadly church bombing related to an Easter service held in Nigeria has once again prompted a persecution watchdog to ask for prayers aimed at helping Christians in the country respond to the violence appropriately.
"It's obviously deliberate when on Christmas Day and on Easter Sunday you have these violent attacks against churches and Christians. It's not coincidental," Open Doors Senior Communications Specialist Paul Estabrooks told The Christian Post Monday. "The big challenge is how do you overcome evil with good biblically and non-violently?"
At least 38 people were killed Sunday as a suicide car bomber detonated powerful explosives on a busy road outside a church that was holding a morning Easter service. more >>
The Monday after Easter is sometimes a letdown, said Dr. James Emery White, professor of Theology and Culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, in a recent blog post.
White discussed the disappointment that small churches and church planters might have if they had hoped to see larger crowds on Easter. He writes, "You are grateful to God, but now that Easter is over, there's a bit of a letdown. You wanted so much more. It was, in the end, a typical Easter Sunday," he writes.
But White, lead pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, N.C., assured church leaders that this feeling is normal, and reminded them that it often takes years to grow a church. more >>