Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday sense

It’s day five of flying for me, tonight will be night number six away from home. I’m spending the day in a Hampton Inn in Greenville, SC, where everything is green, or greening up in the early spring. Tonight I’ll fly from GSP to Charlotte, only about a twenty minute flight maximum, then deadhead back to DC for the night. I miss my wife and girls, and will be home tomorrow afternoon, for a week of vacation and four days extra scheduled off, away from the skies. So, two days before our Easter holiday, it’s a good Friday, in fact it is THE Good Friday, and I’ll be writing about that subject in a paragraph or two.

The first couple of days of this trip we endured a lot of turbulence in the clouds, immersed and enveloped ‘inside the lampshade‘, in white and gray. Climbing and descending to find a smoother altitude for our ‘peeps’ didn’t help much, so we usually just slowed down the plane and endured it. My Co-Pilots and I had to fight gusty crosswinds on takeoff and landing. We airline pilots generally like the challenge of a crosswind, passengers generally don’t. Not seeing the blue sky or sun for entire flights is strange at times. It still intrigues me to navigate using only our instruments on the flight display screens in front of us, then pop out of ragged clouds and mist with the runway right in front of us, canted at an angle, due to our ‘crab angle’ into the wind.

On the second day we were flying north over western New York, destination Toronto, Ontario, Canada, when we seemed to reach the end of the endless clouds. It started clearing over Buffalo, New York, as center had us descend to 10,000 feet. I got out my camera because I knew Niagara Falls was coming up, and it looked as if we would get a chance to photograph it. This is from two miles above the ground with a zoomed lens, but it’s still very impressive.

I think it’s only fitting that I quote Jesus’ from John 7:37 (ESV) here: “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Wow, what a river of living water, indeed. I will see it up close in person, someday.

Below is a picture of the river and lakes of the Niagara Falls region, this was taken while we were headed south, from Toronto back to Philadelphia. In the foreground is Lake Ontario, in the background is Lake Erie. That little puff of white is the mist rising from the Canadian, Horseshoe falls side. The river is the Niagara river, and it flows from south to north, background to foreground, from Lake Erie towards Lake Ontario. Unless you’re geography limited, like I was about this area until a few years ago, it doesn’t make sense without an explanation. Here's a google map of the same area.  It’s still tricky for me to make sense of it, of a river that flows from south to north, and not only that but a humongous waterfall over seemingly flat country. But with a little knowledge and explanation, it does make sense. Rivers all over the earth flow from a higher elevation to a lower elevation.

It can be hard to make sense of Jesus’ sacrifice of his life on the cross too. With a little knowledge and explanation it begins to make sense too. God loves you! God loves us, every one of us, and He wants to have relationship with us, now and for eternity. Our sin (which is turning away from God by our thoughts, words, actions, and deeds) separates us from God, because God is Holy and perfect, and cannot and will not tolerate sin in his presence. As a matter of fact, God will destroy whatever is sinful in his pure presence. But God made a way, from the beginning, to ‘fix’ our imperfectedness and restore our relationship with him. Jesus. He said in John 16:13 “there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Many skeptics of Christianity accept that a man named Jesus Christ of Nazareth was crucified on a cross, but they draw the line there. But without Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, his crucifixion doesn’t make sense at all. The resurrection is absolutely essential to Christianity. But don’t just take my word for it, feel free to check out these three links, by others much smarter than me about the subject: No Christianity with the Resurrection, Christianity is Resurrection, and Resurrection essential to Christianity.

Without Jesus rising from the dead:

-His death on the cross was in vain, and unable to defeat sin; in other words the pain and suffering of crucifixion, ‘bearing the guilt for the sins of many’, was unable to overcome death.

-He was just a man, and not God.

-He was a liar, and so were his disciples. All the times in four gospels where Jesus promised that ‘whosoever believes in me shall not die, but have everlasting life’ make him and the gospel writers out to be liars.

-God has permitted all true Christians out to be liars as well. I can’t, don’t, and won’t believe that the nature of God is like that, the Bible says otherwise in plenty of places.

The proof that Jesus’ perfect sacrifice was sufficient enough to make us sinners right with God (“by grace through faith” - Ephesians 2:8) is in the fact of his resurrection itself, and gives all believers confidence that at some point after we die in this life we will have resurrected bodies and eternal life, just as our Savior promised multiple times in the gospels, and as the New Testament authors espoused on.

Perhaps the most memorable New Testament passage regarding the essentialness of the doctrine of the resurrection was by the apostle Paul, in I Corinthians 15:12-19 (Amplified): "12But now if Christ (the Messiah) is preached as raised from the dead, how is it that some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  13But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not risen; 14And if Christ has not risen, then our preaching is in vain [it amounts to nothing] and your faith is devoid of truth and is fruitless (without effect, empty, imaginary, and unfounded).  15We are even discovered to be misrepresenting God, for we testified of Him that He raised Christ, Whom He did not raise in case it is true that the dead are not raised.  16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised; 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is mere delusion [futile, fruitless], and you are still in your sins [under the control and penalty of sin]; 18And further, those who have died in [spiritual fellowship and union with] Christ have perished (are lost)! 19If we who are [abiding] in Christ have hope only in this life and that is all, then we are of all people most miserable and to be pitied."
Wow, what a statement and declaration of truth by Paul.  If we have no resurrection from the dead then Jesus doesn't either, and we are to be pitied by others, and we are, because they don't believe it (the resurrection).  But we brothers and sisters in Christ know otherwise, for we have experienced the prescence of Christ in our lives, and the peace, joy, fellowship, love, and purpose that comes along with it. 
Hallelujah, for He is risen!  He is risen indeed!

Happy Easter everyone, whether you observe and believe the resurrection of our Lord or not.  Thanks for reading my blog.


FlyCRJ said...

I really enjoyed the picture of going into Ontario. I've seen a lot of that lately.

The other day we were flying to KSLC in a howling duststorm. Incredibly! No sense of movement at all. We might as well have been in the sim.

Thanks for the pix!


Chase said...

Hey Craig!

Good word. Its funny that even a day after Easter, I need to be reminded of that. Thankful that hope is found in the Gospel and not myself.

Hope all is well with you and your fam.

-Chase M.

Craig said...

My pleasure Jeffery! I think you mean the one from twitter, going into YYZ-Toronto? Really nice blog you have Jeff, too. Take care.

Craig said...

thanks for the nice words Chase! I left a comment for you on your blog too. My girls and I are doing great. God is good! All the time. Even when the world tries to tell me otherwise.