Tuesday, April 7, 2009

He is Risen! I Didn't Used to Believe That

"The first thing I did was place before you what was placed so emphatically before me: that the Messiah died for our sins, exactly as Scripture tells it; that he was buried; that he was raised from death on the third day, again exactly as Scripture says; that he presented himself alive to Peter, then to his closest followers, and later to more than five hundred of his followers all at the same time, most of them still around (although a few have since died); that he then spent time with James and the rest of those he commissioned to represent him; and that he finally presented himself alive to me. It was fitting that I bring up the rear. I don't deserve to be included in that inner circle, as you well know, having spent all those early years trying my best to stamp God's church right out of existence." (1 Corinthians 15:3 The Message)

Easter is coming, and besides the obvious significance it has for Christians, it has personal meaning for me, because it was an Easter weekend when I first realized I might be wrong about Christ.

I had been raised an atheist and was convinced that anyone who believed Jesus was the son of God, born of a virgin and had risen from the dead was seriously in need of some pyschiatric help. I thought Jesus must have been a gifted con artist (or the most convincing actor the theater world had ever produced)and that people who followed him did so because they were weakminded or needed a crutch to make it through life. The church only was out to control people and take their money, I believed.

I spent a lot of time debating with those who professed belief, and did my best, like the apostle Paul says above, to stamp the church, or at least belief in God, out of existence. That particular Easter weekend, I resolved to study the bible from cover to cover and use it to "crucify" a friend who so far had been able to resist my debate prowess and retain his faith in God and in Jesus.

In addition, I watched "Jesus of Nazareth" and "Godspell" which were on TV that weekend to add to my arsenal of weapons to destroy my friend's faith. A strange thing happened, however. Instead of finding evidence against the claims of Christ, my studies showed me flaws in my own theories. It was through investigating them and trying to prove the bible wrong, that I found the person of Jesus, a real and living Messiah who has been a part of my life ever since.

I was so horrified at having "sold out" to the enemy, I kept quiet about my findings (how could I tell my atheist parents?) I was embarrassed and hoped I would come to my senses. Truth is truth, however, and in the end God revealed himself to me without having to resort to any brainwashing, theatrical or money-extracting techniques.

I always have enjoyed following the ministry of Lee Strobel. We both are journalists (we both went to the same J-school), both had been atheists and both found Christ through an attempt to disprove the bible, so what he says usually has great mening for me. He's an excellent speaker and no one is better at apologetics. Watch the video and find more answers to your questions on his site at http://www.leestrobel.com/.

I pray that you might understand the significance of this Easter holiday and celebrate the hope and victory it means for your own personal life.

-- Lauren Yarger http://christianperformers.blogspot.com/

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Daily Inspiration

The Blind Side

Read about the real life mom from "The Blind Side."

Lifeway: http://www.lifeway.com/article/?id=169816

Guideposts: http://www.guideposts.com/story/sandra-bullock-blind-side-football?page=0,1

Read Matt Mungle's review of the movie at http://www.buddyhollywood.com/.

Lauren Yarger, Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

In 2008 she was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater with a Christian perspective for Reflections in the Light (http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/) and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com

She also reviews books for Publisher's Weekly and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She formerly was Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp, a national theater web site bsed in New York and a reviewer for American Theater Web.

She also served as Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

She is a freelance writer and member of the Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and The CT Critics Circle.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger lives with her husband in West Granby, CT and has two adult children.

Copyright Notice

All contents copyright © Lauren Yarger 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact masterworkproductions@yahoo.com.

Scripture from THE MESSAGE Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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