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T.G.I.F.

Edhird's Blog

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

I vividly remember my father coming home from work on Fridays, and calling out ‘TGIF!!’  Often such announcements would be followed by our whole family going out to celebrate at Nat Bailey’s White Spot restaurant.  The White Spot, like A&W, used to be famous for its tradition of eating dinner in one’s car.  No self-respecting Vancouverite would dream of eating fish and chips anywhere else.

TGIF was also a pressure that I experienced as an older teenager: a pressure to make my Friday nights very exciting and sensational.  If I wasn’t experiencing an adrenaline rush on Friday night, I would feel guilty as if I had failed the invisible TGIF law of the universe.

More recently, I have discovered another meaning to TGIF. TGIF also means facing our fears, facing our anxieties, facing our grief.  Friday is a symbol of the ending of…

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The Old Rugged Cross

Edhird's Blog

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Once every year, billions of people on every continent of the globe stop whatever they are doing and remember the mystery of Easter.  At the heart of that mystery is the old rugged cross.  For those of us who have a soft spot for Western movies, the ‘Old Rugged Cross’ song invariably turns up somewhere, often by a windblown graveside.

“On a hill far away stood an Old Rugged Cross,

 The emblem of suffering and shame;

And I love that old cross where the dearest and best

For a world of lost sinners was slain.”

‘The Old Rugged Cross’ song was written by George Bennard, who lived from 1873-1958.  “The Old Rugged Cross” is still the most frequently requested hymn; and the most popular spiritual song of the past 100 years.  Within thirty years of its original publication in 1913, more than twenty million…

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More than Just Chocolate…

Edhird's Blog

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Once every year, billions of people around the world pause to remember the mystery of Easter. Most people love Easter: bunnies, chocolate, eggs, bonnets, lilies, flower crosses, and joyful singing. In the air, you can sense victory and resurrection and new life. No wonder that churches have many visitors on Easter Sunday.

For sixty-six years, the St. Simon’s NV family has been celebrating Easter.  I have always enjoyed Easter, especially for the chocolate.  Just like Christmas, Easter has its food connection and its spiritual connection.  Most people love to eat.  Easter family gatherings invariably involve lots of delicious food, especially those wonderful hot cross buns.

Good Friday is a traditional fast day where many choose not to eat in order to remember Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins.  Easter Sunday is a traditional feast day where families celebrate with delicious feasts.   Without Good Friday…

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Rising Life in 2017

Edhird's Blog

By Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

As a teenager, I golfed and skied religiously on Sunday mornings.  But I would never skip Easter Sunday.  For some reason, I always had a soft spot towards Easter.  Perhaps it was all that delicious chocolate.  Maybe it was because my father would attend at Easter, giving up his golfing for one Sunday.  I will never forget when my then agnostic father switched from golfing every Sunday to golfing every other Sunday in order to attend church.  Since taking the Alpha Course four times, my dad has developed a strong personal faith.

My teenage memories of Easter Sunday are connected with a sense of joy.  Unlike my atheist best friend, I never doubted the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. But I was emotionally disconnected from its reality.  It was almost as if I did not believe in Easter.  As a teenager, I became…

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Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations at Easter

Edhird's Blog

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Do you have great expectations for Easter? I have always loved Easter, particularly our Easter family turkey dinners. My earliest childhood Easter memories are of bunnies, chocolate, eggs, bonnets, lilies, flower crosses, and joyful singing. Easter can be a time of reconnecting and celebrating, a time of healing and new life.  In Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, as the hero Sydney Carton takes his friend Darnay’s place on the guillotine, he repeats Jesus’ Easter words: “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever lives and believes in me, shall never die”.[1]  Most of us, because of the unforgettable Christmas Carol book, associate Dickens more with Christmas than Easter.[2]  Yet Dickens had great expectations not just of Christmas but also of Easter.  Dickens was a true Easter…

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MEDIA ‘Case for Christ’ enters Easter in the top 10 Movies w/A+ CinemaScore

Michael F. Haverluck (OneNewsNow.com

"Case for Christ" film

Heading into Easter on last weekend’s box office top 10 list to secure an expanded release this weekend, the movie The Cast for Christ – which is based on the best-selling novel written by acclaimed Christian author Lee Strobel – received the highest reviews by moviegoers, who give it a rare “A+” CinemaScore rating … which is typically received by only two films per year.

After taking in nearly $4 million in receipts on its debut weekend, The Case for Christ will be viewed at hundreds of more theaters through Easter Sunday by audiences across the nation, according to the ex-atheist-turned-Christian author of the like-named book.

“Because of [a] strong opening weekend, Case for Christ movie now expanded to 500 more screens for Easter weekend!” Strobel tweeted last week. “Please spread the word.”

One of the nation’s leading movie sites announced last week that the Christian film held its own with Hollywood box office smashes – such as DreamWorks’ The Boss Baby ($26.3 million) in first, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast ($25 million) in second, Sony’s Smurfs: The Lost Village ($14 million) in third and New Line’s Going in Style ($12.5 million) in fourth – with The Case for Christ coming in 10th.

“Rounding out the top 10 is Pure Flix’s The Case for Christ, finishing with an estimated $3.9 million from 1,174 theaters and an ‘A+ CinemaScore,” Box Office Mojo reported last week.

As anticipated below, the adapted film got a boost after its opening week once Palm Sunday receipts were registered, as the movie recorded a nearly $7 million box office total on Thursday going into its second weekend – with receipts expected to jump again with moviegoers flocking to the big screen on Easter Sunday.

“[The] weekend … featured a satisfactory opening for Pure Flix’s The Case for Christ, which could see its estimates receive a bump … as a result of it being Palm Sunday,” Box Office Mojo’s Brad Brevit reported before to total of last Sunday’s receipts were tallied.

According to critics at Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a “fresh” score, indicative of a 75-percent favorability rating, with audiences scoring it higher by nearly double digits to give it an 84-percent favorability rating.

Word to the skeptic

The movie – intended for believers and skeptics alike – challenges audiences on both intellectual and spiritual levels and takes moviegoers on the same journey Strobel took decades ago when he was an atheist playing devil’s advocate.

The Case for Christ retells the story of how Strobel – a former investigative journalist – sets out to prove that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a sham, but after a journey of examining the evidence and wrestling with his inner self, comes to faith,” The Christian Post (CP) reports. “The plot follows Strobel, who is played by actor Mike Vogel, as he struggles to deal with his wife’s conversion to Christianity.”

It was tangible evidence that ignited Strobel’s skepticism in his own atheistic religious beliefs – an entrenched worldview that began taking its toll on his family.

“His wife, played by actress Erika Christensen, encourages her nonbelieving husband to turn to Christ – something he initially rejects – but is persuaded following his examination of the evidence, including the world-famous Shroud of Turin,” CP’s Stoyan Zaimov informed. “The movie presents a number of different struggles, including one between a father and a son, but focuses heavily on the stain on Strobel’s marriage.”

Soon, Strobel could no longer ignore the facts and buy into the lies that he was led to believe his entire life.

“Some of the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus helped convince me – as an atheist journalist – that there is really truth behind the Christian claims,” Strobel told CP earlier this month. “We are living in a post truth era, where people are searching for solid ground – they’re looking for something to say, ‘This is true … I can rely on this.’”

He maintained that believing in Jesus Christ is not leap of faith at all – but an embracing of the facts – of trusting in tried and tested Truths that can only come from the one and only God of the universe.

“Christianity claims to be true – it says it’s not wishful thinking or make-believe or legends or mythology, but it’s based on actual historical evidence,” Strobel continued in the interview. “And I think these days young people especially are looking for something solid like that to put their trust in.”

Cure for the blind

Strobel shared the message of his book and the newly released movie in a piece he wrote this month titled “Why I am bullish on Christianity.”

“When atheists claim there is no evidence for Christianity, I disagree,” Strobel wrote on FoxNews.com on April 7. “When liberal theologians assert there are many paths to heaven, I object. When young people say God isn’t relevant in the 21st century, I beg to differ. When analysts predict the decline of the evangelical church, I roll my eyes.”

He recognizes today’s heavy opposition to his faith and biblical worldview, and invites the very skepticism he one dished out.

“Are my positions popular?” the former atheist posed. “Maybe not, but they flow out of convictions that have only grown stronger in the midst of the evolving religious landscape in America. I’ve seen the surveys. I’m aware of the rise of the so-called ‘nones,’ who profess no religious affiliation. And frankly, that doesn’t trouble me very much. Rather than claiming to be Christians, as many have done in years past, now these people are now willing to be more honest. Today it’s socially acceptable – in many places even desirable – to be a skeptic. ‘Atheist’ is no longer considered such a derogatory term.”

Strobel is actually glad that more people today are candid about their disbelief than they were in the past.

“The truth is that America was never as much of a ‘Christian nation’ as some historians wish it were,” he added. “There was a veneer of faith over the land. ‘Respectable’ people went to church. Now they don’t pretend anymore. That’s okay.”

He then visited the days of unbelief that once shrouded his life – and his wife’s.

“I was a scoffer once myself, before spiritual skepticism became trendy,” the Christian apologist recounted.  “As a law-trained journalist at the Chicago Tribune, I didn’t have any patience for mythology, superstition or make-believe. ‘Just give me the facts’ was my motto. My wife was agnostic. Then one day, through the influence of a friend and a church, she met Jesus. The first word to come into my mind: divorce. As portrayed in The Case for Christ, the forthcoming movie based on our story, I set out to disprove her beliefs and rescue her from the cult of Christianity.”

The mounting evidence for Christ and his resurrection soon turned Strobel’s life upside-down.

“After nearly two years, the scales tipped,” he explained. “Having encountered the persuasive evidence for Christianity, I concluded it would have required more faith to maintain my atheism than to become a believer. I ended up taking a 60-percent pay cut to leave my journalism career and become a pastor. For 30 years now, I’ve watched the world from the vantage point of a pulpit…”

He says the days are becoming more desperate as humanity, which is finding that the pursuit and attainment of worldly ambitions and idols are empty and futile – and unable to find pure joy and fulfillment that only comes through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

“More and more people [are] growing weary of our materialistic and celebrity-saturated culture – and instead finding exhilaration in Jesus,” Strobel pointed out. “The proliferation of ministries that help the hurting, feed the hungry, and replace despair with hope. Addicts rescued. Broken families put back together. Racial reconciliation. Selflessness displacing self-interest. While some churches are closing, many of those with a relevant and biblically faithful message aren’t just growing – they’re burgeoning.”

He ended by predicting that the denial of right and wrong – good and evil – promoted by America’s schools, media and entertainment industry will soon lose its war against God, His Church and the Bible.

“Let me share a little secret – in our increasingly chaotic world, the Christian message of truth and grace continues to resonate among people who are tired of the shifting sands of post-modern relativism,” Strobel concluded. “No doubt about it: count me among those who are optimistic about the future of the Church in America.”