Good Morning!
by Major Pamela Pinksen

Are you a morning person? Even if you answered “yes,” there are always days when we struggle, when morning feels unwelcome. Perhaps it will force us to face realities we’d rather avoid. Maybe the new day will bring unrelenting challenges, griefs and demands that threaten to leave us cowering in despair. Convention insists we offer everyone a cheery “Good morning!” but oftentimes it conceals our truer sentiment: “It’s not, but I wish it were.”

However, there is one “good morning” greeting that gives redemptive hope to all the others—the one received by the women who went to Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning. Matthew 28 records that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to the tomb to anoint his body with spices. They do not have the post-Resurrection vantage point that we have—they are expecting to find a body.

But Jesus is not there. In turmoil, afraid, yet daring to hope, they leave the empty tomb. Then, to their utter amazement, they meet Jesus, and receive a greeting from the risen Lord himself—a “Good morning!” of sorts.

And because Jesus has risen, that means “good morning” for us all. In a world that can so often be painful and difficult, “Good morning!” means that the living Lord is present with us. Even if in our despondence, like the women, we do not see him at first, we can take heart that he is still there. He is present with us in the heartache, pain and despair. He shows up with a “Good morning!” bringing light to our darkness.

“Good morning!” also means that we can have peace. Jesus consoled the women that morning. “Do not be afraid,” he said (see Matthew 28:10), before instructing them to relay the good news to the disciples. There is comfort and hope that when we are cowering like the disciples, in despair, dejected and afraid, we will see Jesus in our midst.

“Good morning!” also means the promise of victory. Christ is victorious over death, which means he is victorious over the worst of life and through him, so are we. In the toil of life and even in death, Jesus meets us on the way with a “Good morning!” Because of this, all who have faith in the risen Lord are morning people in the truest sense.

Burning Hearts
by Major Owen Budden

Later that day, two of Jesus’ disciples, Cleopas, and possibly his wife, Mary, were on their way to Emmaus, a village about seven miles from Jerusalem (see Luke 24:13-35). As they talked about everything that had happened, Jesus appeared and walked along with them, but they didn’t recognize him. When he asked what they were talking about, they were shocked. “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who doesn’t know what’s been going on?” Cleopas asked.

Why did these disciples not recognize Jesus? Perhaps their eyes were closed so their hearts could be more fully opened. As they shared the recent events surrounding the Crucifixion of Jesus—their dashed hopes and the strange rumours of an empty tomb—they were burdened by grief and doubt, questions and uncertainty. They were caught up in the headlines of the day. Their attention was event-focused, not God-focused.

At the end of the day, when Jesus gave thanks, broke bread and gave it to them, their eyes were opened. “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” they asked each other.

Today, current events are all consuming. News channels, Twitter feeds, Facebook posts—all scream for attention 24 hours a day. Then there are the concerns of our day-to-day living: the expectations and responsibilities of our jobs and families. We can be so caught up in these distractions that when Jesus draws near to walk beside us, we do not recognize him. We want to share our agendas and concerns.

Yet, if we can pull ourselves away from our agendas, if we can tune out the political ravings that suck our energies, if we can ignore the things that distract us, if we are willing (and these are a lot of ifs), then we can also experience the burning of our hearts in the presence of Jesus.

Jesus reveals himself to us when we release our lives to him; when we cease from expressing our views and opinions and simply listen. Listen to his voice and allow his presence to change our perceptions and priorities, to open our eyes to the presence of God all around us. The more we listen, the more our hearts, too, will burn with the unfathomable love of God.

Seeing and Believing
by Lieutenant Tinisha Reid

After the two disciples on the road to Emmaus recognized Jesus, he disappeared from their sight. They hurried back to Jerusalem to tell the others what had happened, and as they were talking, Jesus appeared again.

Thomas, one of the 12, wasn’t there at the time. When they told him later, he didn’t believe them, saying, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).

Sometimes I wonder why Jesus would choose such a cynical doubter as a disciple. Why would he allow someone in his inner circle who had listened to his teaching about what the Son of God came to accomplish, but remained unchanged and disbelieving?

And yet, “Doubting Thomas” has always appealed to me. Perhaps not only because we share a name (Thomas is my maiden name), but because I have often found myself, like Thomas, hearing the stories of others about Jesus and wanting the same kind of encounter. I wanted to experience the reality of Jesus, for God to reveal himself to me in an undeniable, personal way.

Then came the glue stick crisis. We were beginning a new youth ministry and all of our glue sticks were old and dried up. Of course, we could have purchased more, but it was another strain on an already overstretched ministry budget. Just as I uttered the words, “God, I need you!” an anonymous donor delivered more than 20 glue sticks.

Although I didn’t get to touch his nail-scarred hands as Thomas later did, I undoubtedly received an in-your-face, no-doubt-at-all God experience (surely not my last). Jesus’ last words to Thomas were, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). God is everywhere and in everything; we just have to choose to believe.
The women … do not have the post-Resurrection vantage point that we have—they are expecting to find a body. But Jesus is not there.
New Nets
by Major Lauren Effer

As the sun rose over the horizon, their hearts were as empty as their nets. Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee and two other disciples were together by the Sea of Galilee (see John 21:1-14). Now that their mentor was gone, they felt unmoored—unsure of how to move forward.

They had learned so much in those three treasured years with Jesus. He had filled their lives with hope as they began to understand how much God loved them. Fishing was all they knew, but he had given them a new living. He had taught them to cast new nets, holy nets, created with the Master’s love and forgiveness. As fishers of men, their catch had been full of healing and restoration.

Now he was gone, and they weren’t sure what to do next. So they went back to what was comfortable, what they knew. They went fishing.

Isn’t this often what we do when we feel lost, hurt or abandoned? When we’re not sure which way to go, because of difficulty, hardship or feeling let down? Returning to life the way it was can seem like the right thing to do, the only thing to do, even if it’s not wise or healthy. Yet God has promised that he will not leave us high and dry and that he’ll guide us through even the most difficult times in our lives.

As they wearily sailed toward shore, Jesus called out to them. “How’s the catch? Try throwing your net on the other side of the boat.” They did, and the net was soon so full they couldn’t haul it in.

He gave them hope and he gave them breakfast.

This is what God does for us with his love. He knows what we need, exactly when we need it. These fishermen needed to experience Jesus’ presence again. They needed to experience God speaking into their lives in a practical and loving way. Jesus knew this, and met them just where they were. He called them to him one more time. They left their nets again, this time for good.

Do You Love Me?
by Major Mark Dalley

Last fall, I stood on the shores of Galilee, probably not far from where Jesus made the disciples breakfast. That morning, I could hear Jesus ask me the same question he asked Peter. “Do you love me?” (see John 21:15).

A lot had happened in Peter’s life. He had started as a fisherman, right here on the Sea of Galilee, before Jesus came into his life and said, “Follow me.” He had given up everything he knew to pursue a life he didn’t fully understand.

Over the next three years, he had some great moments— witnessing miracles, walking on water, watching as Jesus was transfigured before him. He’d had some lows as well—failing to cast a demon out of a young boy, sinking in the water after taking his eyes off Jesus, hearing Jesus tell him, “Get behind me, Satan.” But nothing could have prepared him for what it would be like to deny Jesus three times as he watched him suffer and die.

Peter was a failure.

It’s so easy to focus on our failures—all the ways in which we haven’t measured up. All the things we’ve said and done that we know we shouldn’t have. All the promises we’ve broken. But the story of Easter is not about our failures. The story of Easter is about a God who loves us in spite of our failures.

“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16).

The question was never if Jesus loved Peter. He had already proven his love through his death on a cross. The question was—did Peter love him? Do we love him?

Jesus was resurrected on Easter morning. Peter was resurrected that morning on the shores of Galilee, when he told Jesus he loved him, three times.

Maybe you need to experience resurrection this Easter, like Peter. Can you hear Jesus asking, the way I did as I stood on the shores of Galilee, “Do you love me?”

I Can Only Imagine
by Captain Peter Kim

Just imagine you were there that day, on the Mount of Olives near Bethany, when Jesus ascended into heaven. What a sight that would have been as he disappeared in a cloud. I’m not talking about an ordinary cumulonimbus cloud, but the kind of cloud that enveloped Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration—the Shekinah glory of God. Jesus was wrapped in glory. That would have been an amazing sight.

Jesus said, “You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:48-49).

The disciples saw it with their own eyes. They went into the city, worshipping and praising God continually with great joy. Jesus Christ fulfilled prophecies concerning the Messiah (himself) and, as a result, the disciples were eye witnesses of this awesome event.

We, too, are to be witnesses for Jesus. Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

It’s great to know that Jesus is still with us and helps us through the Holy Spirit to be a witness for him. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to proclaim Jesus as Lord. The disciples received this power in Jerusalem and shared the good news with all those around. We are to go and make disciples of our neighbours, friends and family. When I think about the amazing privilege it is to be included in God’s salvation story, it makes me feel joyful, like the disciples.

Imagine with me what a sight it will be when we see him coming again in clouds of glory. The best part is that we, too, will go up in the clouds to be with him, with all the disciples of Jesus. I’ve always wanted to know what it would be like to fly up in the sky like Jesus. I can only imagine.

Photo of empty tomb
Photos: © Pearl/

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