March 30, 2012

Hope of Easter Lifts Nation and World

By Donald G. Mashburn

Hope seems to be a scarce commodity on this Good Friday before Easter. This nation and a troubled world groan under the pain and strain of economic woes and wars on every continent, except Antarctica where the penguins at last report were keeping their cool. Here, amid the conflict and violence in many areas, hope is hard to grasp, much less embrace, for those affected by violence, starvation, and sickness.

Even in our own troubles, whether they have their origin in our personal economics, emotional turmoil, or relationships, hope can be a scarce item. Yet, there is hope for each of us, in every problem we face. It’s available to everyone, but it’s accessible only to those whose faith allows them to tap into source of our hope, the One who said He was the Way, the Truth and the Life – the Christ of Calvary.

For even in the darkest hour, or the worst conditions we face, there is hope for those who believe in the hope of Easter: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whose crucifixion, burial, and resurrection we celebrate at Easter.

Those who have believed in the Christ of Calvary can find hope and help in time of trouble. Their faith is clearly stated by the opening line of the old hymn, “The Solid Rock,” which eloquently states: “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”

Easter is a solemn time of renewed hope for Christians and all who will seek the Christ of Easter. He is the Hope of Mankind, for all those in need or who face the future with little or no hope. He is the hope of all in need, including those tragically affected by earthquakes, tsunamis and other dangers; and even for those facing a jobless future or in need of daily necessities. In time of need, we all need help beyond our own feeble strength.

Even as we struggle with our own problems, we should not forget others that need our prayers and help. In reaching out to help others, we are following the example of the Perfect Servant, Jesus Christ. In doing so, we can not only plant hope in the lives of those we help, but we’ll find that following His example of loving and helping others nurtures hope within us.

It is sad, however, that for many, Easter is not the symbol of hope for our needs and or even for the world’s many ills. This Easter season will see many celebrations that have nothing to do with the true meaning of Easter. In too many places and in too many people, there will be little thought about the Son of God who willingly suffered the scorn, torture, and pain on the way to the Cross, and there shed His life’s blood to purchase our pardon and to justify us in the eyes of a Holy God.

That first Easter was a world-changing event, an event that changed the eternal destiny and destination of all those who accept Him as Savior and Lord. They are called “Christians.”

Many activities carried out in the name of Easter will not be to honor the Christ of Easter, the Hope of mankind. Many communities and organizations will stage Easter egg hunts. Merchants will spend fortunes on promoting “Easter Specials” where you can purchase stuff that will wear out before you do.

One writer described a secular view of Easter as being “all about Easter egg hunts, egg decorating, the Easter Bunny, parades, and dressing up.” That unfortunately will be true for many, but that comment shows little understanding of the real message of Easter. Others around the world have a similar problem at Easter. They have difficulty grasping the real Christ, His mission here, and why His earthly life ended in a cruel death on the cross.

Some have a worse problem in that that they deny the divinity of Christ and deny the gift of salvation that He purchased for those who believe.

No matter how unbelievers and deniers view the death of Christ on the cross, we should all remember an important fact: Jesus willingly gave His life for us! As He said, He chose to lay down His life, and that He could “take it up again.” And He was true to His word – “faithful unto death,” as the Bible declares.

It was for us that He gave His life. The way to the cross was a terribly painful way, with cruel beatings, ridicule, and scourging. A path of pain that terminated at a crude cross to which the Son of God was nailed, and where His side was pierced with a spear and He shed His redeeming blood for all mankind. Having done His Father’s will, and having “paid it all” for us, the Savior of the world cried out, “It is finished!”

We should thank a merciful God every day that a loving Christ could utter those agonizing words, for those words signaled the completion of the act that brought pardon for our sins, and salvation by grace. But if His agonizing death on the cross were the end of the story, we would still be lost in our sins.

The crucifixion of the Christ was not the end of the Easter story, however. The Son of God died in the flesh, was buried, and rose from the grave as He said He would. The resurrection and the empty tomb forever changed the world, and changed the eternal destiny of those who believe on Him.

The secular world may ignore the particular significance of the empty tomb. And too many Christians may not understand it clearly, mostly because they don’t delve deeply enough into the word of God we have been given, the Bible. Yet we should all realize that a Jesus still in the grave would leave us without any hope for salvation.

A crucified and risen Christ is the very essence of love, and the Hope of Easter. That hope came at great cost. God did not have to send His Son to die for our sins – we don’t deserve such mercy and grace. But He chose to lay down His life to do His Father’s will: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that .whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16 NKJV).

No greater gift could a merciful God have given us. Nor could we have been the recipients of a greater cause for hope than to know that He loved us so much that He willingly suffered and died to pay our sin debt. The personal blessing of the Hope of Easter is available to all who accept Him. It’s a free gift to “whosoever will.”

Obama’s Word No Substitute for Oil

by Donald G. Mashburn

There are few things more important to this nation’s future wellbeing than an effective and sensible energy policy. A well-trained and equipped military and a healthy national economy are essential, of course. But even in these, an effective energy policy is important is needed to see that military and economic functionality is maintained.

President Obama, on the other hand, seems to think that talk is more important than actual results. His administration continues to oppose oil development in nearly all of the newly prospective offshore areas, and in places like ANWR that have high probability of providing significant oil supplies.

Obama’s job, in the months leading to the November election, is to try to convince voters that he is actually “pro-oil,” as his recent overnight trip to Oklahoma showed. The campaigning president resorted to hypocrisy once again when he blithely told Oklahomans that he was “instructing my administration” to fast track the southern section of the Keystone XL pipeline. But as Rep. John Sullivan (R-Okla.) was quick to point out, ‘[W]e don’t need any presidential approval for that (southern section); it doesn’t cross any international lines.”

Oklahomans and others will recall that it was President Obama who, in a move to please his leftist, anti-oil base rejected the northern section of the Keystone XL pipeline, the critical part of the pipeline that’s necessary to get Canadian oil into the U.S. crude supply system. Obama claimed there had not been enough time to properly evaluate the “environmental impact” of the pipeline.

What the president no doubt knew (his advisors are not that uniformed) was that the areas that the northern section of the pipeline will cross are already crisscrossed with pipelines. And his rejection was nearly three months ago! How long does it take to evaluate a pipeline going across areas that already have numerous pipelines – each usually buried, on the average, some three to four feet underground.

In his blatant misrepresentation of his administration as being oil industry friendly, the president bragged of how much U.S. oil production had increased under his administration. He touted the increase in oil production under his administration in in places like North Dakota and other areas. What he didn’t tell us was that some 96 percent of that increase took place on private lands, such as the oil rich Bakken shale areas of North Dakota and Montana, and that his administration didn’t help in any way.

In addition to the major oil plays like the Bakken shale, recent application of horizontal drilling and fracture treatment technologies are unlocking new oil supplies in old areas of Oklahoma, Texas and other states. Neither president Obama nor his administrative anti-oil minions had anything to do with these developments. Moreover, the administration’s main “job-killing” agency, also known as the Environmental Protection Agency, is trying to insert itself as a deterrent to continuing oil development in areas requiring high-volume fracturing treatments to unlock the oil trapped in low-permeability rock.

A common sense oil policy should be among this nation’s highest priorities. But up till this current election campaign season, the common sense element has been missing from the statements of the Obama administration on energy independence.

Common sense tells we should develop all feasible energy resources, without federal subsidies! If alternative energy sources can’t compete when gasoline is almost four dollars gallon, when can they? Until the U.S. energy policy favors domestic petroleum production over expensive imports, we will always be at the mercy of the OPEC oil cartel, which has few, if any, members friendly to us.

We should pull out all the stops to permit a high tech oil industry to tap our highly prospective oil reserves in Alaska and in all our offshore areas. And we should refuse to let environmental activists thwart our efforts to achieve oil independence, or hamper the flow of oil and gas from our friendly neighbor Canada.