Mass shooting in Indianapolis

indystar.com is on top of this developing story.

And now it’s happened where I live. On April 15, a man sprayed gunfire in the FedEx facility near the Indianapolis airport. So far, eight are dead. Others were injured. The suspected gunman is dead, presumably by suicide.

If he were ready to die, why didn’t he just do it to himself in his bedroom and leave others alone?

Seriously.

Hey, I don’t want anyone to die, and I surely don’t want anyone to kill himself. I want everyone to reach out and get the help they need, so they might be healthy and happy and productive. However, when the options are one person dies without taking the lives of others, without causing great anguish to the loved ones of those he killed, without placing a city into turmoil and our nation once again shaking its fists as it does nothing but argue about it, I’ll vote for suicide every time.

I want to know where the man got permission to take the lives of others, to throw into turmoil and grief the loved ones of those killed and injured, to put the citizens of yet another American city in fear of their safety when at work or play or shopping or worship?

I always want to know who gives these gunmen permission to carry out their despicable acts. How does that conversation take place in one’s mind? How long does it percolate? What arguments against it are defeated until the man finally says, “Game on!”

What has gotten into us Americans, that we have such a lofty level of privilege, which gives us the ability to say to ourselves, “They pissed this guy off one too many times. I’ll teach them!”?

How do people fall so far in their regard for human life that they can reach the decision to kill people? To play prosecutor and jury and judge, and deem others guilty so as to end their lives? To leave their homes and enter their workplace, or a store, or a place of worship, or wherever, and open fire against their fellow human beings?

How would these killers react if it were their child, their spouse, their parent gunned down for nothing more than being in the line of fire? Can you imagine them thinking, “It was the gunman’s right to open fire. My loved one deserved it. They should have watched their back”?

They would think none of those things. Indeed, the type of person to find it in himself to have permission to gun down others is likely the same person screaming at the top of his lungs before the TV cameras if it were to happen to his loved one.

Mass shootings get our attention, but homicides are going on all around us—all around my own home—all the time. In the first three months of 2021, Indianapolis has seen 59 people die by homicide. That’s an average of two every three days.

When I visit the Indy Star website every morning, I don’t wonder whether I’ll see news of the latest homicide, I expect it. I look for it. Then, I look for this word—northeast—because that’s where I live. And, when I see northeast, I look for the address.

In the six years we’ve lived on the northeast side, I’ve lost track of how many homicides have occurred within the area in which I go jogging, which is roughly two miles to the east and west, one mile south, and a mile and a half north. I often run by the apartment complex on Emerson Avenue where a double-homicide took place last year, and the apartments on Arlington Avenue where one occurred this year. And I’ve hesitated returning to the block, on the furthest reaches to the east of where I run, because of the killing that happened in a house last summer.

And then there is the nearest one: at the gas station I sometimes frequent and jog by most days, two blocks south of our house. Yes, the killing happened at night, as do most. During the day, it feels safe. It’s always quiet.

I bet it was quiet and it felt safe at the FedEx facility the night of April 15.

One assumes the homicides that happen in our neighborhoods are mostly among people who know each other. There’s a disagreement over something, a family issue, friends in dispute. An argument ensues. Someone pulls out a gun.

When it happens at work and in public places, it’s generally intentional: someone pulls out a gun they brought for this purpose.

Either way: someone pulls out a gun.

That’s the answer for too many people: pull out a gun.

What happened to kill them with kindness?

What possesses Americans to believe that violence and homicide are the better way to go?

I know, I know, it’s only a tiny fraction of the population doing these things. Yet, it’s a significant fraction they directly affect, directly harm, directly traumatize. And, it’s our entire country that’s driven again to anguish, to wringing our collective hands.

To arguing over what to do and then not doing a thing.

There is one thing we can do. One huge thing. Let’s teach our children to respect all people—to respect the rights and lives of all people—and let’s begin by showing our children how it’s done.

I’d like to see anyone shoot down that plan.

My interview on Protect Your Noggin

Julie and I Zoomed with Jeff and Stacie Mallinson for an hour-long conversation for their podcast, Protect Your Noggin. Listen here: https://www.protectyournoggin.org/podcast/no-regrets-the-wild-transgender-journey-of-greg-eilers

This is my fifth podcast and the second time Julie and I talked with Jeff. In 2016, Jeff and his friend Dan van Voorhis came to Indianapolis to chat with us for their podcast, Virtue in the Wasteland. We talked so long that we recorded in three parts, which they posted as two episodes:

Episode 1: http://www.virtueinthewasteland.com/episodes/2016/10/4/ep-196-the-trials-of-gina-eilers-part-1?rq=the%20trials%20of%20gina%20eilers

Episode 2: http://www.virtueinthewasteland.com/episodes/2016/10/4/ep-197-the-trials-of-gina-eilers-part-2

On the new podcast, Jeff talks about the trouble that brewed for his interviewing such a renegade as myself, and the openings it created for important conversations to take place.

He recently learned about my memoir. Emailing me his kind assessment, he asked Julie and me to appear on Protect Your Noggin. We spend most of the hour discussing key themes from the book.

You, too, can ride the Roller Coaster with me, either in print or as an ebook:

My favorite potato soup

“Don’t drain the fat off, this gives so much flavor!” This is the most important lesson I’ve ever been taught. Ever.

Yes, even more important than our mom’s plea to all of us kids: “Are you wearing clean underwear? If you’re in a car accident, you want to be wearing clean underwear!” Really, Mom? This was your biggest concern as we piled into the car, where no one wore a seat belt? And we wrestled in the back seat, falling into the front? And got the cigarette lighter hot, threatening to burn whoever looked at us wrong?

“Don’t drain the fat,” came from my sister, Sue. By way of our father. Regarding the bacon I would be cooking for potato soup, when I asked her for the recipe Dad made.

Sue emailed it to me. I copied it into a word document. It is clear to me that I didn’t edit Sue at all—she writes the way she talks—though I have underlined the wise advice:

Note the exacting detail. So precise in every aspect that even I, who had never before made potato soup, could follow it and produce a pot of goodness to taste exactly like our father’s.

Not. Even. Close.

I think I attempted it once. I needed precision. I searched recipes online. Finding one called Easy Potato Soup, I created a hybrid of that and Dad’s.

And I kept the key: don’t drain the fat off, this gives so much flavor! And I wrote down the exact measurements I came up with. And I always wear clean underwear when making it.

  • 1 lb bacon
  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 2 lbs potatoes (5 to 7 potatoes)
  • 8 tbs butter
  • 8 tbs flour
  • 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • Salt to taste (perhaps 2 tsp)
  • Pepper to taste (at least 1 tsp)

And here’s how I make it.

Cut the bacon into inch-long pieces. Chop the onion. Put it on for a slow fry.

Gather your spuds. Weigh them if you like, to ensure you have at least two pounds. Peel them. Cut them into bitesize pieces. Toss ’em into your big pot.

By this time, the bacon and onions are nicely underway. With the pan evenly hot from the large burner, I slide it over to a smaller one, where it will continue to cook just fine. Stir the bacon occasionally so that it cooks evenly. Boil the taters till tender.

Drain those spuds and set them aside in a bowl. Reduce the heat and get a stick of butter melting.

Melt it slowly enough so it doesn’t burn. Once melted, spoon in the flour. Whisk it smooth.

Begin adding the milk, perhaps two cups at a time. Cook it slowly, so as not to burn the bottom of the pan. Whisk often. As it thickens, add more milk.

When you are pleased with how thick it is, stir in the salt and pepper. Add the spuds.

Now, admire the pan of bacon and onions. Note that there is not that much grease. The onions have done their work, soaking up lots of it. Good job, onions! You will taste so marvelous!

As you now add to the soup this blessed pan of deliciousness, scrape every last bit of grease from the pan. You’ll thank me, later. And you’ll thank my sister, Sue. And you’ll bless the name of our father, John.

There’s no need for further cooking. Simply blend it all.

Remove the pot from the heat. I like to let it sit for a bit—30-60 minutes—to get it to a temperature that makes it just right for eating.

And eating.

And eating.

Bon soupetit!

My burger-freezing hack

The five-pounder I typically buy since becoming an Aldi shopper.

I used to be that goofball, who purchased two- and three-pound packages of ground beef, putting them directly into the freezer as is. Then, when I wanted to use them, I had two problems. First, because they were a ball of beef, they took long to thaw. Second, if I didn’t need every pound, I had to come up with another way to use the balance.

What caused me to persist in my crummy conduct? Laziness, frankly. When putting away groceries, I want to get the job done. If I put burger into the fridge, I have to remember the use-by date, so it doesn’t go bad.

Yes, I tried thawing in the microwave. It thawed the meat, but cooked the edges. I was not pleased.

I eventually learned a good trick for quickly thawing burger: press it flat. It makes sense: which is going to thaw more quickly, a 1/2″-thick chunk of meat, or a 2″-thick one? In school, I might have struggled with algebra, and never took geometry, but even I could do the math on this one.

This revelation ground to a halt my beef with breaking up packages of burger before freezing them. Now, into what should I package my one-pound prizes? Surely, you’re thinking, “Duh. Large freezer bags.” And, duh backatcha, that’s what I did.

Loathe to spend money, and eager to recycle, I noticed a certain bag I’d been tossing. A few years ago, I took to buying grated cheese, mostly cheddar (have you seen my https://eilerspizza.wordpress.com/2021/01/28/my-breakfast-burrito-recipe/?). One day, I had a double eureka moment. First, that the bags hold one pound. Second, that the plastic of the bags is thick—freezer bag thick. I began to save the bags.

The next time I bought burger, I eagerly retrieved our kitchen scale and set out to measure my five-pound bovine bounty.

And then bag it.

And, of course, find that one pound fits perfectly. And it’s about 1/2″ thick.

Now, to freeze it, so that I can thaw it!

Sometime during my the microwave doesn’t thaw meat as well as it pops corn years, I learned that thawing meat in water is quicker than placing frozen flesh in a fridge. The tip was for getting your Thanksgiving turkey prepped for Thursday when it was still rock solid on Wednesday, or Tuesday . . . or Monday. I hauled out a cooler, set it in the bathtub, dropped my turkey inside and filled ‘er up. Changing the water every thirty minutes, five hours later I had a thawed bird.

Ground beef in one-pound bags thaws much quicker. 1/2″-thick burger thaws really quickly.

I stream into the kitchen sink enough warmish water until the bag floats. After thirty minutes, I flip the bag and rewarm the water. Half an hour later, the meat is pliable. You might say, ready to use. You might also say, where did I set that recipe card I now need?

When you realize, the day before needing it, that you will want burger, stick a bag in the fridge. Overnight, it will thaw. Hey, it’s only 1/2″ thick. It doesn’t stand a chance to remain frozen.

Here’s wishing you happy bag saving, happy burger thawing, and happy time saving!

Easter’s “I love you”

After seeing I love you in the Lord Jesus’s words from the cross—https://eilerspizza.wordpress.com/2021/04/02/good-fridays-i-love-you/—we move on to this blessed day, when He was raised from the dead, and see another I love you.

In I love you, a promise is heard. The receiver of I love you has expectations of faithfulness from the one proclaiming this love.

The Lord Jesus had made a promise to His disciples. He now had to prove His faithfulness to that promise.

When He told His disciples that He would be crucified, He immediately told them He would be resurrected on the third day. They were so horrified at His news that He would be killed, they scarcely heard the rest of the story. Regardless of their trouble believing Him, the Lord would be faithful to His promise.

“He is risen!”—three words that are Easter’s I love you. The angel declared this blessed truth when the women came to tend to the Lord’s dead body. “He is not here. He is risen, just as He said (Matthew 28:6).”

Soon, the Lord Jesus would appear to His disciples. They would be amazed, Scripture says, meaning they would have trouble believing their eyes, even as they knew it was Him.

Regardless their amazement—regardless any person’s doubting anything about Jesus Christ—He pulled it off. He was beaten to a pulp. He was crucified. He died. Then, on the third day, just as He promised, He came back to life. Indeed, everything He ever promised, He pulled off. Why does anyone ever doubt Him?

As Friday’s It is finished is God’s I love you for the forgiveness of our sins, He is risen is today’s I love you for our justification before God (Romans 4:25)—that is, because He was resurrected we are able to stand in the Father’s eyes with the declaration that we are not guilty for every one of our transgressions against His will, so that we live under His grace and care.

The Lord Jesus has done the seemingly impossible: He beat death. He defeated the one enemy—death—we all face. If you can find anyone else, in the history of the world, to beat death, never again to die, go ahead and put your faith in that person.

You won’t find him or her. Only the Lord Jesus has died and risen, never to die again. Thus, when He declares, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die, and whoever believes in me will never die (John 11:25:26)” and, “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day (John 6:40,” He is worthy of believing.

Indeed, by grace through faith, you have already risen from the death of your sins. Sound too amazing to believe? Don’t trust me; listen to the trustworthy Word of God in Romans 6:4-5: “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.”

The Lord has promised you forgiveness, eternal life, and salvation. Because Jesus Christ fulfilled every promise made about Him, He is trustworthy to continue fulfilling His promises. When He says, “I love you,” you can abide in His love, rejoicing and at peace.

Peace be with you.

Christ is risen!

He is risen, indeed!

Alleluia!

Good Friday’s “I love you”

They are the three best words to hear: “I love you.” Though my wife Julie has said these words to me hundreds, even thousands of times, I never tire of hearing them.

Three words. Each word, drenched with meaning.

I. Me, Specifically. From my heart. Joined with my mind. My entire being.

Love. Cherish. Esteem highly. Adore. Delight in. Treasure.

You. Specifically. The object of my love. No one else is in the picture, in this expression of love.

On Good Friday, as the Lord Jesus hung on the cross, He spoke a word that we translate into a three word phrase, which are the gift-from-God equivalent of our telling each other I love you. Just as He was to breath His last, the Lord Jesus said, “It is finished.”

The word He spoke was tetelestai. It means to reach the end of something, to complete it. Thus, we translate it “It is finished.”

What was finished? The Lord has in mind His purpose of coming into the world, that to which He pointed as He told His disciples that He would be handed over to be crucified, and that He would be raised from the dead on the third day—and as He said it in John 10:11: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

We can be assured we understand Him correctly as we look at the elemental meaning of tetelestai: the goal has been reached.

When I learned this, it made “It is finished” sing for me! How much more specific can the Lord Jesus be? The goal? What goal? He was born in our flesh for the purpose of taking on our sin. With tetelestai, He’s telling us, “I’ve completed the work of paying for your sins. The job is done. It is finished.”

Also, immediately after He said tetelestai, “He gave up His spirit (John 19:30)” and died. Of course, He did. There was nothing left to do. He said everything from the cross He needed to say. He’d fulfilled every prophecy about the Messiah—about Him. He perfectly fulfilled His Father’s will. He suffered physically, which provided us a picture of the suffering we could not see—His bearing our sins in His flesh—of which He spoke when He cried out in agony, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me (Matthew 27:46)?”

“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). And what is neat about this blessed truth are the words the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to pen immediately preceding it: “God demonstrates His own love for us in this.” There it is. In the Lord Jesus’ death is God the Father’s I love you.

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son—the opening portion of John 3:16. And for what purpose did He give His Son to finish what we could not do, which is the perfect fulfilling of God the Father’s will? His purpose was that by our believing in His Son we would not perish but have eternal life—the balance of John 3:16.

“It is finished” is Good Friday’s “I love you.”

That’s you, dear reader. You are the object of the Lord’s affection. You are the reason the Good Shepherd laid down His life. You are the one for whom Jesus reached the goal of bearing the sins of the world—yes, including your sins.

No wonder we call that awful Friday “Good”!

6th Lenten Wed 2021

My thesis for this final Wednesday in Lent is that the greatest event in the history of the world is yet to come. It is the event which brings together Christmas, Good Friday, Easter, and Ascension. It is the return of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of every human being, the judgment of the world, and the new world—the Paradise of the new Garden of Eden—in which Jesus will live with His people, forever.

Where I have used these Wednesdays to illustrate some of the wrong beliefs about these greatest events in the history of the world, I do so, sparingly, regarding The Last Day. There are so many ideas out there. Many of you have heard of the Rapture, which teaches that both the dead and living Christians will be translated to heaven, leaving only unbelievers on the earth, the Antichrist will come to power and, after seven years, Jesus will return, defeat the devil and the Antichrist, and reign on earth for one thousand years.

Those wrong teachings came out of bad theology that took root in the 1800s. The good theology and correct teaching has been in the New Testament, all along, and goes like this.

First, “the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first (1 Thessalonians 4:16).”

This will take place with no warning; Jesus will return like a thief in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2), descending from heaven just as He ascended to heaven. But, He will stop short of the earth, remaining in the air above the earth.

All of the dead, from Adam & Eve up to then, will be raised. With the resurrected, all living people will meet Jesus in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17). He will separate them into two groups—the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:32-33). The sheep are the believers, and they go on His right. The goats are the unbelievers, and they go on His left.

This is going on in the air, above the earth, because God is busy destroying the earth and recreating it (2 Peter 3:10-13).

Now comes the judgment. The unbelievers are judged in their sins. Their sins had not been removed from them, for they had not lived, by grace through faith, under the salvation of Jesus Christ (John 3:36, 5:29). The unbelievers, along with the devil and all his demons, will be damned to hell, and the lid will sealed upon it so that they can never get out (Revelation 20:3, 10, 15).

Now, it’s the believers’ turn to be judged. But, the believers are not judged in their sins, for their sins had been removed from them, for they lived by grace through faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ (John 5:24).

So, for what will the believers—that’s you—be judged? The Lord Jesus will reward you for the good works of your lives. As you want to ask, “What good works did we do?” Jesus has the surprising answer. It’s not that you built the better mousetrap, or won the Super Bowl, or found the cure for cancer.

Perhaps surprisingly, the good works you do are the everyday things that are right in front of you. The Lord Jesus says that when you give a glass of water to the least of His brothers, and clothe the naked, and visit the sick and imprisoned—that is, when you do all of the things that others need from you, each day, simply to live, doing these things from the love of Christ which dwells in you—you do these things for Jesus, and these are the good works for which you will be rewarded on the Last Day (Matthew 24:34-40).

Mothers and fathers taking care of their children. Workers accomplishing their tasks. Children doing their homework and the chores given them by their parents. Neighbors helping neighbors. All of the seemingly mundane tasks of life that give us opportunity after opportunity to show the love of the Lord Jesus, to fulfill the purpose for which we were created.

We were created first to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind. Then, we show that we love the Lord by loving our neighbor as we love our self (Matthew 22:37-40).

Jesus will give the crown of glory to all of His sheep (1 Peter 5:4). They are now prepared to descend to the newly recreated earth, the new Garden of Eden, the Paradise of eternal life, where they will dwell with the Lord Jesus forever, where there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21:1-4).

Whew, this seems like a lot. I’ll summarize it:

  • All people, of all time, will meet the Lord Jesus in the air.
  • The believers will be gathered on His right, and the unbelievers on His left.
  • The unbelievers will be judged in their sins and sent to eternal damnation with the devil and all his demons.
  • The believers will be rewarded for all they did in faith toward the Lord Jesus.
  • As this is occurring, the Lord will be destroying and recreating the earth.
  • After the judgment, the Lord and His people will descend to the new earth, to live forever.

Oh, but I have left out a key thing: whom will you be? Of course, you will be you, but you will be the new you. From 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, we learn four things about the new us—we learn the former things and the new things.

First, these present bodies of ours go to the grave because they are perishable bodies. None of us can escape death. But, the body that Jesus will resurrect on The Last Day will not be able to die, ever again—it will be imperishable.

Second, these present bodies of ours will be sown into the earth in dishonor. It is a horrible thing for a living, breathing human being to be dead and still. It is equally horrible to be closed shut in a casket, and laid in the earth with a mound of dirt over us, or to be pulverized to ashes by cremation. But, in the resurrection, we will be raised in glory, in bodies which will never again suffer a moment of dishonor.

Third, these present bodies of ours will be sown into the earth in weakness. What is it that will kill us: will it be a disease, will we have an accident, will we simply wear out from the wearing out of old age? Whatever it is, it will weaken us to the point of death. But, the resurrection body will be one of power, never again to be weakened.

Fourth and finally, these present bodies of ours will be sown into the earth the natural bodies which they are, prone and obligated to the laws of this natural world. But, the resurrection body will be a spiritual body. This, we can barely contemplate, for there is nothing in the natural world which mirrors it.

Here is what we know, from the Word of God. We will be like Jesus, and we will see Jesus for who He is—the Son of God made man in the womb of Mary, born at Christmas, died on Good Friday, raised on Easter, ascended forty days later, and returned to earth to give us every last thing that our Father has promised.

Finally, we will be at home in Paradise, where no sin, no Satan, no sorrow will ever again visit us. Pure joy awaits.

These are the greatest events in the history of the world, dear Christians. They were promised by the Father, accomplished by the Son, and delivered to you—free of charge—by the Holy Spirit.

These are the greatest events in the history of the world, done for you that you might live in the sure and certain hope of eternal life in Paradise.

And so you do.

And so you do!

All praise to Jesus Christ, King of Kings and Lord of Lords! Alleluia! Amen.

It’s a pasta hash bash!

Why is this woman smiling so widely? She gladly posed for me, her cooking-crazy hubby, because she loves the pasta hash I created!

It’s easy to make. Takes little time. And you don’t have to be a skilled chef. Here we go!

Start with a pot of water. Once it gets boiling, put in one pound of pasta. This time, I used penne rigate.

Using your largest pan, heat up a healthy sploosh of your favorite cooking oil. I use more than when typically sautéing vegetables as I want the pasta to be coated with a bit.

Cut up an onion and a bell pepper. Don’t be afraid to think you’re overdoing it. I thought I had a lot, but once all of the ingredients were added, the pepper and onion were almost lost in the crowd.

Using a can of olives, cut them in half. . .

. . . and then chop up a jar of artichoke hearts.

Toss them into the pan as you cut a Polish sausage into bite-sized pieces.

Toss those into the pan. The olives, artichokes, and sausage only need to warm through.

By now, your pasta is cooked and ready to drain. Do that, then toss it into the hash.

It’s time to season it. I only use salt and pepper. After a healthy dashing about with both, I give it a thorough stir and taste it. Aah, it needs a bit more. Dash. Stir. Taste. Mmm, perfect.

I put the heat on simmer and stir it every five minutes two or three times. It’s ready to go when we are.

Total prep time: a mere 30 minutes. Julie and I were eating supper only 45 minutes after I entered the kitchen.

All of the flavors complement each other to create a good, homemade meal and a mighty tasty dish. Hey, Julie doesn’t smile at me for the blog fame! Once again, here’s my happy work-from-home wife.

5th Lenten Wed 2021

My thesis for this fifth Wednesday in Lent is that the ascension of Jesus Christ is the greatest event in the history of the world.

If we took a vote of the greatest events that make up this series, this is the one that would easily finish last. Indeed, I’ve long referred to this as the Rodney Dangerfield of Christ’s acts: it gets no respect.

How can I say that? Look how we celebrate Christmas. And venerate Good Friday. And rejoice on Easter Sunday. Then, forty days later—always on a Thursday in the spring, which doesn’t help—Ascension Day arrives to, by most Christians, a yawn.

Yet, that the Lord Jesus left the earth and returned to heaven is the event under which we are living, and a vital reason we can be Christians—that we are able to know the Father by faith through the One who is the Way and the Truth and the Life (John 14:6).

After His resurrection, Jesus now lived in a body that could no longer die, was glorified, and was spiritual. He now transcended the laws of this natural world. He could eat, but didn’t have to eat to live. He would never get tired. He could walk through walls. He could transport Himself from one place to another—snap—just like that, as He did after walking Easter evening with those two chaps on the way to Emmaus (Luke 24:13ff).

Why couldn’t Jesus have hung around longer than forty days? Wouldn’t it be cool if He were here on earth for us, the way He was before His crucifixion?

That’s the problem. It would be cool. And that Jesus lived and died and was resurrected wasn’t to be cool, but to be lifesaving.

If Jesus had not ascended to heaven, His disciples would have hung around Him. They would not have wanted to go out into the world to spread the Good News about Jesus the Savior. Jesus would have been a rock star, the miracle worker—as when He multiplied the loaves and fishes—whom people would only have wanted as their Burger King.

No one would have been moved to go out and spread the Good News that Jesus is the Savior. The Lord would have to shoo them, and they would easily drift back, looking for His next mind-boggling act, their next free meal, the healing they desire.

And if He were still with us now, He’d be this miracle-working man who never dies. He would be a two-thousand-year-old curiosity. We would turn Him into a circus sideshow.

If Jesus had not ascended to heaven, He would not have taken His place at the right hand of God the Father, the position of power and authority He earned by wearing our flesh, dying in our flesh, and being raised from the dead.

If Jesus had not ascended to heaven, the Holy Spirit would not have descended from heaven, meaning there would be no people being born again of water and the Spirit, as Jesus says is the only way we can enter the kingdom of God (John 3:5-8).

Baptism would not have its power of rebirth and renewal in the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:4-6). Jesus could not fulfill His promise to feed us on His body and blood in His bread and wine Supper (Matthew 26:26 & 28).

The Word of God would have no effect on sinners. There would be no repentance of sins through faith in Jesus Christ. Why? The Holy Bible would not have been completed. There would be no New Testament, because the disciples would not have gone forth in the power of Pentecost, because Pentecost would not have happened.

Following Christmas, Good Friday, and Easter, the ascension to heaven of Jesus Christ is the greatest event in the history of the world because it gives saving benefit to His birth, death, and resurrection. Having ascended and taken His seat of power at the right hand of the Father, Jesus puts His life, death, and resurrection to work. On Pentecost—ten days after He ascended—He sent the Holy Spirit. The Spirit put power into the Gospel (Romans 1:16) to convert sinners to saints. Baptism has power to unite with Christ. Holy Communion has power to dine with and upon Christ.

At the right hand of the Father, the Lord Jesus fulfills His promise, “Whoever confesses me before others, I will confess that one before my Father in heaven (Matthew 10:32).” Picture it: at the right hand of the Father, your Lord Jesus tells Him, “That one belongs to us. Nothing shall separate that one from us (Romans 8:39).”

The Lord Jesus’ ascension is a vital aspect of His glorification, the glory He earned by laying down His life for the sins of the world, the glory that results in His ascending “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come (Ephesians 1:21).”

Even more, in Christ’s ascending to heaven “God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way (Ephesians 1:22-23.”

If He had remained on earth, Christ would not fill everything in every way. He would not have taken the power given Him by His Father. In many and various ways, in these paragraphs we have seen why the ascension of Jesus Christ was the next of the greatest events in the history of the world.

Through this greatest of events, the Lord Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to earth. The Holy Spirit has called you by the Gospel. By the gift of faith, you live in the forgiveness of sins earned by your Lord Jesus, the eternal life He grants to all believers, and the salvation from death, devil, and damnation.

The Son of God was born in the flesh of us humans, died for our sins, was raised to new life, and ascended to power and glory in heaven so that He would live with you and you with Him.

And so you do.

And so you do!

These are the days in which you live, under the ascended and reigning King of the universe, who has performed the greatest feat in the history of the world by bodily leaving the world so that He could fill the world with His spiritual presence to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

But, this can’t remain the greatest event in the history of the world, because the world simply cannot go on as it is, and, besides, Jesus has promised one, final, glorious greatest event. Amen.

The podcasts of my life

I am a modern, hip, cool dude. Therefore, I listen to podcasts.

Wait just a sec, I’ve been on three podcasts! Wow, I’m cooler and more hip than I realized!

Here are my eight go-to podcasts, with notes on each one. I listen to them using TuneIn radio.

Who doesn’t listen to Josh and Chuck? These guys present, well, stuff you should know from every realm of life—remarkable people, social issues, oddities, history, you name it—and do it in an easy-to-understand way. They are naturally funny, and are not afraid to makes jokes about anything, always keeping it family-friendly. Each program has plenty of laughs and loads of info.

  • Hosts: Josh Clark and Charles W. “Chuck” Bryant.
  • New episodes Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays (Short Stuff), and Saturday (selected show from the past)
  • Length: 45-60 minutes; Short Stuffs are 12-18 minutes.

My son introduced Julie and me to The Office a few episodes into the first season. We rarely missed an episode during its nine season run on NBC. A few years after it ended, we began watching it on Netflix. We must have streamed through every episode a half dozen times.

In Office Ladies, two stars from The Office are re-watching the series, from the beginning. They give a play-by-play of each episode, provide background information, interview stars, writers, and directors, talk about outtakes, and exude the best-friend relationship they have. If you know The Office well, every episode of the podcast is a good time.

  • Hosts: Angela Kinsey (Angela) and Jenna Fischer (Pam)
  • New episodes each Wednesday
  • Length: An hour to ninety minutes

I began listening to Left, Right, and Center via NPR during the presidential race in 2016. When my station removed it, I took it up as my first podcast. I like it because it does what the title says: the host plays the center and has a left-liberal and a right-conservative guest. They cover what’s in the news at the moment, along with larger, longer-term issues.

  • Host: Josh Barro
  • New episodes each Friday
  • Length: 55 minutes

The Daily is just that, not counting weekends. It covers things in the news in a very listenable, informative way.

  • Host: Michael Barbaro
  • New episodes Monday through Friday
  • Length: 20 to 50 minutes

I got to know the host from listening to his book, The Tipping Point. In the podcast, he looks at people and topics from the past, providing insights on things overlooked, ignored, or misunderstood. Some topics are downright riveting. All are enlightening.

  • Host: Malcom Gladwell
  • Seasonal format: five seasons available, ten episodes each
  • Length: 30 to 40 minutes

The newest of my podcasts, hosted by one half of the team from Virtue in the Wasteland, on which Julie and I were interviewed in 2016. On this new show, the hosts “offer and receive lessons in outfoxing religious wolves reforming religious education so everyone can be spiritually bold, free of manipulation and filled with deep peace.”

  • Hosts: Jeff & Stacie Mallinson
  • New episodes: it varies; usually one or two each week
  • Length: 10 to 90 minutes

Julie got me on to this, when she had downloaded a number of episodes for a road trip. Hidden Brain reveals how our brains work. Do you think you know your brain? Think again! Listen to this podcast. It is fascinating.

  • Host: Shankar Vedantam
  • New episodes: usually one each week
  • Length: 20 to 55 minutes

I began listening to this during the 2020 presidential race. Though I lean conservative, I appreciate the discussion of things happening in American politics from those who are pro-Democrat.

  • Hosts: Jon Favreau, Daniel Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett, Tommy Vietor
  • New episodes each Monday and Thursday
  • Length: an hour to 1:15