2015 Messages

Todd reminds us this Easter that there is something greater than you. In Ecclesiastes 6:12, Solomon says your life will pass through like a shadow. Todd reminds us the key to making your shadow have meaning is to not merely live under the sun, but in relationship with the Son. Because of the Resurrection, we are no fools to follow Christ.

Todd Wagner, Blake HolmesApr 5, 2015Ecclesiastes 6:12; Matthew 6:19-24; 1 Peter 2:21-23; Ecclesiastes 3:11; 1 Corinthians 15:13-19

It was September 8, 1998, and some buddies and I, on a whim, and I mean a whim, as late as 5:00 found ourselves rushing to an airport here in Dallas jumping on some transportation another buddy was going to provide and racing to St. Louis, Missouri. The reason we were racing there was because there was a race that was going on there. The race was between a guy named Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, who were trying to see who could be the first guy to break one of baseball's most cherished records.

It was a record held by this man, who you may or may not recognize, and probably don't, which lends itself to why I'm sharing with you this story on an Easter morning. That is Roger Maris. Now, Roger Maris was no small figure in baseball history. He hit 61 home runs in 1961 which shattered, by one, Babe Ruth's record of 60 home runs he hit in 1927.

In fact, there was a lot of controversy when Maris did it because they had expanded the Major League season from 154 games to 162 games, and it took Maris 162 games to hit 61 home runs. Ruth hit 60 in 154 games, so the commissioner of baseball even said his record shouldn't be acknowledged, but it was, and it shattered that record and made Roger Maris, who had a pretty distinguished career (four-time All Star, Gold Glove winner, MVP in '60 and '61)…

Anyway, why do I tell you all of this? I tell you all of this because it struck me that, as impressive as what Maris did was and as impressive as what Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were attempting to do was, the way the Cubs and the Cardinals were marketing this particular endeavor struck me as very odd when I got to Busch Stadium that night.

I happened to be there when McGwire actually hit the 62nd home run that evening to break the record, so we saw that, and that was a great deal of fun, but this is what it said on the Jumbotron before the game and during the game every time McGwire came up to bat. It didn't just show Roger Maris' picture; it had the words, "Chasing Immortality" underneath him.

I remember thinking to myself, "How odd that the way we're going to establish ourselves as great is to try to become like a dead man? That's how we're going to be immortal? To be like Roger Maris who, whatever else he did, is not immortal? He is dead!" In fact, the thing that made him immortal, the thing that made Babe Ruth immortal and had been shattered already by Hank Aaron less than 40 years after Babe Ruth immortalized the home run record…

His record was shattered, and now less than 40 years later, two guys who were induced by anabolic steroids, nonetheless, shattered his record. Three years later, their immortal record was shattered. I remember sitting there thinking about how the whole nation was focused on this. I mean, they were breaking into every sports broadcast to show live at-bats by McGwire while he maybe broke this record. Many people credit McGwire and Sosa with bringing back baseball after its strike-shortened season in 1994 had embittered a lot of fans, but I thought, "How crazy is it?" that that's how we define immortality.

I thought about how we are individuals who are only going to find our ultimate worth when we invest our short journey through life here in something bigger than us. In fact, right now a group of us in Dallas and in Plano and in Fort Worth who are men are working our way through a book called Ecclesiastes. That's what we're studying together as we gather on Thursday mornings, and there's something in that book that struck me.

Five different times, Solomon uses the phrase under the sun. This is his way of just talking about life on this earth, that life under the sun is meaningless or vain. That doesn't mean what you do doesn't matter. It doesn't mean everything you do is to try and make yourself look great, but it does mean sometimes the way we live life under the sun to achieve some sense of immortality is futile and really not well thought out.

In fact, Solomon goes so far in Ecclesiastes, chapter 6, verse 12, to say, "For who knows what is good for a man during his lifetime, during the few years of his futile life? He will spend them like a shadow." I remember reading that. I just thought, "What a powerful metaphor Solomon gives us!" Five time he uses the phrase under the sun, 22 times the word meaningless, but right here he gives you a sense of how foolish it is to try and forever glorify yourself in whatever you do by making something of yourself under the sun.

As I thought about that a little bit, I thought it would be as insane as me, since he uses the illustration that our 80 years in light of human history is like a shadow… In fact, it's less than a shadow. What do I mean by a shadow? A shadow is something that is born again every day, isn't it, and dies every night. I thought about how you would think I was absolutely nuts if today I dedicated everything I did to my shadow.

First of all, it might not even be born until later today. Some days it doesn't even look like it lives, but let's just say it's a bright, sunny day. Let's just say I'm not around larger objects than me whose shadow obscures mine. Let's just say I'm alone and I can see my shadow all day long and I'm committed to my shadow, so I want to make sure I work hard so I can give my shadow lots of things.

I had a buddy put together an image. She threw this up there for me. It's an image of a shadow. Imagine I care about my shadow and I want to make sure I let it enjoy its day under the sun, so I give it a nice allowance and I fund it exceedingly well. I give money to my shadow. You're already like, "What are you talking about? That's insane!"

I don't want my shadow to be lonely. Let's say I get my shadow a lady, hook it up, ask her to walk around, give my shadow company, and put her arm around him every chance she gets. Let's say I want my shadow to make sure if it ever does want to go somewhere without me it has some nice mode of transportation. Let's make sure my shadow has a nice place to live. You're like, "Todd, are you nuts? What are you doing investing that much in your shadow? It's going to go away tonight and all of that will be vain."

Let's say I want to make my shadow very famous and everybody will pay attention to it. What was really interesting was I started thinking about paparazzi and fame. I thought, "What would happen if the paparazzi actually took a picture?" Poof! The flash would go off and my shadow would be gone anyway.

There's a statement by a guy named Horace Greeley who ran for president against Ulysses S. Grant and later repeated by President Truman, and I read it for the first time on the back of a Sports Illustrated when I was reading a story about O.J. Simpson when they asked him what he had made of his life.

Simpson quoted Greeley, who was later quoted by Truman. He said, " Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, and riches take wings. Only one thing endures and that is character." I thought how odd that quote was coming from a guy whose character had been slightly impugned, and I thought about how insane it is to invest in your shadow.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't do what you can with your life under the sun. I hope what you do allows your life, which is the shadow in Ecclesiastes 6:12, to do exceedingly well. The Bible says, "If you do exceedingly well, you won't stand before obscure men; you'll stand before kings," but I don't care if you stand before kings, because kings, too, are a shadow and you are not immortal and you will not forever be glorified.

If you're lucky enough to do something that's remembered for 40 years, it won't be remembered for long because somebody else will exceed it. How insane it is for us to try and establish ourselves apart from something greater than ourselves! Easter is that which reminds you there is something greater than you: the one who will forever be glorified.

His name is Jesus, and if you don't associate your life with him, which, by the way, is where Solomon took everybody in the book of Ecclesiastes. He pushed them toward… Listen. Here's the key to making your shadow have meaning, and that is to live not under the sun but in relationship with, if you drag that out through God's unveiling through history, the Son Jesus Christ. Solomon just knew the goodness of God and pointed man there and said, "Find out who he is early and invest your life with him because that's where life is."

I started thinking about the average age of our bodies. It's somewhere near 30 years old, so I went back in my mind's eye to 1985, and I started to just think through who were the impressive people in 1985. Who were the best actors and who was nominated for best actress? Who wrote the songs that year who were given Grammys for the song or album of the year? Who did Forbes say were the richest men and women alive at that particular time?

Here's a collection of some of those people. You couldn't turn on your TV on New Year's Eve and not see Dick Clark. We know our president Ronald Reagan from then. We see Sam Walton up there. We have Hewlett and Packard who are up there who had made some money and made their way. We all grew up with Mr. Rogers. Everybody knew Mr. Rogers. Coach Landry, Coach Wooden.

Isn't it amazing when you think about even what happened this weekend with the Final Four how the whole world's attention is focused on Indianapolis? Really? Let me just show you how fleeting that is. Do you remember who the four coaches were last year? This year it's Bo Ryan, it's John Calipari, it's Tom Izzo, and it's Coach Krzyzewski. Great! Way to go! That's real immortality, guys. Who was it last year? Who was the year before that? Who was it 30 years ago? It's fleeting.

I hope, if you coach, you coach a team in the Final Four and not just a fourth-grade Y basketball team. You should do all you can to honor the Lord with excellence of your work that you would stand before kings, but if you think that establishes your glory, you're fools. Let me just tell you what is true of all of these people from 1985. Everybody you see up there who was alive and significant and had a great deal of glory… Do you know what's consistent with all of those people? They're dead. They're dead.

You have more money than Sam Walton. You have more money than Hewlett and Packard. You have more money than Steve Jobs. Do you understand that? Do you understand the vanity and the meaningless of trying to focus your life…? Listen. This is not a message to tell you to take a vow of poverty. It's not a message to say you should never do anything the world thinks is great.

No. It's a message to let you know, if that is your end goal, you are a fool! You can delude yourself that you're wise because there are going to be a lot of folks who applaud what you do and say your accomplishments on this earth make you rare among men, but let me just tell you something. You are not rare among men. You will die like every other man who ever lived, and you're a fool if you don't think about what happens after the grave.

We don't believe death is an end; we believe it's an eternally fixed beginning. We don't believe this is just some event in history we're talking about this morning. I believe it's the pivot point not just of history but of your eternity. The Bible says all men will be raised, some to a judgment and some to everlasting life, and Solomon's exhortation to you is that you would come to understand who this God is that you might live with him in everlasting life right now.

I think of the story of three guys who were together. They were in a car wreck. They were going to die, so I guess as they were being processed, as all jokes go, to finding out what eternity was going to be like for them, somebody bothered to ask, "When folks walk by you in your casket, what do you want to hear them say? We'll see, because people will be praying and asking us, and if we're able to make this come to their mind and if it's consistent with truth, we'll do it."

They asked the first guy, "What do you want them to say?" The guy goes, "Well, I hope they say I was a good doctor and I cared for my patients and I wasn't just processing them and trying to make a lot of money. In fact, I'd love to see some of the work I did and the research I did eventually led to a great cure and they would acknowledge I was onto something. I would love to hear them say I was a great doctor." "Great!"

To the second guy, "What do you want to hear them say?" He said, "Well, I'd like to hear them say I was not just a teacher who got tenured and got lazy but I really cared for my students, that I built into them when I coached. I didn't just teach them how to be successful athletically, but I'd like to hear people say I really cared about young men's character and I built into them."

They go, "Okay. We'll see if we can't maybe put that in people's hearts and minds if it's true." They looked at the third guy and went, "What do you want people to say when they look over your casket?" He said, "I want them to say, 'Look! He's moving!'"

I don't know if you paid much attention to social media and the things that are out there this week, but there was a grandmother who caught some attention who wrote her own obituary. She's from Orange Park, Florida. She starts her obituary by saying, "As much as I hate to admit it, apparently I have, in fact, passed away." Then, she writes a lot about her stories in a very winsome, tender way about her life under the sun. She says, "I can't believe it! I was born, I blinked, and I died." Vanity.

What I want to share with you is, if Easter is true and we believe it is… If the resurrection happened, and we believe it did, then we are no fools to not live our lives simply for that which is under the sun. Let me say that again. If Easter happened, then we are not fools if we don't live our lives making it all about the shadow. Again, I hope you care for your shadow in all of the ways that are appropriate. I don't even care if paparazzi want to take a picture of you, but I do care for you if you store up for yourself treasure in the shadow.

That's what Jesus was trying to do in Matthew, chapter 6. So many people think Jesus was here as God's representative, and his job was to tell us what we'd better do or God's not going to love us, and those who believe that are not paying attention. It's not at all what Jesus was here to do. Jesus was here to help men live wisely.

Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God, and the God of Scripture is a God who loves you. He demonstrates his love for you in that while you were yet far from God he did something for you in your sinful state, but he wants it to go well with you, so Jesus says, "Listen. In addition to a number of other things, I'm not a bad financial advisor." Listen to what he says.

He says, "Do not store up for yourselves…" Notice that. He's giving you counsel for you. "…treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." Where night cometh and the shadow is gone, and it won't be long that Steve Jobs, Sam Walton, Hewlett and Packard, the Rockefellers and the Mars family (all who were in that picture) have nothing.

"But store up for yourselves…""Because I love you, I'm telling you what to do." Make sure whatever you do with your shadow you do that much more to invest in that which will forever be immortalized, who forever will be glorified. Then, he tells you. "Beware, because if your heart is with your shadow, that's where your treasure is going to be and you're going to be investing very poorly, and you are a fool." I mean, listen. Bodily discipline is of some gain, so take care of your body, but at the end of the day, you'd better make sure you nurture that which lives forever.

Jesus goes on to say something that seems rather odd. Right after this he's talking about money. He's going to come back to money in a second, but right there in the middle of that, he says, "The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!"

What is he doing right there when he's talking about how the way you see the world really matters? The way you perceive reality, the way you take in information, because if you take information from a bad perspective it's going to darken everything in you. It's why a little bit later in chapter 15 of the same book of Matthew, he tells people who reject who he is, "Don't you worry about them and what they say. They're going to call you fools for following me, but they are blind guides to the blind, and they're going to both follow each other into the pit."

Jesus just basically says, "You have to figure out who you're going to follow." In Matthew 6, he comes back and says, "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other." One of the things I just want to say to you this morning is you have to choose your master. I mean, you have to really think through what this means.

I would encourage you to choose a master who walks on water. I would encourage you to choose a master who calms the wind and the waves. I would encourage you to choose a master who opens the grave and defeats death. That would be a good master! Today seems to suggest Jesus is a fine option for a master. He loves you. He cares about you. He has your best interest in mind. He doesn't want you to ignore your shadow. He wants you to keep your shadow in perspective, and he wants you to live for more than is meaningless and vanity.

Those of us who live for something more than life under the sun are no fools. How about this? Those of us who under the sun live in such a way that maintains hope in the face of hopelessness are not fools if Easter is true. If Easter is true, then you're not insane to love your enemies. If Easter is true, then you're not insane to care for the least of these. If Easter is true, then you're not insane to forgive those who hurt you.

This is what it says in 1 Peter, chapter 2, verses 21 through 23. "…Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth …" The Scriptures go on to say, "When he suffered, he did not utter threats. When he was reviled he did not revile in return, but he kept entrusting himself to the one who judges rightly."

In other words, "Don't worry about what they say about me. Don't worry that they mock me. Don't worry that they beat me. Don't worry that they say, 'If you're a prophet, as we blindfold you, why don't you tell us who hit you? If you're a God, why don't you save yourself if you think you can save others?'"

There's a reason on this particular cross on this particular day we drape it with purple sashes. That purple sash is a sign of dignity. It's a sign of royalty. It's a sign of beauty. It's a sign of strength, because that's not the world's cross. That's not the Jews' cross. That's not Caesar's cross. That is Jesus' cross.

He says, "No one is going to give it to me. I'm going to pick it up, and I will lay my life on it, and I will take my life back up again, because the Father who judges rightly knows the debt I'm paying is about to be fully satisfied, so death is going to lose its victory and death is going to lose its sting," and those who follow him are not fools.

That's what Easter means. Easter means to forgive instead of hate, to suffer for his name's sake, to trust he can make all things beautiful in their time. Also, from the book of Ecclesiastes… Some of the stuff around this world is not going to make much sense to you, but in Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, verse 11, it says, "He has made everything appropriate…" That word appropriate means beautiful.

It will fit just beautifully like that puzzle piece. There's nowhere this puzzle piece could fit and make a mosaic of beauty. What God is saying is, "Everything in history will ultimately be appropriately placed in the context of his forever being glorified," and Easter forever settles that, because if there was ever a day of darkness, ever a day of sadness, or ever a day it looked like God didn't know what he was doing, it was Friday.

Then, all of a sudden, we see Friday really was a perfect illustration of God knowing what he was doing, and he made it beautiful in two days' time, where on that third day he rose from the grave to let you know Jesus was no fool, but he was, in fact, Lord of Lords and King and Kings, and those who trust in him are no fools.

Do you believe that? If you believe that, you ought to live your life in such a way that other people look at you and go, "You don't make sense to me." That's what Paul said in 2 Corinthians, chapter 5. He says, "If we are fools, it's for Christ's sake, but if we are wise…" In other words, if we live in a way that the world would go… The truth is, if everybody forgave those who hated them, if everybody thought of those who were weaker than them and didn't invest in their own shadow but cared for the least of these, this would be a better world.

Paul is saying, "If you really watch me, you who are believers, if I'm wise it's for your sake, but if I'm a fool in the world's eyes, it's for God's sake," and Paul was no fool. Even though he was beaten, he wasn't distraught. Even though he was one who was persecuted, he was not perplexed because he understood what was going on right now. It didn't look appropriate or feel appropriate. He didn't see it put in its place yet, but he knew God would make it beautiful in his time, and he was no fool.

Paul's the one who wrote this language I'm using this morning in 1 Corinthians, chapter 15. He goes on to say, "If we believe in Jesus and he was not resurrected, then we above all men are to be pitied," in verse 19. "We above all men are fools." Why? Because all men are going to die. Everybody is going to be born. Blink! Then, they're dead.

But those of us who say we know Jesus are going to deny ourselves and take up our cross and die, whereas at least the other people chased not just immortality but immorality in every way that felt good to them. Not us, and we are most pitied, but if the resurrection happened we are no fools.

I thought about this little girl I just saw a couple of weeks ago. They went and interviewed a group of people up in northern Iraq where ISIS had been marauding and terrorizing people and displacing them, and she and different members of the village had lost their family and everything she owned. There were some reporters who went up and were interviewing people. They eventually pulled some kids aside and started talking to them. I want you to watch this child, this foolish little girl with a simple faith in Easter.


That's nice. Come on. I mean, you have to tell your kids something. I mean, you have to tell them something or they're going to be terrorized every night. They'll never go to sleep so why not tell them a story? "There's a God who loves you and forgives you and you should forgive others, and in the way that Jesus died for you, you should give your life for other people? Yes, there's going to be a day when he'll make even ISIS seem appropriate in its time."

That works for little children in northern Iraq. I mean, that's sweet, isn't it? Sweet little child. I hope you sleep well with that story unless Easter happened, and then it's not just a story. It's history, and that is no little girl. That is someone who understood what the wisest man who ever lived said is the only thing you need to understand. You just have to decide. Is that just a bedtime story for little girls in northern Iraq or is it true?

This isn't just some day we want to go through. I want to know something. Are you a fool in the world's eyes who believes in that, that you should forgive those who harm you? I think about a story of some guys who weren't living in northern Iraq. In fact, it was just 80 years ago they were living in northern China.

ISIS has always been around. It hasn't always been called ISIS, but the one who God doesn't love, the Deceiver, the one who is seeking to pull people away from goodness and light, Satan (the one he hates) is always working in men. He's always up to something, and in the 1930s he was working in northern Communist China.

There were a group of men, though, who foolishly left the comfort of their world. They took their shadow out of a nice place and went to northern China to tell them about God's love for them, about the truth of Easter, and while they were there that particular marauding band of forces came into their village. One guy's name was J.W. Vinson.

J.W. Vinson was there with other young Chinese people. In fact, they know this story because one little girl survived and she told them what happened to Mr. Vinson, that when the rebel soldiers entered northern China where Vinson was sharing the gospel, they walked up to him with a gun and said, "Are you afraid?" as they waved weapons in front of him, and he said, "No, I'm not afraid. If you shoot me now, I go straight to heaven."

What he was saying there, in effect, was, "For me to live is Christ. It's better for you that I remain so I can tell you about the love God has for you, but for me to die is gain. Am I afraid? No, I'm not afraid." That's what he said. Guess what they did to Vinson. They decapitated him. Does that sound familiar? They found his decapitated body. One of the guys who was with him over there serving who was away at that particular moment later wrote a poem, and this is the poem he wrote. The name of the poem is called "Afraid?"

Afraid? Of what?
To feel the spirit's glad release?
To pass from pain to perfect peace,
The strife and strain of life to cease?
Afraid? Of that?
"I'm no fool! There's Easter. I'm not afraid. To live is Christ and to die is gain."
Afraid? Of what?
Afraid to see the Saviour's face,
To hear His welcome, and to trace,
The glory gleam from wounds of grace,
Afraid? Of that?
"Are you asking me if I'm afraid of that?"
Afraid? Of what?
A flash—a crash—a pierced heart;
Brief darkness—Light—O Heaven's art!
A wound of His a counterpart!
Afraid? Of that?
"I'm not afraid. Don't you know about Easter?"
Afraid? Of what?
To enter into Heaven's rest,
And yet to serve the Master blessed?
From service good to service best?
Afraid? Of that?
Afraid? Of what?
To do by death what life could not—
Baptize with blood a stony plot,
Till souls shall blossom from the spot?
Afraid? Of that?

That's crazy, isn't it? It's crazy unless there's an Easter. Then, those who follow his example and entrust themselves to him who judges rightly, who love their enemies, who don't invest in the shadow but who just boldly live knowing he makes all things beautiful in their time, he is no fool. Here's what I want to let you know. It wasn't just Noah who trusted in God who was mocked and scoffed at who was no fool.

By the way, I just want to say this about Noah and all of these different stories in Scripture. There are times you just go, "I'm a nut!" Think about Noah's story. I don't know if you've read the story of Noah recently, but Noah, when he built the ark, God said, "I want you to build the ark because I'm going to destroy the world."


"Because there was going to be a flood."

"What's a flood?"

"It's what happens when it rains."

We don't believe in the antediluvian world there was even such a thing as rain. The Scriptures seem to talk about the way the atmospheric conditions of the earth were at that time was just a heavy dew watered the earth in the morning and in the evening, so the idea of a flood which came from heavy rains didn't even make any sense and the idea of a God who would judge that the world didn't even believe existed didn't make any sense, and he's supposed to build a boat in a desert region for that?

He built it. Who knows how long it took him to build it, but if you notice what happens when he got done building it and he packed it full of animals that were defecating and urinating, do you know what happened next? It says, "God shut the door of the ark." Then, do you know what happened next?

Don't you know the town entertainment was to set up campfires around the ark while Noah built it? Don't you know Noah's kids went to school and they said, "How's the old man's art project coming?" They'd come home every day and say, "Dad, you have no idea how I'm being ridiculed because of our family's faith. You have no idea what people are saying about what a fool I am because I don't leave you and go live with them." Noah just kept saying, "Trust me and my God."

Here's what's amazing. When Noah got on the ark, do you know God shut the door of the ark and then he sat there and it didn't rain for seven days? To me, that's the hardest part. I'm on that boat with my teenage sons and I'm having breakfast, lunch, and dinner with those guys. They're going to go up and sit on the edge of the ark, look out at their buddies who are drinking their Schlitz Malt Liquor and coming and throwing their empties at the side of the ark.

"Hey! How's it going up there, Noahites? When you're done, come back to school recess. We have some games we want to play with you!" They walk back in to have dinner with Dad. "Dad, are you nuts?" Another day, another day, another day… God has not made this ark appropriate yet in its time, but don't you think they were pretty proud of their dad on day eight?

He is no fool, and neither was Daniel. Neither were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Neither was Joseph. Neither was David. Neither was Jesus. Neither is that little girl in northern Iraq. Neither was Vinson in northern China. Neither was Jim Elliot in Ecuador and neither are a lot of people right here right now, members of our church who are living in a way that makes no sense apart from Easter.

Here's my question. Can you be in this video? Can you be in what I'm about to show you about your fellow individuals who live today who are no fools because they believe in Easter? Can you say this?


Soujin Lee: Before we understood what it meant to follow Christ, my husband and I were pursuing the American dream of having comfortable, stable jobs and maybe having a house with 2.5 kids and a dog.

Sheetal Agarawal: I grew up in a Hindu home and followed Hinduism for 22 years.

Megan Dalton: I was living my life to make me happy.

Matt Rubin: It was all about me. It was all about my flesh. It was all about what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it. Faithful friends came to me and they shared with me the gospel.

Sheetal: Just to surrender my relationship with my family, my career progression…

Megan: I gave those things up to experience true joy and happiness following Christ.

Hoyoung Lee: I am not a fool.

Matt: I am no fool.

Sheetal: I am no fool.

Megan: I am no fool because of Easter.

Celestin Musekura: I'm from Rwanda, and in 1997 in December men came to my village and murdered 70 members from my church where I was a pastor, including five members of my family. When I heard about it, I really didn't want to forgive, but one year later I came face to face with those who murdered my family.

Because I'm free in Christ, I decided the only option and the only hope was to forgive them. My people said I was crazy and I was a fool. "How can you trust somebody like that?" But being a follower of Christ I knew the only hope we have is when we act as followers of Christ. Only forgiveness brings hope and reconciliation. Because of the resurrection of Christ I am no fool.

Hope Harris: I…

Matt: I…

Megan: I am no fool.

Sheetal: I am no fool.

Hope: In 2006, I had a car accident that nearly took my life. Because of the accident and the chaos in my household, I needed peace more than anything in life. The Bible says and Jesus says he will give you peace if you follow him. I wanted that more than anything. It didn't seem costly to me.

I knew I was going to lose my house. I knew I was going to lose my partner of 15 years and her two children and many friends who I had long-term relationships with and status in the gay community. It all meant nothing to me in that moment to know I could have peace, and that peace has gone from very minimal and grown into a consistent contentment in my life. Because of the resurrection…

Celestin: Because of Easter…

Soujin: I am no fool.

Abner Wahhab: I am no fool.

Stacy Powell: Anything that really brought me comfort that I knew, like drinking to numb the pain, doing certain drugs to make me feel something, inappropriate relationships with men to make me feel valued…

Every little thing I did know I literally had to just completely cut off because I knew they weren't life-giving anymore, and I wanted to find life. My friends didn't really understand. They basically thought I was crazy, that I wasn't going to find life anywhere else. Jesus has changed me and made me a new person and has given me new desires to match his. I am no fool.

Hope: I am no fool.

Abner: My family believes I'm crazy and I need to go back to Islam. My mom says she will never forgive me, but for me, there is no way that I can go back to Islam. I believe when you accept Jesus, Jesus is like a Christmas package. You open that package and you find freedom, love, compassion, and forgiveness. Everything! Leaving Islam means my family will disown me, but my heavenly Father adopted me. I am no fool.

Melissa Landis: We are no fools because of Easter.Do you remember how hard it was when your friends started shying away and they didn't know exactly what to do? They thought you were crazy for having a smile, for believing in God, for trusting that God had your back.

As a parent, watching your son run around and then all of a sudden be completely crippled, not being able to speak clearly, not being able to understand a word he said, watching him struggle just to do simple life things was very, very hard. Brandon, during those first couple of years when you didn't know what was going on, how did you feel?

Brandon Landis: Mad.

Melissa: You got angry? Who were you angry at?

Brandon: God.

Melissa: Yeah. You were angry at God and were asking the question, "Why?" Then, we decided to trust in God, to put all of our faith and all of our strength in him, but that was hard.

Watching Brandon choose to follow Jesus and to put all of his trust into God was very humbling. It was hard, because I don't even know if my husband and I were even there yet, but watching our son do it led our family down a different path, a happier path.

Brandon: I am no fool.

[End of video]