Easter & Holy Week Scripture Memory Guide

This seven-day guide will help you celebrate Easter wherever you find yourself. Each day of Holy Week is paired with a verse from Romans 8. Over the course of the week, you will memorize one additional verse, totaling 7 verses. As you will see, each verse connects with events from the life of Jesus leading up to his death and resurrection.

Romans 8:31-37 is a passage every Christian ought to have memorized. Challenge your family or some friends to learn these seven verses together, one for each day:

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Romans 8:31-37

Write the verses down on a notecard. Turn them into a calligraphy or watercolor. Do an art project, write a song, or make a craft inspired by each verse. Be creative!

In addition to the verse, you will find in this guide a brief meditation, a passage from the Gospels to read, and a song (attached).

There is also a very minimal activity involving a candle—something you probably already have handy at home—that can add some significance to your Easter celebrations. May this guide help you as we celebrate the finished work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ this Easter!

-Chad

Fear Not.

The book of Revelation is famous for being filled with visions of judgment, bowls of wrath, a murderous dragon, an anti-Christ, death, pestilence, famine, plague, wars, and the literal end of the universe as we know it.

It’s probably the last place you would think to turn in these trying times.

If that’s how you feel, it may come as a surprise then that the first two words out of the mouth of Jesus Christ in the book of Revelation are these: “Fear not.”

Fear.

In moments like this, many of us turn to news anchors. We turn to our favorite political commentator. We turn to memes. We turn to our favorite online news media platforms. We turn to Facebook friends or Twitter personalities.

We are hoping that someone will tell us the coronavirus is on its way out. Or tell us that it’s a problem in Italy or Spain or China or even New York City, but not here in my town. Or we hope laughing about the pandemic will make it less real.

 And you know what? Those things might work this time. The pandemic might never touch you personally, and years from now we might all laugh together about how seriously we took things: “Remember that time we cancelled church and schools and the whole world…for a little cold!” (At this point, I seriously doubt it.)

And all those ways you coped with your fear worked. The politicos proved to be right. The memes were hilarious. And no one you knew was seriously affected by the disease. And everything returns to normal. And we all felt a little silly for being so serious about something like the possibility of death.

But there will come a time when nothing—not the talk show host, not the comfort of your favorite Facebook group, no blog posts, not even the comfort of your own friends and family will quell the deep fear rising up.

When you get the news that your kid—the one you raised in church all his life—is getting divorced from his wife of 15 years. When your boss tells you that after 28 years of faithful service, your job is being eliminated. When you get that second, third, fourth opinion on your cancer diagnosis, and you’ve got 5 months to live. Or worse, your spouse is gone. Or your own child.

I’m talking fear. Real fear.

Fear is the sudden, abiding, unshakeable realization of your finitude.

Fear is the sudden, abiding, unshakeable realization of your finitude. Of the extiguishability of your existence. That you can be here fully alive, and in one breath, on the floor. Gone.

John the Revelator came face-to-face with fear–with his own frailty as a creature—not by coming face-to-face with tragedy or cancer or the coronavirus but with his Creator.

On the Lord’s Day, says John in Revelation 1, he was worshipping the Lord in the Spirit, and suddenly a voice explodes behind him like a trumpet. That voice immediately begins issuing decrees and commands: “Write this down. Everything I say, and send it to my seven churches.”

John turns to see who it is, and there standing in a robe bright as lightning, glittering with ineffable holiness, spotless righteousness, and almighty power is Jesus Christ.

His voice roars louder than a thousand Niagaras. His words pierce with the precision, power, and potency of a razor sharp sword. His power radiates to the end of every strand of hair in blinding, white-hot perfection.

John looks into the light of a thousand burning suns. He sees Life in the flesh.

“I beheld him.”

I, finite, dead in less than a heartbeat, gone and forgotten in a breath creature, came face-to-face with my eternal, unconquerable, now and forever Creator.

“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead” (1:17). I fell at his feet as though dead. No fear compares–not the fear of coronavirus, or the fear of a cancer diagnosis, or the fear of that tragic phone call, or the fear of economic uncertainty, or the fear of losing a spouse, or all of those fears combined. Nothing compares with the fear of beholding the Radiant Risen Christ in all his glory. Because when you do, and you will one day, you will be aware of your own mortality in a way that is inconceivable to our human minds.

This isn’t a fear we run from. This isn’t a fear we try to ignore. This isn’t a fear we laugh off. This is real fear.

In moments like these, when a pandemic may or may not be coming to our town, when we get a taste of that fear, even just for a moment, we do well not to try to squelch it–but to savor it–because this fear is telling us the truth. If something is not done for us, on the day we behold him, the Son of Man, we will not merely fall as though dead. We will fall dead.

Not.

As John fell to the ground and the life drained from his feeble frame…

…a hand reached out to catch him.

“But he laid his right hand on me, saying, ‘Fear not…’” (1:17). The very Son of Man—the One whom John glimpsed for only a moment and fell as though dead, the One clothed in blazing holiness, the One whose voice shook the foundations of the universe with terrifying power–this one stretched forth his right hand, the hand of power, and caught John in his fear. And with his swift double-edged sword and the roar of a thousand waterfalls uttered these unbreakable, unstoppable, unalterable words: “Fear Not.”

Friend, have you been caught by that hand? Have you felt yourself free-fall into the holy Fear of the Living God? Knowing yourself to be a sinner? Knowing that you could never pretend to lay even one eye on the One Who Walks Among the Lampstands, let alone stand in his presence? Have you ever truly faced the fear that when you leave this earth, you will behold this Christ? And in that moment of fear, have you heard the words, “Fear Not”?

The One whom John beheld upheld John’s life.

The One whom John beheld upheld John’s life: “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (1:17-18).

The right hand stretched out has a scar. That scar tells the truth: “I died, and behold I am alive forevermore” (1:18). Through that right hand a nail was driven.

The Jesus who experienced the depths of my mortality for me. The Jesus who died the death I deserved. The Jesus who took on my frailty, became human willingly, for the express purpose that he might be put to death at the hands of wicked men in my place. The Jesus who entered into my greatest fear—dying the hardest death humanly possible. This is the Jesus who says to us, “Fear not.”

Of whom, then, shall we fear? Of what shall we be afraid? The dead and risen Giver of Life, the one who holds the keys of Death and Hades has bid us, “Fear Not!” How dare we disobey his command?

How can I be afraid when the right hand that upholds the universe–the right hand that was crucified and unlocked the door of the grave–this right hand has stretched out to cradle my very life?

Fear. Not.

We need to repeat this to one another. Jesus told John, “Write this down! Because the churches are going to need this” (1:19, paraphrase). Jesus knew that in 2020, coronavirus would sweep across the earth, and small groups of Christians huddled in homes across the world would need to read Revelation 1 and see this vision, and know that the Christ who died and lives forever and ever tells them to Fear Not.

In the weeks to come, preach this sermon to your own soul: “O soul, the Living One has spoken. He has died. He is forever alive. He has the keys. I will fear not.”

We are not afraid. We will not fear though the earth may shake. Until we meet again, brothers and sisters:

Fear not.

2.8 — St. Patrick & Loving Your Enemies

Myth and legend swirl through the shamrocked legacy of Patricius son of Calpurnius, son of Potitus the Catholic priest. Most of what we know for certain about Patrick, the Apostle of Ireland, comes from his own Confessio,a defense of his ministry and belief written late in life. This autobiographical treatise along with a letter denouncing the barbaric actions of Coroticus and his men are the only two authentic works of Patrick we have today.

Of all the half-truths and tall-tales we know about Patrick, one thing we know for certain: St. Patrick was a Spirit-called, compassionate missionary to the pagan Celts of Ireland. This is his story.

Free Coronavirus Quarantine Family Worship Resource!

Brothers and Sisters,

Perhaps you find yourself quarantined at home, rather than worshipping with your local church. This resource is meant to equip you over the next four weeks to lead worship in your home on Sunday morning whether with your spouse, your family, or your roommates. You could call a friend, fellow church member, or a widow and worship together via speakerphone or Facetime—or simply do it alone as personal devotional. Don’t think because you don’t have a biological family, you cannot do family worship!

These are intentionally short liturgies, lacking in the traditional elements you might find in your own church’s order of worship. However, my hope is that you will realize family worship is more intuitive than you could ever imagine. Pick up the Bible and read a passage. Ask good questions of the text and of those gathered. Pray over the truths you have read. Sing a hymn or worship song everyone has memorized. Take prayer requests, and pray over them.

These can all be done with zero preparation. Feel free to expand, add your own elements, and tailor them to fit your family’s or household’s needs. Just make sure to keep your expectations low—especially if this is your first time!

Family worship is doable. Each time should take less than 15 minutes. I’ve chosen four selections from the Gospel of Luke to model for you what it would look like to simply read through a book of the Bible together day by day. Once you see how simple it is, my hope is you will begin to do family worship more often—not just when the virus of a lifetime happens to be passing through.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Chad Ashby

College Street Baptist Church

A Quick Note on the #Coronavirus

Brothers and sisters,

Our social media age has a way of making everything feel proximate. Events taking place on the other side of the world feel like they are happening in our own backyards. Our online feeds are filled with news, tragedies, and crises from the lives of people we have never met and places we will never visit.

Whether we realize it or not, this is taking a toll on each of us.

Most of us respond to this constant barrage of news in one of two ways: fear or apathy.

For some of us, the bad news of a sinful world causes rising panic. We live in a state of crippling, perpetual fear. Particularly, news of the spread of the coronavirus only confirms the ever-present dread of impending doom. If you know this to be the temptation in your heart, I commend to you the most repeated and consistent command throughout Scripture: “Fear not.” God knows the fragile state of your heart, and this is his comfort to you: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

While some of us give in to fear, others tend toward apathy. We deal with the fire hydrant of sorrow, panic, and loss by just feeling less, being less concerned, not caring. It may not even be a volitional choice. No one has the emotional capacity to feel equally sympathetic about all tragedies, and hardening our hearts can be a coping mechanism. In the face of legitimate concern for the coronavirus outbreak, this expresses itself in flippant disregard, lack of compassion, or outright contempt for those who are worried. This is contrary to the heart of Christ, who saw the plight of others and chose to care: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).

Furthermore, I believe our social media age has made us feel powerless. We see so much news about which we have no control. We are constantly scrolling through feeds of evil, wickedness, and fallenness that we can do nothing about. And we become convinced that we can do nothing—about anything.

This is patently false. What we need is to reconnect ourselves with our own community, our own town, our own people. We cannot do anything about what is happening on the other side of the globe or what is taking place online, but we can do something here—in our town. This is precisely the Apostle Paul’s point in Galatians 5:14—“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Your neighbor. Love your *neighbor*.

Our neighbors live not on the other side of the world but here. And in the midst of this coronavirus outbreak, we must choose to cast aside fear and apathy and instead seek to love our neighbors.

What does that look like?

First of all, it means taking recommendations from the CDC and other helpful health organizations. Washing your hands is not merely a way of protecting yourself but it is a concrete way to love your neighbor, trying to limit the spread of disease in our community. Wash your hands while at church, wash them at home, wash them when you are out.

Do not visit the elderly if you or someone you know has been sick. However, thanks to technology, you can and should call the elderly members of your church to talk with them and pray with them over the phone. Comfort their hearts; read them Scriptures over the phone; let them know how much you miss them and love them.

Do not come to church sick! Do not bring your children to church sick. Fear might motivate your heart to bring a slightly feverous child to church because you don’t want people to think you are shirking your duty to attend worship gatherings. Apathy might make you shrug off a sniffle and come anyways. Love your brothers and sisters in this season of coronavirus by staying home. We will choose to think charitably of you in your absence and trust that you are doing it out of deep love and concern for the rest of the body.

Look for opportunities to serve. In the upcoming weeks, schools may close, businesses may suspend their operations, and other gatherings may be cancelled. Do not get so wrapped up in national media that you miss the situation in your own town. What unique needs will present themselves? Will a neighbor’s children home from school need babysitting while their single mom is at work? Will college students be stranded in town for a few days while they wait for flights home after the campus is closed? How might the Lord use the coronavirus to give you and your church opportunities to love their neighbors in the upcoming weeks?

Finally, pray. Paul instructs Timothy: “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Pray for our nation’s leaders to be filled with wisdom. Pray that seasonal changes will slow the spread of the coronavirus. Pray particularly for the vulnerable—the elderly, those with lung conditions, and the sick. Pray for the hospitals, doctors, nurses, and health care professionals who will be serving on the front lines. Pray for the mercy of God.

This has turned into a longer note than I had originally intended, so I’ll finish:

“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21)

Grace and peace,

Pastor Chad

God’s Mercy at the DMV

I am not really one for sharing personal stories. However, I had a particularly encouraging experience of God’s mercy yesterday that involved–of all things!–the DMV and paying taxes. Based on the bizarre and unexpected nature of my experience, I figured you might enjoy hearing about it.

When we first moved to Newberry, SC, more than seven years ago, it took four separate trips to the DMV before I finally emerged with a new SC plate for our vehicle. Part of that odyssey involved a trip to the County Treasurer’s office where I had to fork over $1000+ in property taxes for one vehicle (a vehicle we were leasing and didn’t even own). I’ve been told we have the highest property taxes in the state. I don’t doubt it.

I was appalled. Frustrated. Resigned. When it comes to taxes, what can you do? Hold your nose, swallow the pill, and get on with your life.

Every year since, we’ve had to pay a hefty sum to renew our tag.

This December we bought a Ford Transit from my father-in-law who owns a dealership in PA (I know, I know. Let the homeschool family jokes begin). Because we were purchasing the vehicle across state lines, the sales tax on the vehicle was deferred, and we were responsible to pay it in South Carolina. We had a 60 day temp tag, and as you can imagine, I waited until the last possible moment to go into the DMV and render unto Caesar.

So, if you are keeping tabs, in order to secure our title and tag, that meant this time around we owed sales tax IN ADDITION TO the property tax.

Being a math guy, I can add. I looked up the auto sales tax rate in SC, and it’s 5%. Gulp. Based on property taxes we’d paid in the past, and 5% of the sale of the vehicle, I estimated we would owe $3000+ by the end of it.

My mind started to spin whenever I though of it. My wife is due with our 6th child next month, and hospital bills are about to flood our mailbox. My kids’ school pre-registration fees and tuition for the fall are coming soon.

The numbers made me sick. And I started to pray.

I don’t really know for what. Mercy. Dear God, have mercy. I don’t know from where. I don’t know how. But mercy.

God had me in a submission hold, and I was crying “Uncle!”

Yesterday was the fateful day. I headed to the County Treasurer’s office for the first of two painful stops. All the way, I was praying, pleading, asking the Lord to be gentle.

I stepped up to the auditor’s counter, handed over every piece of paperwork from the dealership (because who knows what they might ask for), and waited.

And waited.

And after what seemed like an eternity, the auditor printed a receipt and said, “You owe $643.00. They will process your payment at the treasurer’s counter across the hall.”

Mercy. Sheer mercy. Expecting to pay well over a grand in property tax, I’m sure I was the happiest taxpayer the county treasurer’s office saw all day.

Then I headed across town to do penance at the DMV. Dear God, have mercy on me, a sinner!

The line was short. As I had fully anticipated, there was a piece of paperwork that had to be filled out and signed by my wife before I could proceed any further, so attempt #1 was over before it began. I headed back out the door.

I got home, filled out the car title application, got Mindy’s signature, and headed back for round 2.

The suspense was killing me. And I’m pleading for mercy all the way.

I return to the same DMV officer, who processes my paperwork, and tells me there will be a $10 late fee for allowing our temp tag go a day past its expiration. I say, no problem.

Her fingernails ratatap on the keyboard as I await my fate.

“Would you like a normal tag?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Just tell me the damage! Dear God, help me!

“With the late fee, sales tax, and tag fee…that will be $565.00.”

Tears began to well up in my eyes. I asked her to explain how sales tax works in SC.

“Well, it’s 5% up until $500. But there is a $500 cap.”

I couldn’t believe it.

I smiled as I handed her the check. “Miss Rosetta, I was praying the whole way over here that God would have mercy on me. I was fully expecting to pay a whole heck of a lot more than this. God has been merciful to me through you. Thank-you.”

She smiled.

And I went home rejoicing. Rejoicing after paying taxes and visiting the DMV. Twice.

What a weird, merciful God we serve.

9 Classics to Add to Your 2020 Reading List

As you put together your good intentions for 2020, consider adding some classics to your reading list. I know what you are thinking: But weren’t these books written to be read by whiny high school students and no one else? Whether you were forced to read some of these in school or not, I think you will be surprised by how much you actually enjoy these books as an adult. Give one or two of them a try this year. They’re classics for a reason!

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

A boy and a runaway slave make the journey of a lifetime in search for freedom only to discover in the end the whole thing was pointless. Or was it? Huck Finn is an American odyssey: the tale of an impossible friendship forged on the River searching desperately for a safe harbor.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre has everything: gothic castles, fiery bedposts, creepy laughter, and emo moments in the woods. All alone in a man’s world, Jane wrestles with her value as woman. To find herself, she must navigate the temptations to follow her heart, caution be damned, with Mr. Rochester or to follow her head and quench all passion with St. John. And BONUS: Something strange is lurking in the attic.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

You’ll be laughing with every turn of the page as Austen’s frivolity comes to life. The deft author’s dry wit cracks and snarls under a thin veneer of British gentility. What makes for a good marriage? Every character seems to have an opinion, but what does the author–herself unmarried—believe? And what about you?

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass

A heartbreaking and inspiring tale of an American hero. Unlike the at times melodramatic Uncle Tom’s Cabin, this is a plain-faced portrait of Southern slavery from a man who experienced it. Douglass’s accounts answer questions from detractors that still linger today: If slavery was so bad, why didn’t more slaves run away? Why didn’t slaves speak out about poor conditions? Weren’t bad slave masters the outliers? A black man escapes a world bent on degrading his nature, and it begins with learning the A, B, C.

The Aeneid by Virgil

Set sail with Aeneas and a few survivors as they escape the burned rubble of Troy in search of a new home. Sure, it’s a propaganda piece advocating for the legitimacy of Caesar’s power in Rome, but it’s got a whole lot more gore and action than any thriller you’ll see in theaters! Plus, you will feel like a smarty-pants reading it.

1984 by George Orwell

Everyone is putting all-seeing, all-hearing, all-knowing Portals and Amazon Echo Dots in every room of their homes. Fake news, redacted stories, and doctored bylines threaten to rewrite history every second. Sound like 2019? Nope. It’s 1984, and your world is about to end. Two protagonists hunger for human connection in a digitized police state. Can they find love before it’s too late?

Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

What if I strung together every thought my three year-old daughter said aloud and turned it into a novel? Welcome to the addled mind of Holden Caulfield, whose ambling narrative reads much like the Facebook comments section. You want to look away, but for some reason…you just have to know what he’s going to say next. This past year may have you asking, has the world gone mad? To steal a line from JAY-Z, Salinger turns the question on its head: “But if everybody’s crazy, you’re the one that’s insane…”

Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

Bunyan’s novel is a triumph of early English literature and a book that should be read by all Christians of all stripes. This allegory illuminates theological truths and puts in concrete form the feelings, thoughts, and groanings of believers who are walking the pilgrim way. Whether read for enjoyment, devotional meditation, or as a part of family worship, Pilgrim’s Progress will remind you that on this journey of faith you are not alone.

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Who’m I kidding? There’s no way I’m going to convince you to read this one. It’s your loss!