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March 2024 Annual Report

On the stretch of Indiana State Road 19, a mile and a half north of the small town of Wakarusa, Indiana there is a red barn near the road that has a large sign on the north side of it. The sign has a poem on it that reads, 


LIFE is short,

DEATH is sure,

SIN the cause,

CHRIST the cure.

Hundreds if not thousands of people pass that red barn every day and while some may not pay any attention to it, those four lines affect every person who drives by. Depending on your outlook in life, this sign is not in any way meant to be an ominous warning, it is meant to be hopeful. In any normal setting, death is viewed as a process in life that we all must face and for some it is absolutely terrifying to even think about. However, in a spiritual sense, death is only the beginning of something far greater than we can imagine. Why? Because of the Death of Christ.


As we are in full swing of the Lenten Season, the focus right now is on His horribly beautiful death. On Holy Thursday, Christ was betrayed by one of His own, captured, tried, beaten, and hung on a cross to die between two criminals the following morning. The Roman Empire, while proficient in various pursuits, particularly excelled in the administration of the death penalty, notably through crucifixion. 


Crucifixion within itself was enough to kill the victim from as quick as six hours to four long and grueling days. Death resulted from a combination of factors: the aftermath of brutal beatings and maiming, hemorrhaging, dehydration leading to heart failure, and the crucial factor of progressive suffocation due to impaired respiratory movement. The prophesies of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 52 and 53 said that He would be beaten beyond recognition of any human. There is no way in denying that even the act of being beaten was enough to kill Christ, but it wasn’t. You can see in Isaiah 53:10, it says, “But it was the Lord’s desire to crush Him, causing Him grief.” In other words, it was Christ who took on our sin, our sickness, and the debt we owed with our life. Christ, Himself took on all of the pain that we so deserved, and He died the most painful death. The blood loss from the whipping would have been catastrophic. His bones and some organs were most likely showing from the whips that had pieces of broken pottery and metal. The thorns from the crown on His head were around one and a half inches long while the skull is around one quarter of an inch, so they were most certainly in His brain causing a great deal of pain. Due to the severe blood loss, Christ suffered from severe dehydration to the point where there was not enough blood to keep Him physically conscious, and yet, with the help of Simon of Cyrene, He carried His cross to die upon it. Once nailed to the cross, it was hoisted into the air and the base was inserted into a small hole to keep it upright. The sudden jarring motion of the drop into the hole should have broken His bones and made it unable for Him to breathe, but it did not. He was nailed to the cross and His raw and open flesh was exposed to the air. His only way of getting any kind of breath was to pick Himself up by His nailed hands and feet – thrashed back against the rough and splintered wood. He should have died right then if not before, and yet He called out, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” As He took His final breath, called out to His Father and said, “It is finished,” Christ died and was speared in the side to ensure He was gone. As blood and water both flowed out of His side, this was the definite sign that all His blood was spilled.


Christ was dead, His followers were in hiding, but on the morning of the third day – CHRIST AROSE. He conquered death. Death and judgment had no hold on God’s creation. Jesus Christ came and fulfilled the plan and at that one perfect moment, saved humanity from their sins. It was the ending to the perfect foreshadowing He taught to Nicodemus in John 3 – For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.


In the unfolding of this season, we at TRM, confront our pain, suffering, and brokenness within ourselves, our neighbors and our community. We earnestly pose two questions to the Lord: What in us needs to die so we can be resurrected? How can we be brought back to life? Death signifies the end of depression, addiction of drugs, pornography, or abusive relationships – a powerful transformation into freedom and life. While success stories are inspiring, our calling is to be near to those who are suffering. Christ, meeting us in our depths, pulled us from the clutches of death. Normally, death is conventionally viewed as ugly, but perhaps it should be seen as beautiful. What an unconventional notion inspired by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Life is short because death is sure. We are all going to die, and sin is the reason for that. However, Christ stands as the cure ushering new life and promise. This renewal unfolds not just within us but resonates in our neighbors, community, and the mission we embrace. †

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