Opening– by Marlin Detweiler
Feature Article–“The Marks of Easter” by Toby Sumpter
Educational Helps – by Laurie Detweiler
Please note that we are offering free shipping in April, our urgent request for teachers, and the In-A-Week offerings, all explained in the announcements below.
Happy Easter. He is Risen!
The Marks of Easter
Stephen was stoned to death. James the brother of Jesus was
thrown off the temple tower and clubbed to death. Paul was beheaded. Mark was
dragged to his death. Peter was crucified upside down. Thomas was tortured,
run through with spears, and thrown into the flames of an oven. Luke was hung
from an olive tree.
Following Jesus is dangerous.
Tertullian insisted that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, but there are always some who want to make following Jesus safe. There are always some who want to tame the risk of the cross.
In the first century it was the Judaizers who wanted to put
guard rails up around the cross; the old Jewish laws—circumcision and Sabbath—were
safe and established “marks,” identifying the people of God. But the cross is
Paul’s only mark, his only pride. He writes the Thessalonians: “You became
followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction,
with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia
and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth,
not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward
God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything” (1 Thess. 1:6-8).
Paul says that after his three week stint in Thessalonica, the Thessalonians followed the apostles and the Lord Jesus such that they became examples or “marks” to everyone. They became “marks” to all those who believe in Macedonia and Achaia, but even beyond that, he says that the “word of the Lord has sounded forth” not just locally but “also in every place.” Paul says that they have become examples, types, marks displayed for the world to see so that the apostles don’t need to remind anyone about the Thessalonians. Everyone knows. The church at Thessalonica is famous for the gospel; they are known for the cross of Jesus Christ.
And Paul describes how they became marks and examples for the world. They became these marks through receiving the word in affliction and with joy. From Acts we know that the city of Thessalonica had been roused into an angry mob by jealous Jews when some members of the synagogue began following the gospel preached by Paul (Acts 17:1-9). The Thessalonian Christians faced affliction and persecution for following Jesus, but they did so with joy in the Holy Spirit.
Following Jesus has always been a call to take risks, to risk reputation, to risk danger, to risk all pride. The call to follow Jesus is not a call to comfort, dignity, or respectability. Jesus says, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” (John. 15:20) And the witness of thousands of Christians down through the centuries calls us to follow Jesus, taking up the cross, taking up the dangers, taking up the risks.
Ignatius was the pastor of the church in Antioch when he was arrested and extradited to Rome. He wrote to the Roman church pleading with them not to try to deliver him because that would deprive him of what he most longed and hoped for. He wrote: “Now I begin to be a disciple. I care for nothing of visible or invisible things so that I may but win Christ. Let fire and the cross, let the companies of wild beasts, let breaking of bones and tearing of limbs, let the grinding of the whole body, and all the malice of the devil, come upon me; be it so, only may I win Christ Jesus.” It is said that as he was sentenced to be fed to lions, Ignatius said, “I am the wheat of Christ: I am going to be ground with the teeth of wild beasts that I may be found pure bread.”
Following Jesus is dangerous.
Every Sunday is a weekly Easter, a weekly celebration of the resurrection
of Jesus. But the annual celebration of Easter is a particularly fitting
opportunity to renew our commitment to the cross, our dedication to the cause
of the gospel, the call to follow Jesus. The cross is not just for decoration.
The cross is not merely a symbol. The cross is the power of God for salvation.
It displays God’s love and justice for the world. The cross is foolishness to
Greeks and blasphemy to the Jews. The cross is the glory of God. God loves that
part in the story where death dies, where weakness triumphs, where mercy bursts
out of violence.
As Paul said that the Thessalonians had become examples or “marks,” Peter calls elders not to be “lords” over those entrusted to them, but to be “marks” for the flock to see (1 Pet. 5:3). Likewise, Paul exhorts Timothy and Titus to be “marks” for the believers in their churches (1 Tim. 4:12, Titus 2:7). From where does this come? What does it mean to be “marks” for others to see?
The same word is only used once in the Gospels, in John: Thomas says that he will not believe that Jesus is risen from the dead unless he sees the marks of the nails in the hands of Jesus and puts his fingers in the holes and places his hand into His side (John. 20:25).
What Paul and Peter and the rest of the apostles and disciples came to understand was their calling to be the marks of Jesus for all to see. We are called to be the nail marks of Jesus for the world so that the world will see and believe that Christ is risen. The call to follow Jesus is always a call to look like Jesus, to display the life of Jesus in our lives, in our words, in our actions, to bear the marks of the Lord Jesus in our bodies. Many Christians are hunted down by unbelievers and God displays His grace in their suffering. But if we are not being turned into marks through violent oppression, our marching orders are pretty straightforward. We are called into the world to preach the gospel. If Easter is our great festival of resurrection life, our reveling in the world made new in the resurrection of Jesus, then Easter is all about displaying the marks of Christ for the world to see. He is risen! Easter is for evangelism.
Polycarp was a disciple of the apostle John. He was arrested as an old man and taken before the governor, who sentenced him to be burned at the stake. Yet the governor offered to release Polycarp if he would curse Christ, and Polycarp answered: “Eighty-six years I have served him, and he never once wronged me. How then shall I blaspheme my king who has saved me?” He was tied to the stake rather than nailed, as was the usual custom because he assured them that he would stand still in the flames. After the fire was lit and it had burned for a while without consuming him, the order was given and the executioner pierced him with a sword.
We hesitate to invite unbelieving neighbors over for dinner. We hesitate to speak the truth when it might make us look bad. Perhaps it could cost us friends, family, maybe even a job. But then how will we become the marks of Christ, if we risk nothing? How will we become the marks of Easter?
Toby Sumpter is the pastor of Trinity Reformed Church in Moscow, Idaho. He received an M.A. in Theological Studies from Erskine Theological Seminary, a B.A. in Liberal Arts and Culture from New Saint Andrews College, and has studied for several years in Greyfriars Hall at Christ Church in Moscow. Toby has written a number of essays for the Omnibus textbook series and taught for eight years, including for Veritas Press Scholars Academy. He and his wife, Jenny, have three children: River, Felicity, and Tovia.
At this time of year I am always looking out the window for a glimpse of spring. This year that bitter cold just seems to keep hanging on. School is beginning to wind down for the year and now is the time to give that final push and finish up all those subjects.
If you have followed offerings in our catalog over the years, you know that Journey Through the Bible is a book that I love. We have always given it a five star rating. It appeals to all ages. It is very important that we bring the Bible to life for our children. They need to understand the times of the Old and New Testaments. Journey Through the Bible is a great way to do this. One of my sons would spend hours looking at it. At one point I thought that he might become an archeologist. It is very easy to have Bible become just another subject that you teach. Yet, we want our children to have a passion for Scripture, a desire to know and understand so that we might live.
Some time ago a book came across my desk that I would have loved when my children were in grammar school, Explore the Bible Sticker Book. This is like an interactive Journey Through the Bible. Children can create their own Bible-times reference book using the stickers to bring each page to life. From Pharaohs and pyramids to fishing and baking, from Noah and his family to Peter and Paul, children can discover a taste of life in biblical times.
It doesn’t fit in the catalog, so we thought we’d make it available here. For the month of April you may have it for 50% off with orders of $100 or more. Ask for one to be included while placing your order (it’s item #902166). If ordering from our web site, add it to your order and the discount will be applied automatically during checkout.
Have a great spring, and know we are here to help you plan for the fall. Give us a call.
Woo-hoo! It's FREE SHIPPING on all U.S. orders placed in April, 2011. When you place your order, simply ask for the April Shipping Special. Be encouraged to place orders in April, a slower month, and not wait until the busy summer months. Note, too, that price increases occur May 1. If you place your order on our web site, simply enter item number FS0411 on the Express Order page and click Add to Order. We will deduct the shipping amount from your order manually before we ship.
Q. My Western Civilization book is 6th edition, but I understand that there is now a 8th edition. Can I still use my edition or must I purchase the new edition to use with the Omnibus textbooks?
A. Great question! We understand that this resource, while very valuable, is something you may not wish to replace as frequently as new editions appear. Please know that if you are taking an online Omnibus course, the teacher will be using the most recent edition so any references made in class will be to that 8th edition. For any student either online or studying at home, we provide a cross-reference (at VeritasPress.com in the resources area) for passages specifically cited in the Omnibus text.
Q. As I peruse your online course offerings I need to ask, "How do I know what level is right for my children?" We have used different curriculums over the years and, in some cases, I'm not sure where they fit best. What should I do?
A. That is a common question, and we have made some changes this year to assist you. We want your child to succeed as much as you do, so many of our courses have prerequisites to ensure they are prepared for the challenges. That has always been the case, but this year, for many of our courses, we have implemented placement tests or require writing samples to be submitted. Please click through to the expanded course descriptions and view the prerequisite information. When a placement test or other qualifier is required there will be another link with more information.
Please submit any questions you’d like answered here to email@example.com.
Teaching Openings with Veritas Press Scholars Academy
Online Teachers Needed Immediately!—We have immediate need for classroom experienced teachers. Openings include Omnibus, Latin, Logic, and Greek in the secondary school. In grammar school we need teachers for Literature, Grammar and Writing, History, and Latin. Experienced teachers can work from home, the beach, or anywhere high-speed internet is available. Send résumé to Bruce Etter.
Registration for Veritas Press Scholars Academy 2011-12 School Year
Registration for online courses in Veritas Press Scholars Academy (VPSA) for Fall 2011 (and Summer, too) has been going on since the beginning of February. Our explosive growth in our live teacher-led courses has been both exciting and a little hectic. You'll see some new offerings alongside the standards you've come to expect. Click here to view the schedule.
Omnibus III for the Convenience of International Students
We have been so pleased to welcome students from across the world into our VPSA classes. For some families, this has meant waking up early or staying up late. Consequently, we are offering two Omnibus III classes to meet scheduling needs of families from other time zones. These 9:00 p.m. Eastern classes will have an equivalent start at 5:00 p.m. in Anchorage, 4:00 p.m. in Honolulu, 3:00 p.m. in Auckland, 12:00 p.m. in Sydney, 11:00 a.m. in Tokyo, 10:00 a.m. in Hong Kong, and 7:30 a.m. in Mumbai. If this is well-received, we will consider offering more classes in this type of time slot in the future.
History Self-Paced Courses
Feedback continues to be great on these new self-paced courses. We now believe this is the very best way for students to grasp and master the material. Click here to read what customers have said. We had thousands of takers on the recent free trial and many have continued. Registration is now open as follows:
Course (click on the title to learn more)
1815 to the Present
Not Yet Available
Press Scholars Academy Diploma Program
Are you looking for your child to go to college? Do you desire accountability and assistance in knowing that each year your students are accomplishing what they need to? We now offer yearly certification services culminating in a high school diploma. There are four different diploma levels, each addressing the varying levels of a student's abilities and circumstances. Year-by-year certification services ensure you are on track for your objectives, meeting an outside standard, and, in many cases, satisfying state requirements. We've even made provision for qualifying courses completed elsewhere or using other curricula. For more information, click here.
Veritas Press In-A-Week Courses
Don't miss our “In-A-Week” adult education courses which are planned for this summer. These intensive classes are geared to teachers or parents. We are offering Latin and several levels of Omnibus classes—all taught online by outstanding teachers with considerable expertise in the material. What better way to prepare yourself to teach these courses or just learn the material for your own edification? Please be encouraged to join us for these great opportunities. Look for an announcement and the opening of registration for it in the next couple weeks.
Latin In-A-Week June 13-17 Joanna Hensley
Latin In-A-Week July 11-15 Joanna Hensley
Omnibus I In-A-Week June 27-July 1 Bruce Etter
Omnibus II In-A-Week June 20-24 Graham Dennis
Omnibus III In-A-Week June 27-July 1 Graham Dennis
Our Teacher Training Conference, normally held near the end of July, will not take place this year.
Interesting Facts about Veritas Press
In March we took a break, but we're back with another fun question. Here it is: "How many man-hours do we estimate it takes to prepare our catalog annually for the printer?"
The first person to e-mail the correct or closest answer by 5:00 PM EDT, April 15th to firstname.lastname@example.org will again receive a $25 gift certificate.
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