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Sunrise service speaker: resurrected Christ still changing lives (subscriber content)

Friendship Bible Church Pastor Paul Coleman speaks before  a sunrise service crowd at Keystone Beach March 31.

Friendship Bible Church Pastor Paul Coleman speaks before a sunrise service crowd at Keystone Beach March 31.


DAN HILDEBRAN

Monitor Editor

Paul Coleman, pastor  of Friendship Bible Church told a crowd of worshipers gathered a Keystone Beach sunrise service Sunday, March 31, that the resurrected Christ Mary Magdalene encountered over 2,000 years ago is still changing lives today.

Coleman read to the audience John 20:1-18, which describes Easter morning from the viewpoint of Mary Magdalene.

He said that earlier on  Jesus had met the woman under much different circumstances.

“The first time she ever encountered Jesus,” he said, “early in his ministry, it did not start out as one of her best days.”

Coleman added that if Mary Magdalene had lived today, most people would have avoided her.

“Perhaps even institutionalized her as a crazy person,” he continued.   “In reality, however, Mary Magdalene was tormented by and in bondage to seven different demons.”

Coleman said Jesus recognized the woman’s condition and delivered her from her tormentors.

“One moment Mary was in darkness, confusion and fear,” he said, “an emotional and spiritual wreck. The next, Mary was completely free.”

Coleman said that Magdalene was so grateful after her encounter with Jesus that she followed him every day thereafter, even supporting his ministry financially.

“Jesus had given her life meaning and purpose and a hope for the future so much better than what she knew she deserved,” he said.

The Friendship Bible Church pastor  then jumped to the scene of the garden tomb and the woman’s meeting with Jesus, as detailed in John 20.

“She met Jesus all over again,” he said. “Jesus conquered death, rose from the grave and met Mary face-to-face.  What a day this turned out to be.”

Coleman said that every Christian, in some way, shares Mary’s experience.

“We have met the real, living Jesus,” he said, “resurrected from the dead.  And like he did with Mary,  he has changed our lives too.”

“He has set us free from sin and from guilt,” he continued, “from that which oppressed us and that which possessed us and that which has depressed us. He has given us a brand new start, a whole new lease on life. He has filled us with hope, with joy, with forgiveness, a love for life, a love for God and a love for everything God has created.”

Coleman then described a man in his early 30s who walked into Coleman’s office, in similar circumstances that Mary Magdalene found her in.

“He had been walking down the street,” recalled Coleman and came across our church sign which had these words: come to me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest, a reference to Matthew 11:28.”

Coleman said the man who saw that sign and knocked on his door wanted to know if those words were true.

He added that the man was carrying a large plastic bag filled with hundreds of dollars worth of Scientology video tapes and other media.

“It turned out that he was a child molester,” said Coleman.  “He had recently been released from prison and after that he spent an extensive amount of time in state-mandated therapy.”

Coleman said the therapy did not help the man, so he turned to Scientology, spending thousands on tapes, video and other educational materials.

“As you might guess, nothing worked,” he said. “And then he saw our sign.  Come to me,  all you who are wearied and burdened and I will give you rest.”

Coleman said rest for the soul was exactly what that man was looking for.

“Before an hour had gone by,” he said, “that man had given his life to Jesus. And like Mary Magdalene before him, this man’s life was dramatically changed.”

Coleman said the new convert was soon baptized.  Eventually, he met a Christian woman and started a family of his own.

“The same Jesus who delivered Mary from her demons,” he concluded, “the same Jesus who rose from the dead and met Mary outside the tomb, is still delivering people today, transforming their lives as they come to know him as savior and lord.”

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