Just Christians

“I’m thinking we aren’t so unlike these soldiers [see John 19:23-24]. (I’m sorry to say.) We, too, play games at the foot of the Cross.

“We compete for members. We scramble for status. We deal out our judgments and condemnations. Competition. Selfishness. Personal gain. It’s all there. So close to the Cross, yet so far from the blood. We are so close to the world’s most uncommon event, but we act like common crapshooters huddled in bickering groups and fighting over silly opinions.

“We major in the trivial, constantly finding fault with others. We split into little huddles and then, God forbid, we split again. Another name. Another doctrine. Another ‘error.’ Another denomination. Another poker game.

“So close to the Cross but so far from the Christ. ‘May they all be one,’ Jesus prayed. One. Not one in groups of two thousand. But one in One. One church. One faith. One Lord. Not Baptist, not Methodist, not Adventist. Just Christians. No denominations. No hierarchies. No traditions. Just Christ.” —Max Lucado, On Calvary’s Hill

Thursdays With Oswald—No Fear Of Death

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

No Fear Of Death

     Death means extinction of life as we understand it; our dead are gone and have left an aching void behind them. They do not talk to us, we do not feel their touch, and when the bereaved heart cries out, nothing comes back but the hollow echo of its own cry. The heart is raw, no pious chatter, no scientific cant can touch it. It is the physical calamity of death plus the thing behind which no man can grasp, that makes death so terrible. …

     Every attempt to comfort a bereaved soul apart from the revelation of Jesus Christ brings a vain speculation. We know nothing about the mystery of death apart from what Jesus Christ tells us; but blessed be the Name of God, what He tells us makes us more than conquerors, so that we can shout the victory through the darkest valley of the shadow that ever a human being can go through. … 

     Jesus Christ can deliver from the dread of death—“that through death He might bring to naught him that had the power of death, that is the devil” [Hebrews 2:14]. Death has no terror for the man who is rightly related to God through Jesus Christ. … 

     It is not within the power of human tongue or archangel’s tongue to state what an awful fact death is, and what a still more awful fact life is. But thank God, there is the greatest deliverance conceivable from all that life may bring and from all that death may bring. Jesus Christ has destroyed the dominion of death, and He can make us fit to face every problem of life, more than conqueror all along the line.

From The Fighting Chance 

Through His death on the Cross and bodily resurrection from the grave, Jesus Christ has defeated Death for all who place their faith in this victory He won for us (see 1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

The Apostle Paul tells us that Christians grieve when a loved one dies, but we don’t grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). When one who knows Jesus as their Savior dies, we have a rock-solid, unshakable hope that they are fully alive with Christ in Heaven, and that we who also know Jesus as Lord and Savior will one day be reunited with them.

So for the Christian, death brings absolutely no fear! 

10 Quotes From “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About God”

This book from Eric Metaxas is a great way to stimulate a conversation about spiritual questions, or a wonderful resource for you to read together with a friend who is on a spiritual journey of discovery. Check out my review of this book by clicking here, and then enjoy a few of the quotes I especially appreciated.

“We aren’t responsible for having answers to every question about God or the Bible posed to us, but we are responsible for how we answer, even if we don’t have a full answer.”

“Our culture is so obsessed with the physical and the material that we have lost the ability to think logically about anything outside that realm.”

“The bottom line is that those who follow God have to have genuine love and compassion for others, and if we recognize how profoundly messed up we ourselves are, we will have compassion for other people. So if people don’t have serious humility about their own state of affairs, they should probably keep their mouth shut. God doesn’t want His followers to add to the pain of the people He loves. He wants His children to treat others as people He desperately loves.”

“The idea of a moral structure that cuts God out of the picture is very attractive to humans because that puts us in control. But God wants us to understand that without a relationship with Him, moral behavior isn’t worth anything. Mere moral rectitude doesn’t fool God.”

“Religion in the negative sense of simply being a bunch of rules and rituals is pretty much the same as superstition. Without a relationship with God at its core, all religion devolves to superstition.”

“One of the most harmful things in human history is when people have confused fear-based superstition with faith in God.”

“Either Jesus was God and died on the Cross and then rose bodily from the dead, thereby destroying sin and death and making it possible for us to be with Him in paradise forever, or having faith in him is bogus. Period. Without the central events of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, you simply don’t have Christianity. You can call it Christianity, but it’s not. All religions are not alike, so ultimately you have to choose.” 

“That’s always the case with sin. It never presents itself as sin. It’s always presented as a doorway to a higher consciousness, as a path to enlightenment meant, as the path to divinity—to becoming a god, or like God.”

“To try to earn God’s love is to miss the point entirely. He loves us already. We can’t be more loved by Him. So to try is like adding numbers to infinity. You can’t get higher than infinity, and His love for us is infinite.”

“Faith does not necessarily make us perfect, but perhaps it does have a way of making us more aware of our feelings.”

Look How Deep Christ’s Love Is!

For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from My Father. (John 10:17–18)

“Why does Jesus say this? Why does He stress His willingness to die? Because if it weren’t true—if His death were forced on Him, if it weren’t free, if His heart weren’t really in it—then a big question mark would be put over His love for us.

“The depth of His love is in its freedom. If He didn’t die for us willingly—if He didn’t choose the suffering and embrace it—then how deep is His love, really? So He stresses it. He makes it explicit. ‘It comes out of me, not out of circumstances, not out of pressure, but out of what I really long to do.’ …

“Anybody who makes a statement like that is either mentally deranged, or lying, or God. ‘I have authority from inside death, as a dead man, to take life back again, when I please.’ Now what’s the point here? Well, which is harder: to control when you die, or to give yourself life again once you are dead? Which is harder: to say, ‘I lay my life down on my own initiative’? Or to say, ‘I will take my life back again after I am dead’?

“The answer is obvious. And that’s the point. If Jesus could—and did—take His life back again from the dead, then He was free indeed. If He controlled when He came out of the grave, He certainly controlled when He went into the grave.

“So here’s the point. The resurrection of Jesus is given to us as the confirmation or evidence that He was indeed free in laying down His life. And so the resurrection is Christ’s testimony to the freedom of His love. …

“‘My resurrection is a shout over My love for My sheep: It was free! It was free! I chose it. I embraced it. I was not caught. I was not cornered. Nothing can constrain Me to do what I do not choose to do. I had power to take My life from death. And I have taken My life from death. How much more, then, could I have kept My life from death!

“‘I am alive to show you that I really loved you.” —John Piper

Poetry Saturday—See How The Patient Jesus Stands

See how the patient Jesus stands,
Insulted in His lowest case!
Sinners have bound the Almighty hands,
And spit in their Creator’s face.

With thorns His temple gored and gashed
Send streams of blood from every part;
His back’s with knotted scourges lashed,
But sharper scourges tear His heart.

Nailed naked to the accursed wood
Exposed to earth and heaven above,
A spectacle of wounds and blood,
A prodigy of injured love!

Hark! how His doleful cries affright
Affected angels, while they view;
His friends forsook Him in the night,
And now His God forsakes Him too!

Behold that pale, that languid face,
That drooping head, those languid eyes!
Behold in sorrow and disgrace
Our conquering Hero hangs, and dies!

Ye that assume His sacred name,
Now tell me, what can all this mean?
What was it bruised God’s harmless Lamb,
What was it pierced His soul but sin?

Blush, Christian, blush: let shame abound:
If sin affects thee not with woe,
Whatever life is in thee found,
The life of Christ thou doest not know. —Joseph Hart

Why Did Jesus Take Your Punishment?

“Christ lived the life we could not live and took the punishment we could not take to offer the hope we cannot resist. Why? Jesus was angry enough to purge the temple, hungry enough to eat raw grain, distraught enough to weep in public, fun-loving enough to be called a drunkard, winsome enough to attract kids, weary enough to sleep in a storm-bounced boat, poor enough to sleep on dirt, radical enough to get kicked out of town, responsible enough to care for His mother, tempted enough to know the smell of satan, and fearful enough to sweat blood.

“Why? Why would heaven’s finest Son endure earth’s toughest pain? So you would know that ‘He is able…to run to the cry of…those who are being tempted and tested and tried’ (Hebrews 2:18, AMP). Whatever you are facing, He knows how you feel. When you turn to Him for help, He runs to you to help. Why? He knows how you feel. He’s been there. He’s not ashamed of you. Nor is He confused by you. Your actions don’t bewilder Him. Your tilted halo doesn’t trouble Him. So go to Him.” —Max Lucado, in On Calvary’s Hill

7 Quotes From “On Calvary’s Hill”

Max Lucado has given us a treasure-trove of insights into the Passion Week! Here are a few quotes from On Calvary’s Hill, and also please check out my full review of this book by clicking here.

“Jesus knows what these men are about to do. By morning they will bury their heads in shame and look down at their feet in disgust. And when they do, He wants them to remember how His knees knelt before them and he washed their feet. . . . He forgave their sin before they even committed it. He offered mercy before they even sought it.”

“The next time the fog finds you, remember Jesus in the Garden. The next time you think that no one understands or cares, reread the fourteenth chapter of Mark and pay a visit to Gethsemane. And the next time you wonder if God really perceives the pain that prevails on this dusty planet, listen to Him pleading among the twisted trees. The next time you are called to suffer, pay attention. It may be the closest you’ll ever get to God. Watch closely. It could very well be that the hand that extends itself to lead you out of the fog is a pierced one.”

“How did Jesus endure the terror of the crucifixion? He went first to the Father with His tears. He modeled the words of Psalm 56:3: ‘When I am afraid, I put my trust in You’ (NLT). Do the same with yours. Don’t avoid life’s Gardens of Gethsemane. Enter them. Just don’t enter them alone. And while there, be honest. Pounding the ground is permitted. Tears are allowed. And if you sweat blood, you won’t be the first. Do what Jesus did; open your heart.”

“O Conquering One, I gladly open wide the gates of my life and ask You to enter. You see where the enemy has invaded and done his damage. Come, Lord Jesus, come, and speak Your words of truth and power into my life and cleanse my temple. In Your name, Jesus, amen.”

“The sinless One took on the face of a sinner so that we sinners could take on the face of a saint.”

“What you and I face daily, He never knew. Anxiety? He never worried! Guilt? He was never guilty! Fear? He never left the presence of God! Jesus never knew the fruits of sin . . . until He became sin for us. He did it for you. Just for you.”

“Jesus’ love does not depend on what we do for Him. Not at all. In the eyes of the King, you have value simply because you are.”

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