Quotes From “Reliving The Passion”

Walter Wangerin, Jr. has prepared an excellent guide for the Lenten season: Reliving The Passion. Beginning on Ash Wednesday and going all the way through Resurrection Sunday, Wangerin is using the Gospel of Mark to give us some heart-probing thoughts on Christ’s Passion. I typically post quotes after I have completed a book, but I thought I would share a quote or two with you each day through this journey.

Ash Wednesday—“When we genuinely remember the death we deserve to die, we will be moved to remember the death the Lord in fact did die.”

The Second Day Thursday—“Mirrors that hide nothing hurt me. But this is the hurt of purging and precious renewal—and these are mirrors of dangerous grace. The passion of Christ, His suffering and His death, is such a mirror.”

The Third Day Friday—[read Mark 14:27-28 and Mark 16:6-7] “If Jesus ‘will go before’ His disciples from Galilee as He had gone before, then this is a call to follow Him down the hard road of conflict, criticism, enmity, persecution, suffering and death and resurrection. So the passion story becomes a roadmap for all of Jesus’ followers (who deny themselves and take up their crosses) whether Christians martyred in the first, or Christians bold in the twentieth, centuries. Read this story, then, as a detailed itinerary of the disciple’s life. But hear in it as well the constant consolation—not only that He, in ‘going before us,’ is always near us, however hard the persecution; but also that we, in going His way to Galilee, will see Him as He told you.”

The Fourth Day Saturday—“The difference between shallow happiness and a deep, sustaining joy is sorrow. Happiness lives where sorrow is not. When sorrow arrives, happiness dies. It can’t stand pain. Joy, on the other hand, rises from sorrow and therefore can withstand all grief. Joy, by the grace of God, is the transfiguration of suffering into endurance, and of endurance into character, and of character into hope—and the hope that has become our joy does not (as happiness must for those who depend upon it) disappoint us.”

The Fifth Day Monday—“Jesus: Forgive me for making much of what’s minor in Your story, diminishing the important thing. I’ve demanded miracles, healings, benefits for myself. O Lord, raise the Cross as the central beam of my whole life once again! Amen.”

The Sixth Day Tuesday—“Jesus, by the refining fires of Your grace reduce my prideful self to ash after all. Let me become a nothing, that You might be the only Something for me and in me.”

The Seventh Day Wednesday—“It was an act so completely focused upon the Christ that not a dram of worldly benefit was gained thereby [Mark 14:3-9]. Nothing could justify this spillage of some three hundred days’ wages, except love alone. The rulers who sought to kill Jesus were motivated by a certain reasonable logic; but your prodigality appears altogether unreasonable—except for reasons of love. … Love enhances and names in truth. No one else anointed Him and by that gesture declared Him Messiah, the Christ. The act, therefore, was more than beautiful. It was rare and rich with meaning.” 

“Jesus, I love You, I love You! Cleanse me of anything that is not love for You, even though the world will think me preposterous and my friends—some of whom are Your disciples—will not be able to make sense of me. You are all the sense and meaning I need. I love You. Amen.”

The Eighth Day Thursday—“Does the motive of a sin—its rationale, its reasons—make it any less a sin? Isn’t the betrayal of the sovereignty of the Lord in our lives always a sin, regardless of the factors that drove us to betray Him? Yes! Yet we habitually defend ourselves and diminish our fault by referring to reasons why we ‘had to’ do it. We sinners are so backward that we try to justify ourselves by some condition which preceded the sin. Motives console us. That’s why we want so badly to have and to know them. …

“We sinners are so backward! We invert the true source of our justification. It isn’t some preliminary cause, some motive before the sin that justifies me, but rather the forgiveness of Christ which meets my repentance after the sin.”

The Ninth Day Friday—“‘Who will give Me room?’ This is forever a measure of the love which Jesus inspires in human hearts: that there was a householder willing to endanger himself by saying, ‘I will. Come.’ We know almost as little about this man—and as much—as we know of the woman who anointed Jesus. We know him by his action only; and his deed was love. It was a sacrificial love, which puts itself in harm’s way for the sake of the beloved [Mark 14:12-16]. … 

“‘Who will give Me room?’ the Lord Jesus asks today. If we’re experienced, we know the risk. The sophisticated world mocks a meek and sheepish Christian. The evil world hates those in whom Christ shines like a light upon its darksome deeds. Even the worldly church will persecute those who, for Jesus’ sake, accuse its compromises, oppose its cold self-righteousness, and so disclose its failure at humble service.”

The Tenth Day Saturday—“Judas has no better friend than Jesus. Loving him, not loathing him, Jesus grants Judas a moment of terrible self-awareness: ‘One of you will betray Me, the one who is dipping bread into the dish with Me….’ The deed is not yet done. But Jesus sees it coming and, while yet the sinner contemplates the sin, gives Judas three critical gifts: (1) Knowledge; (2) Free will; and (3) Sole responsibility. … Given three gifts by the grace of the dear Lord—[will I] stop?”

Stay tuned for more quotes (and in the meantime, get a copy of the book for yourself.

10 Steps To Help Someone Through A Tragedy

Christians should be the best at loving others and supporting them through a tragedy. When someone’s world is rocked by an unexpected heartache like a miscarriage, a suicide, a difficult medical diagnosis, or even a hurricane, here is my list of 10 steps to help someone through this trying time. You may watch this short video, or see the list of 10 items below…

  1. Just be there for them.
  2. Listen.
  3. Listen.
  4. Listen to them some more.
  5. Don’t try to “fix” their problem.
  6. Weep with those who weep.”
  7. Don’t defend God (like Job’s friends tried to do).
  8. Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you insight.
  9. Remind them of their responsibility now—your choices to go forward, how will you honor their memory, how can you help others in a similar situation, what does this make you think about your eternity?
  10. Stay in touch for the long haul (remember the birthday of their dead loved one; be them for the anniversary date of a marriage, the day their loved one died; go to those doctor’s appointments with them; roll up your sleeves and work alongside them). Use your creativity to proactively be there for them.

Viewing Abortion As Slavery

In our American history, we have many valuable lessons. Some of these lessons come from sad chapters that now we have the benefit of hindsight to see the error of our ways. But with this hindsight, there should come insight into the issues which currently face us.

Slavery was an abhorrent evil that plagued our country. Thankfully there were strong men who forcefully and persuasively spoke out against the horrors of slavery; men like Frederick Douglass. His address “What To The Slave Is The Fourth Of July?” is a masterpiece of statesmanship!

Those under the oppression of slavery had no choice. They weren’t allowed speak for themselves, so they depended upon free men and women to speak for them.

Much the same today, babies who are aborted in the womb have no choice, no voice. They cannot speak for themselves, so it is up to us to speak out for them against this abhorrent evil that plagues our country.

I would ask you to consider some of the words of Frederick Douglass where the terms for slavery are replaced with the terms for abortion.

“Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding [aborted baby] on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the Constitution and the Bible, which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate [abortion]—the great sin and shame of America! … 

“The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced. … 

“Let it be thundered around the world, that, in tyrant-killing, king-hating, people-loving, democratic, Christian America, the seats of justice are filled with judges, who hold their offices under an open and palpable bribe, and are bound, in deciding in the case of [an unborn baby’s] liberty, hear only [the abortionist]! … 

“A religion which favors [‘choice’] against the [unborn baby]; which exalts the proud above the humble; which divides mankind into two classes, [pro-choice] and [pro-life]; which says to the [baby in the womb, you don’t matter]; and to the [abortionist, continue on]; it is a religion which may be professed and enjoyed by all the robbers and [killers] of mankind; it makes God a respecter of persons, denies His fatherhood of [all human life], and tramples in the dust the great truth of the brotherhood of man. … 

“The American church is guilty, when viewed in connection with what it is doing to uphold [abortion]; but it is superlatively guilty when viewed in connection with its ability to abolish [abortion]. The sin of which it is guilty is one of omission as well as of commission. … Let the religious press, the pulpit, the Sunday school, the conference meeting, the great ecclesiastical, missionary, Bible and tract associations of the land array their immense powers against [abortion]; and the whole system of crime and blood would be scattered to the winds….

“O! had I the ability, and could I reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.”

Poetry Saturday—Abide With Me

Abide with me: fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away.
Change and decay in all around I see.
O Lord who changes not, abide with me.

I need Your presence every passing hour.
What but Your grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who like Yourself my guide and strength can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.

I fear no foe with You at hand to bless,
Though ills have weight, and tears their bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, your victory?
I triumph still, if You abide with me.

Hold now Your Word before my closing eyes.
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me. —Henry Francis Lyte

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! 

Poetry Saturday—The Monster Death

Break off your tears, ye saints, and tell
How high your great Deliverer reigns;
Sing how He spoiled the hosts of hell,
And led the monster death in chains:
Say, Live forever, wondrous King!
Born to redeem, and strong to save;
Then ask the monster, Where’s thy sting?
And, Where’s thy victory, boasting grave? —Isaac Watts

Poetry Saturday—Desire

Matthew ArnoldThou, who dost dwell alone;
Thou, who dost know Thine own;
Thou, to whom all are known,
From the cradle to the grave—
Save, O, save!

From the world’s temptations;
From tribulations;
From that fierce anguish
Wherein we languish;
From that torpor deep
Wherein we lie asleep,
Heavy as death, cold as the grave—
Save, O, save!

When the soul, growing clearer,
Sees God no nearer;
When the soul, mounting higher,
To God comes no nigher;
But the arch-fiend Pride
Mounts at her side,
Foiling her high enterprise,
Sealing her eagle eyes,
And, when she fain would soar,
Make idols to adore;
Changing the pure emotion
Of her high devotion,
To a skin-deep sense
Of her own eloquence;
Strong to deceive, strong to enslave—
Save, O, save! —Matthew Arnold
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