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

10 Quotes From “The Broken Way”

All of us will deal with brokenness at some point in our lives. Ann Voskamp’s The Broken Way is a brilliant light shining in the darkness of brokenness and pain. Check out my review of Ann’s book by clicking here.

“When the church isn’t for the suffering and broken, then the church isn’t for Christ. Because Jesus, with His pierced side, is always on the side of the broken. Jesus always moves into places moved with grief. Jesus always seeks out where the suffering is, and that’s where Jesus stays. The wound in His side proves that Jesus is always on the side of the suffering, the wounded, the busted, the broken.”

“The body of Christ doesn’t offer you some clichés, but something to cling to—right here in our own scarred hands. His body doesn’t offer some platitudes, but some place for your pain—right here in our offered time. His body doesn’t offer some excuses, but we’ll be an example—right here in our bending down and washing your wounds.”

“A Wounded Healer uses nails to buy freedom and crosses to resurrect hope and He never treats those who hurt on the inside as less than those who hurt on the outside.”

“Get busy, get distracted, and you can forget God. Forget God, and you lose your mind and your peace. Forget God, and all you remember is anxiety. Anxiety can give you God-Alzheimer’s. Forget the face of God, and you forget your own name is Beloved.”

“The art of giving is believing there is enough love in you, that you are loved enough by Him, to be made enough love to give.”

“You can be glued to a screen or glued to your schedule or glued to your stuff—and maybe that’s just a bit of lost living. You can be a slave to getting ahead, a slave to the clock, a slave to convenience, a slave to some ill-advised American dream—and maybe that’s a lot of lost living. Maybe even in a bit of brokenness, grace moves in you to get up and give to people you love and people that you’re learning to love, to go to the park and laugh with your kids or any kids, to give an elderly woman a hand and a listening ear and the gift of presence—that’s large living.”

“The world is brokenhearted and full of suffering, and if you listen to what life needs instead of what you need from it, you could fill the brokenness with your own brokenhearted love—and this will in turn fill you. … You are where you are for such a time as this—not to make an impression, but to make a difference.”

“When you are filled to the brim with the enoughness of Christ, the only way you can possibly have more is to pour yourself out.”

“The wondrous order of Christianity isn’t ‘go and sin no more and Jesus won’t condemn you.’ The order of Christ and Christianity is ‘neither do I condemn you—go and sin no more.’”

“The only way to live a truly remarkable life is not to get everyone to notice you, but to leave noticeable marks of God’s love everywhere you go.”

I will be sharing more quotes from The Broken Way soon. If you would like to be notified as soon as these quotes are posted, please subscribe to my blog. And to read other inspiring quotes I share every day, follow me on Twitter or Tumblr (or both!).

“Like” A Lion

“The Bible says the devil prowls around like a roaring lion. The keyword is like. He is a poser, and his bark is worse than his bite. Refuse to believe his lies or to cower to his intimidation. When he reminds you of your past, remind him of his future! Fight back with the words of faith. Fight back with songs of praise. …

“A lion’s roar is meant to communicate dominance—to assert its authority in a territory. And the only thing that will silence a lion’s roar is the roar of a more powerful lion. … satan may roar at you, but he cannot touch you. He is the one in a cage. You are the one that’s free.” —Mark Batterson, in Chase The Lion

9 Quotes From “Take Your Life Back”

take-your-life-backStephen Arterburn and David Stoop have given us a great resource if we are struggling to free ourselves from the wounds that are trapping us in a reactive life. I truly believe Take Your Life Back will start many people on a journey of healing. Check out my full book review by clicking here, and then check out a few quotes from this helpful book.

“When we’re constantly looking at what’s happening with other people and measuring our satisfaction based on how fairly we feel we’ve been treated, we are forever at the mercy of what is going on over there. We’ve wired ourselves to react to whatever scale of comparison we’ve established.”

“The real self, quite simply, is the self that God sees. He sees it all, with all its flaws. He does not approve of or endorse everything He sees, but He loves the person He sees. He does not see an idealized self, free of sin. He sees the real self—sinful, doubtful, and flawed—and yet He accepts the reality of it and loves us in spite of it all.”

“Our reactions to pain and our adaptations to it are unique to ourselves; we are not all the same. But we have several things in common: In one way or another, we have turned our back on reality, and we have allowed all, or portions, of our lives to be controlled by another person, a destructive pattern, or unrealistic expectations. We live on the edge of almost. We are almost breaking free, or we are almost free. We are almost fed up or almost ready to take our lives back.” 

“Denial keeps us from addressing the things we can change, causing us to think that our inability to change everything means we can’t change anything. … Because we either don’t or won’t see how far we are from living the life that God intends for us, we stay in our denial and wait for the magic cure that never materializes. But when we admit that we’re in denial, and when we are willing to break through it, we can begin to move into recovery.”

“When we talk about the elephant in the room, we have a way of describing it as a small rodent. Our internal application for minimizing language automatically converts words like pain into irritation; devastating into difficult; abusive into insensitive; and horrific into unpleasant. Our self-talk is unrealistic, so whenever we communicate with someone else, we present our overwhelming problems as manageable situations that we have completely under control. Because we don’t acknowledge the full scope and intensity of our struggles, we don’t act in realistic ways to free ourselves and take our lives back. We minimize in order to give ourselves permission to do little or nothing to change.”

“Toxic shame undermines our will and our power to stand up for ourselves. … Toxic shame carves out a new normal for those who partake of its poisonous fruit. Rather than seeing themselves as human beings who have made a few mistakes—maybe even some really big mistakes—people who are saturated with toxic shame see their failures as an objective expression of who they are. Before long, they don’t even try to avoid future mistakes. They don’t learn from their errors because they don’t think they can, or need to, learn anything. Repeated mistakes are simply a self-fulfilling prophecy that their shame as written for them. …

“Toxic shame…blinds us to wisdom and insight. It prevents us from cleaning up after ourselves. We start to live in the debris of past mistakes, and that leads us to more debris-producing decisions. We fill our lives with problem after problem because we don’t think we can do any better.”

“There is such a thing as good shame. A better term for it might be godly sorrow. …

“Godly sorrow is a warning sign that we are on the wrong path and need to make some adjustments. Any mistakes we make are not seen as the inevitable result of who we are but as stark reminders that—because of who we are, created in the image of God—we can do better. We are genuinely sorry that we fell short, hurt ourselves or other people, or simply created a lot of hassle that has kept us from living in the good things that God has for us. However, our defective behavior is rightly seen as separate from our identity. Making a mistake doesn’t mean that we are a mistake; it’s simply evidence that we are like every other human being—completely capable of many things, including mistakes. …

“Godly sorrow is a prompt from God, and from a well-developed conscience, that we need something more to achieve all that we want to accomplish. We respond to healthy shame with the desire to get better or do better….”

“Tough love says that I will choose to not give you what you want if it prevents you from attaining what you need.”

“Taking your life back is not just about deciding to defend yourself. It is about finding and removing roadblocks, sinkholes, and dead ends that have disconnected you from other people and stopped your journey from going forward together.”

Take Your Life Back (book review)

take-your-life-backStephen Arterburn and David Stoop say it’s quite simple—you are either living a reactive life or a responsive life. One keeps us trapped by our past or other people, and one sets us free to live life to the fullest. Arterburn and Stoop want you to Take Your Life Back.

Arterburn and Stoop vividly describe the childhood wounds and experiences that can lead to so many of us burying our real selves and living out of a reactive, false self that we believe others want to see. Then, using the imagery from the story of the Prodigal Son, they talk about how the younger son came home to address his concerns, and how the elder brother who never left home also had to come to grips with his woundedness.

To some extent or another, we all carry some sort of woundedness in our hearts—someone abused us, or let us down, or led us to believe that we weren’t valuable. The question now is: “Do I know my wound? Am I willing to admit to my wound? Am I willing to take the necessary steps toward healing and freedom?” Far too many people hide their wound and end up living restricted, reactive lives. But Arterburn and Stoop want to help lead you to confront your wound and take the necessary steps to live a free, responsive life.

Whether you have a wound in your life that you need to address, or you know someone close to you struggling with their woundedness, Take Your Life Back will be an invaluable resource. Stop letting your past or other people control and limit you, take your life back to live the abundant life God wants you to live!

I am a Tyndale book reviewer.

Thursdays With Oswald—Christ’s Incarnation Means Our Freedom

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.

Christ’s Incarnation Means Our Freedom

     Other religions deal with sins; the Bible alone deals with sin. The first thing Jesus Christ faced in man was this heredity of sin, and it is because we have ignored it in our presentation of the Gospel that the message of the Gospel has lost its sting, its blasting power; we have driveled it into insurance tickets for heaven, and made it deal only with the wastrel element of mankind. …  

     The revelation is not that Jesus Christ was punished for our sins, but that He was made to be sin. “Him who knew no sin” was made to be sin, that by His identification with it and removal of it, we might become what He was. … Jesus Christ went straight through identification with sin that every man and woman on earth might be freed from sin by His atonement. He went through the depths of damnation and came out more than conqueror; consequently everyone of us who is willing to be identified with Him is freed from the disposition of sin, freed from the connection with the body of sin, and can come out more than a conqueror too because of what Jesus Christ has done. … 

     The Holy Spirit will take my spirit, soul and body and bring them back into communion with God, and lead me into identification with the death of Jesus Christ, until I know experimentally that my old disposition, my right to myself, is crucified with Him, and my human nature is now free to obey the commands of God. 

From The Shadow Of An Agony

As we approach the time of year we celebrate the Incarnation of Jesus, it’s amazing to think that He didn’t come just to identify with our sin, but to be made sin! Without Jesus Christ’s death on a Cross in our place, there is no hope for us.

As we celebrate the First Advent, it’s a good idea to keep in the front our our minds what Christ’s Incarnation means for us. It means we can be freed from sin—free to obey God, and free to look forward to Christ’s Second Advent, where He will take away His saints to be with Him forever!

15 Quotes On America’s Greatness

(c) craigtowens

(c) craigtowens

A few quotes that capture the essence of America’s greatness.

“The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy, a policy worthy of imitation. All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For, happily, the government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.” —George Washington, in a letter to a Jewish congregation

“I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder, as the opening of a grand scene and design in Providence for the illumination of the ignorant, and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth.” —John Adams

“We’ve staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government. Far from it. We have staked the future upon the capacity of each and every one of us to govern ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” —James Madison

“We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom. Not because history runs on the wheels of inevitability; it is human choices that move events. Not because we consider ourselves a chosen nation; God moves and chooses as He wills. We have confidence because freedom is the permanent hope of mankind, the hunger in dark places, the longing of the soul. When our Founders declared a new order of the ages; when soldiers died in wave upon wave for a union based on liberty; when citizens marched in peaceful outrage under the banner ‘Freedom Now’—they were acting on an ancient hope that is meant to be fulfilled. History has an ebb and flow of justice, but history also has a visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of Liberty.” —George W. Bush

“To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.” —Calvin Coolidge

“Nowhere in the world is presented a government of so much liberty and equality. To the humblest and poorest amongst us are extended the highest privileges and positions. The present moment finds me at the White House, yet there is as good a chance for your children as there was for my father’s.” —Abraham Lincoln

“America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.” ―Harry Truman

“America is another word for Opportunity. Our whole history appears like a last effort of the Divine Providence in behalf of the human race.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

“As soon as I make sure everyone else is out.” —Rick Rescorla, World Trade Center security chief for Morgan Stanley, on September 11, 2001, responding to a colleague who told him he must get out of World Trade Center Tower 2. Rescorla led the evacuation of nearly 2700 Morgan Stanley employees. He died when Tower 2 collapsed. 

“I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty.” —John D. Rockefeller Jr.

“We must be the great arsenal of democracy.” —Franklin Delano Roosevelt

“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual—or at least that he ought not so to do; but that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.” —Samuel Adams

“Some things have not changed at all since 1776. For one thing, freedom is still expensive. It still costs money. It still costs blood. It still calls for courage and endurance, not only in soldiers, but in every man and woman who is free and who is determined to remain free.” —Harry Truman, on the 175th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence

“The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.” —George Washington

“The thing they forget is that liberty and freedom and democracy are so very precious that you do not fight to win them once and then stop. Liberty and freedom and democracy are prizes awarded only to those peoples who fight to win them and then keep fighting eternally to hold them.” —Sergeant Alvin C. York, in reply to those who asked, “What did war get you?”

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