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.

7 Prayers From “Praying For Muslims”

Throughout 2017, I joined with other prayer warriors around the globe in praying for Muslims every Friday at noon. Our prayer guide was found in Sobhi Malek’s book Praying For Muslims. Here are a few prayer thoughts that may help you in your prayer time.

“As Abraham pleaded for the lost in Sodom and Gomorrah, we ask You to give Muslims a chance to accept Christ. You love them. Jesus died for them. Rescue them from the doom of sin.”

“Lord God, You have been patient with the peoples of Europe and America. They are rich in material goods but poor in spiritual matters. They are advanced in technology but backward in things pertaining to God. Save them from the slippery path they have chosen by turning their back on Christ. Have mercy on them. Help them to repent. By faith I claim many Muslims in the West for Christ. May they become tools in God’s hand to bring many nominal Christians in post-Christian Europe and America to the Cross of Calvary. O God, Supreme and Mighty Potentate, Master of heaven and earth, You can do such feats! In the name of Jesus, I pray for a great revival for your Church in the West. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.”

“Compassionate and merciful God, our Father in heaven, glory and majesty belong to You. You have shined Your light into my heart through Jesus Christ my Lord. You have forgiven my sin. Thank You. I am very grateful. That is why I bring Muslims before You.  For although they call You merciful and compassionate, they have never understood the depth of Your great compassion and mercy manifested at the Cross of Christ. Grant them the desire to know Jesus and experience His redemptive power. Fill them with your Holy Spirit. Encourage them to be active in bringing others to your Kingdom. Keep me true to my responsibility to pray for them without ceasing and trust You for miraculous acts among Muslims.”

“Help the church in Europe and America to see the influx of Muslims as a God-given opportunity to bring multitudes of Muslims to Christ the Savior.”

“I pray for the missionaries who have left families, security, and comforts of life to go serve among Muslims. Lord God, You are their reward. Fill their lives with Your presence, and show them Your glory. Empower them with the Holy Spirit. May they speak with boldness and wisdom to proclaim the relevant, eternal message of the Gospel. Grant them a productive and fruitful ministry. May they lead many Muslims to Christ and plant the Church triumphant in countless communities. Make them valiant as they proclaim the truth. O God, stop satan from inflicting disease, discord, and disunity among Your servants. In prayer, I come against satanic attacks on missionaries to Muslims in interpersonal relationships, morals, finances, family, health, and children. May they not become weary in the work they are doing for You (Galatians 6:9).” 

“Father, by Your divine power, tear down the walls that satan has erected to keep people from hearing the Gospel. We look to the Cross where Jesus died to redeem all, including Muslims. We draw our victory from Calvary. And we rest at Your feet in faith with expectation.”

“O God Almighty, be with those who are enduring a nightmare of mistreatment, beatings and abuse. I bring their plight to Your attention, merciful Father. Visit them. Soothe their pain. Comfort their souls. Encourage their hearts. May Your face shine upon them. In prayer I ask You to wake up the Church around the world to pray for persecuted believers and come to their assistance. Christians who occupy influential positions could act to alleviate the pain of our suffering brothers and sisters. Father, help them to not be silent. Move them to respond to the tragedy of the persecuted Church.”

Here are some other resources for you:

How Should Christians Handle Unfriendly Earthlings?

Christians are citizens of Heaven who are merely passing through Earth, so this isn’t a Christian’s final home. Because of this, it’s not unusual for Earthlings to mistreat, insult, and even persecute these “aliens and strangers.”

How are Christians supposed to respond to this?

First off, let’s make sure the persecution is for the right reason. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me (Matthew 5:11).

Jesus also told us that this persecution has a blessing in it: we would be able to share our faith in Jesus Christ at the highest levels on Earth: On account of Me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them” (Mark 13:9).

In 1 Peter 3:8, the apostle tells us how to live with everyone, Christian and Earthling alike:

  1. Harmoniously—keep The Main Thing the main thing; don’t get caught up in petty arguments
  2. Empathetically—put yourself in others’ shoes
  3. Kindly—treat everyone like a sibling that shares the same parents with you
  4. Compassionately—be strong enough to handle other people’s stuff
  5. Courteously—remember this: manners matter!

This list may be easy to live out when people are friendly to you, but what about when unfriendly Earthlings are downright mean to you? In the very next verse Peter gives us two Don’ts and one Do:

  1. Don’t repay evil with evil—Jesus is our example of this (see 1 Peter 2:21-23)
  2. Don’t insult the insulters—treat others as you want them to treat you (Luke 6:31)
  3. Do bless those who slander and persecute you—Jesus says we get absolutely no credit if we only treat kind people kindly (see Luke 6:32-33)

In Psalm 35 David is dealing with people who are fighting against him. They are saying mean things and trying to do even meaner things. This prayer shows both God’s part and our part

God’s part—defend me against the evildoers … remind me of Your salvation … pursue those who are falsely pursuing me … stay close to me.

My part—listen to God’s voice of assurance … live quietly … don’t give others cause to mistreat me … pray for those who persecute me … continually turn my thoughts and praise to God.

Peter wraps up this thought with these words—Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even it you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed (1 Peter 3:13-14).

Don’t give in to mistreatment and lash out in anger. Trust God to handle things. Keep on living a good life that is focused on bringing God all the glory due His name!

How “Alien” Is Your Christianity?

Peter pulls no punches as he calls Christians for what they are (or perhaps what they really should be): aliens … strangers … peculiar people.

But how can that be, especially in the United States of America? Survey after survey says that upwards of 95% of Americans claim to believe in God, and fully 8-out-of-10 of every American call themselves a Christian.

You only need to take a look at our schools, our government, or our entertainment to see how “alien” biblical values are with current cultural trends. I think all of us have experienced that when we try to live by a biblical standard, people roll their eyes at us (at best) or maybe outright mock us. Perhaps the term “aliens” is not so much for what we say we believe, but how we live what we believe.

That’s why Peter calls us peculiar (1 Peter 2:9). This word means a people so focused on what God wants, that they don’t have time to worry about what the world wants. Peculiar people are so focused on “Your kingdom come and Your will be done” that they don’t pay attention to “keeping up with the times.”

Peter says that the inevitable outcomes of this peculiar lifestyle are accusations of wrong doing, unjust treatment, insults, and slander, just to name a few (see 1 Peter 2:12, 19, 21-23; 3:16).

When we are treated this way, Peter tells Christians about their alien response:

  • Love one another deeply
  • Live good lives doing good deeds
  • Do not retaliate with insults or threats
  • Live in such a hope-filled way that others can’t help to ask you about it (see 1:22; 2:12, 23; 3:15)

So… how “alien” is your Christianity? Are you doing so many good things that it catches the attention of others? Are you responding to mistreatment in a Christ-honoring manner? Do you speak with others gently and respectfully? Is your life so full of hope in your eternal home in Heaven that people can’t help but ask you for the reason for the hope you have?

Don’t worry about being popular; be peculiar. Be so alien to this world’s values that you compel others to encounter Jesus Christ as you have! 

Join me next Sunday as we continue our look at how citizens of Heaven are supposed to live while visiting Earth.

The Servant As His Lord (book review)

One of the most straight-talking, tell-it-like-it-is Christian speaker and author is Oswald Chambers. No one could ever accuse him of sugar-coating the Christian walk! In The Servant As His Lord, Chambers takes an unflinching look at the difficulty a Christian will have in living as his Lord, Jesus Christ, did.

As is the case with nearly all of Oswald Chambers’ books, The Servant As His Lord is a compilation of three sources: lectures, sermons, and essays for some small pamphlets. Biddy Chambers, his wife, often recorded Oswald’s sermons via shorthand and then put them into a book form at a later date.

The material in this book was all recorded during the height of The Great War (or what we now refer to as World War I). Many Christians were quite shaken in their faith during this time, questioning why God’s followers should have to go through such horrific things. Oswald Chambers, as he always did, never dodged the question nor made excuses, but simply stated: Jesus suffered pain, ridicule, and injustice while on earth, and His followers will too. The servant will be as his Lord.

Even though this book addresses some heavy topics, it’s not at all a “downer” for the reader. Quite the contrary! This book is actually very encouraging for the Christian going through any kind of difficulty or trial, knowing that Jesus not only went through the same thing, but that He is walking with us through our own trials.

This is definitely one of Chambers’ meatier books, but it is well worth the mature Christian’s time to study these wise and encouraging words.

The Profit Of Persecution

“Jesus Christ not only warned that persecution would come, He went further and said that it was profitable to go through persecution [Matthew 5:11-12; 2 Corinthians 12:10]. …

“No one understands your circumstances but God, and He has given you the fighting chance to prove you can be more than conqueror in all these things. Let God lift you out of the broken place, out of the the bedraggled place. Let Him put within you the Holy Spirit so that you can face the music of life and become more than conqueror in every place where you have been defeated. …

“The Apostle Paul seems to be never tired of comparing the Christian life to a fight, and a fight against tremendous odds, but always a winning fight. …

“We cannot be more than conquerors if there is nothing to fight! Our Lord Himself and the Spirit of God in the Epistles make it very clear that everything that is not of God will try its best to kill His life out of us; yet instead of doing that it makes us all the stronger. …

“The grace of God will make us marvelously impervious to all the onslaughts of tribulation and persecution and destitution because we are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus and cannot be awakened up to self-pity. God sends His rough weather and His smooth weather, but we pay no attention to either because we are taken up only with the one central thing—the love of God in Christ Jesus.” —Oswald Chambers, in The Fighting Chance

4 Quotes On Persecution From “The Blessing Of Humility”

The Blessing Of HumilityAs I stated in my review of Jerry Bridges’ book The Blessing Of Humility, reading through these thoughts slowly—Beatitude by Beatitude—would bring about the most life-changing impact. In that spirit, I will be sharing some noteworthy quotes one Beatitude at a time. Here are some quotes on blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness (Matthew 5:10-12)

“There is no doubt that the culture is becoming more and more antagonistic toward biblical values. For some years I have thought our American culture to be ungodly; that is, to believe and act as if God is irrelevant. Now I believe we have become not just ungodly but actually anti-God. An increasing number of those who most influence our culture—such as academia, the media, and the entertainment industry—are openly hostile to the whole idea of God or of biblical values.”

“I suspect that our own court system will eventually fail us, as more and more judges are appointed who have been trained in law schools that at best are indifferent to biblical righteousness and at worst are openly hostile to it. Even our Supreme Court seems to be rendering decisions based on the mores of popular culture rather than on a principled application of the Constitution.”

“There is a sense in which this eighth Beatitude is the climax of several preceding ones dealing with our response to the way others treat us. … In this eighth Beatitude Jesus has in mind persecution rooted in the hostility of the anti-God culture we live in.”

“Keep in mind these words from Jesus [Luke 6:27-28] are precepts—authoritative commands of God. Furthermore, they address more than our attitude toward those who persecute us. They are action steps: we are to love our enemies, do good to them, bless them, and pray for them.”

 I have previously shared quotes on:

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