Embrace the Cross

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Then Jesus called the crowd, along with his disciples, and said to them,
“If anyone wants to become My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.”
(Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23)

When we preach that Christ was crucified,
the Jews are offended, and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.
(1Cor. 1:23)

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;
and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
(Gal. 2:20)

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
(Gal. 5:24)

We know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be destroyed,
and we might no longer be enslaved to sin.
(Rom.6:6)

Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him.
(Rom. 6:8)

Since Christ lives within you, even though your body will die because of sin,
your spirit is alive because you have been made right with God.
(Rom. 8:10)

May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
(Gal. 6:14)

“And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”
(Matt. 10:38)

Embrace the cross
Where Jesus suffered
Though it will cost
All you claim as yours
Your sacrifice will seem small
Beside the treasure
Eternity can’t measure
What Jesus holds in store

Embrace the love
The cross requires
Cling to the one
Whose heart knew every pain
Receive from Jesus
Fountains of compassion
Only He can fashion
Your heart to move as His

Oh, wondrous cross our desires rest in you
Lord Jesus make us bolder
To face with courage the shame and disgrace
You bore upon Your shoulder

Embrace the life
That comes from dying
Come trace the steps
The Savior walked for you
An empty tomb
Concludes Golgotha’s sorrow
Endure then till tomorrow
Your cross of suffering
Embrace the cross
Embrace the cross
The cross of Jesus

Earthly vs. Heavenly Wisdom

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Originally posted on Consider Jesus:

Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do:

Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts.

Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom.

Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom.

Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom.

It’s the furthest thing from wisdom–it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. 

Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others.

It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced.

You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the…

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Miserably Failing People

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But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

… Weaknesses are with me for the whole journey.

Paul was particularly thinking of persecutions, but how much more does this passage apply to human frailty, brokenness and hurt? How essential is it for us to be broken, if Christ is going to be our strength?

When I am weak I am strong.

Not, “When I am cured,”
or “When I am successful,”
or “When I am a good Christian,”
but when I am weak.

Weakness- the human experience of weakness- is God’s blueprint for exalting and magnifying his Son.

When broken people,
miserably failing people,
continue to belong to, believe in and worship Jesus,

God is happy.

~The Internet Monk
Read the whole article…it just might change your life…
;-)

Life Together

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I found the perfect spot in the library, away from all the bustle. I was thirty-one with two little boys at home and badly needing a day away to think.  I can’t quite remember if my second relapse had hit me yet, but I knew I was in much need of rest.  I found the perfect spot next to an enormous glass window overlooking the pond.  While sitting on a little couch tucked under the stairwell, I asked the Father to please guide me to do the right thing. “Cause, I desperately want to do the right thing.”  I took out my journal, my pencil, my Bible, and Bonhoeffer’s book, Life Together.

The book had been on the shelf for years, but I hadn’t ever read it, thinking it was too “theological” for me to enjoy.  It’s not a very big book but, as I found, it is chock full of truth and wisdom for the church body to discern what living this life together “should” be like.  It’s a book that radically changed the way I understood I am to “be” in the body.  Practical spiritual wisdom for everyday life together.

God was faithful to guide me.  I understood the admonishment from scripture, “as much as it depends upon you, be at peace with one another.”  With tears streaming down my face, I wrote out the apology, understanding a heart-rending-deep-cleansing had been done.

God made it clear to me what the next step would be.  The apology was sent and now it was time to hope for reconciliation.  It was time to release the situation in order that Christ might deal…

“…spiritual love proves itself in that everything it says and does commends Christ. It will not seek to move others by all too personal, direct influence, by impure interference in the life of another. It will not take pleasure in pious, human fervor and excitement. It will rather meet the other person with the clear Word of God and be ready to leave him alone with this Word for a long time, willing to release him again in order that Christ may deal with him.”
~D. Bonhoeffer, Life Together

It might be time to read that little — powerful — book once again.

His Promise of Peace

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“One of the great wounds in life is the shattering of relationship — having a friend who turns on us and reverses shalom or what the Bible calls peace.  Betrayal is the experience of being set up, violated, and then discarded.  It is being used by someone who violates our dignity and then is unmoved by our pain.

Such betrayal, for whatever reason, isolates us in loneliness, doubt, and shame.  The connection we once assumed and enjoyed becomes a web of awkwardness.  We don’t know whether to speak to the estranged friend when our paths cross, or simply pass with eyes averted.  To the degree there is avoidance, suspiciousness grows.   If there is conversation, it is constrained and tight, marking the contrast to the way it once was.  This is the soil where blame shifting and slander can grow like robust weeds.

The memory of how-it-once-was burns a deep and hollow spot in the heart.  Memory haunts and self-doubt grips.  Why did it end?  What did I do wrong? Why does my friend no longer like me? The intense shifts between angrily blaming the other and cutting oneself with the shards of self-doubt are exhausting.”  ~Dan Allender

Allender speaks clearly of the chaos in the heart and mind when betrayal has been experienced.  It is a lack of peace in our deepest parts.  How…how, in those moments, do we consider Jesus?  How do we stand firm on the Rock when our minds are haunted with memories and self-doubt?  The constant cutting of oneself with the shards of broken relationship is not only exhausting…it leaves one bloodied and crying out for relief.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me–watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

Jesus says I can live light and free.
Jesus says I can walk in unforced rhythms of grace.
Jesus says I can have a real rest and recover the life He wants me to live.

These are the promises Jesus gives to those who will follow after, and learn from Him.

Who is Jesus?  He is a true friend.  He does not “set us up, violate, and then discard” us.  He does not make promises He never intends to keep.  He is the one who sticks closer than a brother.  He is a husband to the forsaken bride crying in the wilderness.

He loves with an everlasting love and He gives an unshakeable peace.

Betrayal is soul-wrenching.  Its never-ending shattering peace gives way to many doubts and unanswerable questions, unless…

Unless…

You turn to Him.

Go to Him.
Lay down your burdens and confusion,
Your pain, and your doubts,
Your fears, and all your tears,
Your woundedness…

All of it.  Lay it down…at His feet.
Bow down and consider Jesus.

“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,”
Says the LORD who has compassion on you.

“Come unto Me all you who are weary and heavy-laden,
And I will give you peace.”