Going Crossless

We are a bucket full of nails,

“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Matt. 10:38

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

Matt. 16:24

We can so easily process our faith to something respectable and somewhat pleasant.  This is a natural tendency. But the cross has a stigma, we might think we can easily defuse it, rendering it as harmless.  Acceptability is a wonderful thing to the modern day believer.  It is easy to turn from all that would make us different, and grasp a crossless faith. It does seem we conform rather than transform.

Effort is being made right now to twist and nullify your belief in Jesus.  It is a force that works on us, relentlessly.  Satan intends to destroy you. He is frightened by the power of the cross, and the spiritual truth it contains. The cross (and resurrection) destroyed the devil’s kingdom of twisted darkness. He will never recover.

Just as Jesus carried the cross He was to die on, you and I are to follow His example.  Jesus had to go to this place of death, and so are we.  My cross is not purely emblematic or abstract symbolism.  It entails a real death.  I pick it up and go to die.  Crucifixion is the end of me, it all comes down to this final point of termination.

Jesus escorts us to the point of death.  This is to become the framework for a sincere discipleship.  The cross, our cross, brings us to an end.  To be worthy of Jesus is to bear it boldly.  The cross develops into our thinking, and its dynamic pounds us into a spiritual reality.  Jesus intensifies the cross, making it the mark of authenticity of a disciple.

We have no options, if we follow it must be with a cross.  There is absolutely no room for us if we approach Him without it.  The cross transmutes our lives, and transmits a signal that we have complied with Jesus’ wishes.  If we advance at all, it will be through the cross only.

We must deny ourselves.  That denial is an intense working. “I do not know the man” was Peter’s statement against Jesus.  If we deny ourselves, we will take a stand against our own selves, turning against ourselves.  We will be pinned to the mat.

Our focus should be on the cross.  We must infuse it into our lives.  A tea bag will flavor an entire cup.  It turns a cup of boiling water into a wonderful beverage.  The cross that belongs to us will have the same effect.  It will make something where there was nothing.

“All heaven is interested in the cross of Christ, all hell terribly afraid of it, while men are the only beings who more or less ignore its meaning.” 

 Oswald Chambers

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Our Great Physician

I wrote this poem the other day for ‘Thankful Thursday’ on my own blog. Knowing that many who visit Broken Believers struggle with illness and pain, I thought this would be good to share here as well.

There are plenty of cracked clay pots around this place, and God is in the business of using and healing cracked pots.

Our Great Physician

Illness comes to everyone –
pain, fever, fatigue, and tears
Chronic or acute, it’s such a trial –
these clay pots we inhabit
are so incredibly fragile
even in the hands of the Potter

But our Great Physician
provides strength, comfort –
Sometimes He brings doctors,
nurses, and medication –
Wisdom and talents used
to do His will, to heal, to mend

Sometimes all it takes
is to touch the hem of His robe –
Like the woman who bled
for twelve long years, outcast
one moment, then healed
completely and wholly

The greatest good –
spiritual health and salvation
for the least of us, for all –
each clay pot used to help others
as grace leaks out of cracks –
Cracks that never seem to heal

Sometimes what the Physician
has in store is our ultimate healing –
A new body, new life eternal
in a place of no more pain,
no tears, energy galore –
as death brings everyone home

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.”

2 Corinthians 4:7-12 (NIV)

Your Sister in Christ,

Linda K.

 

Check out Linda’s blog:  www.lindakruschke.wordpress.com

Falling, and Dying?

“I tell you the truth, a grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die to make many seeds. But if it never dies, it remains only a single seed.25 Those who love their lives will lose them, but those who hate their lives in this world will keep true life forever.”

John 12:24-25, NCV

 

Often believers are attempting to ‘hear God’ only to bolster their position, reputation, ‘connections’ and prestige.  There’s no talk about falling down and dying as Jesus revealed in John 12.  If I’m extremely occupied with knowing God’s will it will maneuver me into a completely wrong position.  Discipleship was never meant to be a celestial self-improvement plan.

When I get over-concerned about ‘my’ discipleship, acquiring the praise of men and achieving a modicum of honor, I end up ‘missing the boat’.  Life was not meant to profit from, but ‘to fall and die.’  There is a deadly danger of becoming self-aware and self-absorbed.  And this is ‘the spirit of the age’.

Nothing will ever go right if we try to hear the Lord while we avoid falling and dying.  To put it another way.  There can be no resurrection without a crucifixion first.  We must die if we are going to live.  We must become weak before we can understand power.

Will you realign your life to include ‘falling, and dying?’ 

Do you really want to hear Him?  Will you realign your life to include ‘falling, and dying?’  Will you begin to readjust the way you approach yourself and others?Modern popular versions of our faith will almost always lack this ‘death-life’ component.  These versions are often designed to reflect our society.  And we are terribly self-centered.  We will not ever grow and mature unless we consent to ‘falling and dying’.

Beware of the church whose leaders do not ‘limp.’

Beware of the church whose leaders do not ‘limp.’ Dying to self is a challenging and vital component to our faith that will bring us into an astonishing fruitfulness.  That is what happens to those who die–they bring life to others.

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Someday Soon, We Will Wear White [Heaven]

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by Robert Murray McCheyne

As long as you live in your mortal body, you will be faulty in yourself. It is a soul-ruining error to believe anything else. Oh, if ye would be wise, be often looking beneath the robe of the Redeemer’s righteousness to see your own deformity. It will make you keep faster hold of his robe, and keep you washing in the fountain.

Now, when Christ brings you before the throne of God, he will clothe you with his own fine linen, and present you faultless. O it is sweet to me to think how soon you shall be the righteousness of God in him. What a glorious righteousness that can stand the light, of God’s face! Sometimes a garment appears white in dim light: when you bring it into the sunshine you see the spots. O prize, then the Divine righteousness, which is your covering.

My heart sometimes sickens when I think upon the defects of believers; when I think of one Christian being fond of company, another vain, another given to evil speaking. O aim to be holy Christians, bright, shining Christians. The heaven is more adorned by the large bright constellations than by many insignificant stars; so God may be more glorified by fine bright Christian than by many indifferent ones. Aim at being that one.

We shall be faultless. He that begun will perform it. We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. When you lay down this body, you may say, Farewell lust for ever, farewell my hateful pride, farewell hateful selfishness, farewell strife and envying, farewell being ashamed of Christ. O this makes death sweet indeed. Let’s long to depart and to be with Christ.

 

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For more from this preacher, you may want to start with these links:

http://www.wholesomewords.org/biography/bmcheyne3.html

http://dowboy.wordpress.com/2009/03/31/robert-murray-mccheyne/

Staring Down Death

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“In the long run, we are all dead.”  —John Maynard Keynes

“Are you afraid to die? Remember that for a child of God, death is only a passing through to a wonderful new world…”  —Corrie Ten Boom

The idea of death is unpopular, unsettling and perhaps a little rude.  It is a great way of putting a good conversation into flight-stopping stall.  No one likes it (except maybe ‘Goths‘ and the perennial AC/DC fan).  It is perhaps ‘too true’ and the reality keeps us from dwelling on it.  But it is going to happen, you will die.

 “We live for seventy years or so (with luck we might make it to eighty), And what do we have to show for it? Trouble. Toil and trouble and a marker in the graveyard. Oh!  Teach us to live well!  Teach us to live wisely and well!”

Ps. 90:10, 12, MSG

Our modern society has made considerable effort to avoid the subject of death.  Thinking through this strikes me as unhealthy and confusing.  Through the past centuries, our present day attitude would be regarded as strange by them.

The Bible teaches us how to prepare to die well. 

We have been given several decades of life on this planet, but not much more than that.  The psalmist recognizes this.  He prepares for his/her personal appointment for death.  He prays that he will use wisely all the time he has left.  Psalm 90 has been part of that preparation for millions of Christians, for many centuries.

One way to help you purify a faith that is strong enough to look death straight in the eyes, is to have a few older Christian friends.  For me there is Pastor Ray.  He is in his 80s now.  I see myself marching behind him, and watching his back as he moves to heaven.  It helps me follow in some small way.  It gives me peace.  Maybe that is how it is supposed to work.

The Bible is a book that is to prepare us for death, and then eternity.  It is our compass as we look for ‘true north’.  It has instructions and guidance, if we listen to the voice, it will bring us through the ‘door of death’. Fear not, little flock.  It is God’s pleasure to give you the kingdom”.

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 “Lord, please get me ready to see you.  Teach me how to live wisely, and not as a foolish person.  Teach me to be a model of faith and strength to everyone who is watching me move toward death.  Give me courage and faith.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.” 

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Our (Eternal) Compulsion

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Strangely compelling. This morning I found waiting for me a series of verses that link with each other. Together they are both irresistible and indispensable. Combined, they form and establish the eternal perspective for the believing Christian. And it is all very real.

Look for what links them. (All verses are from the New Living Translation.).

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“Because I am righteous, I will see you.
When I awake, I will see you face to face and be satisfied.”

Psalm 17:15

“Your eyes will see the king in all his splendor,
and you will see a land that stretches into the distance.”

Isaiah 33:17

 “Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!”

John 17:24

“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

1 Corinthians 13:12

“Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.”

1 John 3:2

“And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads.”

Revelation 22:4

Living forever, and being changed irrevocably is the sole privilege of the believer. It’s what we long for– sort of a (good) divine madness that continues to drive us; a splinter in our hearts that we can’t expel. But even if we could, would we?

Eternal life has already started for us; I believe far more awaits.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

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A Declared Trust

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I once scorned ev’ry fearful thought of death.
When it was but the end of pulse and breath,
But now my eyes have seen that past the pain
There is a world that’s waiting to be claimed.
Earthmaker, Holy, let me now, depart,
For living’s such a temporary art.
And dying is but getting dressed for God.

Our graves are merely doorways cut in sod.

— Calvin Miller