Christ Is The Reward

18 04 2007

“Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant–dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him…”
(Philippians 3:8,9 The Message)

buriedtreasure.jpgThe reward of Christianity is Christ. Do you journey to the Grand Canyon for the souvenir T-shirt or the snow globe with the snowflakes that fall when you shake it? No. The reward of the Grand Canyon is the Grand Canyon. The wide-eyed realization that you are part of something ancient, splendid, powerful, and greater than you. The cache of Christianity is Christ. Not money in the bank or a car in the garage or a healthy body or a better self-image. Secondary and tertiary fruits perhaps. But the Fort Knox of faith is Christ. Fellowship with Him. Walking with Him. Pondering Him. Exploring Him. The heart-stopping realization that in Him you are part of something ancient, endless, unstoppable, and unfathomable. And that He, who can dig the Grand Canyon with His pinkie, thinks you’re worth His death on Roman timber. Christ is the reward of Christianity.

–Max Lucado
Grace For The Moment, Volume II


The Final Apologetic

16 04 2007

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another because love covers a multitude of sins.”
(1 Peter 4:8)

rural-church.jpgBe energized by the concept that your church could become the most loving church in the world. I find this compelling. There will be many things your church may not be. It may not be the most educated church or the most innovative church, or the most evangelistic church, etc., but it can be the most loving church. There is nothing to stop that from happening except your lack of determination and/or the will of the people. Love, after all, is the sign of maturity as a church.

Now, if you are seeing this, you will find ways to encourage love. This will mean that you will work out ways for people to be in your home, and in the home of the other church members. You will think of ways to get people to really know the insides of each other. Sheep need help to overcome their reserved nature. They will need to be commended for acts of love, just as Paul often did. You will need to set the pace and demonstrate a passionate love for the people. Dream about this. And, my experience is (and the Bible’s teaching is) that this is a powerful way to witness. The love of the people of God for each other is, as Francis Schaeffer said, “the final apologetic.”

–Jim Elliff
from an article entitled, The Rural Church Dilemma

Can You Say That With A Straight Face?

13 04 2007

“For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.”
(1 Corinthians 4:9)

“In the splendid palace chapel a stately court preacher, the cultivated public’s elite, advances before an elite circle of fashionable and cultivated people and preaches emotionally on the text of the Apostle, ‘God chose the lowly and despised’–and nobody laughs.”

–Soren Kierkegaard
Spiritual Writings of Soren Kierkegaard, Orbis Books, 2003, p. xix

Holy Criticism

12 04 2007

“From now on let no one cause trouble for me…”
(Galatians 6:17a)

“In light of God’s judgment and justification of the sinner in the cross of Christ, we can begin to discover how to deal with any and all criticism. By agreeing with God’s criticism of me in Christ’s cross, I can face any criticism man may lay against me. In other words, no one can criticize me more than the cross has. And the most devastating criticism turns out to be the finest mercy. If you thus know yourself as having been crucified with Christ, then you can respond to any criticism, even mistaken or hostile criticism, without bitterness, defensiveness, or blame-shifting.”

–Alfred Poirer
Journal of Biblical Counseling, 1999


11 04 2007

“Lord, teach us to pray.”
(Luke 11:1)

Love is kindled in a flame, and ardency is its life. Flame is the air which true Christian experience breathes. It feeds on fire; it can withstand anything, rather than a feeble flame; but when the surrounding atmosphere is frigid or lukewarm, it dies, chilled and starved to its vitals. True prayer must be aflame.

–E.M. Bounds, “The Necessity of Prayer”

Hard Preaching

11 04 2007

“‘Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ–this Jesus whom you crucified.’ Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?'”
(Acts 2:36,37)

“I’ve heard a lot of sermons in the past ten years or so that make me want to get up and walk out. They’re secular, psychological, self-help sermons. Friendly, but of no use. They didn’t make you want to straighten up. They didn’t give you anything hard. At some point and in some way, a sermon has to direct people toward the death of Christ and to the campaign God has waged over the centuries to get our attention.”

–Garrison Keillor
quoted in Called To Be Church, by Anthony B. Robinson and Robert W. Wall

The Cup

10 04 2007

“My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will but as You will.”
(Matthew 26:39)

The darkest hour of Christ’s life was when his Father forsook him — that gloomy hour when his Father’s remorseless hand held the cup to his Son’s own lips, and bitter though it was said to him, ‘Drink my Son — ay, drink;’ and when the quivering Savior, for a moment, having man within him — strong in its agonies for the moment, said, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.’ Oh! it was a dark moment when the Father’s ears were deaf to his Son’s petitions, when the Father’s eyes were closed upon his Son’s agonies. ‘My Father,’ said the Son, ‘Canst thou not remove the cup? Is there no way else for thy severe justice? Is there no other medium for man’s salvation?’ There is none! Ah! it was a terrible moment when he tasted the wormwood and the gall.

–Charles Spurgeon