Jesus, only Jesus (Brooke)

Jesus’ perspective is often so different than mine.

He came to make the weak strong.
               to give the weary comfort.
               to make the least the greatest.
               to love the outcast.
               to welcome home the runaway.
               to be present in our pain.
               to give me a second chance. you a second chance.
               to remind us that losing life is finding life.
                                         serving is winning.
                                         giving is riches.
                                         humility is beauty.
                                         surrender is freedom.
                                         the impossible is possible.
                                         brokenness is healing.
                                         in waiting there is peace.
                                         love is sacrifice.

There is just no one like Jesus.  He is worthy of our praise. of our lives.

Easter is here.  Let us celebrate the Risen One. 

“…because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead NOW we LIVE with great expectation.” 1 Peter 1:3

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Below is an excerpt from a book called “When God Weeps” by Joni Eareckson Tada.  Read it tomorrow morning to start off your Good Friday–it’s an account of Jesus on the Cross and it moves me to tears every single time.

The face that Moses had begged to see – was forbidden to see – was slapped bloody (Exodus 33:19-20). The thorns that God had sent to curse the earth’s rebellion now twisted around his own brow…
“On your back with you!” One raises a mallet to sink in the spike. But the soldier’s heart must continue pumping as he readies the prisoner’s wrist. Someone must sustain the soldier’s life minute by minute, for no man has the power on his own. Who supplies breath to his lungs? Who gives energy to his cells? Who holds his molecules together? Only by the Son do “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). The victim wills that the soldier live on – he grants the warriors continued existence. The man swings.

As the man swings, the Son recalls how he and the Father first designed the medial nerve of the human forearm – the sensations it would be capable of. The design proves flawless – the nerves perform exquisitely. “Up you go!” They lift the cross. God is on display in his underwear and can scarcely breathe.

But these pains are a mere warm-up to his other and growing dread. He begins to feel a foreign sensation. Somewhere during this day an unearthly foul odor began to waft, not around his nose, but his heart. He feels dirty. Human wickedness starts to crawl upon his spotless being – the living excrement from our souls. The apple of his Father’s eye turns brown with rot.

His Father! He must face his Father like this!

From Heaven the Father now rouses himself like a lion disturbed, shakes his mane, and roars against the shriveling remnant of a man hanging on a cross. Never has the Son seem the Father look at him so, never felt even the least of his hot breath. But the roar shakes the unseen world and darkens the visible sky. The Son does not recognise these eyes.

“Son of Man! Why have you behaved so? You have cheated, lusted, stolen, gossiped – murdered, envied, hated, lied. You have cursed, robbed, overspent, overeaten – fornicated, disobeyed, embezzled, and blasphemed. Oh, the duties you have shirked, the children you have abandoned! Who has ever so ignored the poor, so played the coward, so belittled my name? Have you ever held your razor tongue? What a self-righteous, pitiful drunk – you, who molest young boys, peddle killer drugs, travel in cliques, and mock your parents. Who gave you the boldness to rig elections, foment revolutions, torture animals, and worship demons? Does the list never end! Splitting families, raping virgins, acting smugly, playing the pimp – buying pornography, accepting bribes. You have burned down buildings, perfected terrorist tactics, founded false religions, traded in slaves – relishing each morsel and bragging about it all. I hate, loathe this things in you! Disgust for everything about you consumes me! Can you not feel my wrath?”

Of course the Son is innocent. He is blamelessness itself. The Father knows this. But the divine pair have an agreement, and the unthinkable must now take place. Jesus will be treated as if personally responsible for every sin ever committed.

The Father watches as his heart’s treasure, the mirror image of himself, sinks drowning into raw, liquid sin. Jehovah’s stored rage against humankind for every century explodes in a single direction.
” Father! Father! Why have you forsaken me?!”

But heaven stops its ears. The Son stares up at the One who cannot, who will not, reach down or reply.

The Trinity had planned it. The Son endured it. The Spirit enabled him. The father rejected the Son whom he loved. Jesus, the God-man from Nazareth, perished. The Father accepted his sacrifice for sin and was satisfied. The Rescue was accomplished.

An unlikely Love story (Steph)

I’ve been doing a Lent devotional to prepare for Easter. Recently I read Mark 14 and my heart was so touched by Jesus’ unconditional Love, His beautiful sacrifice, and His complete surrender to the Father. 

We see the familiar story of the Last Supper. Can you imagine eating with your friends, knowing one will deny you three times and one will betray you to be murdered? I would want to call them out. I would try to stop the injustice (after all if I were Jesus I would have lived a perfect, sinless life). But Jesus let it happen. He chose to be silent and let this story play out.

Then Jesus has to tell one of his best friends, “You will disown me three times.” Peter and all the other disciples responded with, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” These are the same men who fall asleep when Jesus asks them to pray. They run in fear (one of them fleeing naked) when Judas leads men to arrest Jesus. And we know what Peter does (or does not do for that matter).

And betrayed by a kiss? What was Judas thinking? As if Jesus wouldn’t see right through this greeting. “Oh hey Jesus, I’m not sure why these men are following me with swords but I’m going to greet you with a kiss and act like everything is normal.” Really, Judas? But even as I type this I know I have been guilty of betraying Jesus too. I have run in fear instead of standing with Jesus. I have denied Him in my actions. My sin sent Him to the cross.  

But Jesus didn’t have to go. Mark 14:36: “Abba, Father,” He said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.” I think this is one of the most important moments in the entire Bible. Jesus could have stopped after “take this cup from me” but He chose God’s will over His will. This selflessness is true Love. This Love is what saves us!

Verses 43-65 are not easy to read. Jesus, the spotless Lamb, is arrested by sinners and questioned until He gives them the answer they are waiting for. “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 

“Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took Him and beat Him.” (Mark 14:65) Meanwhile Peter disowns Jesus. As you know this is just the beginning.

Not the type of fairy tale we grow up daydreaming of. But is there any greater love displayed in history than Jesus dying for me and for you? “No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again…” John 10:18 NLT.

I encourage you to spend some time this week thinking about what Jesus did on the cross and what that means to you. Who do you identify with most in this chapter?

Are you willing to pray as Jesus did, “Not my will be done, but Yours”? If not, what is holding you back?

{Obedience, the Market, & Dietrich Bonhoeffer} (Heather)

“When he was challenged by Jesus to accept a life of voluntary poverty, the rich young man knew he was faced with the simple alternative of obedience or disobedience. When Levi was called from the receipt of custom and Peter from his nets, there was no doubt that Jesus meant business. Both of them were to leave everything and follow. Again, when Peter was called to walk on the rolling sea, he had to get up and risk his life. Only one thing was required in each case—to rely on Christ’s word, and cling to it as offering greater security than all the securities in the world. The forces which tried to interpose themselves between the word of Jesus and the response of obedience were as formidable then as they are today… But the call of Jesus made short work of all these barriers, and created obedience. That call was the Word of God himself, and all that it required was single-minded obedience.”
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer (The Cost of Discipleship)

Recently I’ve been reading The Cost of Discipleship, and it has really challenged me to evaluate if I am being obedient to God’s Word. It’s so easy sometimes to read a selected part of Scripture for the day and not allow it to penetrate my heart and transform my mind. I want to live out the single-minded obedience but often I’m not sure how to do that in the midst of everyday life.
A couple of weeks ago I was thinking over some of these things and decided to just pray that God would give me an opportunity to take a step of faith with Him. Later that day, Ramsey and I were in the market picking up some food on the way to our community group. Ramsey was wearing some Virginia Tech apparel, so a guy stopped us to ask if we were Hokies. {I made sure to let him know I went to WVU, but that Ramsey was a Hokie.} We started talking to him for at least 45 minutes and got to hear a good bit about his life. We also had the opportunity to hear a little bit about where he was spiritually and invite him to church with us. We haven’t heard anything from him yet, but I’m hopeful that we will.
If you know me much at all, you probably gathered that I’m not the most outgoing person, but it was cool to see God provide an opportunity to talk to someone I didn’t know about Him. It reminds me that Jesus can use us just as we are.
Today I’m praying for more opportunities for you and me to live in total obedience to Jesus no matter what our day holds. I’d love to hear the ways you feel like God is calling you to follow Him today—leave a comment below and share!

P.S. Check out our We Recommend tab for a great book about Bonhoeffer.