To Suffer and Die With Him!

He (Jesus) said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1: 7 – 8

On April 27, 1999, sixteen-year-old Cassie Bernall was reading her Bible in the library at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. It had been two years since she had given her life completely to Jesus Christ. Her fellow students knew well how Christ had changed her life, but on this day the whole world would know. Young Cassie was asked at gunpoint by a confused and angry classmate, “Do you believe in God?” She answered, “Yes, I believe.” And then she was murdered. At baptism we received the Holy Spirit, who empowers us to be witnesses. Our earthly life may not end like Cassie’s, but as witnesses of Jesus Christ we should make sure that everything we say and do today cries out, “Yes, I believe.” Today, we would like to share with you a poem Cassie wrote before she was martyred.

“Now I have given up on everything else
I have found it to be the only way
To really know Christ and to experience
The mighty power that brought
Him back to life again,
and to find out what it means
to suffer and to die with Him.
So, whatever it takes
I will be one who lives in the fresh
Newness of life of those who are
Alive from the dead.”

Behold the Lamb!

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” John 1: 35 – 36

John the Baptist stood at the turn of the ages. So it is not surprising that he would say something that forces us to look both backward, into the remote past, and forward to the climax of history. In calling Jesus the “Lamb of God” he did both these things. For that title, more than any other, evokes the primordial memory of Abraham’s obedience, of the sacrifices of Moses and of the coming renewal of the whole world. Abraham, commanded to offer his “only son” Isaac in sacrifice, obeyed God with the confidence that “God himself” would provide the true Sacrifice. Isaac was spared by God but Abraham’s faith was rewarded when God himself did what he had asked of Abraham: he offered his only Son. Likewise, Moses was commanded to offer a spotless lamb in sacrifice for Passover. Christ, our true Passover, offered himself as both priest and victim. And now at each Sunday service, the Church celebrates, as we worship the Lamb of God in union with all the citizens of heaven in the book of Revelation who sing forever, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!” Today take some time to behold the Lamb of God, present with us in holy communion, which is our participation in the Marriage Feast of the Lamb.

A Gift of Love

“For God so love the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John: 3: 16

It defies logic. It is a divine insanity. A holy incredibility. Only a God beyond systems and common sense could create a plan as absurd as this. Yet, it is the very impossibility of it all that makes it possible. The wildness of the story is its strongest witness. For only a God could create a plan this mad. Only a creator beyond the fence of logic could offer such a gift of love.

God will do what it takes — whatever it takes — to bring his children home.

There are some who position themselves between you and God. There are some who suggest that the only way to get to God is through them. . . Jesus’ message for complicated religion is to remove these middlemen. . . We are all brothers and sisters and have equal access to the Father.

God is patient with our mistakes. He is longsuffering with our stumbles. He doesn’t get angry at our questions. He doesn’t turn away when we struggle. But when we repeatedly reject his message, when we are insensitive to his pleadings, when he changes history itself to get our attention and we still don’t listen, he honors our request.

The purpose of God’s patience? Our repentance.

( From Max Lucado’s: And The Angels Were Silent )

Ten Things God Will Not Ask

After Your Last Day On Earth:

  1. God won’t ask what kind of car you drove. He’ll ask how many people you drove who didn’t have transportation.
  2. God won’t ask the square footage of your house. He’ll ask how many people you welcomed into your home.
  3. God won’t ask about the clothes you had in your closet. He’ll ask how many you helped to clothe.
  4. God won’t ask what your highest salary was. He’ll ask if you compromised your character to obtain it and who you helped with it.
  5. God won’t ask what your job title was. He’ll ask if you performed your job to the best of your ability.
  6. God won’t ask how many friends you had. He’ll ask how many people to whom you were a friend.
  7. God won’t ask in what neighborhood you lived. He’ll ask how you treated your neighbors.
  8. God won’t ask about the color of your skin. He’ll ask about the content of your character and your prejudices.
  9. God won’t ask how many people talked to you about salvation. He’ll ask how people you talked to about salvation.
  10. God won’t ask why it took you so long to seek salvation. He’ll lovingly take you to your mansion in heaven, and not to the gates of Hell.

God won’t ask what you will do after reading this.  He already knows you.  Question is, do you know God?


How Cold Is It?

“It was so cold where we were,” said the Arctic explorer, “that the candle froze and we couldn’t blow it out.” “That’s nothing,” said his rival. “Where we were, the words came out of our mouths in pieces of ice and we had to fry them to hear what we were talking about.”

  That is COLD! Even colder than it’s been in our area for the last couple weeks. But, strangely enough, there is an actual upside to extreme cold. It’s been written: “The South Pole could be called the healthiest place on earth. The air is as fresh and clean as it must have been everywhere before man began pouring industrial wastes into the atmosphere. Furthermore, it’s one of few locations where man is not bombarded by germs. Not only is it too cold for them to be active, but there’s nothing for them to live on. And since winds start at the South Pole and move northward, they tend to keep away any contaminants from that region. Now you’d think people would be eager to live in such a pollution-free, germ-free environment but they’re not. With temperatures that drop to 100 degrees below zero, it’s just too cold!”

   It sounds like, if one was only concerned about keeping away from the microbes and contaminates of our planet, then one might very well want to pack up and head to Antarctica. But the cost of remaining completely isolated from that dirt and disease is a frozen environment. I think, in a sense, that’s the danger we can encounter if we try to remove ourselves from the evil of this world. Certainly, we don’t want to delve into the sinfulness that’s all around us or in any way just accept it. But neither should we detach ourselves from all the sinful people around us. That can lead to some frigid believers.

   Christ Himself, in speaking about the end times, warned us, saying, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:12,13) I think part of what Jesus was saying is that as we look at the wickedness surrounding us, it’s easy to become aloof, uncaring and cold-hearted. That lack of passion can affect the way we relate to others- and to God. To keep our love on fire we need to “stand firm” and keep going deeper in our relationship with the Lord so that, in turn, we are able to love the people He created.

   This world can be a cold, cold place. But, as believers, we need to be fueled with the tenderness and fervor that flows from our Savior so we can pass it on those needing God’s warmth.

   In His Service, Jim