(Based on reflections on our inheritance in Christ which is mentioned in Paul’s letters and the gospels and my own yearning for “something more.”)
I long for an infinite treasure
I can’t even start to measure.
Something yet to dawn and come,
More sure than death has ever won
Against our mortal, human flesh.
Eternal life will never mesh
with gaining stuff when others lose.
I want to rest, but cannot snooze
when I worry about lost love.
My hands now shake, though I wear gloves,
And it is warm around about.
My heart’s soul cries, I want to shout:
with many friends, I remain alone.
So inwardly, I start to groan,
and I am burdened with heartfelt pain.
In my global quest, what have I gained?
“Lord, hear me as I sob and cry!
And if You answer, here am I.
Provide fresh joy and hope and grace
that I might know and see your face.”
God’s Comfort comes despite my self,
And thus I’ve found that treasured wealth.
A peace the world never knew
I have God’s Love: the Lord is True.
This Gift is not for only me:
God gives to all who ask, He’s Free!
I hope these words expand your view:
Christ Jesus came for me and you.
My darkest night and day, inside was pain, my soul bound up in chains.
I looked confounded, looked uncertain, certainly looked confused.
I tried rejection, I tried inspection, and I tried just to refuse.
My soul was heavy, my mind a mess, my heart got torn in shreds.
I was left alone, adrift, and nearly left for dead.
This is what I almost, nearly, and completely would have done.
Looking out, looking up, looking all around.
Feeling lost, feeling forward, feeling like I might be found.
I hear a cry, I cry for help, I cannot help but cry.
I wonder how, I wonder where, I mostly wonder whom and why?
What could I, should I, would I do?
I look away, I look inside, yet I seem to only stare.
My hands hang limp, brain disconnected, yet I truly care.
I am not wise, I’m at a loss, I am not self-improved.
I want to hide, I want to run, yet inside I am moved.
What can I, shall I, will I do?
I look behind, I look within, and then look far beyond.
I have no power, no potion, and no magic wand.
A little truth, a little prayer, and lots of simple mercy:
For my family, for my friends, and for my foes quite early.
This is what I could have, should have, and will have done.
For, Yes! Redemption came, my mind was changed, and I rose up not the same.
In our flesh, we were wicked and perverse. In Christ, we are holy and perfected as He is.
In sin, we ran from the bad news. In Christ, we run with the Good News.
In sin, we were lost. In Christ, we are found.
In sin, we sank in the miry clay. In Christ, we have been raised to sit in the heavenly places.
In the flesh, we were lame and paralyzed. In Christ, we dance in praise and march in triumph.
In our flesh, we were deaf. In Christ, we hear the voice of the good Shepherd and obey.
In our flesh, we were mute. In Christ, we praise the Lord with every breath for His majesty.
In our flesh, we were blind. In Christ, we see God’s glory in the face of Jesus.
In sin, we were broken and divided. In Christ, we are one and whole.
In our flesh, there was no good thing. In Christ we are made new made new and made a heritage.
In sin, we fall short of God’s glory. In Christ, we are the righteousness of God.
In sin, we were tormented beggars and debtors. In Christ, we are forgiven and redeemed with treasure.
In our flesh, we were in bondage and slavery. In Christ, we are liberated and adopted as children of God.
In the world, we were outside the gate. In Christ, we are welcomed into the Father’s house.
In sin, we were forgotten. In Christ, we are remembered before the throne of grace.
In haste, we had sold our birthright. In Christ, we have every blessing in heavenly places.
In sin, we were defiled and dirty. In Christ, we are cleansed by his blood and sanctified by His Spirit.
In sin we were abandoned and forsaken. In Christ, we have been loved with an everlasting love.
In our sin, we were ignorant. In Christ, we know the truth, are freed, and worship in the Spirit & Truth.
In the world, we were distressed and dispirited. In Christ, we have peace in the Holy Spirit.
In sin, we were open to satan’s attack. In Christ, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.
In the flesh, we were bare and unprotected. In Christ, we have been clothed with garments of salvation.
In violations, we were dead. In Christ, we are made alive.
In the world, we were without hope and without God. In Christ, God has given us an enduring hope
Fear not, o child, be not afraid.
Though parents one another chided,
Though brother falls upon your flesh in rages,
Though rest bares his drunken chest,
Fear not, o child, be not afraid.
Though cousin tongues and tribes are divided,
Though your heirs shall stuck in foreign cages,
Though father gives you up as his very best,
Fear not, o child, be not afraid–
You shall yet see the light of day.
Fear not, bold lamb, be not afraid.
When you go out to roam in fields,
When you drift from the gathered fold,
When the hirelings take their pay and run,
Fear not, bold lamb, be not afraid.
When you are taken for your woolen yields,
When you face the wolf or bear and go in shock,
When at last the Lion roars, the Shepherd’s won.
Fear not, bold lamb, be not afraid–
God will yet guide your wayward way.
Fear not, sent one, be not afraid.
While your learn to bed and ask and pray,
While you are sent to distant, hostile towns,
While you cast out demons and heal the sick,
Fear not, sent one, be not afraid.
While you hear what governors and kings might say,
While you walk among crucifying crowds,
While you face a grave stone, however thick,
Fear not, sent one, be not afraid–
I’ll return, just as you heard Me say.
(Disclaimer: I was given an advance copy of this book for review.)
One thing that struck me as I read this book was the compassion and profound insight simply stated. The whole discussion of the book is framed as one would expect to occur between friends who care deeply about each other. Since much of the book reflects the conclusion of faith that Nabeel Qureshi came to as a result of an ongoing dialogue with his debate partner, it should not surprise the reader that the format is somewhat similar to a debate where a question and counter question is posed in each of the dialogues on various topics related to Islam, such as the difference between Islamic law (Sharia) and the grace of God found in the Gospel of Christ.
While this may sound old hat to someone who grew up in the church, when a person discovers that the reality that God is love and all of the diverse implications of this, whether in the arena of theology proper (including the meaning of the trinity and how the doctrine of the trinity is the way of describing God that most honors the Creator) or in the area of an understanding of violence in the history of Islam and the Christian Church (When did Christians start fighting wars? years after they were first called Christians and the empire was converted en masse.)
It becomes very clear through the reading of this book that not only does Nabeel have a clear knowledge of the basic issues related to Islam and Christianity, their similarities and differences, but he also loves both Muslims and Christians. Even though some Muslims may misunderstand the motives for why a truth seeker would embrace Jesus and the church and even though some who grew up with Christian traditions may question whether this is truly possible, Nabeel manifests an irenic spirit throughout, and confesses that he has not always behaved as the best example of Christianity after having chosen to identify with the Lord Jesus.
People need to hear these sorts of questions: questions that are centered not so much on the historic truths of the Gospel, and the verifiable & life transforming factual truths of the crucifixion, the resurrection and Jesus’ claim to deity; rather Questions that are centered on the sincerity and depth of our understanding & obedience to those truths.
Are we willing to seek to truly understand the truth?
Are we willing to suffer for what is true?
How much are we willing to suffer?
The good news is a life and death issue. The Gospel cost Jesus’ His life and frees us from our deadness. When we see the extreme love of God, we will be awakened to delight in our Creator, as a maiden delights in her groom when she realizes that not only is He a noble person, but that he truly does delight in her.
May you be awakened to the First, the Ultimate, the Supreme Love of the Author of Life.
Jesus is Jesus, for the Lord is our Salvation.
Jesus is predicted throughout the Scriptures, for He our Predestination.
Jesus was conceived in the virgin Mary, for He is our New Creation.
Jesus was greeted by John in the womb, for He is the Father’s Salutation.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, for He would bring Regeneration.
Jesus and Mary were cared for by Joseph because He is our Adoption by our Father in Heaven.
Jesus was circumcised and later dedicated in the temple, for He is our Sanctification.
Jesus was worshipped by the Magi, for He is the Focus of our Adoration.
Jesus was immersed in water, so we would know Him as our Initiation.
Jesus overcame the temptations of the devil, He brought our Liberation.
Jesus called people to turn from sin, for He is our Correction.
Jesus announced the Kingdom of God, for He is the Lord of all hosts and our Invitation.
Jesus invites us to humble ourselves under His yoke so He can grant us honor, for He is our Instruction.
Jesus showed people the pattern of service before success, for He is our Vocation.
Jesus sent out the disciples on mission trips as He brought Redemption.
When Jesus led groups of His disciples up the mountain, we became His Congregation.
When Jesus raised the dead in Israel, He proved to be our Resurrection.
As Jesus had his last Passover, He offered Himself as our Libation.
When Jesus laid down His Life on the cross, He became our Sure Foundation.
When the sun was darkened, the earth shook & the veil was torn, Jesus proved to be God’s Revelation.
Jesus’s body was laid in the tomb over the Sabbath, for He is our Restoration.
Jesus rose from the grave, for He is our Justification.
Jesus appeared to the missionaries, so He became our Proclamation.
Jesus ascended on high to sit at the right hand of the Father, He for is our Intercession.
When Jesus baptized the Church with the Spirit so we could preach with power from on High, thus He is our Vindication.
When Jesus joined foreigners to the family of Abraham, both Jew & Gentile,
we became a new and true and holy nation.
He will come again to judge the living at the dead, for the Lord is the Source of our ultimate Glorification.
The Lord’s hatred is more loving that the most compassionate Buddhist or most devout Muslim.
Buddhism states that that the key to escaping the pit of suffering is to cease desire.
The Word of God says that the way to escape suffering is to desire the Lord Jesus more than your necessary food.
Often, compassion is demonstrated by Buddhists by allowing people to die with dignity.
Jesus displayed the depth of His compassion by getting angry at death and raising the dead.
Mohammed demonstrated his devotion by calling for the execution of those who dishonored him.
Jesus displayed his devotion by calling for mercy on his executioners as he was shamed on the cross.
Mohammed demonstrated his love by gathering up to 10 wives at one time to himself, regardless of their marital status, age, etc.
Jesus showed his love by rebuking religious hypocrisy and forgiving the immoral woman who threw herself at his feet.
Human religions of every variety excuse sin.
Jesus judges sin and pardons sinners so that we might come to Him.
Jesus did not stay on the cross for us to gaze upon; He rose from the grave on the third day so that we might have power to transform societies into gatherings of saints who likewise hate sin and love one another.
O that I might hate sin more and live in God’s love more!!
Joe is a Christian who has talked with John before.
Today we met at a local retailer and got on the bus together and sat next to each other at the back of the bus.
John started his hustle, trying to get girls to pimp and make money from. Trying to get girls pregnant. Promoting “adult” entertainment, etc.
He did acknowledge that after a near heart attack recently, that limitless weed smoking is not a good thing. Smoking is indeed a health hazard. Joe the Christian urged John to repent of his pimping and promoting sex as an entre to prosperity economically.
John wanted to close off his ears to the good news “noise.” He rejected the law of God so he could not hear the hope of eternal life. He did not want to be honest about the consequences of his sin. As a result, John missed the hope of eternal life yet again. He heard enough of the warnings about God’s wrath to know that he deserved it.
The last I had a chance today to really speak to his heart: John was still hardened to the call to holiness.
How many people are going to hell simply because they repeatedly reject the invitations to get right with God. They know they sin. They know that God is calling them to repent but they keep postponing repentance. They pretend that there will always be another day to do the right thing.
Today is the day of salvation. If you know you are sinning, admit that to the Lord and turn away from your selfishness.
Jesus is waiting just a little bit longer. Your sins will find you out. Your lust, your theft, your lies, your selfishness, your adulteries and curses will all be exposed on judgment day.
I continue to ponder the paradox of forgiveness and the offensiveness of the Good News of Jesus.
Today, let’s turn to the Lord’s prayer. In one petition, we say, according to one version, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive those indebted to us.”
I particularly like this more than saying transgressions or sins because it quantifies our guilt: We have a debt towards God greater than all the taxes of the world. Our neighbor may owe us a hundred days’ wages.
Like all large numbers, infinity is hard to grasp. The offense, the debt, that our sin creates towards God is hard for the human mind to grasp.
However, when we see that our father or mother, our sister or brother, perhaps your husband or wife, your sons or daughters, your neighbors, coworkers, or fellow citizen has offended you will often have in mind particular numbers of offenses and the exact punishment which you believe is due them. Perhaps you think they owe you a dollar for the soda you purchased for them. Perhaps you think you should kill them for not comprehending that you are a person of honor and dignity and should be respected as such.
The moment we think of the offense of a transgression or sin, we humans are apt to think that we deserve X in compensation for our trouble. We seek to justify our anger.
Maybe we think they started it, and we are just exacting a just revenge, at least in our minds. Perhaps in the back of your mind, the repeated offense has become chalked up against your relationship with that person. The weight of the offense becomes tremendous. You feel you MUST execute vengeance. Your self-righteous anger rises and your virtue falls.
Lord, have mercy!!
As long as we hold onto the burden of bitterness, we are unable to release the pain of the past. As long as we hold onto past offenses, we are unable to embrace fully the future Open Door. As long as we focus on what other people have or have not done for us, we will forget what God has done for us.
Here is the offense of the Gospel, the Good News. The Good News beckons us to reorient around God’s promise of freedom which was secured on the cross and in the resurrection. 100% guaranteed … if we will accept the challenge of living by trusting God rather than seeking to defend ourselves against other people all the time. The natural human heart revolts against this acts of mercy. It cannot comprehend how the death of Jesus could pay, once for all, the sins, the transgressions, the debts of mankind.
Perhaps you will say now, Oh, but I am a nice person. I don’t get angry. I just keep track of what they have done to me and don’t let it happen again.
Are you any better? Has not hatred overtaken your heart? You love those who love you and ignore the rest. Is this nothing more than a polite ISIS? Do not even the pagans do this much?
What makes Jesus so offensive is that he commands us to look for ways to risk our comfort. He could have just said, Meet once a week and remember the good times we had. Encourage each other and get better.
Instead, he said, Go, make disciples of all nations! Preach the Good News to all creation! Repentance and forgiveness of sins must be preached to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem, wait in the city … WAIT!!
The disciples were instructed to hang out in the very city where their Lord was murdered in cold blood in the cruelest manner possible. Wait? Wouldn’t it have been wiser to run? Why not go where there were receptive crowds? Why not preach about Moses preparing the way for the Messiah and hinting at the coming kingdom? No, they were commanded by the Holy Spirit to rebuke their own people for rejecting their own King and then to invite them to follow that King in being immersed as a pledge of a good conscience towards God. They did not manipulate or maneuver, they just said it like it was in a way that the people could understand.
That is boldness. Some admire and replicate that boldness. Some shy away and become ashamed of the Good News. Some attack such witnesses. Boldness comes at a price: love. Boldness that does not love is mere cruel boasting.
We have a choice before us: follow the humble way of peace or strive in violence. One is marked with 666 the mark of the beast; the other is marked with the stigma of Jesus.