Category Archives: Crucifixion

Worship Wednesday – How Deep the Father’s Love For us – Stuart Townend

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Worship can be a deeply emotional experience. In fact, sometimes, we lose our focus on God Himself in the midst of the singing of a familiar song. Our minds wander as memories of other times and places take us out of the moment. Not a bad thing necessarily, but…

That happened to me as the praise band at Movement Church this Sunday opened the hymn How Deep the Father’s Love For Us. I love this Stuart Townend hymn. He published it in 1995, the year we moved to Cairo, Egypt. New to us, this hymn became a standard in our family from those early days of adjustment to a new life in another country. [This and another hymn of his – In Christ Alone.]

On Fridays, we would join other internationals and a smattering of Egyptian Christians, at Heliopolis Community Church, and we would sing and pray in English. Such a refreshment to our souls as we spent most of our week, learning and using Arabic in our work and with neighbors and friends. English was our worship language.blog-international-church-worship-how-deep-the-fathers-lovePhoto Credit: CCCLux

Sweet memories of hot Friday mornings, singing with believers from all over the world, as the call to prayer broke through from a nearby mosque. Sweet memories of a oneness with each other…and with God.

Then my thoughts sprang back to the present on Sunday, as we sang this lyric:

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.

Because of what Christ did for me…for us…on the cross, I am no longer separated from God by the penalty of my rebellion against Him. The debt I built up through life is paid in one great act of God through Christ – His perfect, sinless life substituted, in death, for my own sin-filled mess…for our own. There is nothing left to pay…nothing. Christ paid in full, on the cross, for all our sins.

At what cost? Oh…we can imagine the considerable cost Jesus paid because our own flesh cringes at the excruciating pain of the cross. Yet, we also must take in, as much as we can, the cost to the Father. Such great love He has…for His own son…and for us…each one of us. The whole world, in fact.

When Stuart Townend was writing this hymn, he was very aware of the emotions that can be elicited in praise music. Just as I have described, the personal joy, refreshment, and happy memories that can be so satisfying in the experience of individual and corporate worship. His hope was to write in such a way as to help the worshiper get beyond himself and to a greater awareness of God.

“The danger now is that we are so focused on the experience our worship can become self-seeking and self-serving. When all of our songs are about how we feel and what we need, we’re missing the point. There is a wonderful, omnipotent God who deserves our highest praise, and how we feel about it is in many ways irrelevant!  I want to encourage the expression of joy, passion and adoration, but I want those things to be the by-product of focusing on God – I don’t want them to become the subject matter. I’m trying to write songs that refer to us as little as possible, and to Him as much as possible!”Stuart Townend

Hymns like How Deep the Father’s Love For Us complement our prayer life and study of God’s Word. For those friends of ours who don’t yet believe…those who say, “That’s nice for you that you believe God. I just don’t believe like you do.”…we have a witness in worship.

It is not just that we believe…what Townend describes in this hymn, reflective of the truth of Scripture, isn’t just what we believe…it is what happened and was witnessed by others – the deep love of God displayed in the self-emptying life and death of His Son. Hallelujah!

Worship with me.

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss –
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished.

blog-how-deep-the-fathers-love-youtubePhoto Credit: YouTube

I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart –
His wounds have paid my ransom.*

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See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.1 John 3:1

…the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.Galatians 2:20b

*Lyrics – How Deep the Father’s Love For Us – Stuart Townend

YouTube Video – How Deep the Father’s Love for Us – Cover by Joy Williams

YouTube Video – How Deep the Father’s Love For Us – Lyrics (with Scripture portions that support them)

The Depth of Christ’s Love: Its Cost – John Piper

YouTube Video – Story Behind the Song – How Deep the Father’s Love for Us – Stuart Townend

The High Cost of the Cross – Joe Crews

Hymn Reflection: How Deep the Father’s Love For Us – Adam Faughn

Bono and Eugene Peterson – The Psalms – a Film and a Friendship

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Last night, in Richmond, Virginia, I had the opportunity to attend a preview screening of the film (premiering today on YouTube). The film is a 20-minute documentary highlighting the friendship between musician Bono of U2 and theologian Eugene Peterson. Blog - The Psalms - Bono & Eugene PetersonPhoto Credit: ThirdRVA

Their sweet and surprising friendship began when Bono contacted Peterson to express thanks for his translation of the Psalms.Blog - Psalms & Bono & Eugene PetersonPhoto Credit: Twitter

U2’s song 40 was inspired by Peterson’s translation of Psalm 40 (The Message: Psalms). During their 2015 Innocence + Experience Tour, the production included dropping pieces of paper, like confetti, onto the audience; these were excerpts from  Ulysses, Lord of the Flies, the Psalms, and Alice in Wonderland falling from the ceiling like confetti. (Wikipedia) Bono seems enthralled by both the societal relevance and the personal meaning of the Psalms in his life. He owes that to Eugene Peterson.

This documentary is beautiful in its simplicity, honesty, and mutual regard between Bono and Peterson. It’s a conversation between them, and our experience as audience is being brought close in by the filmmaker…as if the only thing missing was our cup of coffee at that table.

How the film was conceived came through the efforts of David Taylor, professor at Fuller Theological Seminary. He was a past student of Eugene Peterson’s. He had some way to reach out to Bono (unclear that connection but I’m sure it will come out as the film becomes known and loved). Finally, Taylor also knew the work of Nathan Clarke’s Fourth Line Films. Somehow he pulled all these principals together and with the generous support of Fuller Seminary, this documentary was created.

You will love it!

There is such a God-honoring, person-honoring purity to this film and the conversation between Bono and Peterson. Two very different people with very different lives and from different parts of the world…and yet a sweet friendship developed because of the profound impact that the Psalms had…has on both their lives.Blog - Bono - christianexaminerPhoto Credit: Christian Examiner

Blog - Eugene Peterson - the MessagePhoto Credit: Twitter

Thank you, Fuller Seminary. Thank you, David Taylor. Thank you, Bono, Eugene Peterson, Nathan Clarke and Fourth Line Films. Thank You, God, for inspiring the writers of the Psalms – honest, real, passionate, hopeful.

Finally, I have a confession…keeping it real and all. I went to the preview of this film because of the Q & A with Nathan Clarke. I would see the film at some point but I wanted to meet the filmmaker. It was a fascinating and satisfying finish to our watching the film. I write about the Q & A here.

The film closes (forgive the spoiler) with Bono saying his goodbyes to Mr. & Mrs. Peterson and bounding up the rock steps from their lakeside home. As he was hurrying up the steps, Mrs. Peterson called out, “Don’t run!” He slowed up, to stay safe – as friends do for other friends. So perfect. So comfortable…and sweet.

Enjoy the film…and get to know Bono, Eugene…, dare I say it, God…in a whole different way.

Postscript: U2 sings Psalm 40 from The Message Bible:

Fourth Line Films

Eugene H. Peterson Quotes

More Eugene H. Peterson Quotes

5 Friday Faves – Compassionate Baristas, a Foster Child, Joey Feek’s Legacy, a Daredevil Guitar Arrangement, and a John Piper Sermon Jam

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How is it that Friday arrives every week with lightening speed?! Okay, maybe not for everyone…but be glad about that. I am left wondering again: where did the week go? Fortunately it did not pass by without leaving me with some treasures I’ll share with you.

1) Compassionate Baristas – You may have seen the story this week of Dutch Bros. Coffee baristas Pierce Dunn and Evan Freeman. They discovered that a woman in the car line waiting for her order was crying [her husband had died the night before]. They quickly reached out to her, and in a moment of grace-filled spontaneity prayed for her at the window. Her coffee was on the house. Sweet story and video.Blog - Friday Faves - Dutch Brothers pray for customer - March 2016Photo Credit: Daily Mail

2) A Foster Child – The circumstances that force children into foster care can be devastating and tragic. Nathaniel Matanick produced a magnificent short film,  entitled “ReMoved“, about the journey of a foster child (through her eyes). I watched it on Facebook this week and was so moved by the story – the heart-break and the hope. You can watch it here. Also, I just discovered Matanick has finished “ReMoved – Part 2“.Blog - Foster Child - childadvocatesPhoto Credit: Child Advocates

3) Joey Feek’s Legacy – When country singer Joey Feek died, she left behind her husband, Rory, and a darling 2 y/o daughter named Indy (Indiana). Indy has Down’s Syndrome…although the fact seemed irrelevant to their story. Last Fall, Joey realized she probably wouldn’t not survive the cancer and she quite deliberately began a self-less, loving process for Indy’s sake. This little girl who wanted to be with her all the time. This little girl who Joey loved more than anything. Joey began the painful process of intentionally becoming less in Indy’s life and opened up opportunity for Indy’s daddy, Rory, to become more to her. He writes magnificently about it in his blog. What a picture of great love! What a loss! What a legacy!Blog - Joey Feek - legacy - todayPhoto Credit: Today

4)  A Daredevil Guitar Arrangement – Nathan Mills of Beyond the Guitar just posted a new guitar arrangement of the theme from the Netflix TV show Daredevil. It is beautiful.

5) John Piper Sermon Jam – 3 minutes of powerful preaching about the perfect love of God for us and the deep cost of that love. Don’t miss it.

Hope you have a weekend ahead full of friends, family, and fun (which could mean just a few hours all by yourself). For those of you who celebrate Eastern/Orthodox Easter this weekend, Happy Easter!

“He is risen! He is risen indeed!”

P.S. I know a few men who have a man cave and are still wise (and possibly even great), but I loved this graphic all the same.Blog - Man CavePhoto Credit: Facebook

Would love to hear about your favorite finds of this week. In Comments. Thanks!

5 Friday Faves – Training Your Mind to Be a Winner; the Invisible Woman; a Great Speech; Resurrection of Jesus; and Nassim Haramein

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Some weeks provide very little time to write, let alone reflect on life. I’m in the midst of a bit of that craziness. This is Holy Week moving quickly to Easter Sunday. It’s a week I mean to savor even in the course of a hectic time at work and lots going on in the family and the neighborhood. Taking time to remember what happened each day of that week in the life of Jesus helps me to stop the world briefly…and monumentally.

My Friday Faves this week are sort of all over the place. They stirred learning for me, made me laugh, inspired me, and stilled my heart for a moment at the wonder of life. I trust you will find something here that does the same for you.

1) Training Your Mind to Be a Winner – The whole field of leadership development is often a focus of my reading. It’s fascinating to find helps from disciplines very different from my own.  LaRae Quy is a former FBI undercover and counterintelligence agent. She now takes what she learned professionally and applies it to her speaking, writing, and coaching in mental toughness and leadership. She is the author of Secrets of a Strong Mind and Mental Toughness for Women Leaders. Whet your appetite on the articles 5 Ways to Train Your Mind to Think Like a Winner, 4 Secrets of Mental Toughness, and How to Strengthen Your Mental Toughness Like an FBI Agent.BLog - LaRae Quy

Photo Credit: Twitter

2) The Invisible Woman – No, this is not referring to the 2013 film with the same name (Ralph Fiennes, Felicity Jones). This find is a sketch by Nicole Johnson of Fresh Brewed Life (author of the book of the same name). In just under 6 minutes, she speaks to the heart of women…especially mothers…dispelling the sense that much of what they do goes unseen. As if it were irrelevant or inconsequential. Not so! God sees…. Take the time to watch and listen and be encouraged (Men, you could do with some encouragement as well, I’m thinking).

3) A Great Speech – We slog on through the primary season of this U.S. Presidential Election year. Whatever our political views, a great speech can punctuate all the rhetoric and restore our hope…for sure, in that moment, anyway. When Senator Marco Rubio suspended his campaign, after losing his home state’s primary, he spoke to his supporters. Again, whatever our political views, it was a great speech… With all the mud-slinging, political wrangling, and various candidates pitted against each other, I was glad to hear him continuing to urge us not to give up and to stand for what we believe.

4) Resurrection of Jesus – I came across this short video on my Twitter feed. The question is asked, “Did Jesus rise from the dead?” The video is produced by Impact 360 – a campus/curriculum/community which guides its students toward leadership, cultural understanding, and a Biblical worldview. Check out the video (and others on their website).

5) Nassim Haramein – Nassim Haramein is a physicist, inventor, and surfer. He is an example of how scientists can talk on, sounding brilliant, whether they really know what they’re talking about or not. Haramein has his critics and he has loyal fans. Whether he’s an expert or not, he is incredibly amusing as a presenter. I don’t remember how he came on my radar, but the video below captivated me. Don’t waste your life watching the whole of it, but 30 minutes in, there are some hilarious moments. I actually could believe I understood what he was saying. What do you think? Is he for real, or not?

Bonus: The Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., was breath-taking as always this year. Here’s just a sample from my friend Jennifer Wong.Blog - Friday Faves - Cherry Blossoms - by Jennifer WongPhoto Credit: Jennifer Wong

What were your favorite finds of this week? Please comment below. Have a lovely weekend.

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Worship Wednesday – At the Cross – with Chris Tomlin

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He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.1 Peter 2:24

The holiness of God and His love for an unholy people required an act that only He Himself could accomplish for us to be restored to Him. A perfect sacrifice. A sinless Savior. God Himself in the person of His Son taking our sins upon Himself. Because of that death, that cross, and His resurrection that followed, we can know our debt of sin is paid and death has no claim on us. Amazing!

It leaves me without words every time I think about what God did for us to restore us to Himself.

Fortunately, God gives words to songwriters to express what we want to express to Him…our wonder, our gratitude, our love.

Worship with me:

There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies
There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide

Where all the love I’ve ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down

At the cross
At the cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of You, I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
And my sin washed white
I owe all to You, I owe all to You
Jesus

There’s a place where sin and shame are powerless
Where my heart has peace with God
And forgiveness

Where all the love I’ve ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down

At the cross
At the cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of You, I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
And my sin washed white
I owe all to You, I owe all to You

Here my hope is found
Here on holy ground
Here I bow down
Here I bow down
Here arms open wide
Here You saved my life
Here I bow down
Here I bow

At the cross
At the cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of You, I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
And my sin washed white
I owe all to You, I owe all to You
I owe all to You, I owe all to You
Jesus

Blog - Worship Wednesday - At the Cross - youtubePhoto Credit: YouTube

Lyrics: At the Cross (Love Ran Red) written by Matt Armstrong, Ed Cash, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman and Jonas Myrin

YouTube Video – Chris Tomlin – At the Cross (Love Ran Red) – Lyrics & Chords

YouTube Video – Chris Tomlin – Story Behind the Song At the Cross (Love Ran Red)

Holy Week – Each Day of that Week in the Life of Jesus – Right Through to His Death, Burial, and Resurrection

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“The resurrection of Jesus changes the face of death for all His people. Death is no longer a prison, but a passage into God’s presence.  Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.”Clarence W. Hall

This week is unlike any other in the calendar. Through the centuries, this week has been considered holy. We note each day as significant because of what happened for the sake of all humanity in the space of 8 days…8 days that changed history forever.

Many writers commemorate Holy Week. I wrote a series of articles myself this time last year (links are below). Desiring God also has a great series on Holy Week…and Mike Mobley’s Events of the Holy Week. Then there’s Tom Elliff’s beautiful piece on The Easter I’ll Never Forget. You can find much to read on these incredible days of Jesus’ life.

In all the busyness of this month, with school assignments, work deadlines, and Spring vacations, don’t miss Holy Week.

Don’t miss Jesus of Nazareth…whose life is set in history and who sets us into His Story.

Day 1 of Holy Week – Palm Sunday – Jesus’ Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem on the Way to the Cross

Jesus and Holy Week – Monday, Day 2 – Jesus Curses a Fig Tree and Cleanses the Temple

Jesus and Holy Week – Tuesday, Day 3 – a Long Day teaching & Countering Religious Opposition

Jesus and Holy Week – Wednesday, Day 4 – a Day of Quiet Before the Storm – and We Worship

Jesus and Holy Week – Thursday, Day 5 – Passover Celebration and His Last Supper Before the Cross

Jesus and Holy Week – Day 6 – Good Friday – His Trial, Crucifixion, & Burial

Jesus and Holy Week – Saturday, Day 7 – Black Saturday – the Silent Tomb

Jesus and Holy Week – Day 8 – He is Risen! Resurrection Sunday

Resurrection of Jesus – Slideshare

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.”  – the Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 15:3–7

Blog - Holy Week - resurrection - the gospel coalitionPhoto Credit: The Gospel Coalition

Worship Wednesday – What I Stake My Life On – Now and Forever – This I Believe – Hillsong

Blog - Believer's Creed 2 - Hillsong - MovementFor I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,  and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.  Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.1 Corinthians 15:3-6

I cannot begin to adequately describe what it is like for me to know God.

An image that keeps coming to mind is that first deep breath, and those breaths following, after holding your breath or not being able to breathe. Or when black-and-white TV went to color. Or that hand pulling you up or out of danger. Still…all of these analogies fail.

As young children, we had no religious education or indoctrination. I wasn’t “born” a Christian. In fact, the word “Christian” as it is used in society today pales in the experience of God in the life of a person.

Jesus wasn’t the founder of a religion. It was never about religion. In the unity of the Godhead, He has always been. He entered our history, as a man,  sent from the Father, to bring the character, the very person-hood of God, up close to us. He came to give us the way to come close to God.  To be restored. To be His child.

For me, knowing the abandonment of a father, to be sought after by God, was inconceivably kind. To know His forgiveness, when I faced the weight of my own relentless sin, was to experience unimaginable freedom – as if pardoned from a prison of my own making.

I thank God for what He did for me…and what He is to me today.

On Sunday, at Movement Church, we sang a song from Hillsong entitled This I Believe. It got me thinking about how we all have belief systems of some sort or another. “That’s fine for you” is a statement that often precedes “, but I believe…”

There are so many opinions about God out there…including opinions that deny the existence of God altogether. The writers of Scripture didn’t just pen their beliefs. They heard God speak and watched Him act in miraculous ways (Old Testament). They saw Jesus speak with supernatural authority, and engage with people in gripping, loving and compelling ways (New Testament).

The Apostle’s Creed is a centuries-old description of the faith of those who follow Christ. It’s taken from Scripture, from Jesus’ life and teaching, and his apostles’ own witness. It was adapted by Hillsong, as the Believer’s Creed, in the song This I Believe).

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Man-made religions separate and label people…dividing us into camps of varying beliefs around 4 universal questions – Origin (Where did we come from?); 2) Purpose (Why are we here?); 3) Morality (How do we determine right or wrong?); and 4) Destiny (What happens when we die?). Religion answers these questions in varying, inconsistent ways.

Jesus does not bring us to a religion. He brings us to a relationship – with God Himself. Through His life, teaching, death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus has answered my questions. Some things I won’t understand until Heaven…but what I do understand now in this journey with God colors everything…and gives me peace and hope.

Rich Mullins, singer/songwriter, like Hillsong, wrote about God in his song Creed. The chorus so resonates with where I am today:

“And I believe what I believe
Is what makes me what I am
I did not make it, no it is making me
It is the very truth of God and not
The invention of any man” – Rich Mullins, Creed

If you have read this far, you probably have a similar understanding of God. Or maybe, you are searching for truth yourself… search it out. You won’t find it in my opinion or someone else’s (as you have already discovered)…but you can find it…you can find God. This has been my experience…for which I’m eternally grateful.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
 – Romans 10:9

Worship with me.

Our Father everlasting
The all creating One
God Almighty
Through Your Holy Spirit
Conceiving Christ the Son
Jesus our Savior
I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus
Our Judge and our Defender
Suffered and crucified
Forgiveness is in You
Descended into darkness
You rose in glorious life
Forever seated high
I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus
I believe in You
I believe You rose again
I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord
[x2]I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus
[x2]
For I believe in the name of Jesus
For I believe in the name of Jesus
I believe in life eternal
I believe in the virgin birth
I believe in the saints’ communion
And in Your holy Church
I believe in the resurrection
When Jesus comes again
For I believe, in the name of Jesus
I believe in God our Father
I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit
Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection
That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus
[x2]For I believe in the name of Jesus.

[Songwriters – Ben Fielding & Matt Crocker – No Other Name album]

YouTube Video – Hillsong Worship – This I Believe (The Creed) Story Behind the Song

What Is the Apostles’ Creed?

The Creed According to Hillsong – Sacred Wrightings – Insightful article on what’s left out of the Apostles’ Creed in Hillsong’s lyric & should it have been

YouTube Video – Creed by Third Day with Brandon Heath (a Tribute to Rich Mullins)

YouTube Video – Rich Mullins Creed

Friendly Fire in the Family of God – How to Go Forward When You Are Hit by Surprise

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Photo Credit: The CrippleGate

We expect attacks from those we know don’t care for us or, in fact, want us gone. They want our jobs or view us as threats, or they can’t stomach our beliefs or ideologies. These confrontations are a part of life and work and we take them in stride; hurtful as they may be, they are expected.

It’s the surprise attacks that catch us off-guard, especially when we come under-fire by those who should have our backs. “Friendly fire” is a phrase coined from military situations when something goes very wrong in battle, and a fellow soldier is wounded or killed by a comrade in arms. Too often, we have experienced the sting of friendly fire.

We may endure long periods of hardship at the hands of difficult bosses or through relentless attacks by acquaintances or colleagues who think very differently than we do. What happens, though, when those who believe as we do (in this case, fellow Christ-followers or true believers) fire on us…sometimes over and over again?  Here is where the breath is knocked out of us and we straighten up again, bewildered, disoriented, and hurt deeply.

This isn’t supposed to happen. As Christians, we know to love one another, even our enemies, to forgive without exception, and to bear with one another and be deferent toward each other. This is not the stuff of doormats or deer “in the headlights”. This is living life in community (whether, work, family, or church) as Jesus calls us to live. I think that’s why we’re caught off-balance when someone who identifies with Christ fires away at us…and especially if there’s no repentance of that “friendly fire”.

How are we to respond in those situations? In fact, how are we to live with our eyes wide open, knowing friendly fire happens, and understanding that we might be the perpetrator the same as anyone else.

Michael Milton wrote an excellent piece on this entitled Hit By Friendly Fire: What To Do When Christians Hurt You. If you are right now dressing the wounds of such an attack, his counsel may be hard to bear. The truth is, though, that the wounds you have right now will never really heal until you do what is necessary for a full recovery. In fact, as we follow Jesus’ example of enduring such attacks, then we can recover much quicker and refuse to retaliate ourselves. We also restrain from launching such barbs ourselves in the heat of some battle.

Milton offers 3 steps in responding when someone hurts you – and this someone can be a family member, friend, colleague or one in authority over you (a Christian boss or pastor).

Step 1 – Take up Your Cross – Followers of Christ are not kept from pain; it is part of our lives as much as it was part of the life of Christ Himself. Even looking back to Old Testament accounts, we see betrayal, deceit, and hurt of every kind. The story of Joseph (Genesis 50:15-21) sold by his brothers into slavery, and then falsely accused and placed in prison for years is a great example. Joseph would finally end up in a position of influence where he was able to save his whole family from famine. He told his terrified and repentant brothers, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:15-21).

Milton points out the lesson of taking up our cross in the face of friendly fire: “Every sorrow, every act of treachery, every act of betrayal [becomes] a point of identification with Christ.” He calls us to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily (Luke 9:23). Even when we are hurt or offended or betrayed. “You and I are called to take up our cross in every way, including our relationships. It is true that you may be hurt, but you are a disciple of One who was betrayed, who was hurt, and you are no better than Jesus.” (Milton) As we wrestle with this truth, we actually move from being victims to victors in Christ.

Step 2 – Take Off Your Crown – When we are injured by another, we want that person to pay for it. We want to be in control of determining the punishment that person deserves. The truth is we are not sovereign, not in control; only God is. The crown of sovereign rule belongs to Him, and we really wouldn’t want it any other way. In the Genesis account, Joseph “escaped being a victim and became a victor by naming God, not as the author of evil, but the One who caused it to work together for good…The crucial step in coming to terms with any pain that has come against us, including getting hurt by someone close to us, is to say, “God, You are in control. What do You want me to learn?” (Milton)

Step 3 – Go to Your Gethsemane – The Apostle Paul trusted God through his many hardships and imprisonments to use that suffering, sometimes at the hands of people who knew him well, to make him more like Jesus.

I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ..that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” – Paul (Philippians 3:8, 10)

Milton urged: “Gethsemane is the place where, like Jesus, like Paul, like Joseph, you come face-to-face with your crucifixion and with the fact that God is in control. If there is to be resurrection – a new life to emerge from the pain, the betrayal, the hurtful words – there must be a crucifixion, and if there is to be a crucifixion – by the Father for the good of many – there must be a Gethsemane moment when you say, ‘Not my will but yours.’ There must be a moment when you say, even when the shadow of pain is falling over you, ‘They meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.’

God loves us so much. He knows very intimately the pain of the cross. He knows the weight of sovereignty. He knows the deep surrender of a Gethsemane moment. He calls us to a life gloriously beyond being victims, or “walking wounded”. Milton closes his piece with this proclamation of truth: “He will transform you who have been hurt, wounded, abandoned, sinned against, betrayed, from a victim to a victor by trusting in the One who was hurt, wounded, abandoned, sinned against, betrayed, but who pronounced forgiveness from the cross. In Him there can be no more victims – only victors.”

I pray for us all who have come under friendly fire, for months or a moment, to trust God to bring us through victoriously…for His glory and our good…for the good of all of us.

Hit By Friendly Fire: What To Do When Christians Hurt You by Michael Milton

Christian Friendly Fire: With “Friendly-Enemies” Like These Who Needs Christianity? by Kevin Benton

8 Responses to Friendly Fire by Jim Stitzinger

My Story by Jenny – Surviving Friendly Fire by Ronald Dunn

Surviving Friendly Fire – How to Respond When You’re Hurt by Someone You Trust by Ronald Dunn

Blog - Friendly Fire

Photo Credit: Amazon.com

Monday Morning Moment – Marking Lives Well-Lived, Work Well Done

2015 Nov - Blog - Lilias Trotter - Well Done 004Photo Credit: Lilias Trotter, Parables of the Cross

There are no ordinary days, nor are there ordinary lives. This morning, Monday, November 2, is a day I want to mark as an opportunity to celebrate extraordinary lives. Yet, how is that even possible? People who live for grand causes and for God Himself don’t look for celebrations or accolades. What do we do then when we want to stand in ovation and clap them back out onto the stage for an encore?

Celebrating retiring colleagues is best done by those who know them well – who have watched them through the most difficult times, seen them push through seemingly insurmountable circumstances, resonated with their joy in the simplest triumphs.

How do we mark lives well-lived and work well-done? I don’t have that answer yet…except to express personal gratitude and to live and work in the shadow of these who went before…to steward well their example.

For today, I will enter into that process of puzzling over how properly to celebrate the lives and work of those “finishers” who have done well to fix their eyes on the goal…right through. It doesn’t feel enough, but for today, I join a great cloud of witnesses, so grateful to see how it is to finish well.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2

As I sort this all out, I would be grateful for any stories you have of celebrating work well done and lives well lived. Following  are some quotes of those who finished strong or who, living still, are living well.

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously – no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.” – C. S. Lewis

“The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.” – Jonas Salk*

“When we are at the worst times of our lives, when we are battling with something, or struggles, whatever it may be, when we are at our highest point as well, when things are going really well, we want somebody to comfort us and be there for us and to say, ‘Well done.’ That’s Jesus!” – Russell Wilson*

“Well done is better than well said.” – Benjamin Franklin*
“The pinnacle of the fulfillment I can ever experience for my spirit and soul is to hear from the Lord, when I see Him face to face, ‘Well done my good and faithful servant.'” – Nick Vujicic* Blog - Well Done - Nick Vujicic
The Apostle Paul, in an encounter with Jesus, was completely transformed from a life of murderous, religious zeal to a life of complete surrender to God (something altogether different). He speaks of living life, and finishing well – likened to fighting a good fight or running a race to the finish.
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” – Acts 20:24
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” – 2 Timothy 4:6-8
2015 Nov - Blog - Lilias Trotter - Well Done 002Photo Credit: Lilias Trotter, Parables of the Cross
For us all…there is still a race to be run.
“My legacy doesn’t matter. It isn’t important that I be remembered. It’s important that when I stand before the Lord, He says, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’. I want to finish strong.” – James Dobson*
“It is finished.” – Jesus, from the cross (John 19:30)
Blog - Well Done - Parables of the Cross - Lilias Trotter

Worship Wednesday – He Knows My Name – Francesca Battistelli

Blog - He Knows My NamePhoto Credit: Alan Grant, Pinterest.com

Thus says the LORD, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. “For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”Isaiah 43:1-3

Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you. “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands“. – Isaiah 49:15-16

My older brother, Robert, struggled for much of his adult life with anger and depression. Then toward the end of his life (he died young really from a lethal cardiac event), it was more regret. God in His mercy, before Robert died, was able to pierce through the bitterness. We saw our brother begin to live more in hope, allowing God to speak truth to his heart and allowing us to begin to get closer to him. I wish we had had more time…but Robert had enough time to know God’s love for him, and that’s what mattered most.

For some of those years, after a second divorce and during a time of great grief in the death of his son, he lived with our parents. Our Mom believed in the life-giving power of words. On his bedroom wall was the print above (from a painting by Alan Grant). These verses from God’s Word have always been a comfort to me – in remembering my brother…and in other situations since then when I’m tempted to wonder if God is at work in my life…in me.

If you are in a time of wondering…whether who you are matters or whether what you’re doing has any significance…take heart in the character of God. He is a God who remembers…and He is a God who knows everything about you and loves you. Your name is known to Him…because that is the kind of God He is.

Worship with me, singing/listening to the lovely lyrics of this Francesca Battistelli song (lyrics follow).

Spent today in a conversation
In the mirror face to face with
Somebody less than perfect
I wouldn’t choose me first if
I was looking for a champion
In fact I’d understand if
You picked everyone before me
But that’s just not my story

True to who You are
You saw my heart
And made something out of nothing, so

CHORUS
I don’t need my name in lights
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes
Make no mistake
He knows my name
I’m not living for applause
I’m already so adored
It’s all His stage
He knows my name
He knows my name

I’m not meant to just stay quiet
I’m meant to be a lion
I’ll roar beyond a song
With every moment that I’ve got

True to who You are
You saw my heart
And made something out of nothing

CHORUS

He calls me chosen
Free, forgiven
Wanted, child of the King
His forever
Held and treasured
I am loved

I don’t need my name in lights
I’m famous in my Father’s eyes

CHORUS

Song Writers: Francesca Battistelli, Mia Fieldes, Seth Mosley

[P.S. The YouTube video below is the same song but with stories of young women whose lives were restored and healed through Mercy Ministries (Mercy Multiplied).]

YouTube Video – Story Behind the Song He Knows My Name

Story Behind the Song Interview – He Knows My Name – with Kevin Davis

Mercy Multiplied – Residential Program for young women – “Mercy Multiplied is a nonprofit Christian organization dedicated to helping young women break free from life-controlling behaviors and situations, including eating disorders, self-harm, drug and alcohol addictions, unplanned pregnancy, depression, sexual abuse, and sex trafficking. We hope to help every woman we serve experience God’s unconditional love, forgiveness, and life-transforming power.”