At the beginning of the day

For Christians, the beginning of the day should not be burdened and depressed with besetting concerns about the day’s work.

At the threshold of each new day stands the Lord who made it. All the darkness and distraction of the dreams of night retreat before the clear light of Jesus Christ and his wakening word. All unrest, all impurity, all care, all anxiety flee before him.

Therefore at the beginning of the day, let all distraction and empty talk be silenced, and let the first thought and the first word belong to him to whom our whole life belongs.

Awake, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.

— Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

Carolina Sunrise

“They have been with Jesus”

Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, February 11, Morning:

“And they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)

A Christian should be a striking likeness of Jesus Christ. You have read lives of Christ, beautifully and eloquently written, but the best life of Christ is his living biography, written out in the words and actions of his people. If we were what we profess to be, and what we should be, we should be pictures of Christ; yea, such striking likenesses of him, that the world would not have to hold us up by the hour together, and say, “Well, it seems somewhat of a likeness;” but they would, when they once beheld us, exclaim, “He has been with Jesus; he has been taught of him; he is like him; he has caught the very idea of the holy man of Nazareth, and he works it out in his life and everyday actions.”

A Christian should be like Christ in his boldness. Never blush to own your religion; your profession will never disgrace you: take care you never disgrace that. Be like Jesus, very valiant for your God. Imitate him in your loving spirit; think kindly, speak kindly, and do kindly, that men may say of you, “He has been with Jesus.”

Imitate Jesus in his holiness. Was he zealous for his Master? So be you; ever go about doing good. Let not time be wasted: it is too precious. Was he self-denying, never looking to his own interest? Be the same. Was he devout? Be you fervent in your prayers. Had he deference to his Father’s will? So submit yourselves to him. Was he patient? So learn to endure.

And best of all, as the highest portraiture of Jesus, try to forgive your enemies, as he did; and let those sublime words of your Master, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do,” always ring in your ears. Forgive, as you hope to be forgiven. Heap coals of fire on the head of your foe by your kindness to him. Good for evil, recollect, is godlike. Be godlike, then; and in all ways and by all means, so live that all may say of you, “He [or she] has been with Jesus.” 

When Hell Prevails

Every time a little child is unwanted, unloved, uncared for, no dream, doesn’t think it’s worth it to finish an education—hell is prevailing. That’s a lie of hell.

Every time a marriage—that began with a man and woman making a promise as they looked into each other’s eyes—ends, crashes and burns—that’s hell prevailing. That’s not the way God said it’s supposed to be.

Every time racial differences divide, make ugly, a street, a neighborhood, a city, a church, a community, and there is this distrust, suspicion, oppression—that’s hell prevailing.

Every time money gets idolized, worshiped, allowed to determine somebody’s worth, someone’s value, somebody’s security, somebody’s dream—that’s hell prevailing.

Every time a lie gets told and truth gets trampled on—that’s hell prevailing.

Every time generations of people get separated, isolated—that’s hell prevailing.

Every time a workplace becomes dehumanizing or fear-based instead of releasing the potential of the image of God in every human being—that’s hell prevailing.

When families get broken up, when virtue gets torn down, when sinful habits create a life of hidden shame or a culture of shamelessness, when faith gets undermined and lost, when hope gets trampled on, when people get trashed, hell is prevailing.

And it is not acceptable to Jesus that hell prevail; it is not okay. And our job is not to meet a budget, it’s not to run a program, it’s not to fill a building, it’s not to maintain the status quo, it’s not to keep any traditions perpetuated.

Our job is to put hell out of business.

That’s why Jesus went to the cross on Friday, that’s why he lay in the tomb on Saturday, that’s why he was raised to life on Sunday. It is why we proclaim Christ, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom so that we may present everyone mature, redeemed, complete, whole, healed, in Christ.

– John Ortberg, “One From the Heart,” Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, May 28, 2011.

I am a preacher of the gospel of Christ

Myron Augsburger, former President of Eastern Mennonite Seminary and brother of one of my Fuller Seminary profs (David), in 1983:

I believe in justice: but I am not a preacher of the gospel of justice, but the Gospel of Christ who calls us to justice. I believe in love, but I am not a preacher of the gospel of love, but the Gospel of Christ who calls us to love. I am committed to peace, but I am not a preacher of the gospel of peace, but the Gospel of Christ who calls us to peace. I believe in the value of the simple life, but I am not the preacher of the simple life, but of the Gospel of Christ that calls us to the simple life. Let us beware of the ultimate plagiarism of borrowing some great concepts from Jesus then running off proclaiming these concepts and not sharing the Christ that empowers these concepts.

With this addition from Frank Viola:

If I were writing this, the only thing I’d change is the last line. I’d change it to “and not sharing the Christ who embodies these concepts.”

The truth is, Jesus Christ doesn’t just empower us to live out these spiritual virtues, Christ IS justice, love, peace, holiness, etc. That’s a life-changing revelation that’s little known today.

Thanks to Jeremy Del Rio for the quote and addition.

Have you heard?

“Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery?” they said. “He is not here, but raised up.”

Every person dies.

Only one has been raised from the dead.

What a weekend.