Day of Affliction

Today is Good Friday.

Today is the day that we remember that a man walked the Earth and was punished, tortured, beaten, scourged, and nailed by his hands and feet to a rough-hewn log.

That man had committed no great evil, but yet he hung suspended over the crowd on a modest hill.

Who has believed our message
    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
    and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

He was just a man, like me.  He walked, talked, befriended, ate, slept, had fears and doubts, and yet he was thrown down.  Shattered.  Crushed.  Buried.

Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
    each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.

It was my inability to obey the law.  Every lie I told, I spoke against Him.  Every malicious thought targeted Him.  Every wrong, evil, regrettable thing ever done by me was against Him.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
    yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
    and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
    so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
    Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
    for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Even more so, not only as the target of my anger and sin, but He willfully replaced me in the cross-hairs of an Almighty God who cannot tolerate sin no matter how small or trivial.  My King stood there while I spat in His face and scourged his back with a whip and took the punishment that I deserved in addition to the punishment and insolence that I doled out.

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer.

Isaiah 53

On this day, Christ reached forward and backward through time.  The battle was to take place there, on that rough-hewn log.  God would crush sin once and for all.  Christ hung, afflicted, because of me.  Christ took all of the world’s sin, past and present, on to Himself and offered Himself as the target of the wrath of God’s righteousness.

His love, His desire for my freedom from the terrible burden of blackening sin, His desire for me to return His love held Him there, not the nails.

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Romans 5:19

 

The Bishop of Rome

Viva Papa Francis.

I am not Catholic, but I respect the Catholic Church and the devoted people within it that daily follow Christ’s calling to be His emissaries in this world.  So today, I celebrate that Spirit-led election of the new Bishop of Rome and the titular head of the Church.  I pray that he is received a double-helping of the Spirit, the courage, bravery, and boldness of Christ in all that he does.

The elevation of this man to the head of the Church comes at a crucial moment, not only in our time as Christians, but also for Americans and lovers of liberty alike.

Why is that you might ask?  I wasn’t even so sure myself until I spoke with my Jesuit-educated bride about it.

The Church will benefit from a man that has lived a life of humility and service despite his titles and authority formerly as a Cardinal and the Archbishop of Argentina.  He seems to deeply believe that the calling of Christ is not to be taken lightly or to be abused, but rather it is a calling to service first and foremost.  The Church will also benefit from a man dedicated not only to service, but also justice.  The man himself, while open to “free-thinking” as espoused by the Jesuits is a rigid defender of the Faith and of Catholic doctrine, not just when it comes to Christ’s teachings, but how those teachings apply in the modern world.  He has come out against gay marriage, gay adoption, and a litany of other social issues that leftists and outsiders use to try to cleave the Church in two.  The arguments and defenses that the Jesuits use in defense of the Church doctrine are usually exceptionally well-thought out, well-versed in Scripture, but also well-versed in science, history, and philosophy.

What it ultimately comes down to for Pope Francis as he begins his tenure as the most visible ambassador of Christ in the physical world is that he will enter this post with humility, but I do not expect him to be timid or meek.  He will rather seek to emulate the founders of his order, Saint Ignatius and Saint Francis.

The man may be 76 years old, but he is one of God’s Marines.  And to steal a saying – only two kinds of people understand marines: marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion.

Ad maiorem Dei gloriam.

Happy Thanksgiving

The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them.

Thomas Jefferson

Give thanks as you enter the gates of his temple.
    Give praise as you enter its courtyards.
    Give thanks to him and praise his name.
The Lord is good. His faithful love continues forever.
    It will last for all time to come.

Psalm 100:4-5

Bubble

What kind of Christ follower are you?  Do you welcome with open arms at your church people that dress like they just rolled out of bed or spent all night out at the club?  Do you tolerate the smell of alcohol seeping from their pores?  Do you look down on the people that aren’t as good as you?  Do you have contempt in your heart for those that are not living the life that Christ would have them live?  Do you love them?

One of the big problems that the church faces is the image of being “above it all.”  Christ did not come for the righteous… they’re already taken care of because they’re doing it all right.  Christ came for the unsaved.  What have you done today for the unsaved?

Did you help them rake their leaves?

Did you babysit their kids?

Did you help them track down their lost cat?

Did you come check on them when they were sick?

Did you buy them a beer at the local watering hole?

Did you invite them over for dinner?

Did you exhibit Christ through your actions?

Did you exhibit pride by refusing to come down to their level?

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Matthew 20:1-16

It doesn’t matter in the end whether you were saved on your deathbed or as a child.  In Christ’s eyes, you are equally brothers and children of God.  So the next time you sit in church and see someone dressed shabby, wearing something too revealing, with dozens of piercings, or smelling of stale alcohol consider that maybe, just maybe, that is EXACTLY who needs to hear the Word of God the most.

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