Crusader Chat Blog

Consider the Cross

Mar 28, 2019

“…and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of the Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.” John 19:17-18 You’ve heard the gospel; you’ve heard the story of Jesus. In fact, you’ve probably heard it many times… You’ve heard about a tree in paradise and the serpent asking Eve, “Did God really say you couldn’t eat from any tree?” You’ve heard about Adam and Eve biting the apple and sin entering the world; that mankind was separated from a holy God. You’ve heard about God choosing the Jewish people, not for anything good they did, but because He was good and calling them His own. You’ve heard about the laws and regulations that God established for Israel, to set them apart from others. You’ve heard how through the people of Israel, a child was born – Jesus. You’ve heard how Jesus lived for 33 years on earth and never sinned, having a ministry for the last three years of his life as He taught and healed. You’ve heard that Jesus told the apostles three times that He would die, but they didn’t understand. You’ve heard how Jesus was betrayed, beaten, and crucified, but rose the third day. When the world thinks of Easter, it thinks of eggs, baskets, candy, and bunnies, which are fun; but for Christians we really consider one thing – the cross.You see them everywhere, don’t you? On a necklace, on a keychain, on a bracelet, on a shirt. There’s one on my Bible. We wear crosses or adorn items with them, but the cross is not happy, the cross is not sweet. It was the most brutal instrument of death that could be used on someone; it was a form of torture. A person who was crucified did not die from a loss of blood, they died because they asphyxiated, because they couldn’t breathe; not a pleasant thing. “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” Colossians 1:19-20 “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the points of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8 “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” I Corinthians 1:17-18 “And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:38 “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23 Why are we pointed to the cross? Why are we asked to take up the cross? Because the cross is offensive. Because we must consider the cross. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And 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 2:20 What does that mean? It is at the cross that we recognize who we are. It is at the cross that we see our sin. It is at the cross that we stand face to face with our sin. We are more sinful than we have ever imagined. We have gone rogue, we have rebelled against the very God of the universe. We rejoice in the empty tomb. We celebrate the glorious resurrection of Jesus. But, if you are truly going to see salvation, it must be at the cross. What do you see? Do you see Him hanging there? Do you see the crown of thorns? Do you see the nails in His hands and in His feet? When we stand at the cross, what do we see? That we’re sinners in desperate need of a Savior. One day we will stand before God, and He will not ask if we were good (we weren’t); He won’t ask if we kept the law (we didn’t). The only claim we will have to heaven is Jesus Christ and His death at the cross. And once we’ve been there, once we’ve encountered Jesus Christ, we will never be the same.

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Love is in the Air

Feb 28, 2019

Posted on February 12, 2019 by Joanna Hopkins, first grade teacher This week is Valentine’s Day, and we know what that means. Love is in the air! As children, we all dream about happily ever after. We pine away waiting for the knight on the white horse or daydream about love that is never anything less than perfect. When you think of perfect love, who do you think of? While many of you probably think of Cinderella and Prince Charming; when I think of perfect love, my thoughts turn to Adam and Eve. Kind of a bad choice for “perfect love” you might say; but Adam and Eve, while best known for the single worst mistake in history, were still the first couple ever made for each other in the literal and spiritual sense. God made Eve especially for Adam. She was made for him and from him. Their relationship was God’s handiwork and despite the whole apple thing, they created quite the life together. Just like many love stories today, I have never turned a pumpkin into a carriage and my husband has never trotted in on a white horse to save me from some wicked queen. However, I have turned lemons into lemonade many days, and he makes the cutest neigh when he gives our kids piggyback rides around the yard. We bicker from time to time. We don’t go dancing on Friday nights or awake every morning to breakfast in bed. He snores. I nag. He watches too much Sports Center and I watch too much Lifetime. But while we two are far from perfect, we love each other perfectly. God created our marriage in His perfect manner, in His perfect way … as only He can do. God tells us in 1 John 4:12, “If we love one another, God dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us.” So, even though Adam and Eve were the epitomes of imperfection, their imperfection was made perfect in their love for one another. No matter how flawed they were, their marriage was created in perfect love because the Master created it and He dwelt within the midst. Don’t stress over living up to the fairytale. Your love story, no matter how simple or how elaborate, was designed by God. He perfected it. He wrote it. He even illustrated it and signed his name on your copy. He’s the author and the finisher. (Hebrews 12:2) Happily ever after doesn’t always come with ball gowns and white horses. Most of the time, it comes with sweat pants and minivans. But that’s ok, because if it comes from God, it’s perfect and nothing less. In modern day, when we think of love in the Bible, we think of 1 Corinthians 13: “Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (I Corinthians 13:4-7) There are a lot of expectations for Valentine’s Day. Someone, probably a Hallmark employee, decided that February 14th would be the day to declare and demonstrate your love to that special someone. Cards, flowers, and chocolates caught on quickly and became a near requirement even for preschool children. But what gets lost in finding the perfect card or gift is the very essence of what love is and how we can best share that with those around us. I Corinthians 13 is the famous biblical love chapter in Christian circles and beyond. It’s beautiful because it describes the kind of perfect love that God has for us and through him we are able to love our spouses, children, extended family, co-workers, and neighbors this same way. It’s an active love; a love that is more committed to that person than our own feelings at the time. Gift giving isn’t even mentioned because this love, God’s perfect love, is worth so much more than anything money could ever buy. Sometimes a gift is a hit and sometimes it’s a miss. In any case, as either the giver or recipient, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking the gift is the sum of how much we love or are loved. We can enjoy Valentine’s Day as a good excuse to spoil the ones we love and share God’s love in a special way with those who are lonely and hurting. But let’s stay focused: no material thing or sentimental card can ever replace the simple gestures of God’s love expressed every day. So remember as we love others this week and beyond: Love them like Jesus.

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