Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Your Life or His: Top 25 Jesus Quotes: #11

Today's Jesus quote could also qualify as another "You Have Heard That It Was Said" entry.

It comes to us from Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the moral and public policy agency of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

I've got just enough of the 1970s left in me that those credentials would normally be enough for me to move on to a different quote, but these six sentences contain some things that deserve some consideration:

For too long, we’ve called unbelievers to “invite Jesus into your life.” Jesus doesn’t want to be in your life. Your life is a wreck. Jesus calls you into his life. And his life isn’t boring or purposeless or static. It’s wild and exhilarating and unpredictable.

I understand, of course, that there are plenty of people who will immediately take umbrage at the phrase "your life is a wreck." And I don't blame them. At surface level, not every unbeliever is living a miserable life. For that matter, at surface level, not every believer is having a grand ol' time.

But let's get beyond the surface level. When you think about deep satisfaction, sense of purpose, eternal significance...how are you doing?

In those kinds of categories, I don't need a Jesus-shaped bandage or a gulp of God-elixir to temporarily cover-up my hurt or disguise my symptoms. I don't need a Jesus wristband or a Holy Spirit bobblehead as an accessory.

Truth is...I need to back up several yards, get a running start, and hurl myself full-tilt into "the reckless, raging fury that they call the love of God."

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Eleven Things I've Learned About Love By Listening To Music

I've learned a few things about love by listening to songs on the radio.

Love will find a way.
Love will keep us together.
Love is all you need.
Love isn't always on time.
Love is an open door.
You've got to hide your love away.
Can't buy me love.
Only love can break your heart.
Love is a battlefield.

When a man loves a woman, he can't keep his mind on nothin' else. He'd change the world for the good thing he's found.

According to Johnny Cash, love is a burning thing, and it makes a fiery ring. A ring of fire into which one can fall.

More than anything else, we hear about falling in love. Like it’s something that uncontrollably happens to you.

Yes, there is a certain level of the unexplainable that happens when you find yourself being attracted to one person instead of all the other people you’ve met, but the love that Paul wrote about in First Corinthians isn’t a lacy, fuzzy-focused thing like an emotion. The love that couples say “I do” to isn’t as flimsy as a feeling.

Brides and grooms promise to love each other as long as they both shall live, but that's not a feeling or an emotion. You can’t promise to feel a certain way for the rest of your life.

“I will always like Frosted Flakes more than any other cereal! The Beatles will always be my favorite band!”

You can’t do that, but you can promise to behave a certain way. You can commit to being patient. You can promise to be kind. You can devote yourself to humbly putting the other person’s needs first and to always protect, always trust, always hope and persevere.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...Love hurts, but I don't care what they say, I won't stay in a world without love.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Acts 2:36-38 With Footnotes

"All the people of Israel, then, are to know for sure that it is this Jesus, whom you nailed to the cross, that God has made Lord and Messiah!"

When the people heard this, they were deeply troubled, and said to Peter and the other apostles, "What shall we do, brothers?"

Peter said to them, "Turn away from your sins, each one of you, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins will be forgiven..."

I don't wanna go home
Without sharing the Word
How He came to wash us
With His blood precious
And I start crying

Don't you wanna be free?
Things that hassle your soul
Keep your life from livin'
And your give from givin'
Are you dying?

If you could do it from the start again
And change those things that you'd rather hadn't been
Stop your lying

Jesus offers the way
You can be born again
All your past forgiven
And new life to live in
He's worth trying

Now you can do it from your heart, my friend
And change those things that you'd rather hadn't been
Stop denying!
Are you dying?
Stop your lying!

"I Don't Wanna Go Home"
©1974 Latter Rain Music and Word Music, Inc.

Truth is...once I stop lying to myself; stop pretending that I'm basically a good person and start believing the bad news that my sin nailed Jesus to the cross...once I do that, then I'm able to appreciate the good news that it's because of that sacrificial death that I can go Home with a clear conscience.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

You Have Heard That It Was Said (3)...

..."There's no time like the present," but I say unto you:

There's no time BUT the present.

Different scientists will argue in different ways, but it seems clear to me that the only moment of time in which we can actually operate is the present moment.

The past is gone and the future is just a mental concept. All we have is the eternal Now. (And no, I didn't know anything about Alan Watts until after thinking of that term.)

And Now doesn't last very long. Several Nows have become inconsequential memories since you began reading this post.

But just because they are short-lived and faster than a speeding bullet, it doesn't mean they don't add up to something pretty significant.

Something pretty valuable.

I heard the following as part of a sermon by Alistair Begg, but it comes from Marc Levy's book, What If It Were True.

If you want to know the value of one year, just ask a student who failed a course.

If you want to know the value of one month, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.

If you want to know the value of one hour, ask the lovers waiting to meet.

If you want to know the value of one minute, ask the person who just missed the bus.

If you want to know the value of one second, ask the person who just escaped death in a car accident.

And if you want to know the value of one-hundredth of a second, ask the athlete who won a silver medal in the Olympics.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15-16  NIV)

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

What Would Jesus Do?: Top 25 Jesus Quotes: #12

When a world-famous Hindu mentions Jesus in a positive way, a person might want to stop and think about it just a bit.

The famous Hindu is Mahatma Gandhi.

The Jesus shout-out is worthy of contemplation:

Live like Jesus did,
and the world will listen.

While I can't be sure, I'm thinking Gandhi wasn't necessarily referring to wearing sandals, keeping Kosher, and never marrying. And I'd be willing to wager he wasn't focusing on serving a carpentry internship, walking everywhere, or speaking in Aramaic, either.

What I DO think will make a difference in this world...enough of a difference that people will notice...is if we who bear the name Christian will live lives fueled by generosity instead of greed, compassion instead of selfishness, and humility instead of prideful aggression.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...the point isn't so much What Would Jesus Do? as it is How Would Jesus Be?

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Acts 2:36 With Footnotes

All the people of Israel, then, are to know for sure that it is this Jesus, whom you nailed to the cross, that God has made Lord and Messiah!

Open your eyes and see
That the morning comes with Me
For I am the light of the world
No one goes to the Father but by Me
Why must we be so blind and not see
That the Light is free?
Oh, just to think that He died
Thinking of you and me
And the lives we would lead
In the sins of our words and deeds
And yet He loves you
He loves me
He loves us, hallelujah!
Oh Jesus loves you
And He loves me
He loves us, hallelujah!
He took away my sin and shame...

Lord, here I am
And I can't change a thing
Except my appearance
And that don't mean a thing
I don't wanna hide
Or tear myself in two
That's not up to me, Lord
That's up to You
Oh, Lord, let me see how I've used You
To sing my song

Yes, I know I do wrong
Even though I belong
And yet You love me
He loves me
He loves me, hallelujah!
Oh Jesus loves me
Yes He loves me
He loves me, hallelujah!
He took away my sin and shame...

Lord, here I am
©1974 Latter Rain Music and Word Music, Inc.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...I don't know exactly what each phrase of this song means, but the main thing is the plain thing: Jesus was motivated by love to pay the debt of my rebellion, He continues to love me beyond measure, and my appropriate response to that is to place myself at His disposal.

Lord, here I am.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Being Weird Because Normal Isn't Working

It was my daughter-in-law who took the risk of recommending I read Craig Groeschel's book, Weird. I mean, it IS kind of funny to tell a person that you're pretty sure they would appreciate a piece of writing with that title.

And yet, here I am, telling you all the very same thing.

And I've got a weird way of whetting your appetite.

You know how, in order to break up endless pages of nothing but text, publishers will pull out a quote from a page and print it in a call-out box or sticking out into the margin so that it becomes a graphic instead of "just words"? Well, let me share a bunch of those from the pages of this book...

  • You have enough time to do everything God wants you to do.
  • While normal people continue to add items to their to-do list, maybe you should do something weird instead: start a to-don't list.
  • When is the last time you were completely at rest?
  • Maybe the question is not "What's in your wallet?" but "What's in your heart?"
  • Giving is not something we do; generous is who we are.
  • If the grass looks greener somewhere else, it's time to water your own lawn.
  • Have you noticed that we tend to judge others by their actions, but we judge ourselves by our intentions?
  • When we place the approval of other people ahead of doing what we know will please our Father, we're creating a false idol.
  • Why work so hard to be normal when God created you to stand out?

Truth is...Groeschel isn't the first person to encourage Christians to be weird. You've got to read it in the King James Version to get the full impact, but Jesus' disciple, Peter, said it in his first letter: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."

So go forth and be weird!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Where Do My Loyalties Lie?: Top 25 Jesus Quotes: #13

Something about watching romantic comedies makes us relationship gurus.

We can see potential threats to fidelity and loyalty from a mile away...within the unrealistic confines of one of Hollywood's steadfast genres.

  • "No! Don't go out with him! Can't you see he doesn't really care about you?"
  • "That guy better stop hanging out after work with her..."
  • "What are they THINKING??!?"

But when it comes to real life, we struggle a bit.

In fact, we struggle so much that it wouldn't hurt to get the 13th quote about Jesus (on azquotes.com's top-25 list) put on a pair of contact lenses so it was always in front of us:

"Beware of anything
that competes with your loyalty
to Jesus Christ."  -  Oswald Chambers

Truth is...Whether it's commitment to a sports team or loyalty to a job or even dedication to a particular idea about Jesus, anything that takes precedence ahead of allegiance to the actual person of Jesus is a foundation of shifting sand.

P.S. You are invited to have Chambers' "My Utmost for His Highest" daily readings actually read to you by checking out the "My Utmost for His Highest Daily Reading" Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/UtmostReading)

Or...you could subscribe to this blog's author's YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/deweyroth/featured)

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Acts 2:29-35 With Footnotes

Brothers: I must speak to you quite plainly about our patriarch David. He died and was buried, and his grave is here with us to this very day. He was a prophet, and he knew God's promise to him: God made a vow that he would make one of David's descendants a king, just as David was. David saw what God was going to do, and so he spoke about the resurrection of the Messiah when he said,
"He was not abandoned in the world of the dead;   his flesh did not decay."

God has raised this very Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses to this fact. He has been raised to the right side of God and received from him the Holy Spirit, as his Father had promised; and what you now see and hear is his gift that he has poured out on us. For David himself did not go up into heaven; rather he said,
"The Lord said to my Lord:'Sit here at my right side,until I put your enemies as a footstool under your feet'."

I can see how blind I really was now
My lies were eyes for a blind man
Look at me, my Lord said look at me now
And He gave sight to this blind man

The devil's lost again
The devil's lost again

I can tell how deaf I really was now
My ears were jeers of the dying
Woah, Living Word, my Lord's the Living Word now
He spoke, I woke from my screaming

The devil's lost again
The devil's lost again

The devil is a liar
The devil is a liar

I could feel how dead I really was now
My pride was the guide through a graveyard
Rise and walk, my Lord said rise and walk now
My life is yours for the giving

The devil's lost again
The devil's lost again

The devil is a liar
The devil is a liar

"The Devil's Lost Again"
©1974 Latter Rain Music and Word Music, Inc.


*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...The totally rocking nature of this song absolutely fits the message of Satan's defeat because of Jesus' victory over death. "The devil ain't got no hold on me!" (Want some more righteous rock-n-roll? Click that quote and rock on.)

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

You Have Heard That It Was Said (2)...

...God never gives you more than you can handle. But I say unto thee...mule fritters!

Don't get me wrong, I understand how the idea sounds Biblical. We hear "God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear" and think, "See? God won't give you more than you can handle!"

But we need to read ALL of 1 Corinthians 10:13 to get the whole concept: "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

     1.  Paul is specifically talking about temptation; not the stressful or worrisome life situations that threaten to overwhelm us.
     2.  Even if we viewed those life situations as "temptations," God is not promising to make us powerful enough to blast them out of the water. He is promising to "provide a way out."  He is promising to help us endure them.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...God is not so much interested in strengthening us to the point of being able to handle anything that comes our way as He is longing to have us depend on Him: "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me." (Matthew 11:29)

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Self-Awareness Made Holy: Top 25 Jesus Quotes: #14

It was C. S. Lewis who said, "Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less."

The Apostle Paul wrote, "Through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith." (Romans 12:3 NASB)

I would generally agree that thinking of oneself at all is a dangerous, slippery path.

And yet...

Brennan Manning traveled a long and twisted road to get to a place where his observations on life and love and himself mattered and were able to influence and encourage hundreds of thousands of people.

From page 19 of The Ragamuffin Gospel, this is Brennan at his best:

"My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it."

Truth is...I believe the more I can see myself in this light, the more I will be able to live a life of powerful humility...like Christ.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Acts 2:28 With Footnotes

You have shown me the paths that lead to life, and by your presence you will fill me with joy.

Stop, think it over
Over again
Stop, think it over
Over my friend
You can have these
If you're born again
My friend
So don't you try to hide any longer
'Cause you need love
You won't have to cry any longer
'Cause you'll have love
In your heart...

"Love Peace Joy"
©1974 Latter Rain Music and Word Music, Inc.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...When I suggest Jesus as the appropriate object of your devotion, I'm not being judgmental or pushy. I'm just "one beggar telling another beggar where to find the bread" (Daniel T. Niles).

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Singlemindedness and the Right-Fielder

We turn to Lucy Van Pelt for today's reminder that attitude is everything.

Truth is..."If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail." ~ Abraham Maslow

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Crux of the Matter: Top 25 Jesus Quotes: #15

Number 15 on our hit parade of quotes about Jesus comes to us from the well-known pen of Oswald Chambers. His book, My Utmost for His Highest, was first published in 1927 (ten years after his death), has never been out of print, and remains a top-seller in devotional literature.

The thought being featured today is this:
"The center of salvation is the Cross of Jesus, and the reason it is so easy to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much."

Don't misunderstand. To say that salvation is easy to obtain is certainly true, but it doesn't mean that fleshing that out on a day-by-day basis is a stroll in the park. There's probably a good reason Paul tells us to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling." (Philippians 2:12)

In fact, in the very next verse, Paul is kind enough to tell us that good reason. It's because "it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose."

The creator of all that exists is working within me to accomplish His purpose. Just as He was working through Jesus Christ by sending Him to the cross. If that doesn't fill me with a fearsome sense of awe and enough wonder to set my knees to knocking, what will?

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is..."Never forget what Jesus did for you. Never take lightly what it cost Him. And never assume that if it cost Him His very life, that it won't also cost you yours." (Rich Mullins)

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Acts 2: 25-27 With Footnotes

David said about Jesus,
     "I saw the Lord before me at all times;
       he is by my right side, so that I will
       not be troubled.
     Because of this my heart is glad
       and my words are full of joy;
     and I, mortal though I am,
       will rest assured in hope,
     because you will not abandon my soul in
       the world of the dead"

Mile after mile
I am walking and holding to the One who
Cares, really cares
And who calls me His own
Life is a highway
We don't have to walk alone
Just give Him a try, maybe
You'll sing like me

With Jesus I'm stayin'
With Jesus I'm goin'
In Jesus I'm livin'
Each and every day of my life
With Jesus I'm stayin'
With Jesus I'm goin'
And Jesus is teachin' me love each day

Trial after trial
He is drawing me closer to the One who
Loves, really loves
More than my mind can know
Love one another
Is what He has clearly shown
Just call someone brother
And then you will see

"With Jesus"
©1974 Latter Rain Music and Word Music, Inc.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...Jesus wasn't just puttin' on the Ritz when He said he would be with us always...even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). And if that doesn't have an effect on how I'm staying and going and living each and every day of my life, that's on me...not Him.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

I Never Got What I Wanted

I find it very difficult to believe that the following poem was written by a 14-year-old boy, but that is apparently the case, according to where it is excerpted from: the book Calm My Anxious Heart by Linda Dillow, originally from Who Gets the Glory? by Dr. Charles R. Swindoll. (Thanks to blogger Kara @ Just1Step for giving proper credit.)

It was spring but it was summer I wanted;
the warm days and great outdoors.

It was summer but it was fall I wanted;
the colorful leaves and the cool dry air.

It was fall but it was winter I wanted;
the beautiful snow and the joy of the holiday season.

It was winter but it was spring I wanted;
the warmth and the blossoming of nature.

I was a child but it was adulthood I wanted;
the freedom and the respect.

I was twenty but it was thirty I wanted;
to be mature and sophisticated.

I was middle-aged but it was twenty I wanted;
the youth and the free spirit.

I was retired but it was middle-aged I wanted;
the presence of a mind without limitations.

My life was over but I never got what I wanted.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...This gives added weight to the almost-flippant phrase, "Wherever you go in life, be there."

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Truth by the Bald Guy: Top 25 Jesus Quotes: #16

In the last several years, Tony Campolo has ruffled a few conservative feathers with some of his liberal-leaning views about hot-button topics, but in the times I've personally heard him speak (back in my youth ministry days), he never failed to wake me from my complacency, point me in the right direction, and give me a firm shove.

This quote of his that comes in 16th on azquotes.com's list of top 25 quotes about Jesus carries on the tradition.

Jesus never says to the poor: "come find the church," but he says to those of us in the church: "go into the world and find the poor, hungry, homeless, imprisoned."

Truth is...You can read the whole story in Matthew 25:31-46, but Jesus' punch line (and it packs quite a punch) is, "I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me."

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Acts 2: 22-24 With Footnotes

Listen to these words, men of Israel! Jesus of Nazareth was a man whose divine mission was clearly shown to you by the miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through him; you yourselves know this, for it took place here among you.

I fall in love so easy
With everything that I see
That comes through the light of His love
Sets my soul to flight
As He woos me and makes me new
I hope you're falling in love, too
'Cause Jesus loves you, too

Let the Son keep shinin'
Let the Son keep shinin'
Let the Son keep shinin' through
Let the Son keep shinin'
Let the Son keep shinin'
Let the Son keep shinin' through

Lookin' at the Son don't bother me now
The darkness is gone out of me somehow
There's a brighter Light within me
I'll stand in the presence of my Lord
Knowin' I'm not guilty anymore
His Son took away my fears today
There's been a change done in me by Jesus
There's been a change done in me somehow
There's been a change done in me by Jesus
There's been a change done in me

Let the change come
Let it come, let it come
Let the change come

Lookin' at the Son don't bother me now
The darkness is gone out of me somehow

There's a brighter Light within
I'm free from sin, I'm clean within
The darkness has gone out of me now

"I fall in Love/Change"
©1974 Latter Rain Music and Word Music, Inc.

God, in his own will and knowledge, had already decided that Jesus would be handed over to you; and you killed him, by letting sinful men nail him to the cross. (At this point, the liner notes for 2nd Chapter of Acts' album, With Footnotes, put a footnote pointing readers to "Easter Song." But since we've already covered Keith Green's version of that song, let's move on.) But God raised him from the dead; he set him free from the pains of death, because it was impossible that death should hold him prisoner.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...I'm not really sure why this song is referenced at this place in the chapter, other than giving a celebratory commentary on "it took place here among you." But you know what? I'm also not really sure why Jesus chooses to set me free and shine through me and makes me all that I can be.