To Be Deeply Crucified Part 1

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To Be Deeply Crucified

PART ONE

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”   Galatians 6:14 (KJV)

Gal 6 14

For all this Biblical savvy I like to think I have there are those times where I fall back and wonder what it really means to understand that I have been crucified with Christ. If I stare at Romans 6:6, “We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” long enough, I can come into an agreement that freedom is achieved when my own idea of right living gets exchanged for His idea of right living and I fall into obedience to that but “crucified with Christ” just on that alone…do I really grasp the idea? I blame this moment of heavy contemplation on mornings spent with A.W. Tozer.

I bought a lot of books written by Tozer over the summer, even an audiobook to listen to in my truck and he really has my head in a fist fight with my heart. It’s like in my mechanical mind (that I like to think I have) I can seemingly just connect the dots in Scripture that support the understanding for a Savior but in my “compassionate” heart (which I also like to think I have) I hear, “You ain’t like that. You ain’t like that at all.” And the Tozer statement that moved me into such thinking is, “The primary difficulty in the evangelical Church is that we have been trying to think our way into God. Nothing could be more futile and frustrating.” OUCH….Am I trying to think my way into God? Hmmm, let me ponder upon this one.

Now before any of you deeper theologians begin to shout out the “You must first yield to the Spirit” anthem allow me to share a little more of Tozer. “The anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing wrote, “Of the shortness of this word, and how it may not be come to by curiosity of wit, nor imagination…Remember him of longing of God both tried to think their way through.” In other words, it is not through your thinking or imagination that you will reach God. In all of this, there is an element of the unknown.” Ya see it’s that unknown stuff that gets me by the tail and makes me stop and think, “Am I crucified with Christ on the surface (how does that work?) or am I truly deeply crucified with Him?”

Many-a-folk can say they have a deep love for Jesus Christ and all though I wish not to diminish that would that include being deeply crucified with Him? Tozer states in his book, “The Crucified Life” that there are two contradictory elements when it comes to Christendom. And it ain’t Calvinism vs Arminianism or liberalism vs fundamentalism, it’s the reason why we think Jesus came into the world. Okay so now here’s where the gloves come off in the fist fight between head and heart, because I stand a good chance of trying to think my way into the Savior. And this is where it does get futile and frustrating…so what’s a boy to do?

Well for the moment he has to end this discussion for now but when I pick it back up I will try to examine the reason why Jesus came into the world through the reckoning of A.W. Tozer. But until then I wonder if you, like me, have that same fist fight going on within you? If you are that’s great because it says you are still considering the things of God within you and you are working out the plan of salvation for your life, but if you’re not please consider this.  There are three kinds of man (and woman), the spiritual, the natural and the carnal. The spiritual walks in maturity of his faith; the natural walks in the things of this world and the carnal walks the fence between the two. If you find yourself content to straddle the fence heed these words…

“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” Revelation 3:15-16 (ESV) Chris Hughes is a weekly Freedom Fighter blogger and a graduate of the Colony of Mercy. You can write to Chris @ cphuges515@verizon.net

Daily Bible Reading: John 5-6

Think About This: “I refuse to be discouraged about anything, but it gives me a heavy heart to walk among Christians who have wandered for 40 long years in the wilderness, not going back to sin but not going on onto the holy life. Wandering in an aimless circle, sometimes a little warmer, sometimes a little colder, sometimes a little holier, sometimes very unholy, but never going on.”—A.W. Tozer

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Jesus Knows — Jesus Cares

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Jesus – Knows; Jesus Cares

Isaiah 9:6 – “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace.”

Jesus Knows

Well here we are in December 2014 and we as believers in Jesus Christ, once again are celebrating the birth of our Savior while the rest of the world is caught up in the Christmas hustle and bustle.  Oh, wait a minute, are we celebrating his birth or are we caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas.

What are you thinking about on this wonderful snowy day in December (maybe there isn’t snow where you are, and by the time you read this our little snow may be gone).  But nevertheless, what are your thoughts?  Are you thinking about the birth of our Savior?  Why do we need to think about that?  Or, are you thinking about the presents that you haven’t bought yet, or the presents that you are anticipating getting?  Again, there is nothing really wrong with giving and receiving gifts but when that is what is consuming our thoughts and actions something is out of tune.

Our verse above tells us some things about Jesus and I want to explore the first one with us today.  Many people who have addictive backgrounds have tons of feelings during the holiday season that many folks just do not know about nor care about.  Many addicts (current or former) struggle with loneliness, isolation, rejection, fear, anger, resentments, jealousy, etc…  Isaiah under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit reveals to us that a Son is born.  Whose son?  God’s son and he also tells us that he will be called “Wonderful Counselor”.  Have you ever thought hard about that?  He is not just a counselor, no he is a Wonderful Counselor.  So what can we glean from this.  I will admit to this beforehand that the following thoughts are not my own, they are from my Pastor, Jamie Mitchell.

So, what does it mean to be a wonderful counselor?

  1. Well, it means that he knows the future and if he knows the future he also is in control of the future.  We can take comfort in the fact that Jesus knows the future and has everything under control. Isaiah 46:9-10; Revelation 13:7-8; Genesis 15:3
  2. It also means that he knows us and he even knew us before time began.  He has a plan for us and he even has it all figured out. Psalm 139:13-17; Jeremiah 1:5
  3. Jesus also knows who his children are.  He also knows those who are not his.  Romans 8:29-30; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:19
  4. He knows the intentions of our hearts (now this can be scary or exciting).  He has X-ray vision into all of our hearts. He knows our thoughts and what we are going to do before we even do it. Deuteronomy 31:21; Ezekiel 11:5; Acts 1:24; 15:8
  5. God knows everything we have done in the world. He knows all that we are doing at this very moments (past and future moments as well). Revelation 2:2-3; 2:19; 3:1; 3:8
  6. God know all of our needs and he also knows how to meet them.  He knows them before we even make them known to him.  I also like what Pastor Bill Raws always said about God always send the answer before we even know we have a need.  Matthew 6:7-8; Luke 16:15
  7. God know what our enemies will do; he knows their schemes, Jeremiah 18:23; and Isaiah 66:16-18 says, a time is coming when they will see his glory.
  8. God knows when we are going through a trial.  He knows the way that I take, he has seen my afflictions, and he is familiar with my suffering. Job 23;10; Psalm 31:7; Exodus 3:7; Revelation 2:9
  9. God knows all wisdom, he knows how to deal with all the things he knows about us. He knows how to handle all of the above things. John 16:30; Colossians 2:2-3

So, are you trusting in the Jesus who has revealed himself in the baby in the manger.  He came because he knows.. He died because he knows.  He lives because he knows.  Not only does he know, He cares.  He cares about all those things that are listed above because if he did not care, he would not have come.  We celebrate because he is God, God with us.  He has made life abundant for us.  He is abundant life.  He knows, He cares.  Doug Barger is Director of Men’s Ministry at Bethesda Mission. You can write to Doug at dbarger2030@comcast.net

Daily Bible Reading:  John 3-4

Think About This: The secret of Christian quietness is not indifference, but the knowledge that God is my Father, He loves me, I shall never think of anything He will forget, and worry becomes an impossibility. Oswald Chambers

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Home Sweet Home

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Home Sweet Home

Therefore we do not lose heart… 2nd Corinthians 4:16a

In the twelve plus years I’ve worked at Keswick I’ve had two supervisors, first Ken Brown, who as time goes by becomes bigger and bigger and I count it a blessing to have known him as a father figure. When I think of the legacy of Ken I will always remember a godly man with a good work ethic. A man who was able to connect the dots of faith and life.

Home Sweet Home

Then there’s Henry who has always been like a big brother, someone who always has time whenever I asked. Similar to Ken, Henry is able to walk a godly walk and still be a good example of showing a practical way to live.

But at the end of the day these two men have impressed on me the ingredients to secure a faith that does not “lose heart”.

Ken, who will be celebrating nine years in Glory on the 16th of December was a great inspiration as I watched him battle thru leukemia, never giving up but never a shadow of fear. Ken knew there was a better place ahead, a place called Heaven. I can still recall him quoting a verse from 2nd Corinthians 4 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day”. He would share the comfort he was experiencing as he focused on his Savior.

Henry, has been an inspiration, who, although lives and works at Keswick, I see a man called by God to serve at here but makes no bones about it, New Jersey is not his home. Henry “says” he enjoys going hunting back in Pennsylvania but each time he comes back the high point of his trip is always time spent with “Dad”. I have a picture of the Christian walk that Henry displays of how we are called to be here but only as sojourners and pilgrims, strangers on the Earth. That our real joy come with the great expectation of one day being with the Father.

2nd Corinthians 4 is always my “go to” chapter when I’m feeling “hard pressed on every side, perplexed but never crushed or in despair”. The scripture is great but when the Holy Spirit points out the parables in life it brings it all together. There is a lot of things money can buy, but when we have the “blessed assurance” that culminates chapter 4 “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” it’s much easier to face the days ahead.  Rob Russomano is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and serves full-time at America’s Keswick. You can write to Rob at rrussomano@americaskeswick.org

Daily Bible Reading: John 1-2

Think About This: The giving of gifts is not something man invented. God started the giving spree when he gave a gift beyond words, the unspeakable gift of His Son. Robert Flatt

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Reflections of His Glory

Have you downloaded our 2015 Bible Reading Plan? Join us this year as we focus of the theme: Live Courageously

Reflection of His Glory

First, I want to thank everyone for all wisdom and insights. I can admit I have never been exposed to that much truth in one week since I’ve been a Christian. Even though people came from different perspectives, I realized it was all truth. Nonetheless, though divine truth is intolerant, and God’s wisdom is vast, it leaves room for multiple perspectives.

Reflections of His Glory

From the responses, I realize that everyone is a firm believer that Jesus is Lord and Savior, and all works of justification come directly from Him. “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)

The general consensus was in regards to works, it is a separate entity of our salvation, but rather the result of it. And since we are all positioned in Christ, our life, in turn should produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, gentleness, etc.

Let me give you the reason I started this Q&A. I was getting gas at Wawa and as I was walking into the building to grab a cup of coffee. I heard the sound of a male voice speaking aggressively about the Gospel of Jesus. My first thought was, Wow, I should be doing more of this! Secondly, I thought perhaps I should join in. I decided to let him go and went about my business. As I went to leave, the man continued to shout, waving his hands excitedly. However, I caught a glimpse of what he was holding – two packs of cigarettes.

My first reaction was, “What a poor testimony to a non-believer; to share the Gospel but not reflect that transformational power of turning from sin.” However, I was quickly reminded that I do not always line up completely to the truth in my own walk. Then the verse came to mind that “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful.” (1 Corinthians 6:12)

God has granted us a fresh start, a new beginning, allowing us to be the reflection of His glory. Thank you again for your time and the wisdom you have blessed with. Chaplain Juan Mendez is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and serves full-time at America’s Keswick. You can write Juan at jmendez@americaskeswick.org

Daily Bible Reading: 2 Peter 1-3; Jude

Think About This: Jesus Christ went more willingly to the cross than we do to the throne of grace. Thomas Watson

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

His Name Shall be Called Wonderful Counselor

Have you downloaded our 2015 Bible Reading Plan? Join us this year as we focus of the theme: Live Courageously

His Name Shall Be Called Wonderful Counselor

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Wonderful Counselor

Last Sunday I was privileged to attend Harvest Bible Chapel in Lancaster, PA and we heard a great message by our friend, Dr. Jamie Mitchell from his Christmas series, “He Looks Just Like His Father.”

In his message, Pastor Jamie shares some of the things that this Wonderful Counselor knows based on looking at 4000 passages of Scripture in preparation for his message.

Here are 9 things that our Wonderful Counselor knows. Check out the Scriptures related to each:

  1. God knows the future: Isaiah 46:9-10; Revelation 13:7-8; Genesis 15:13; Isaiah 41:21-28
  2. God knows us before we were born: Psalm 139:13-17; Jeremiah 1:5
  3. God knows who are His children: Romans 8:29-30; 1 Peter 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:19
  4. God knows the intention of a man’s heart: Deuteronomy 31:21; Ezekiel 11:5; Acts 1:24; Acts 15:8
  5. God knows everything we do in the world: Revelation 2:2-3; Revelation 2:9; Revelation 3:1; Revelation 3:8
  6. God knows our needs: Matthew 6:7-8; Luke 16:15
  7. God knows what our enemies will do: Jeremiah 18:23; Isaiah 66:16-18
  8. God knows when we are going through trials: Job 23:10; Psalm 31:7; Exodus 3:7; Revelation 2:9
  9. God knows all wisdom: John 16:30; Colossians 2:2-3

I am very thankful this morning, the beginning of a new week, that I have a a Wonderful Counselor that “ … knows everything. There is not one thing that God does not know or is outside of His understanding. And He knows all things perfectly!”

I hope that encourages you on this first day of a new week! Thanks for joining me on the journey. Dr. Bill Welte is President/CEO of America’s Keswick. You can write Bill at bwelte@americaskeswick.org

Daily Bible Reading: 2 Timothy 1-4

Think About This: However many and however great and burdensome your sins may be, with God there is greater mercy. Just as His majesty is, so likewise is His mercy. Tikhon

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

A Dirty Face

A Dirty Face

“It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”  Luke 6:41-42 (The Message)

A Dirty Face

Say what you will about my use of The Message for this passage of Scripture but this writing might be just as punch-in-the-face as Eugene Peterson’s interpretation of what Jesus said in Luke’s Gospel account. But to clear the air on my feeling about using The Message when we speak of Kingdom things is this, if you have already been steeped in God’s Word (ex. KJV, NKJV, NASB or ESV translations) then I feel you are in the position to decode the Eugene Peterson writing for folks. If you are a milk drinker still then do NOT rest the entirety of your theology on what you read in The Message…it will be tainted. (1Peter 2:2) So “wipe that ugly sneer off your face” and lets dig into something that has always been an issue with Secularland and Christendom alike…Fault-Finding!

We all do it in one way or another. Either it be out in the wide open for all to see or in the deep caverns of our hearts, we find fault with one another. I hear it every day everywhere I go…it is as if we all have been given a red pen (school teachers know where I am going here) and put an “X” on what we think to be wrong in the world around us. In Secularland we kinda expect that. Theirs is a world that constantly changes the rules to accommodate the game, changes the theory to accommodate the times and changes the standards to accommodate the bad behavior. Secularland runs on its own strength because The Creator has given them over to a reprobate mind (Romans 1:18-32).

They can’t it in their heads that the creation CANNOT create or recreate its creator. So basically, if you don’t know where you come from and can’t accept ELOHIM as The Creator, you’re gonna get what ya get!! But in Christendom, fault-finding has become somewhat of an art form. We tend to hide it under the banner of “good counsel” and “encouragement” but it usually starts with “You know I can’t help to notice this about you…” It’s not that the behavior isn’t there in a person but there are times when those Holy Spirit wings we think we have start to flappin’ and we can’t help ourselves.

If we looked at fault-finding like the apostle Paul’s does in 1Timothy, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” we might just see a bit more clearly on how fault-finding works. If we maintain our position as “but for the grace of God there go I” we might just reach some understanding. Some guy I know who works at America’s Keswick who won’t remain nameless, Jim Kennedy, said it is like we have the telescope backwards. It’s like the speck in someone else’s eye is the size of a 2×4 and our 2×4 looks like a speck. If we all just realize that we have that speck then what’s the need for the telescope?

Today I’m telling you that my face is just as dirty as yours…deal with it! I’ll share my washcloth with you, the soap is still Jesus Christ and if you’re bothered by that, go vertical with it…deal with that too!! I’ve been called to work out my salvation with fear and trembling nowhere does it saying to do that for others but if you need me to help you along then I can to a point. It’s Jesus that work’s in you and through so all can see more clearly on who does washing. If Jesus washing the feet of His disciples has left you thinking that it’s all humility you’re right but remember this…it is Jesus doing the washing. Scripture is clear on this; apart from Him you can do NOTHING!! So wash your own face first…I’ll pass the soap!! Amen? Chris Hughes is a graduate of the Colony of Mercy and a weekly Freedom Fighter blogger

Daily Bible Reading: Hebrews 1-6

Think About This: “Jesus Christ does not want to be our helper; He wants to be our life. He does not want us to work for Him. He wants us to let Him do the work through us, using us as we use a pencil to write with—better still, using us as one of the fingers of His hand.”—Charles Trumbull

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: As pressure and stress bear down on me,
I find joy in your commands. Psalm 119:143

Give Thanks to the Lord, For He is Good

Give Thanks to the Lord, for He Is Good

Psalm 106:1 Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever!

Give Thanks

Well, it was just last week that we celebrated Thanksgiving Day and on Sunday, I was speaking to a brother in the LORD and I asked him how his holiday was.  He said, “it was great, good food, fun and fellowship but it was too short.”  I replied to him by saying, “well thanksgiving is as long or short as you make it”.  I have been thinking about how truly thankful am I, really?  Do I always give thanks like the Apostle Paul tells us to in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

This is a perplexing thing for us isn’t it.  What about those times when trouble comes, like bad news about a family member who is struggling with an addiction, financial woes, loss of job, etc.  What about health issues?  Death?  Life?  Work issues, relational tensions, race relations, etc.  Are we to give thanks in ALL those circumstances?

Many of you know my wife Ellen, she has diabetes and her illness is not very kind to her.  The LORD delivered her from death a couple of years ago, which I am very thankful for but she still has daily battles with her health.  She has been battling with some type of bacterial thing for the past year + which causes the skin in her mouth to peel and every now and then she gets these little bumps on her throat.  It is a daily nuisance with her mouth just like her diabetes is a daily thing that never leaves.  She learn a few weeks ago, that she now has a tear in her tendon at the hip and might have to have surgery.  I said “might” because there was a day scheduled for surgery, but last week we went to asked the doctor some questions and because she had been having some pain in her back, he wanted to xray the back and they discovered now she has some arthritis in her back which could be causing a pinch nerve which may have cause the tear in the hip.  Give thanks, why?  For the LORD is good and His love endures forever.

It really is easy for me to say that I give thanks but when moments like these happen, I must confess that my first response is not to give thanks.  Giving thanks is a choice that I must make and when I do come around (usually takes a little time) I see that His goodness has been extended to us in ways that would have been nearly unknown had we not experienced the giving of thanks in every circumstance.  I am choosing today to extend thanksgiving by at least another day, I am choosing to give thanks to the LORD for his mercies (many of them) are new everyday and Great is His faithfulness to us.  I love the LORD because he first loved me.

Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One,

Give thanks, because He has given Jesus Christ, His Son, give thanks, with a grateful heart, give thanks, to the Holy One.

Let the poor, say that I am rich, because of what the LORD has done

Let the weak, say that I am strong, because of what the LORD has done.

Give thanks….. Give thanks.

Will you join me in extending the thanksgiving holiday and choose each day to give thanks regardless of the circumstance(s) that you find yourself in?  Thank you for standing in the gap with us even in our difficult times.  Have a great week. – Doug Barger is a dear brother and serves as Director of Men’s Ministries at Bethesda Mission. You can write to him @ dbarger2030@comcast.net

Daily Bible Reading: 1 Peter 1-5

Think About This: Satan wants to destroy our faith in God. God wants to destroy our faith in ourselves. —John Kimbell

This Week’s Verse to Memorize: As pressure and stress bear down on me,
I find joy in your commands. Psalm 119:143