I wonder how they could yell Barabbas instead of Jesus.
I wonder how they sang “Hosanna” and days later, “Crucify him.”
I wonder how Pontius could wash his hands of it, as though a dirty conscience could be so easily cleaned.
But – I am Barabbas, sinner set free.
I yell “Crucify him” as I sing praises with ease.
I am Pontius, who turned a blind eye to glory.
And yet, so Christ still died for me.
Still he died, where I should be,
a perfect love on that tree.
Trust that God is working something in you now, something you can’t imagine, a miracle beyond proportion.
Look beyond circumstances, long nights, broken trophies, mental arguments, the swirl of gossip, the false self-talk that you’ve rehearsed over and over.
Leave yesterday where it belongs.
Don’t cave in to what has happened to you.
God says you are more than that – because you are His.
As hard as it sounds: you are loved, you are treasured, you are written on the heart and mind of your Creator.
Rejoice and revel in what He has done, is doing, will do.
A reminder, dear friend: You are loved.
You might have heard that a million times, but it’s no less true.
You do have a Creator. He is with you. He is bigger than your situation and closer than your deepest hurt. He’s not mad. He is cheering for you and rooting for you this very second. He’s okay about all the things before. He sent His Son for that very reason.
You can put down the blade. You can throw away the pills. You can quit replaying those regrets in your head. You can quit the inner-loop of self-condemnation. You can forget your ex. You can walk away from the porn. You can resolve your conflicts right now. You can sign up to volunteer at that shelter. You can thank your parents for everything. You don’t have to prove your worth to the people you’ve let down. You don’t have to live up to everyone else’s vision for your life. You’re finally, finally free.
You are loved. I am loved.
As much as I love you, dear friend, He loves you infinitely more.
Believe it. Walk in it. Walk with Him.
God is in the business of breathing life into hurting places.
This is what He does, even for the least likely like you and me.
In Heaven, there will only be one person with scars. You’ll have none because he will have taken yours.
Jesus welcomes doubts, questions, confusion, frustration, venting, and disbelief. He welcomes those who draw near and say, “I feel so far.”
If you haven’t talked to him in a while, he will not bite your head off.
His arms are always open. Jesus can handle your clenching of the teeth and shaking of the fist. What he does not want is for you to stay there.
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In darkness, He rolls the stone away.
At your worst, He loves you anyway.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
— Romans 8:18
“I wish we could sometimes love the characters in real life as we love the characters in romances. There are a great many human souls whom we should accept more kindly … if we simply thought of them as people in a story.”
— G.K. Chesterton
Being a Christian doesn’t mean being a good person. It means following the Only One who is good.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
— Philippians 3:12-14
“All along, I was worse than I thought. But all long, I was more loved than I thought.”
— Timothy Keller
“Relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done.”
— C.S. Lewis
One of my absolute favorite quotes by our brother Lewis.
At retreats, revivals, megachurches, and your average Sunday service, there is always someone in the back who has lost sense of it all. The music blaring, people hollering, lights piercing, front row hopping, lead singer strutting, fog machine fogging, and bass drum beating the guts out of your bowels. Right in the middle of it, you get detached and distracted and disillusioned and you see it for what it really is. Whether you’ve been in church for ten minutes or ten years, this whole stageshow can wear you down instantly. One Sunday you’re enveloped in bliss; the next Sunday you’re watching with arms crossed, a migraine setting in, every riff on the electric guitar an assault on your brain. Everyone else is singing triumphantly but you don’t get it anymore.
While we can chalk this up to an anti-institutional mind of a younger, skeptical generation, we do suspect that praise and worship in the local church has strayed from something pure, raw, real. We’ve flooded the congregation with so many artificial devices and cues that it’s hard to tell if the Spirit is actually working.
I’ve heard, “What you win them with is what you win them to.” When you show a funny video every Sunday with high-caliber production values, it creates a strange appetite for slick perfection. No need for the Spirit. No room for reliance. It’s scary to think that an entire church service full of thousands can be built without one move of the Holy Spirit himself.
The church should certainly be excellent at all it does; as D.C. Talk once said, “If it’s Christian, it oughta be better.” I am not a hipster advocating outdoor church with hemp-made chairs and a bearded surfer with a banjo. Yet when I read the Bible and look at today’s church, something is lost in translation. Most of all, that guy in the back with his arms crossed has lost intimacy with the King. He only sees the crude plastic scaffolding of desperate entertainers and pragmatic preachers, but none of it fully reveals God on His sovereign throne.
Continue reading “What About The Guy In The Back? – Why Bigger Worship Is Not Better Worship”