Ten Characteristics of a Crucified Life

Years ago, Beth Moore wrote a study called, “Living Beyond Yourself” in which she laid out the ten characteristics of a crucified life.  Here they are.

  1.  Few will understand.
  2. You must abandon your own will and your own agenda.
  3. Your intimate spiritual companions will be few.
  4. Intense times of aloneness with God are required.
  5. You will be constantly on the witness stand.
  6. You must go “outside the camp”.
  7. There will be times when your dignity is forfeited.
  8. You must forego your rights.
  9. You must accept that death is painful.
  10. Because He was forsaken, you never will be.

More mature Christians will understand what is meant by living a crucified life, while younger, less mature Christians will likely balk at the phrase.  But we are, as Christians, most definitely called by God to live a life crucified to Christ.  The  Apostle Paul said,

I am crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me.  Galations 2:20

Thank you, Lord, for my friends

This is just a short note to publicly acknowledge my gratitude to God for giving me such good friends over the years.  And He must have blessed me with the ability to choose good friends because Jamie always likes my friends, too.  Oftentimes, we like them so much we’ll take big vacations with them to far away places.  That’s saying something because no one jumps on a plane with people they just “sort of” like.

“Every good and every perfect gift comes down from above, from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”  James 1:17

Once I was told by one of my dear friends that Beth Moore had taught a hard truth… when you seriously walk with the Lord, your intimate spiritual companions will be few.  That has been an enduring truth in my life – my spiritual companions have indeed been few, but those companions are forever knitted to my soul.  I mean it – forever.  I will spend eternity with them in the presence of the living God!

So tonight, I smiled a knowing, restful smile… a smile of gratitude to God for my spiritual companions who have joined me on this pilgrim’s progress.  I love you.  If you ever read this, you’ll know who you are.

Can you help me understand?

The newest in humanity among us, at least right here in America, seem to really be embracing socialism as a viable alternative to our current governmental system.  Can you please help me understand why?  Why would the State of Florida even consider a self-pronounced socialist as governor?  How did Bernie Sanders garner such widespread support among so many in the 2016 Presidential election?  What is so appealing about socialism?

Is progressivism something new? Ask Jude.

Storms Coming
Shenandoah

What Brought This On

A couple of weeks ago I heard some excellent teaching on the book of Jude… a tiny little letter written by one of the brothers of Jesus around 65 A.D.  How tiny is it? Only 25 verses. Even the weakest reader can manage it.  Due to the message, I got a wild hair and decided to memorize the whole thing.  This might seem like a nutty endeavor to you, but since I’ve memorized much larger chunks of scripture in the past, this was no biggie.  Then I cast a wide net and asked the rest of the world to join me.

Why Jude?

Why Jude?  Well, as I stated, it’s short.  And also, the topic is one that is extremely relevant to the culture we find ourselves in today, one that has allowed false teachers to creep in, unnoticed.

Who and Where Are These False Teachers?

These false teachers are in the pews with us.  They’re standing in pulpits.  They’re writing Christian books.  They’re blogging.  They’re teaching our Bible studies and our Sunday school classes and our youth.  They’re deacons.  They are perverting the grace of our God into sensuality (sexual sin) by saying it doesn’t matter if we obey God’s commands anymore because we’re under grace, not law.  (see Jude 1:4) UGH!

What Are They Teaching Us?

They’re teaching that there is no eternal punishment for unrepentant sinners – those who relax the commands of Jesus and teach others to do the same.  There’s a nominal term for this – theological liberalism or theological progressivism.

 

Why Should I Care About This?  So What?

This book is relevant to today.  2,000 years after Jesus’ death on the cross, we would expect some departure from His commands, yet Jude wrote this letter in the first century A.D., when ALREADY false teachers were cropping up in the church, leading the sheep the wrong direction.  We would do well to read, study and MEDITATE on his God-breathed words.  One of the best ways (maybe the best way) to truly meditate on God’s Word is to memorize it.  Nothing has caused my understanding and faith to grow and solidify more than this practice of memorization.

Fun Fact

In my research, I learned that in the first century AD…(when Jesus lived on earth), the smoke was still rising from the area of Sodom and Gomorrah.  That’s a 2,000 year burn, as most Bible scholars estimate Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed ~2000 BC.  The first century Jewish philosopher, Philo, wrote about it.  And so did Jude.  When God destroys something, He really means to destroy it.

Accept The Challenge

Would you like to join me?  14 other people have said yes.  Deadline to bank all 25 verses is January 9, 2019.  If you want to participate, just drop me a line at stephusrey@gmail.com.

“Your word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against You.”  King David

We are family… really?

Jesus taught a hard lesson in Matthew 12:46-50 that I’m wrestling with today.  In that passage it appears the immediate members of Jesus’ family, his mother and brothers, are learning about Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God right along with the rest of the world.  They hear he’s teaching, preaching, healing, casting out demons and making all kinds of outrageous claims to divinity and so they travel 20 miles to “seize him” (That means take his butt back home to Nazareth).  His family thinks he’s out of his mind (Mark 3:20-21).  I guess back then you couldn’t call the guys in white uniforms when your relative goes coo-coo on you.  Upon arriving at a packed residence and waiting crowd outside, they send word inside they’d like to see him, but his response is the reason for this post today.  He said,

Who are my mother and my brothers? 34 And slooking about at those who sat around him, he said, Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 tFor whoever udoes the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.

Huh?  Did Jesus just elevate what would become the Church over his own flesh and blood?  Even his mother and brothers and sisters?  If so, what are the implications of that for us today?  For me?  How can I follow His lead on this?

I’m wrestling with this today because of what happened yesterday at church.  A new Christian (I’ll call her Mary) I’ve been discipling was there with me in small group Bible study, I guess maybe there were about 20 of us in the room.  Mary is 31 years old, has 8 biological children that have ALL been taken away from her due to terrible worldly decisions.  The list of those decisions is long and tragic, and they all began when her father left her mother for another woman when Mary was 14 years old – that’s when Mary’s life began to completely unravel emotionally.  Within a short time, her mother had kicked her to the street.  Neither Christianity nor the church were ever a priority in this home.  Fast forward to 2018 – Mary currently is married to a dangerous man who enjoys controlling her.  Both have spent time behind bars.

Anyway, it was that time in the class for prayer requests and praises.  You’ve been in that same situation, I’m sure.  Much of the time that 20 minutes is spent on discussing who’s sick or who just had a baby or some other tragedy in the world.  Don’t even get me started on how we’ve twisted and distorted the content of that 20 minutes from what it seems we should be discussing (you know – spiritual things.  How are we advancing the gospel in our daily lives?  What are our obstacles?  How are we growing spiritually?).  Anyway, my friend didn’t know about the “mask” most of us wear in this setting and she proceeded to request prayer because just this week a judge had terminated all of her parental rights for 3 of her kids.  Forever.  The room went silent.  Hearts were filled with compassion and maybe confusion.

Our teacher was very tenderhearted and loving in that moment… forsaking all other prayer requests he turned the prayer totally to Mary.

At some point thereafter, I spoke up.  I explained how I’d “sold” Mary on the church on a couple of months earlier.  I had told her she would be getting a forever family (in place of not having the unconditional love of a mother, father, and siblings that most of us enjoy).  I then begged the group to help me be that family she needs so desperately because I can’t do it alone.

This is the part I’m wrestling with because frankly, somewhere along the line, we have dropped the ball on being a family.  Our own families take up all our time and we shuttle off the orphans like Mary to professional or charitable or governmental organizations for care.  But Mary is a new Christian, she needs warmth and milky discipleship.  She needs to be held.  She needs us.  When we shuttle off baby believers like her it feels to me like adopting a child and then turning them over to a cold, drafty orphanage.  What happened to FAMILY – THE CHURCH – GOD’S FAMILY?  What happened to WE?  Is caring for Mary the job for just one person?  How can we gather around and make a plan to help her?  Who has the time for that anyway?  We’re busy, important people with mortgages and careers and kids’ sporting events and dinner tonight.

At this exact moment, I can hear Jesus say to his disciples regarding throngs of hungry people trying to follow Him,

“YOU feed them.”  Mark 14:16.