A Call to Crucifixion

An encouraging article today that was too good not to share. I love this: “In summary, the following pattern will be observed in the life and ministry of virtually every believer. First, the triumphal entry – the initial excitement and joy of coming to Christ and being called by Him to some aspect of ministry or mission. Next, the crucifixion – total surrender and the refining fire of obstacles and opposition. Then, the resurrection – tremendous blessing and victory for those who faithfully serve Jesus Christ.”

In Christ,
Naomi

Living Truth for Today

“Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it .” Matthew 16:25

By Bill Rudge

What do coming to Christ and a call to ministry have in common with the triumphal entry, the crucifixion and the resurrection?

When someone gives their life to Jesus Christ there is usually great excitement. There is also incredible joy when someone is called by the Lord to go on the mission field or begin a ministry – work with youth, lead a Bible study, do street ministry, start a prison outreach and so on.

The people rejoiced at Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on what we commemorate as Palm Sunday. They were confident of the impending blessing and victory over their enemies. They anticipated going right from the triumphal entry to the establishment of the messianic kingdom. However, something unexpected – even though Jesus foretold it several times – followed shortly after the…

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The Velveteen Rabbit – Lessons on Love and Eternity

My husband, who is not yet a believer in God, read an old children’s story today called “The Velveteen Rabbit.” He texted me later to say that it was “very enjoyable” so I decided to revisit the story to see what it had to say about the eternal themes of love and sacrifice.

It’s a very gently written book that I was planning to give to my two-year old niece Alexis to help shape her heart and conscience.

Some beautiful passages that struck me, that I thought others might like to read too:

“The Rabbit could not claim to be Real, for he didn’t know that Real rabbits existed; he thought they were all stuffed with sawdust like himself.” This is our condition when we are alone spiritually, without God in the world. As it is written:

That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world…(Ephesians 2:12)

“Real isn’t how you are made’, said the Skin Horse. “It happens to you when a child loves you for a long time, not just to play with, but really loves you. Then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Velveteen Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “By the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off and you have become very shabby. But these things don’t matter, because once you are Real you can never be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

“Are you Real?” asked the Rabbit.

“Yes, said the Skin Horse. “The Boy’s uncle made me Real a great many years ago. Once you are Real you can’t become unreal again.”

What is this longing we have to be truly loved, in spite of our many defects, to be honoured in spite of the many actions we undertake that show simply that we do not deserve it? Where does the longing for transcendence over the bitterness of our earthly struggles come from? Hasn’t God placed eternity in our hearts? As the Bible teaches us:

He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end. (Ecc. 3:11)

And don’t we seek His face everywhere, like pilgrims setting out on a long and arduous journey for the faith we had so easily when we were little ones? The scriptures tell us that the longing for Christ is universal:

And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee. (Mark 1:37)

Here then is our hope. We do have someone who loves us unconditionally in spite of our sins and difficulties: God. By accepting His love and being “born again” spiritually we can transcend our old, earthly nature and become truly Real. Just as the Velveteen Rabbit became Real due to the Boy’s enduring love for him. One of the greatest passages in scripture, from the book of John, reveals God’s beautiful promise for all people:

4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. 8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. (John 3:4-8)

Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits

I believe that walking in the Spirit is preparatory to coming to Christ. You must at least believe there is a spiritual realm that has pre-eminence over the physical one in order to even embark on the long rugged road that leads to the Lord’s waiting arms.

Below is a song I listened to repeatedly recently before I found Christ. I’ve included it here, with short notes on how it relates to the Gospel of Christ, as others may find this interesting or helpful. If you’d like to message me with your own notes on what helped lead you to the Lord Jesus Christ during your lifetime, please feel free to do so.

BROTHERS IN ARMS by Dire Straits

These mist covered mountains
Are a home now for me
But my home is the lowlands
And always will be

Some day you’ll return to
Your valleys and your farms
And you’ll no longer burn
To be brothers in arms

Through these fields of destruction
Baptisms of fire
I’ve witnessed your suffering
As the battles raged higher

And though we were hurt so bad
In the fear and alarm
You did not desert me
My brothers in arms

There’s so many different worlds
So many different suns
And we have just one world
But we live in different ones

Now the sun’s gone to hell
And the moon’s riding high
Let me bid you farewell
Every man has to die

But it’s written in the starlight
And every line in your palm
We’re fools to make war
On our brothers in arms

The second verse of this song reminds me of the promise God’s Spirit made to us through Isaiah 2:4:

And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

The final verse recalls Christ’s pronouncement in Matthew 5:9, during his sermon on the mount:

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

The fact that the songwriter says the final verse is “written in the starlight” and “every line in your palm” also points to the eternal spiritual truths behind it. Now God has opened heaven’s doors to all people on earth, not just his chosen nation of Israel, thereby writing his commandments (such as Christ’s above) on the fleshy tables of our hearts once we follow Him in faith:

Ezekiel 36:26
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

Hebrews 8:10
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people

2 Corinthians 3:3
Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

The Last Ship by JRR Tolkien

I believe that walking in the Spirit is preparatory to coming to Christ.

You must at least believe there is a spiritual realm that has pre-eminence over the physical one in order to even embark on the long rugged road that leads to the Lord’s waiting arms.

Below is another poem I found that stirred up my spirit during
my lifetime. I’ve included it here, with short notes on how it relates to the Gospel of Christ, as others may find this interesting or helpful. If you’d like to message me with your own notes on what helped lead you to the Lord Jesus Christ during your lifetime, please feel free to do so.

THE LAST SHIP by JRR Tolkien

Firiel looked out at three o’clock:
the grey night was going;
far away a golden cock
clear and shrill was crowing.
The trees were dark, and the dawn pale,
waking birds were cheeping,
a wind moved cool and frail
through dim leaves creeping.

She watched the gleam at window grow,
till the long light was shimmering
on land and leaf; on grass below
grey dew was glimmering.
Over the floor her white feet crept,
down the stair they twinkled,
through the grass they dancing stepped
all with dew besprinkled.

Her gown had jewels upon its hem,
as she ran down to the river,
and leaned upon a willow-stem,
and watched the water quiver.
A kingfisher plunged down like a stone
in a blue flash falling,
bending reeds were softly blown,
lily-leaves were sprawling.

A sudden music to her came,
as she stood there gleaming
with fair hair in the morning’s flame
on her shoulders streaming.
Flutes were there, and harps were wrung,
and there was sound of singing,
like wind-voices keen and young
and far bells ringing.

A ship with golden beak and oar
and timbers white came gliding;
swans went sailing on before,
her tall prow guiding.
Fair folk out of Elvenland
in silver-grey were rowing,
and three with crowns she saw there stand
with bright hair flowing.

With harp in hand they sang their song
to the slow oars swinging;
‘Green is the land the leaves are long,
and the birds are singing.
Many a day with dawn of gold
this earth will lighten,
many a flower will yet unfold,
ere the cornfields whiten.

‘Then whither go ye, boatmen fair,
down the river gliding?
To twilight and to secret lair
in the great forest hiding?
To Northern isles and shores of stone
on strong swans flying,
by cold waves to dwell alone
with the white gulls crying?’

‘Nay!’ they answered. ‘Far away
on the last road faring,
leaving western havens grey,
the seas of shadow daring,
we go back to Elvenhome,
where the White Tree is growing,
and the Star shines upon the foam
on the last shore flowing.

‘To mortal fields say farewell,
Middle-earth forsaking!
In Elvenhome a clear bell
in the high tower is shaking.
Here grass fades and leaves fall,
and sun and moon wither,
and we have heard the far call
that bids us journey thither’.

The oars were stayed. They turned aside:
‘Do you hear the call, Earth-maiden?
Firiel! Firiel!’ they cried,
‘Our ship is not full-laden.
One more only we may bear.
Come! For your days are speeding.
Come! Earth-maiden elven-fair,
our last call heeding.’

Firiel looked from the river-bank,
one step daring;
then deep in clay her feet sank,
and she halted staring.
Slowly the elven-ship went by
whispering through the water;
‘I cannot come!’ they heard her cry.
‘I was born Earth’s daughter!’

No jewels bright her gown bore,
as she walked back from the meadow
under roof and dark door,
under the house-shadow.
She donned her smock of russet brown,
her long hair braided,
and to her work came stepping down.
Soon the sunlight faded.

Year still after year flows
down the Seven Rivers;
cloud passes, sunlight glows,
reed and willow quivers
at morn and eve, but never more
westward ships have waded
in mortal waters as before,
and their song has faded.

To me this poem is about the battle between the spirit (the world the Elves hail from) and earthly flesh (as illustrated so aptly by the clay Firiel’s feet sink into).

Elvenhome and its selfless, noble elves are analagous – to me – to the Kingdom of God, and God’s messengers (if you substitute Christ and His angels for the Elves). So the poem then becomes a wake for the fleeting, fading beauties of Earth, which are forsaken by God’s messengers for the eternal, never-fading joys of Heaven.

The most poignant part of this poem for me is Firiel’s cry, “I cannot come…I was born Earth’s daughter.” That always struck home with me as a child due to the pre-birth memories I fought to keep uppermost in my mind. I know that I – like all souls – did not originate here on Earth so I must bear this in mind when seeking to journey back, like the Prodigal Son, to Christ’s Kingdom.

2 Corinthians 4:18
While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

The Listeners by Walter de la Mare

I believe that walking in the Spirit is preparatory to coming to Christ.

You must at least believe there is a spiritual realm that has pre-
eminence over the physical one in order to even embark on the long rugged road that leads to the Lord’s waiting arms.

Below is a poem that stirred up my spirit during my lifetime, before I came to Christ. I’ve included it here, with a brief note on how it relates to the Gospel of Christ, as others may find this interesting or helpful. If you’d like to message me with your own notes on what helped lead you to the Lord Jesus Christ during your lifetime, please feel free to do so.

THE LISTENERS by Walter de la Mare

“Is there anybody there?” said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grass
Of the forest’s ferny floor;
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller’s head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
“Is there anybody there?” he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller’s call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
‘Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:–
“Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word,” he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.

My notes:
The above stirs my spirit mostly because of the poignancy and loneliness of the Traveller, who alone is living and faithful in the country he journeys to. No-one responds to his call yet he remains true, delivering his message as promised, though only the dead hear him.

The above can be seen in Christ too, who is ever called Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11). Christ also tells us that he is always waiting for us (the spiritually dead here on earth) to answer his call to redemption: “behold, I stand at the door and knock…” (Rev. 3:20).

Christ was also known as the “man of sorrows” as most people on earth rejected his message of hope…so in truth both he and his disciples could identify with the lonely Traveller in Walter de la Mare’s poem:

Isaiah 53:3
He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

At any rate, I think the poem is a beautiful call to true faith, to keeping one’s word, even when all seems lost, and it speaks to my heart.

So I’ve included it here for you to read too.