Crushing Waves

I feel like I’m never more acutely aware of the phenomenon until I feel a friend has left the ranks, that I'm abandoned, sold out; then I find myself slipping, letting go of what I know is right — and it frightens me. I know who I want to serve, I know what is right and what is wrong, but I can’t help feeling my feet slipping as the waves crash again, again, again across my feet: though they’re planted on the Rock, as my comrades leave my back and let go of my shoulders, I slip on the slippery foam coating the solid truth upon which I stand. I grow weary, cold as the winds whip about my salty, weathered body, the mist of surrounding waves dripping off my nose like so many tears. Down the shore I see another standing — resolutely — yet so many more fallen. But I hold bitterly firm, press on to stand on my Rock. But the greatest challenge of all remains that I not grow bitter or let my mind drift to the suffering, for in that fleeting thought I defeat myself — slipping silently into oblivion, just another drowning soul in the flooding onslaught.  

What am I missing from my perspective, brow speckled in salted frost?

Just steps behind me, I’m breaking waves for a fallen fellow, another sentinel who slid in face of a terrible crash; not moments before, they broke the waves for me, and as I stand now, I stand with renewed strength, impassioned to guard my former guardian. Where once I struggled to gain back the slick, warm slab after losing my footing, behind the shelter of my brothers’ and sisters’ frames, now I stand at the front line to offer them a chance to again join the line!

Weariness overtakes us all at some time or another. There is no shame in losing our stance; shame grows from whether we take heart in our broken failure and climb, and in our unbreakable Spirit as we help our brothers and sisters out of the raging surf, back to the solid Rock on which we stand.

Take heart, for you are never alone.

In a shifting world perverted by deception, perception skewed by Satan, our soul foundation is on in our Heavenly Father.

therefore thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am the one who is laying as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’"

On Christ the Solid Rock I stand, and all other ground is sinking sand — in certainty of His sovereignty, I choose to stand.


"I Said Amen"

A poem by Adrian Plass

When I became a Christian I said, Lord, now fill me in, Tell me what I’ll suffer in this world of shame and sin. He said, your body may be killed, and left to rot and stink, Do you still want to follow me? I said Amen—I think. I think Amen, Amen I think, I think I say Amen, I’m not completely sure, can you just run through that again? You say my body may be killed and left to rot and stink, Well, yes, that sounds terrific, Lord, I say Amen—I think.

But, Lord, there must be other ways to follow you, I said, I really would prefer to end up dying in my bed. Well, yes, he said, you could put up with the sneers and scorn and spit, Do you still want to follow me? I said Amen—a bit. A bit Amen, Amen a bit, a bit I say Amen, I’m not entirely sure, can we just run through that again? You say I could put up with sneers and also scorn and spit, Well, yes, I’ve made my mind up, and I say, Amen—a bit.

Well I sat back and thought a while, then tried a different ploy, Now, Lord, I said, the Good book says that Christians live in joy. That’s true he said, you need the joy to bear the pain and sorrow, So do you want to follow me, I said, Amen—tomorrow. Tomorrow, Lord, I’ll say it then, that’s when I’ll say Amen, I need to get it clear, can I just run through that again? You say that I will need to joy, to bear the pain and sorrow, Well, yes, I think I’ve got it straight, I’ll say Amen—tomorrow.

He said, Look, I’m not asking you to spend an hour with me A quick salvation sandwich and a cup of sanctity, The cost is you, not half of you, but every single bit, Now tell me, will you follow me? I said Amen—I quit. I’m very sorry Lord I said, I’d like to follow you, But I don’t think religion is a manly thing to do. He said forget religion then, and think about my Son, And tell me if you’re man enough to do what he has done.

Are you man enough to see the need, and man enough to go, Man enough to care for those whom no one wants to know, Man enough to say the thing that people hate to hear, To battle through Gethsemane in loneliness and fear. And listen! Are you man enough to stand it at the end, The moment of betrayal by the kisses of a friend, Are you man enough to hold your tongue, and man enough to cry? When nails break your body-are you man enough to die? Man enough to take the pain, and wear it like a crown, Man enough to love the world and turn it upside down, Are you man enough to follow me, I ask you once again? I said, Oh Lord, I’m frightened, but I also said Amen.

Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen;
Amen, Amen, Amen, I said,

Oh Lord, I’m frightened,
but I also said,

Warming Thoughts

The night air was frigid, cold. In the dark, icy prison cell sat two young men, emaciated from loss of food and light. They had only one thin blanket between the two of them to protect against the freezing cold.
The hard floor beneath them was cruel and merciless, and the shackles around their ankles seemed to mock their pain. Yet in this arctic sanctuary of doom was heavenly warmth.
One of the two young men had a thought.
If that were Jesus next to me, would I give Him my blanket?
This man, who had nothing but a thin blanket to keep himself warm, recognized the privilege it would be to give what little he had to the God who had given him everything. He removed the blanket from around his shoulders and placed it around the shoulders of his shivering friend.

When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric and Leslie Ludy

Jesus has already given the blanket to me, offered my comfort — he has long since passed from the cell, on to his heavenly reward. His love already warmed me, comforted me, lifted my spirits from the darkness.

If that were my future spouse next to me, would I give her the blanket?

Marriage presents the most beautiful manifestation of God's love on earth, the perfect portrayal of Jesus' marriage and sacrifice for His bride; by death on the cross, redeeming my sins and flaws, He set the example and precedent for men. As Christ loved us, so must men love their wives.

If that were my friend next to me, would I give him or her the blanket?

Of course human concern and bonding builds relationships past marriage, past God. A friend, an acquaintance from the office next door, the coffee barista from your morning routines, any of them worthy of a small sacrifice, at least maybe?

If that were the douche from high school next to me, would I give him or her the blanket?

No matter the person, no matter their history, we all share one thing in common: God formed us in the darkness, designed our every word, knew all our thoughts before they were and made us all to serve. No matter his or her darkness and failures, God made them and called them "good" as His work was complete.

With gracious mercy, love and care, God has captured our hearts with the greatest romance. Why despair or spite? We should likewise love.

No greater love has a man than this, that he lay down his life for a friend
— John 15:13

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Elohay Selichot

Warm, sticky liquid coated his hands, deep crimson staining from his fingertips to his shirt; smearing, painting the doorway across the top casing with blood.

As he labored, his sweat mingled with the blood of a young calf, a sympathetic Egyptian's stock, and the fluids ran freely down his neck, along his spine. With every heartbeat, a steady drip of blood left his tunic for the ground: signifying his own death, his family's forfeiture to the will of Elohim. A blood sacrifice for the life of his first-born.

A sacrifice for salvation of the Jews, from slavery — centuries later, a sacrifice for all God's chosen people, for every human soul across the ages.

In Exodus 12, Moses provided an ultimatum for the Pharaoh, a promise of destruction and death to the Egyptians should they not release the Jewish people from their toilsome captivity: with the 14th day of Nissan on the Hebrew calendar, the Angel of Death would visit the city, taking the life of every first-born child unless protected under a delivering sacrifice by God's covenant with Moses.

Precise obedience was key: a diet of unleavened bread and a single lamb for each family (or for small families to share with neighbors), sacrificing the lamb on the day of Pesach seder, then painting the blood across the doorway of the household as a sign of obedience. For obedience, God's punishing plague would pass over the doorway — leaving the firstborn unscathed.

Good Friday, the day of Jesus' death, marked the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb by the high priests of Solomon's Temple. As God would have it in His master plan, the day marked the sacrifice for all of humanity, not only the Jews. With the death of the lamb atoning for sins of God's chosen people during the past year, Christ died in atonement for the sins of all men across time, opening the gates of heaven and the floodgates of God's mercy and grace. As Jesus last breath broke, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit," the temple veil tore from top to bottom; with death of the Son of Man, the Holy of Holies — the seat of God, the most holy place in the temple in which only clean, appointed priests could enter — released the Holy Spirit and broke the barrier between God and man.

Following Jesus' death was the Sabbath, coinciding withthe Festival of Unleavened Bread and completing a symbolism in the midst of ancient Jewish culture, rich depth and symbolism contributing to the theology and beautiful nature of the death of Christ. Specifically, bread forms by mixing finely ground wheat, water and yeast, whereas unleavened bread remains without. Yeast symbolizes sin or impurity (noted in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8), similar to the iniquities of man taken upon the Messiah in His crucifixion. Also, wheat seed must die to produce crop, and thus Jesus died to offer life to His faithful.

 "And on the third day," God's blood painting completed, splashed full of life and reunion between God and His fallen creation, bridging the rift formed in The Fall. The Feast of the First-fruits celebrates the beginning of the harvest, and on the day of the Messiah's rise, a greater harvest began with the reaping of souls for the golden streets of heaven! In the feast of the first-fruits, the Jews offered to God the first and best of their harvest in sacrifice and thanks to God's faithfulness; in turn, Jesus' resurrection portrayed God's first-fruits to man, a guarantee of the complete covenant to follow.

From death and disobedience, pain and separation, Mosaic Law and the Abrahamic Covenant reached fruition in the death of the perfect 'Son of Man', the son of God.

God didn't have to forgive us, but by mercy and grace, in His infinite wisdom, He did. Moreover, God didn't simply offer an acceptance of apology but in fact stepped even further and fulfilled both sides of the covenant; just as in His covenant with Abram, God offered the terms and fulfillment, the solution and sacrifice, on His own. With no obligation, man is free to choose his own path, to follow God only by personal choice. Nehemiah 9:17 speaks of Elohay Selichot:

They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them...
— Nehemiah 9:17

Looking at God's proposal, His romance for our souls, Easter takes a brighter light. Remember the bloody, gruesome origins of Easter, but most importantly never forget that people are beautiful, worth the passion of Christ on the cross.

Never forget: God loves you.

Elohay Mishpat

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

Christianity is symbolized by a cross, oftentimes a soft, simple, silver placement affixed to a bright necklace; flowers and bright colors occasionally adorn dainty renditions for decorations in girls' rooms, and in lockers and class binders

And irony saturates how quickly that crucifix darkens under the shadow of history.

Crucifixion first appeared as an idea within the creative, malicious minds of the 6th century Before Christ; it offered a method of punishment that was cruel, painful, embarrassing and slow. It fulfilled the death warrants of many heinous criminals and a number of failed invaders.

The crucifix was an infamous sign of the power and might for the Roman empire, a sign of ruthlessness beyond comprehension of the absorbed nations of the empire. But why?

Because it represented justice so resolute as to support peace throughout the sprawling superpower, a span from the Atlantic coast of Spain and Portugal all the way to the Caspian Sea, as far north as the border with Scotland and south to Egypt. Through centuries of power, Roman rule held fast hold of its subjects with incomparable levels of ruthless justice — but also with grace.

In an act of mercy, Pontius Pilate offered the freedom of one of the criminals queued for crucifixion roughly 2,000 years ago, as was the annual custom of the state to appease the people; through His wisdom and beautifully poetic will, God allowed the Hebrews to save the life of a murderer in trade for the life of His perfect, sacrificial son.

Those most heartless in this world, even the most dark souls, have the greatest chance at forgiveness and redemption: even in a moment so crucial to the salvation of all of humanity, amidst such enormity God saved the life of one Barnabas and offered him a second chance for life and for life after death. Through a gruesome death worthy of the worst criminals, the Son of Man forfeited his life to pay the ultimate sacrifice, the most pure and lasting sacrifice for people placed at the precise moment for the Passover offering.

A cross is by no means a clean or happy picture worn about the neck lightly; a crucifix is representative of the caring love, chiding chastisement, swift justice and perfection of the King of kings, a gruesome, gory, utterly joyful picture of salvation and second chances.

Justice held the Roman empire tightly together under a common rule, though mercy and grace showed the empire's greatest strength. Isaiah 30:18 shows that:

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!
— Isaiah 30:18

Daily life provides the opportunity and necessity for God's grace and mercy; only with complete humility may we view and love those around us, care for those we don't know, die for those we've never seen. Through God's guiding will and empowering, fulfilling love we may share.