People Of The Cross

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The picture was difficult to look at, twenty-one orange clad men kneeling before their executioners. Egyptian Christians. Their executioners called them “the people of the cross”.  In those moments before death, I wonder what was going through their minds? They realized this was it….their entire lives came down to these last moments. Their deaths were imminent. Did they cry? Did they scream? Did they plead for their lives?

Or did they kneel silently, knowing the truth?

The truth that although their bodies would be killed, their spirits could not. The moment they ceased to breathe in this life, they would take their first breath in their new life. With Jesus, the One who died first, willingly….for them. For us. Before we even knew who He was. He loved us, though the world knew Him not.

There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.… John 1:9-11 

The people of the cross……they know Him.

They worship Him. He, alone, is worthy.

They are martyred for the privilege of following the One true God and His Son, Jesus the Christ.

 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;  and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  John 11:25-26 

As fellow “followers of the cross”, we know this temporary life is not all there is…..and it is all temporary whether an infant takes one breath in this world, or an individual lives to be one hundred years old….in the scope of eternity it is all short. We are in this world, but not of this world. We are on a journey, during the years we have here, and we each need to learn to travel light.

God included in His word, a history, a reminder, found in the book of Hebrews. None of this, that we see today on the news, is really new. We, believers, come from a long line of the faithful. Every time I read chapter eleven in Hebrews I am filled with awe and reverence.

….All these people <Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses…> were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.  Hebrews 11:13-16

…..And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised,since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Hebrews 11:32-40 

Christ followers. Christians. People of the Way. Believers.

PEOPLE OF THE CROSS.

 

 

In The Name Of Jesus

Yesterday on the morning  news I heard that  a pastor in North Carolina who was asked to be honorary chaplain of the state House of Representatives was “fired”. The reason, he prayed in the name of Jesus. He was told that he could not say the name of Jesus because it would offend some people.

A Navy chaplain was terminated from his duties for praying in the name of Jesus.

Rev. Franklin Graham was told he could not pray at the National Day of Prayer, this year. Certain groups of people might be offended by the pastor who never backs down from his belief that there is only one way to God and that is through His Son, Jesus Christ.

We are no longer allowed to say Merry Christmas” because Christmas has Christ in it. Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ—and well, to some that is offensive.

Most people aren’t so offended by the word God. Most religions of the world have a god. A superior being. A supernatural deity. “The Man Upstairs”. Though it saddens me that these descriptions do not adequately describe the God of Abraham and Issac and Jacob, the Great I AM, the Alpha and Omega, the Holy One. Still, people “plug in” their god to whatever their religion might be.

BUT…..if one says the name of Jesus than that is an entirely different story! Jesus as God’s Son, the Sacrificial Lamb, the Perfect and Holy One…..whew, people can’t handle that.  It’s offensive to say that Jesus is the ONLY way to God, it’s offensive to say that He is God’s Son, it’s offensive to believe that only He can save you, it’s offensive to say that He came to earth as a Jewish man and yet He was God. (not a god, but THE God)  How dare anyone pray in His name! People cry, I AM OFFENDED!!!

As a Christian, I am offended. I am offended that I am a citizen of country that was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and yet now the government is so worried about offending that they bend over backward for other religions of the world. They do this rather than to uphold that which is dear to so many. Our very founding principles!  I am offended by the “political correctness” of society. The news media, the government, the military, the stores, even some CHURCHES, are so scared to offend. Why are they scared?

I am offended that as a Christian I would not be allowed to pray in the name of Jesus in public for fear it might offend some people. Well, what about me? What about other Christians? How did it happen that it now okay to offend us? Not mentioning Jesus Christ cheapens our faith. HE is the reason that we ARE Christians. It is BECAUSE of Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death and resurrection that we have eternal life. Jesus IS the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE. Without HIM we are lost. As Christians, how could we not mention His name? How could we ignore Him in public? Or private? He is the cornerstone of our faith.

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Philippians 2:13