My room is protected by your image. On your cross, you hang in sheer agony. Hands and feet pierced. Your head rests on your shoulder, your crown positioned so its thorns won’t pierce your skin. In this recreation, your body is gold and there is no blood to be seen. You appear to be resting or even relaxed, but as a follower I know you are locked in the most intense spiritual battle against Satan himself and the ranked demons of his principalities. I choose this relic to rest above my door as a daily reminder of your sacrifice and to keep demons out. But in my heart is where you reside as my true protection. If this cross somehow became real wood beams and I was suddenly at your feet, among all your other followers, would I close my eyes in fear? Would I run away from the hurt of seeing you in such pain. Or would kneel face down in worship, celebrating your eventual victory of death. Lord, I don’t know the answers except for the certainties that come through you. You are the way, the truth and the life. I will keep my cross on the wall and wonder at your courage and sacrifice. Not just a son —but God’s son — who descended into death for the forgiveness of the filth I bring into this world.
Thrown down from the heights of Heaven, the dragon preys on us. He breathes an overwhelming fire that consumes us on the battlefield, but even more cunningly in our homes. He causes distrust between husband and wife and brings them to war with one another. Children disobey the guidance and loving parents and choose the ways of the world over anything holy. In our prayers, he distracts us — subtly offering reminders of our terrible sins and bringing up the guilty feelings in us. We feel unworthy and we break off into lost thought. Only a knight sealed in the full armor of God can stand firm in his hell breath. Swinging the Sword of the Spirit, we can decapitate our enemy the accuser. Give me the strength to lop off his head, O’ Lord. Brace my feet and steel my heart for his charge. Let me be precise with your word. Let my sword be swift and sharp.
Break these strongholds that bind me to my sins.
Wrists and ankles affixed to the ground,
the noon sun stings my flesh.
The twilight will bring relief,
but the night animals will soon smell me out.
I’ll be defenseless.
So Lord, please,
I pray you recognize my repentance.
I am not just sorry for what I’ve done.
My heart has changed.
Shatter these thick chains that keep me down.
Give me the strength to rip free from this dry earth.
Let me run into the night shouting your praises.
Unchained, unafraid, uninhibited, freed, forgiven …
I will never forget my imprisonment.
Left to die by the evil one
out here in the wilderness.
Only you protect me.
Only you care to.
Poor fishermen, harlots, tax collectors, former zealots and reformed murderers were among those you lifted you up. Leading a band of the dejected, you went into places that the “Godly” shunned. That alone was evidence enough of your amazing love and grace, but you did so much more.
Raised the dead
Brought life those deceased in spirit.
Lord, when I think of all you did for me and who you used as your instruments, I drop my head. I close my eyes. I fall to my knees. Tears begin to pool. I am at your feet, at the cross. Undeserving to even speak your name, and yet mine is on your lips – and has been before I was born and will be for all eternity. I am part of your traveling band. A sinner … but a forgiven one.
Come and see how we live. I lead but one household of the Christian faith, but please come take a look inside. Before dawn, in the first light of a new day, I’m on my knees in prayer or reading scripture by lamplight. My children sleep in rooms protected by holy scripture and the sign of the cross. We pray together before meals and set out filled with the Holy Spirit, walking in the warmth of His light. At times we feel secluded and untouched by the outside world – uninterested in the events of the day.
Every need we have is met, and every fear is condemned with prayer. We put the Lord on our hearts and he draws us so close to one another that we can discuss what other families do not, with a surprising realness that’s not common for families now. We close out the day in prayer, offering our gratitude for our blessings and the events of the day – whether positive or negative – and we cover those around us in God’s love. Come sit with us or join us at the table and feel how different life like this feels. With Christ in the lead … how beautiful it is to let him go before you and clear the way. If you won’t believe, then come and see.
It is error to read God’s word and then say “I think” or “I believe.” The only way to reference His word is to use phrases like “The Bible tells us” or “Scripture says.” Our opinion is not relevant to man and especially not to our Lord. His word is not conjecture. He gives us moral absolutes to live by, not to twist or adapt to society’s codes. With Jesus in our hearts, we are to love and offer ourselves as living sacrifices. God’s word instructs how to do this – and it does not confuse.
I doubt all the pieces cost her much more than five dollars. She chose the pendants on her own and insisted on paying for them herself. It wasn’t until the next day that I saw what she’d made: a charm necklace with an Eiffel Tower, a key with a heart in its base, a butterfly, a flower … and a Christian cross. The last I’ve been praying for. And when answered prayers come down from the highest places of Heaven, it deepens my faith all the more.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
— Ephesians 5:1–2
Steady our feet, O Lord, and don’t let go of our hands. Guide us along your narrow path and don’t let us wander away. You sent your Spirit to speak to us, but we are little children who struggle to follow your word, even when it has been clearly written down and preached to us. We misinterpret. We insert ourselves. We preach our own gospels. Your moral absolutes become watered down and misconstrued. I listen to my fellow believers share their ideas about you, but they speak from their hearts – seldom consulting your word first. They say “”I think …” or “What I believe is …” rather than “The Bible says …” or “Scripture tells us …” They believe themselves to be among the found sheep when they are lost, and worse yet their words lead others astray. Take a stronger hold on our hands. Scold us. Rebuke us. Correct our ways so we speak only your love and life in absolute clarity.
We were nearly the same age. Only a few hours separated us. The earth was born first. Then my father breathed life into me. I came up out of the dust into the body he shaped with his own hands. From nothingness, I could suddenly walk and see and breathe my own breaths. I could think and sleep and dream. My feet felt the fresh new soil beneath them. I walked with no fear with the warm sun and the light wind all over my body. I ate from the trees, except from the one I was told not to, and dipped my lips into the fresh running water of the rivers. Peace abounded – it was everywhere – and it was always still and quiet except for the rushing water and the movement of the animals. Together, they were like a melody. I was blessed by my Lord, and I felt it. I was one of his first blessings. My body, my soul, something less than an angel but still higher than anything else that walked the earth. I walked in his favor in those first days. Eden and I, we were like brothers then, born into perfection. And only days later, our brotherhood and our bond would become much more complicated.
Dear Heavenly Father,
On my knees, I am sending up the weakest of prayers to you. You’ve seen how I’ve been leading my life as of late. You’ve seen the backsliding — my willingness to step off your path and walk any direction away from your side. Why is this befalling me now … at a time when I am also so convicted in my beliefs. I see so clearly what is light and what is darkness, what is good and what is evil. But even that is confusing at times. My eagerness to spread your gospel makes me feel overzealous. Am I Pharisee, Lord, or am I one of your strongest believers? Is everyone around me weak? Is my zeal off-putting? I only want you to shine through my words. I only want you and you crucified to come out in the thoughts I share. I struggle with losing followers for preaching the truth, and yet I don’t struggle with your truth being preached. Am I becoming a mature believer in that my strength is overwhelming to some? These conflicts inside me are humbling, Lord, and as I release this prayer to you on your holy throne, I feel your hand at work in my failures. Maybe you are strengthening my prayers after all.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.