Crystal Writes A Blog

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Not One Who Kneels


No Share in God's Glory Without the Cross by Flickr User Sharon of Art4TheGlryOfGod, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works

No Share in God’s Glory w/o the Cross by Flickr User Art4TheGlryOfGod, CC License = Attribution, No Derivative Works
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

Have you ever read the lyrics to all the verses from Frank Sinatra’s classic hit My Way? In case you haven’t, here are the words for verse three…

For what is a man what has he got
If not himself then he has not
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way

Notice the words of the fourth line. For all the confidence-building and encouragement the song is supposed to inspire in those who may feel a lack of personal empowerment, it lacks real power. Real power, like so many things, begins with an acknowledgement of who and where we are and what we need to move forward. Think of the Twelve Steps in multiple anonymous programs. They all start with the first step and the words “I admitted I was powerless.”

What has changed in the modern church world? There’s more preaching about power than powerlessness. There’s more push to gain and be the head and not the tail than of losing ourselves to make Christ the Lord and head of our lives. There’s too many messages about what God can do for us, and not enough messages about the blessing of giving our all for a God who already gave it all for us.

I think the problem is from a lack of blood flow (aka Calvary). We want to go right from sinner to saint without stopping to kneel at the cross first. We tell people that with a few minutes at an altar, or a simple confession of Christ, they are saved. It’s like hiring someone for a job without checking any qualifications or doing any training. What will an untrained person do when he faces a struggle for which he is not prepared? What will a new Christian do with temptation if he has not left all his sinful desires under the blood of Yeshua and made a decision that all sacrifice is worth it for his loving Creator?

We’ve got the proverbial cart before the horse when we introduce someone to Heaven and future hope before we teach them how to live for Christ on earth right now. And if we try to teach an unrepented soul how to live a new lifestyle before he has died to the old one, we’re doing it again. When we plant a seed in the earth, the seed dies before it sprouts to new life. How do we claim a new life until we have died to our old life? As Scripture says, we can’t put new wine into old bottles or they will burst.

Do we trust that what God has to offer is better than anything anyone on earth can offer us? If not, we can never die out to doing things our own way. If we don’t die out to our way and our old ideas and skewed understanding, we can never rise up to walk in the newness of life. If we want God’s glory, we must give up our personal glory and be willing to kneel before our Eternal Creator. We must choose to fall in repentance at the cross of Yeshua and let His blood wash over and cleanse us, and then we must take up our cross daily and follow Him. Once we do that, we can rewrite the words above to line up with the Scripture from Mark 8:36-37 (NKJV)

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

The new words might read something like…

For what is a man what has he got
Without The Lord then he has naught
To think God’s words and to Him yield
And be a man who repents and kneels
His sins will go under the flow
When he’s walking God’s way

And if you want to hear another person’s version of the whole song, sung to the tune of the original, here’s a video I found at YouTube…

December 3, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Lyrics and Song, Nonfiction | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do You Bounce?


Some things hit the ground and go splat. Some hit and shatter. Some bounce. Obviously, bouncing is the best response because it means that instead of staying down, you will rise back up. The fancy word for this is resiliency. Resilient people can bounce back like cartoon characters who never seem to find a permanent splat even if they have to pump themselves back up. It’s an important characteristic that some have naturally, but which we can also learn.

Yeshua knew the ultimate bounce–from death to life. Today’s Infinite Supply talks about how Yeshua’s resiliency can help us bounce too.

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-Fourth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Twenty-Fourth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 24

Accomplished Through the Cross

“We were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
ROMANS 6:4

The Cross is the means by which God reduces us to Christ, that we may be raised to new Life. What cannot be accomplished in a lifetime of self-effort is easily accomplished in God through the Cross.

We may take many shortcuts along the way and attempt to escape the inevitable, but the day we cease striving and meekly accept the Cross we find everything is done for us.

Source: Embrace the Cross by Chip Brogden

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The trick Yeshua used to bounce back is found in The Holy Spirit. Yeshua didn’t have to fear dying to His earthly self because He knew He would rise again in both body and spirit. He knew death was not permanent, and He knew His new life was worth more than His old life. He also knew the true value of His death–a new life for all those who trust in Him.

I find that people who don’t know The Lord are typically either hopeless or put their hope into things that are likely to destroy them in the end. If they choose the latter, they may look happy in the midst of their partying, but take it away from them and you’ll see how unhappy they are on the inside. If people put their happiness and security in anything this world has to offer, they are only happy as long as they are comfortable.

To the contrary, people who intimately know Yeshua as their Lord, Savior, and Best Friend have hope in spite of discomforts in their lives. The blood of Christ covers us like “Flubber” and helps us both endure and bounce. Serving and loving God gives us the resiliency to bounce back if only to rebound with enough hope to trust in the eternal life He has prepared for our future.

If you are on your way down and know you won’t bounce, it’s not too late to get covered by the blood of Christ in repentance and baptism. Accept the cross and fall at the feet of the Lord before you fall to the bottom of your life, and you can bounce up to a new life and a new hope. When you die to yourself, you open the door for God to raise you up to the newness of life. There’s nothing more resilient than resurrection. Do you bounce? If not, feel free to write to me and ask for more information.

November 25, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Cross for Our Comfort


If someone trades the cross for personal comfort, is it a trade up or a trade down? Well, if you’ve ever truly experienced the comfort of the cross of Christ, you know there is nothing better for which you can trade, so it would be a trade down. His word tells us that the way of the transgressor (one who stands beside the way; a deceiver; or one who deals treacherously) is the way that is hard. It also tells us that Yeshua’s way is the easier way because His yoke is easy and His burden is light. In addition, we have the promise that God’s commands are not burdensome.

Some people get weighed down by having their eyes in the wrong direction, and they exchange the cross for a deception of what might seem more comfortable. However, if we’re struggling like that, if we persevere, we will find that the cross IS the ultimate comfort we are seeking. The truth is, if we are facing any kind of battle, it means our backs are to the cross and we’re facing the wrong direction. We get turned around sometimes without realizing it, but once we know, God gives us grace to turn back to Him.

In today’s Infinite Supply newsletter, author Chip Brogden points out the emptiness of a life without the cross.

Infinite Supply Image for November Seventeenth by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Seventeenth by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 17

Apart From the Cross

“I determined not to know anything among you
except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
1 CORINTHIANS 2:2

We can quote these teachings of Jesus, seek to imitate Him as our Example, strive to walk the narrow Way, and even accomplish many good deeds in His Name. But apart from the Cross these activities are wood, hay and stubble.

In calling us to come back to the Cross, God is asking us to lay down our lives and embrace the Wisdom of death, burial, resurrection, and ascension in order to live as sons and daughters within the Kingdom of God. Apart from the Cross we can neither enter the Kingdom nor live in the Spirit, no matter how great the desire. For apart from the Cross, we do not know what it is to turn the other cheek, to go the extra mile, to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us. Apart from the Cross, we do not know what it is to submit to the will of God, accept suffering, and cast ourselves upon Him. Apart from the Cross, we do not know what Resurrection is.

Source: Embrace the Cross by Chip Brogden

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Plowing the fields God puts in our lives is not always easy, but it is necessary, and the crop yield will be worth it. While Luke 9:62 reminds us that looking back after we have put our hand to the plow makes us unfit to serve, the unspoken reminder there is to turn around. Of course we can’t push forward with our back to the plow, just as we can’t fight with our back to the enemy. But the cross and the word of God before us enable us to stand and fight with the strength of The Lord. His armor prepares us to face our tasks, not to run from them, and His cross brings us the surrender we need to admit our own weakness and find our strength of Christ. That’s why He says to take up our cross daily because He has provided the cross for our comfort.

November 17, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Am I?


When you have a genuine relationship with Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus Christ) as your Lord and Savior, you have something that goes so far beyond religion and behavior that it sustains you. It holds you up when you’re feeling down, and it carries you higher in your moments of joy. It strengthens you when you are weak, and it gives you endurance when you stand to fight the good fight. There is no religious study or sacrifice that compares to being in love with God and know that He is in love with you.

Those times when I read His word and feel as if He is speaking directly to me are priceless. When I pray and somehow know I’m not just talking to air, but that He is right there in the room with me, it makes every sacrifice and good behavior worth it. I do what I do because of who I am in Christ; because of what He made me through the mercy of His blood that was shed on Calvary. It is in those times that I can feel the heart of those who write great lyrics like those written by Rusty Goodman in 1965 for the song Who Am I. (Video with lyrics below.) The chorus says…

Who am I that a King would bleed and die for?
And who am I that He would pray not my will thine for?
The answer I may never know,
Why He ever loved me so,
That to an old rugged cross He would go,
For who am I.

Today’s Infinite Supply newsletter by Chip Brogden talks about the whom versus the what…

Infinite Supply Image for November Seventh by The School of Christ

Infinite Supply Image for November Seventh by The School of Christ
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original article and other resources at The School of Christ dot org website.

November 7

Knowing What vs. Knowing Whom

“I know Whom I have believed.”
2 TIMOTHY 1:12

A certain brother was always emphatic about what he believed until someone with equal or greater argument confronted him. This occurred one day when someone pointed out several supposed “errors” in the Bible. This caused the brother to be very alarmed. He went to an elderly sister and informed her of these alleged errors and wanted to know her opinion. She simply stated that the knowledge of God did not depend upon the answering of these questions.

He thought, perhaps not to you, but to me it is important! So he spent the next year investigating what this other person had told him and found it to be untrue. But, had he simply known God He would not have found it necessary to study the whole thing and reason it out. The elderly sister was right, the knowledge of God did not depend upon the answering of those questions. If you know Who, knowing what and why become less significant.

Source: Lord of All by Chip Brogden

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A friend of mine went into a store in Florida that was owned by a Jewish proprietor. She was wearing a necklace with both a Star of David and a cross on it, so the owner asked her about it. She explained a bit about Messianic Judaism, and he responded with a statement that she later shared with me. He said, “As long as it is who you are and not just what you are.”

When we have the “who” down (both Whom we serve and who we are), we have an identity. With it, we’ve got a better chance of hanging in there when things get tough. It’s part of what attracts people to gangs and similar groups. People need identity, and who better to share an identity with than The King of Kings? As a matter of fact, I heard a story once of a young gang member walking by a church once where someone was singing Rusty’s song. The thought that he could share an identity with a king apparently meant something to him, so he rushed into the church and asked if he could meet that King.

Have you met The King? If so, have you made Him Lord of your life? If you haven’t, you are welcome to write to me to learn more about God. If you already serve Him, I’d love to hear something about your walk with Him, and who you are in Him. In the meantime, enjoy this video of Who Am I as performed by the “Altar of Praise Chorale” and backed by some beautiful imagery…

November 8, 2014 Posted by | Bible, Bible Study, Devotion, Nonfiction, School of Christ | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Follow Him–A Poem


The content of this poem I wrote many years ago says a lot about everything I’ve written to this point, especially about the covenant made by God in the post for October 17th. I felt this was an appropriate time to share it.

I FOLLOW HIM
By Crystal A Murray – (C)2005

I follow Him…

…Around the corridors of Heaven, where beings created for worshipping Him fall at His feet. He sighs, and I hear Him say, “How I long for a friend with whom I can commune, and who will worship Me and desire to commune with me–because he loves Me.” A few heavy sighs later, I see His breath flowing into His new friend. He smiles and says, “It is very good.”

I follow Him…

…through a garden, where He walks and talks with man and woman. I see His despair on the day He can’t find them because a veil of sin now separates Him from His new creation. I watch as, in pain and desperation, He slays an animal to cover their nakedness and then uses the animal’s blood to temporarily pierce sin’s veil, so He may commune once more with His friends. I hear Him lament that all communication with mankind will now be strife for Him because of sin, but He loves them, and He will not give it up. He will never leave nor forsake them.

I follow Him…

…to His drawing board and see His plans for a temple in Heaven and its counterpart on earth. I also see plans for an ark; a covenant; splitting a sea; how blood sacrifice should work and why it doesn’t; and a way to bring Perfect Blood before the Heavenly altar and permanently destroy the veil of sin.

I follow Him…

…to Bethlehem on a star-lit night; to a carpenter’s shop; to a temple service; to a wedding in Cana and a pool in Bethesda.

I follow Him…

…now to another garden. In this one, called Gethsemane, His flesh and Spirit wrestle. I hear Him pray for my salvation–and yours. The flesh bleeds, but the Spirit prevails. I watch as His betrayer kisses Him … and then flees with Perfect Blood on his lips.

I follow Him…

…to the judgment hall and the whipping post.

I follow Him…

…to the death stake: where Perfect Blood stains the ground … the Centurion’s sword … and the hands of His killers. I see a tomb where His body lays still while His Spirit descends into Hell to take the keys of death and forever deliver His creation–His friends–from bondage. As He returns to His tomb, I watch as His Spirit awakens His body with the dawning of a 3rd-day’s sun.

I follow Him…

…as He comforts those who grieve at His tomb, makes Himself known to disciples walking a lonely road to Emmaus, and fills the nets of forlorn fishermen. I hear Him tell of a Comforter. Soon, I watch as He ascends in a cloud back to Heaven, where He goes to prepare a place for me–and for all who love Him. I see that, even today, He works in Heaven’s Holy Temple as our High Priest continuously offering His Perfect Blood to atone for our sins.*

I follow Him…

…because I love Him and desire to commune with Him. He makes a way because He loves me and desires to commune with me. And someday, with the sounds of a trumpet and a shout, He will split the skies and call His people to come home. And then…

…I will follow Him for eternity!

*Hebrews 6:19-20

October 18, 2013 Posted by | Devotion, Poetry | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Covenant Only God Could Keep


We have a long reading today from Genesis 15:7 through Genesis 17:6, and that means it is harder for me to boil it down–especially since it has two important story parts. I will focus this post on the first part, from Chapter 15, where we have a ceremony between God and Abram that most people likely read through without realizing its significance. To understand the importance of this ceremony, I first need to tell you about the meaning of the “Blood Covenant” which is what is being performed here in what is now known as the “Abrahamic Covenant” or “Covenant of the Pieces.” It’s one of my favorite Old Testament stories because it gives us a glimpse into the future promise fulfilled by Jesus.

In a blood covenant, the sacrificial animals are cut in two pieces as a representation of the two parties or sides who are making the covenant. If either party breaks his agreement, the penalty is to pay in blood. At Wikipedia, I found an article explaining biblical covenants, and the writer there states it this way… “Covenants in biblical times were often sealed by severing an animal, with the implication that the party who breaks the covenant will suffer a similar fate. In Hebrew, the verb meaning to seal a covenant translates literally as “to cut”. It is presumed by Jewish scholars that the removal of the foreskin symbolically represents such a sealing of the covenant.”

Now, here’s the understated thing about the covenant that I find very exciting: Each party walks through the pieces to symbolize his own keeping of the promise. This was a covenant between Abram (representing mankind) and God (representing Himself), and we see that before Abram was able to walk through, God put him to sleep. Both a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch appeared in the midst of the pieces, which means that God Himself walked through the pieces as both man and God. By doing this, He promised that He would pay the price in blood if either side of the covenant was violated.

We know that God keeps His promises, but we also know that He understands the ways of man and knew we would not keep ours. That means He planned from way back to shed His own blood. Acts 20:28 says, “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Italics mine.) Also, in 1 John 3:16a, the Bible says we know the love of God because He laid down His own life for us.

This was just a beginning of promises to Abram, who will be renamed to Abraham by the end of today’s reading, but I will cover the rest in a separate post due to the length of today’s post. For now though, it excites me to know that His plans for us–and me–have always been to do whatever it takes to make sure He can spend eternity with those He loves. He does this in spite of our rebellious behaviors and our rejection of Him. I guess that’s why in John 15:13-14, Jesus told the disciples that there is no greater love than that where a person would lay down his life for his friends. And then He called them His friends. Halleluyah! We have been granted the greatest love if only we accept it.

October 17, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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