The scandal of the Cross

Red rose

“His love is scandalous,
It’s completely ridiculous,
That He would do all this for us,
But that’s just how it is.” (Lyrics for Touch His Hem, by Heather Djunga).

The story of Jesus’ love for His Bride is scandalous but then aren’t all love stories?
That He, Creator of Heaven and earth, would step into His own creation to become the sacrificial lamb defies logic. The message of the cross offends. Paul speaks of this as the ‘offence of the cross’ (Gal 5:11).
The true gospel message is often received with extreme reactions but it should not be watered down because there at the cross is the ‘summit’ of God’s love for His people.
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor 1:18)

Have you ever seen two people in love? They speak their own little language. They offend others with their zealousness for each other. All they talk about is each other. No one else gets it. But they get it and that’s what counts.
How does the blood of Jesus fit into this?
It is like the red rose that the nightingale gave to her beloved, after singing through the night for him in the story of the Nightingale and the Rose. It cost her everything. There were only white roses in the garden but the one the nightingale loved wanted a red rose. She loved him so much, she would give him nothing other than the best.
So she put her heart to a thorn and sang through the night until her very blood penetrated the white petals to produce a perfect red rose.

So the story goes that the next morning, he found the red rose on the rose bush, not noticing her lying there beneath it, in its shade. He took the rose, delighted he had been able to find a red one in the garden.
But as is human nature, this treasure soon lost its lustre for him, and the story ends with him throwing the red rose in the gutter.

The blood is His everything for you. Will you receive it or will you throw it away, without ever seeing the heart of the one who gave it all to give you a perfect red rose?

This fierce love between the King and His Bride is depicted in the Hebrew book of Song of Solomon: “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.” (Song of Solomon 8:6).

His Word says to sing a ‘new song’. But in His Story, He also tells Israel to remember the journey she has made with Him. In His Word, there is also a place for the old songs – the ones that were played in those tender, beautiful moments when a love relationship with Him first dawned.

And so as I find myself remembering the journey I have made with Him and as the Lord brings healing to my heart, I remember some songs that touched my heart and moved my heart for Jesus when I first believed. Some of them weren’t necessarily Christian songs, but they reminded me of my relationship with Him.

One of these, Dan Seals’ song One Friend:

“I always thought you were the best
I guess I always will
I always thought that we were blessed
And I feel that way still
Sometimes we took the hard road
But we always saw it through

If I had only one friend left
I’d want it to be you

Sometimes the world was on our side
Sometimes it wasn’t fair
Sometimes it gave a helping hand
Sometimes we didn’t care

‘Cause when we were together
It made the dream come true

If I had only one friend left
I’d want it to be you

Someone who understands me
And knows me inside out
Helps keep me together
And believes without a doubt
That I could move a mountain
Someone to tell it to

If I had only one friend left
I’d want it to be you.”

For me, moving forward means remembering my heart. He is there at the centre of my heart – unchanged by the storms that have swept through my life.

I listen to the words.

“Someone who understand me,… and believes without a doubt, that I could move a mountain, someone to tell it to.”

I might’ve stopped listening for a while but I am listening now Jesus and I do believe you can move mountains.

And you, reader? Will you accept His red rose?

To read the story behind the Living out Loud blog, visit https://living-out-loud.blog/2017/12/30/the-birth-of-a-new-blog/

©Copyright Heather Djunga 2018.

When you have questions you don’t know how to answer

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I have lots of questions about my life and life in general. I call it ‘my list’. I have lived the past few years with these questions playing in my mind – and wanting sometimes maybe an SMS from Jesus or something with a clear answer, complete with an emoji. Do you ever feel this way too?
Like, Jesus could I just WhatsApp you and have you send me a clear, definitive explanation of this thing because I don’t get it. Could you please include a high res jpg image with that explanation?
Sometimes things happen and we didn’t plan for them to happen that way. Then we sit with our list.

In the book of Job, Job felt this way too. So many hectic things happened and he was a righteous man. He wanted answers. What was going on?
His friends gave their theories and very eloquent answers, I might add. These friends of his were serious poets.
But then the Lord spoke.
The result: Job realised God was God. He was still in control. However things looked, God had never left His throne.

He declared:
“I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6).

The book of Eccleciastes is a bit like this to. King Solomon wrestles with his views of life. He has had every blessing under the sun and come to realise, these things in themselves don’t contain meaning. Rather, after a lengthy expose of everything fleeting in life, he sets his eyes on the eternal, unchanging God and comes to this conclusion (bear in mind this is the conclusion of the alleged wisest man of the ancient world): Fear God, he says. This is the beginning and the end of all wisdom.

So together with a friend Debbie on Sunday, we tore up our lists, surrendering them to the Lord.
The answer is not in a WhatsApp. It is Him. He doesn’t need to crown it with an emoji. He’s God and that’s enough.

I will be honest. This year has been a little tougher so far than I had expected it to be. Hence the silence on the blogging platform. However… I have learned something about life. It’s not out there. You won’t find it getting more money or stuff or positions or accolades. Also, it’s not necessarily in you either. If you think finding yourself is going to help, have you tried looking under the bed?
Life is Him. “I am the resurrection and the life,” He said. We can get so caught up trying to find solutions we miss Him. I don’t want to miss Him anymore.

Children know some stuff about living out loud. They just live and trust it will be ok. I want that kind of faith again. The faith that just wants to be with Him and know Him. I want Him to come along on the journey and I need Him in those moments when the storms and waves come. I know that when He speaks, the dead come back to life and Lazarus leaves his cocoon, to emerge a new creation for his glory.

When a caterpillar enters a cocoon, a big process begins. I had a friend who had a word for this: ‘mengelmoes’. Mengelmoes is a fancy way of saying: “A big, beautiful mess”. It’s a mess inside that pupa – there’s all sticky and gooey stuff… even the caterpillar is a mess… and if the caterpillar were to think, which maybe he does (does he even have a brain?), he might be asking, ‘What’s going on?’.
But then something beautiful happens which is out of the caterpillar’s control. He starts to form wings and this is in a divine plan which he cant possibly understand. His mind is too little for this. The Author of Life brings him out as he yields to His hand and pushes his way through the walls of the cocoon – new wings opening and forever changed. Out comes a butterfly.
If he had to expect answers to his list from inside the cocoon, I’m not sure his little mind would be able to understand them.

Resolve today that this is all you need to know: Him. You think you need answers. You think you need opportunities. You think you need more of this or that. Actually, you need Him.

When you make Him your focus, you might find, the shoe really does fit.”Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

To read the story behind the Living out Loud blog, visit https://living-out-loud.blog/2017/12/30/the-birth-of-a-new-blog/

©Copyright Heather Djunga 2018.

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