Stop looking at the cross…

For years I knelt there, you know, at the foot of the cross. I gazed so long and hard at my Savior’s mangled body that I knew every line, rivulet of blood, and bruise on His body. The patches of His beard that had been ripped out, yeah, I knew the size and shape of each.  I know that He hung there for me. I drove the nails and spit on the face of the Son of God.

So long I gazed that I was constantly reminded of why He had to die. He had to die because of my lust, my lying lips, my selfishness, my lazines, and the list goes on for a long while. The songs I sang to worship Him riddled me with guilt, after all “it was my sin that held Him there, until it was accomplished”.

I saw in the face of Jesus, mercy, grace, love, hope, forgiveness and joy.  But I also saw pain, suffering, abandonement, forsakenness. I saw everything I gained and I also saw the cost.

I saw the heavens darkened. I felt the ground shake. I heard the curtain tear. This was good news? But it was my cross, my shame, my suffering that He took.

At last, when I could bear it no more, I looked away. I wandered for what seemed like a lifetime. I ended up in a garden filled with graves. In those graves where men, women and children. One day, I suppose, I would take my place in one of them.

But then I walked up to and empty tomb. There was a Roman seal on the stone, but it had been broken.

I mustered up the courage and stepped inside. The tomb was empty save for one artifact. On the cold stone slab, there stood a cup. The cup had an inscription that read, “God’s Wrath”. I looked at the cup for a long time. Then, knowing the day would come eventually in which I would have to drink, I took the cup in hand and raised it to my lips.

What happened next has changed my life. As I lifted this cup of God’s Wrath to my lips I found it empty! There was not one drop left.

Suddenly it all made sense. The Cross of Jesus is a sweetly brutal reminder of the cost of my redemption. But it is the empty tomb that gives me hope. He is not on the cross, He is ALIVE! All God’s wrath toward me, Jesus took it. My hope is not in a crushed body but in a risen one. My destination is not a grave, it is eternal life. I spent so long at the cross that I missed the hope of the resurrection.

I take many frequent walks through that garden now. As I stop and contemplate the empty tomb, I hear these words in my mind, “He is not here, He is risen.”

I invite you to stop looking at the cross and take a walk with me, it just might change your life too!

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Curse you!

Lately I have heard from different sources that we christians have a problem. We are not good enough. We need to try harder, we need to DO more.  

To those people I say CURSE YOU! Curse you for preaching bondage. Curse you for discouraging your brothers and sisters. Curse you for possessing a from of godliness and denying the power thereof. Curse you for being so self righteous that you condemn others while you ignore your own sin. Curse you for your hard hearted legalism. Curse you for your ignorance of the reality of Grace.  

To those of you who have fallen prey to these charlatans, these false preachers, I say this. How did you lose your faith in the goodness of God so quickly? How have you forgotten mercy and grace so swiftly? How have you managed to move your faith so rapidly from Christ to self? How on earth did you let these people trouble your heart so soon? Why would you let anyone tell you that the good news is not enough anymore?   You know that there is only one Savior, one Gospel, one hope. You know this, and you know that anyone who tells you diffent is a liar. Jesus is the Annointed One, He is the Mesiah, He is your means Grace.  

So, why are you wavering? Why the doubt? Jesus has not changed! He is as good and as gracious as ever! And He still forgives, still empowers and still teaches. I don’t care who tells you otherwise. If they dare to tell you that you have to DO something to earn God’s favor, CURSE them! Because the only way to earn God’s favor is to accept Jesus’ righteousness. You can’t make your own. You need His.  

Some of you might think this is harsh but I am not worried about your opinion. If I was worried about what you think I wouldn’t be a follower of Christ let alone His servant.  

Sincerely,  

Paul
Apostle, Church planter, Missionary, Sinner saved by Grace
Galatians 1:6-10

For more on the topic read this

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You’ve got mail. . .

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In Galatians Paul is addressing some issues. The issues are not trivial becasue the subject matter of the issues revolves around the gospel. For Paul this is life and death. It is massive and it is signigicant enough that he is eager to take the time to write the letter and to send it. That may not seem like much to us, after all, we have the USPS, UPS, Fedex (am I missing anyone?), but in Paul’s day sending a letter involved greater expense and effort. The paper alone and the cost of a scribe if needed . . . Well, you get the picture by now. Paul was not about to waste time on the trivial, nor was he going to squander his resources over petty disputes. But Paul does send this letter so the subject matter at hand must be important.

What can prompt Paul, a very busy Apostle, to take the time, expense and effort? Nothing less than the Gospel itself! But notice how Paul begins his letter, “Paul,  an apostle—not from men or by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father  who raised Him from the dead — and all the brothers who are with me: To the churches of Galatia.” Starting out with his name is not jsut a formality of the day in which he lieved. His name was known to them (as he himself was personally known to many of them). This is not a stranger, it is a friend, a teacher, a father, AND an apostle. Not just an apostle, but an APOSTLE! An apostle appointed “by Jesus Messiah and the Father who raised Him from the dead” Paul can’t get a single sentence into the letter without speaking of Jesus.  But more than that Paul is also establishing that he is not simply self appointed or an apostle by popular vote. He is an apostle because Jesus trained Him and God ordained him. This is not a boast! This is plain simple fact. And the fact is if you question Paul you are questioning the God who made him an apostle.  

But Paul does not stop there. Notice that last phrase, “and all the brothers who are with me.” Paul is not simply establishing his authority and tacking on “a bunch of other people want in on this too.” And Paul is not trying to establish a mob rule here either. Paul is conveying that the issues about to be discussed are not the rantings of a disgruntled teacher being ignored. The inclusion of the “Brothers who are with me” is about agreement. These Brothers are not merely co-greeters. They are co-correctors. They are part of the broader church who have a vested interest in the issues at hand. These brothers are not merely present with Paul, they are in agreement with what Paul is about to write and they not only add their own weight and authority to Paul’s, but also add a solemnity to the proceeding. It is one thing to dismiss a single voice, it is quite another to dismiss a whole group of voices in unison.  

And so, “Paul, an apostle — not from men or by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead– and all the brothers who are with me: To the churches of Galatia.”  

Paul is not writing to a single group of people but rather to all the churches in a geographic region. And we will see what he says next time.  

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Filed under Galatians, General Thoughts, The Gospel

Galatians part 1

I have been lazy.

There, I said it. No excuses and no reasons to give. Just pure laziness. And it has to stop. My brain is atrophying. I need to think and study and reason. To sharpen my wits and to be useful. But, since I have nothing of use to offer in and of myself so I will seek to give you all what is truly useful — the gospel.  

No other book is as clear and as instrumental in defining and presenting the  gospel as the book of Galatians. Paul, from a distance, reminds the christians of Galatia that the gospel has specific characteristics and because of that some things are simply not compatible with it.   My intent is to go verse be verse and to simplify the text to the propositions it puts forth. I am not writing a commentary and my intent is not to give specific applications although some applications are naturally going to be evident.  

I will try not to be preachy but, I make no promises :) . I welcome all feedback and comments but I warn you I am in this to think so be prepared to engage! No drive bys, please.   I have one favor to ask. I want to post weekly so can yoube my accountability partners? I will try topost on Fridays, but if I don’t can you nudge me? Thanks!

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Silence . . .

silence

Four hundred years of it to be precise.

No prophecy.

No revelation.

Nothing.

Did HE forget about US?

I know we have forgotten Him many times. But, did He finally give up on us?   We are living as captives in our own country, it is occupied territory. Did He forget His promise? We are supposed to have a KING, not some emperor in  far away land.

Which reminds me, aren’t we supposed to be the nation others look to for hope? Because, right now, I can’t remember the last time I had hope. I remember being taught the songs of our people. Songs of hope, songs of joy, songs of expectation, songs of exultation,  and songs of lament. Lately it is one of those last ones that springs to mind. You know the one, it starts out, “How long, O Lord? How long?”

Indeed, how long? . . .

AND THEN! . . .

Then, an angel of the Lord  stood before  us,  and the glory of the Lord  shone around us, and we were terrified.   But the angel said to us, “Don’t be afraid,  for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people:  Today a Savior,  who is Messiah  the Lord,  was born for you in the city of David. This will be the sign for you:  You will find a baby wrapped snugly in cloth and lying in a feeding trough.”   Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth  to people He favors!

Wait, what?

A Baby?

No, not just a baby, a savior. Finally! A Savior! Descendant of Kings.

Can it be?

Dare we hope?

I have to see this for myself.   And there He is! So tiny, so frail, so ordinary. Wait! No, not ordinary. Just normal, like me. But He is so much more too. He is special. The angel called Him a Savior, our Savior. My Savior.

Wow! Now my soul is reminded of another song. This one is at the end of the book. It goes like this (in case you don’t remember it),

Praise the Lord

Hallelujah!

Praise God in His sanctuary.

Praise Him in His mighty heavens.

Praise Him for His powerful acts;

praise Him for His abundant greatness.

Praise Him with trumpet blast;

praise Him with harp and lyre.

Praise Him with tambourine and dance;

praise Him with flute and strings.

Praise Him with resounding cymbals;

praise Him with clashing cymbals.

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord.

Hallelujah!  

Indeed, Hallelujah!

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Filed under Christmas, Doxology, GRACE, Joy, Psalms

New ministry starting next week!

Many of you know that I have been going through a lot of changes in the last few years. I guess it wil be no surprise then when you hear that I will be moving to the next phase of my life next week.

We know that God has been preparing us to serve in new capacities.  So next week we will begin our training in Southern Louisiana to enter the BASS tournament trail in the hopes of joining the elite series in the next twoyears. Please pray for the opportunity to minister to the guys and their families as we travel together.

Thanks for the support and keep your eyes on the outdoor channel for us.

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Death? No such thing.

On that hour the sun darkened, the clouds loomed, the rocks split, and the whole of creation groaned.  

WHY?  

Becuase the Creator died.  

On that day, men knew regret, mothers knew grief, children saw cruelty, and no one saw hope.  

WHY?  

Because Jesus was being murdered.  

In that moment, true loneliness took on form, unrivalled pain was known, and eternal fellowship was broken.  

WHY?  

Because the sinless became sin, and the Holy One could not bear to look on Him.  

On that day all hope seemed lost, all joy placed beyond reach, all courage drained out of the hearts of men.  

WHY?  

Because, it seemed it had all been a lie.  

On that day, in that hour, it could not possibly have gotten worse. It was the darkest day in history. The cruelest hour of humanity. The most hopeless moment of all time.

Friday.  

Sin, when it has born its fruit brings forth death.

DEATH.  

But on Sunday . . .  

On Sunday Jesus, maker of all things, defated death.  

On Sunday, death died.

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Filed under Doxology, Easter, General Thoughts, SIN, The Gospel