Forgery of the cross–everyone talks about it, but who is the one guilty of it?

Is it Christ or is it us–the Savior who hung on the cross and is accused of not rising from the dead to complete His mission or those of us who accept the cross as a “happening” without at the same time accepting the Savior who’s mission made it necessary? A mission that included us, was prompted by His desire to save us from sins that we chose to commit. This is to be decided–for now–not in a court of law or in a college classroom or philosophy conference, but in your own heart.

What does the cross mean and why is this particular cross more important–worthy of notice–than all the others? This is a story too closely intertwined with your own for you to dismiss it; if you reject a part of it, perhaps you are rejecting a part of yourself. Yes, maybe an unpleasant part, but what if it is also the key to pleasantness that atones for all the unpleasantness?

What all the worst of you meets at the cross is all the best of Him. What if it’s better to have His best–even what looks like weakness–than your best. Could this be true? Give it some serious thought. But don’t restrict this process to your brain–extend it; indeed, bring it into the living room of your heart. It must be played out here.

There is no other place for it to go on. Your heart is the place that the cross makes its claim on–though it doesn’t exclude your brain in the transaction. You cannot boast of entertaining or dissecting the death of Christ unless you take it to your heart and let its case be spread against your own. But, by doing this you’re basically asking for a fight because your heart will not passively or pleasantly consent to the claim without resistance. Expect it discomfort and trouble from facing the truth and lies–for both have such sway over your heart.

In fact, if you think resistance is an indicator of this not being your “truth,”  then you are wrong. This truth is above you. All other truths are beside or below you. This one exerts supreme authority. You will either submit to it and change accordingly or you will fight to remain in steadfast ignorance of it. There is no middle ground. But this does not mean that you are all one way or the other. There is a choice; which means that both sides have pull on you. You must decide which one you will give your will to that it may have mastery over you.

Scary concept? It’s only as scary as the worst of the two decisions. Decide which one is which by studying each. In most cases, that will only require studying the one you are unfamiliar with. Yet what is required of you is more than a cursory study. You must remember that the side that has been courting you does not merely play offense. Part of the defensive strategy employed in this war  is to anesthetize you to the claims of the opponent or to make you ignorant of them all together. In this world, this often isn’t very hard. You very easily miss what you never knew was there.

Don’t let this be your fate. Consider the side that’s weakest in your eyes. Perhaps it’s weak because you considered its mystery too strong to unravel. But there is a message here. Do not let the mystery so pre-occuppy you that you ignore or discredit the message. Learn what it is you were intended to know. The object on which you were meant to make a choice.

Both good and evil have their mysteries. God and the world. Your job is to discover their revelations that you may not miss the contrast between them. You must have information to weigh–when you look you will find plenty. Just be sure you get the whole story!

Some good questions to be answered are:

Jesus died, why?
I have a future with God, why/how?
What’s the eternity argument–how do I get to each?

You may be surprised how many answers you find and how much there is to them. Take your time and digest them. Let the answers appeal to your conscience–what you know of truth. Because you are made of truth, based on truth, you have built in receptors for identifying it.

These questions and answers must go deep. They serve no purpose, if left on the surface, but to shift around and make trivial fodder for weak brains. Wisdom is only as deep as the dive that mind and heart together take to find it. Don’t let these two remain separate on this expedition of truth, God and man. Let all be involved–all of you and all of the Deity that out-measures you by at least 2-1. This is the only smart way to do it.

You will not “sail through” this expedition. Why then, does one undertake it? Because there are some rewards more meaningful than sorrow-less success. What you find at the end will not be trivial, and neither, anymore will you be. This journey will change your life and engage your heart and give you a new reason for life. It will return you to your original reason to live/source of life. You will feel as though you’re finding in real life what you once lost but knew till now only as a dream.

You life will be complete yet only because you acknowledged it was empty and sought the One who made it to be full. Your joy will be full, but only to the extent that you enter your sorrow and let it’s work be made complete at the cross–where real sorrow and joy meet. The whole work of the gospel includes everything in your heart being united with everything in God’s heart. The cross symbolizes with the Way, the Truth and the Life being presented to us in human flesh that knew how far we were from Him. But, don’t be discouraged by this reality; instead, be drawn to Jesus who is manifested and magnified in His dealing with our need. To forsake the cross is to claim it is a forgery–that it is not real and does not stand for anything, anything capable of upending your life. The only way to authenticate the power of the cross on a personal basis is to yield yourself to its purpose–letting the Christ triumph in your heart and life. Will you?

Frustrated? Yeah, I thought so

Let me ask you a quick question: Do you get frustrated?

(Long pause.)

I thought so.

(If you didn’t say yes, you’re probably frustrated with me right now for even asking.)

Let me pose another: Do you think it’s fated or do you and I have some recourse?

(If you’re hoping I’ll stop, you can relax. I’m not trying to expose your inadequacies to shame you, I’m trying to recommend to you a strength that’s greater than all the frustrations we daily face in this world.)

You don’t have to strengthen your present armor, you just have to ask Someone to become your armor. Not so that you will never get frustrated again, but so that your frustrations will not possess you and hold you captive. So that, when frustrations assault you, you will have a defense–a confidence greater than what assails you.

You and I have available to us a grace that fortifies us with peace in the midst of our frustrations and carries us with mercy when we fall. Neither depression nor expressions of anger or fear can manipulate us when the Force within us is greater than that without.

We know that Christ is great enough to confront everything we face because where we failed in keeping God’s law, He didn’t. He lived in our frustrating world and was as susceptible to its threats as we are, yet He didn’t live according to its dictates or mirror its orientation in His soul. His soul was unblemished. And rather than be frustrated by the world, He frustrated it.

He died on behalf of hopeless sinners who defied God’s judgments. He fulfilled those judgments on our behalf and by doing so exalted God in all the earth. But His mission had no ultimate meaning except in this: that He return us prodigals and pharisees to His Father, that He might also be our Father too.

Who could do this work instead of Him? Who could live as though it didn’t exist? We all can. And yet, in this work is all the answer we have to living in this frustrating world. We put it to work by trusting Jesus; believing that He has removed the frustration that is between natural man and God. We confess that every frustration in us and in our world comes from this one ruined relationship and we acknowledge that we are the ones who deserve the blame for it.

We accept His provision of mercy and forgiveness with wonder–both are undeserved and costly, the mark of a Heart more generous and compassionate and selfless than all others. The only one true heart.

And He has offered in His salvation plan to both accomplish our acceptance in righteousness and make our heart mirror His. This is a sweet deal for us who need a higher calling than here and the blessed fortitude to live it out!

Oh, give us eyes to see the One who encompasses us about in every trouble. You alone can do this, O God!

 

I love how family works, even when it doesn’t seem like it does

When a family goes through struggles–even when it seems to be centered on the shortcomings or burdens of only one person in it–the unit is compressed and made more efficient and effective in its mission. Pressure on every one must present the possibility for every one to become a better member of that family, a better contributor to society and a better-engineered person.

The lessons taught in the context of familial adversity are never forgotten and have no end of application in our later lives. They mold us into who we become and raise examples in each of us for the others.

Here we learn to love like we would never need to if brought up in any lesser institution. Working together is also important not just for virtue but practical provision and advancement of the whole family.

I don’t know about you, but I have not always loved my family this way, or seen the advantages of living together in so tight a binding. I wanted to avoid the whole thing because there was pain here. I was unwilling to face it, so I tried to get away from all of it–the pain and the pleasure.

I thought I could find peace in other places–places where I had to work with less people, different people. I wanted new experiences that I could choose between and be in charge of myself. I thought I had better ways for how I should live than I had already seen. What God had for me felt like a vineyard that would always be ripe with the fruits of self-pity.

Family only works when family works together to make family work. It is not waiting for everyone else to come together, but investing our efforts in everyone we would normally insist invest in us first. That is why it is so good for me. It crushes my grapes–which I would normally turn into implements of wrath–and lets the juice nourish and serve my house-mates.

God isn’t a manipulator — He wants you to choose Him for yourself

No matter what negative experiences you’ve had with your father or your mother or an older sibling or some other significant person in your life, God is not them. I know this because whatever they contributed to the baggage you have been carrying around from these relationships, is the result of their pitiful inability to love.

God has never had that problem. Therefore, He does not appreciate us treating Him as we would them. They have not done an accurate or serviceable job of representing Him — which is after all their primary life-job. This is not to say that they are worthless, but they should certainly be dismissed as reliable examples of God in our lives.

For this we have to go back to the drawing board. And instead of drafting a picture with figure form, we are going to use letter forms to reconstruct what we believe about God. I don’t know about you, but I realize that I have a lot of things that I have to get straight about Him that has been mangled by human error.

To begin with, God’s ways are not our ways. This is true because we who have been designed to freely function in His marvelous ways have jumped ship and tried to make a life of our own completely displaced from the order and peace that He gives. Thus we are far removed from the ways that would best suit us.

We live like thieves and liars and cheats when we could have all the absolute best in life with the addition of unbroken community with God and others. We could have all that God has just by having Him. We could enjoy everything that He does in the way that He does.

Sin is the only reason that we should not have this — and even that God has provided a way for us to be delivered from. He knows that we chose to rebel against Him and turn away from doing what pleases Him, but He still wants to restore us to what we ought to be if we will allow Him.

He has made us free, but with that freedom comes an awful responsibility; one that Satan constantly uses against us when we are in contempt of God. We destroy ourselves because we will not be submitted to a creative Master rather than a deconstructive master.

The benefits of knowing and being loved by God are endless, but one that I would like to highlight particularly here is that He is clear and to the point. He has no reason to manipulate us; He wants us to know Him for who He truly is — when we do we will love Him and serve Him because He is good.

All marks of deceit and manipulation that we know in our lives are not God’s attempt to keep us in the dark, but Satan’s (our pre-Christ captor) attempt to keep us from the light. He knows that all light is Christ and that His one mission is to deliver us from the deadly dominion of Satan, His own enemy.

When God meets man the lies explode

To anyone who might struggle with believing that surrendering one’s life could ever be manly enough for them to feel good about converting, let me ask you something. Since when is it not manly to face the truth and commit yourself to living for the only thing that will last?

You may excuse yourself by saying that you’re not one who is much for religion or a relationship. But, are you for being a fraud, for paving a road of regrets, for destroying your own chance of securing a foundation for your future and home? Will you let Life pass you by because it’s portreyed as something you don’t want?

Don’t forget that your enemy, Satan, knows you better than you think — He will paint God in whatever hues you most despise. He is on the offensive so hard with you right now because he knows that it is a losing battle for him if you even attempt to investigate who Christ is and what His claims are on your life. The excellence of who Christ is and what He offers will immediately take hold of your heart and mind and expose to you the imposter-god you have been following around. He knows that every time you believe that you are doing your own thing and forging a new path that you are taking and digesting another potent portion of his great big lie about who you are and where you fit. He will let go of you easily; while you play into his demented scemes he can torture you and grieve God at the same — it’s a win-win for him and a lose-lose for you.

But, if you’re angry at God or find some other reason to be strongly opposed to Him, don’t think that this is your angle. You will die in the end. Nothing that you can do can change God. And the only reason why Satan bothers with you is because you are very significant to God. If you want to do someone in, turn from Satan to God and you will foil the plans of your deceitful Adversary while taking taking hold of all the now-hidden benefits of the plans of a God who is for you.

Now, don’t be too quick to judge what you read by phrases or word-pictures that may disagree with you — find out who God is for yourself and then use your own word-pictures!

Here’s the deal: You are on a hunt. You’ve likely heard some stories about God, but those are just clues that reveal a God who weaves His stories right in the middle of people’s lives. Now it’s your turn to find your story in the big one that God’s telling. When you do, and you learn His take on you and what you’re all about, you are guaranteed to find two things:

1. God has some definite ideas about you and what you should be doing (yeah, I’m aware that you were probably waiting for that) and,

2. His reasoning, and the plans He has for executing it, is actually pretty compelling.

God wouldn’t insist on putting a call on your life if He didn’t absolutely belong there. And what’s more, He wouldn’t make public His intent to find you and refocus your attention and direction if it wasn’t for the fact that He was on a rescue mission.

If you thought that this was just something that came under your area of expertese, then think again. This propensity to perform daring feats and the prowess with which you are able to accomlish them is an awesome example of the imagination of God at work in your life.

All this search-and-rescue stuff; this facing-danger-and-risking-death-to-deliver-someone-else-to-safety; this leading-and-taking-charge; this conquering-all-the-odds-when-you-take-o- the-world — this is all stuff that God did first. And, what’s more is that He did it for you.

Yeah, you need to escape hell, but your sins keep tripping you up; you may have already been briefed on what must go down here, but unless you are sobered enough to recognize what the antecdote is going to cost you, all this information is a loss to you. Confidence without correction and confession will not be able to change anything for you. You cannot make it out alive without first laying hold of the object upon which your destination-alteration depends. That object is not a thing, but a Person. It is believing that Jesus Christ died, absorbing your penalty of wrath from God, in place of you and rose again to offer you His life.

To reject this would be to sink all your chances at once. Because the truth is, you only have one chance: You must be cleared of your errors — not just one, but everone, including the ones you have yet to make — and this will depend on a perfect Person’s testimony and blood being spilled to cover you before the scathing eyes of God.

This has already happened and this is why God has made such a point of meeting with you — He must make you aware of His offer and receive your response. Considering that Christ has stood in the gap of your sin for you, will you choose to stand in His sacrifice?

Whether you realize it or not, you are responsible for the death of another Person — the God-Person Jesus Christ — since He died for you. God did something for you at the highest cost to Himself, because any death-payment for sin that you could have orchastrated for yourself could not have brought you to life on the other side.