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?

Edgy. Not overly educated or egotistical, but edgy.

Do you like going to the movies? I do. I like seeing the really inspirational shows.

(I know, I’m not much of an “edgy” viewer.)

But, then again, who says I’m not?

I’m edgy to the extent that I’m willing to go to the edge to receive inspiration.

I’m edgy in the sense that I’m intent on living life to the fullest, wherever it takes me.

I’m edgy because I don’t walk away from the Savior but am willing to confess and turn from my sin.

I’m edgy in that I walk away from what I’ve known to walk into the unknown with Someone I want to know.

So, I’m edgy. But what I’m saying doesn’t make for a very compelling picture if there’s not fleshed out with action–other-centered action.

That’s where the inspiration comes out. Edgy is not a personal definition worth pursuing if it is only for oneself. Instead, it is worth pursuing to the extent that it is faithfully inspiring to everyone who observes and interacts with you.

It has to infect others: It can’t leave them sitting still. It can’t even leave them untouched.

The truly edgy person breaks the rules because they must be broken not because he’s dissatisfied with them. It requires more of a man to live for others’ best when it hurts than it does to live for his own best when it helps him.

But that’s what Jesus called edgy. In fact, its’ the brand of edginess that Jesus endorsed with His own life and reputation.

He was edgy to the end. He didn’t know what it meant to be anything less. He didn’t protect Himself from harm so that we could be protected. He identified Himself with people who needed Him, even when they couldn’t see it.

So maybe edginess looks the same for us today. If He laid down His life to live on the cutting edge of what God’s will was for Him, maybe we should do the same. Maybe, as the ones stained by His blood, we should live on that same cutting edge–putting our self-lives in peril–for the sake of living for God’s will just like He did.

It’d be worth a try, wouldn’t it?

Nailing Someone: Attaching One to a pole and crossbeam with an expectation of their impending judgment

A person can be nailed to a tree of condemnation for nothing less than making it necessary for Christ to die. Christ is the One who makes our judgment known and also our peace. The reality is that He is the only one who faced undeserved rejection by sinners and unjust punishment on behalf of sinners.

So, if all this is true, then I have lost my permit to nail people. I’m not the One they sent to the grave that belonged to them. Therefore, I do not have a legally binding beef with them since I am not Christ. Rather, I must recognize that what was His great “beef” has been dealt with.

It is presumptuous and even dishonoring to His name (meaning Savior) for me to try to resurrect the penalty for others that once also belonged to me. I do not make myself more righteous by doing this, nor do I make myself feel better. I merely teach myself to forget that all my sins hung on that cross with Him too!

I know, trust me, that doesn’t function very often for me either! I get upset with people for hurting me, for killing my sense of pride, for annoying me, but though my complaints against others vary, they remain on this plain of disbelief. With each one I lift up in my heart I make an idol of a form of self-imposed justice that I don’t find at the cross.

I judge, ridicule and grow impatient with people for any other reason but for the one reason they were provided with the cross of our Savior: They are guilty before God. Rather than desiring them to turn from being their own master so that they may be fully reconciled to Christ, I desire to rule over them myself!

In my head I know that the cross has the center ground. But when my heart engages life it doesn’t acknowledge this. You see, I deceive myself. I tell myself it’s important, it just doesn’t warrant center.

And who might warrant that position, you ask? Well, funny thing…ya see…I have to admit…I do.

Pure and simple: No one holds center stage in my world (or in any other world, for that matter) except me.

It’s sad. But then, maybe that’s the reason I find it so necessary to ridicule and so difficult to forgive the faults and misdemeanors I see.

If the cross was the apex of my world, it would be the cornerstone of my thinking and the bridge of my relationships. In fact, if I really understood what the world, true thinking and relationships meant, I would realize that these things have no meaning without the death and resurrection of Christ.

Clearly I need a reality check. Instead of me trying to check reality and make it sound, reality should be the one checking me!

 

Longing to be free of God’s interference? Good luck!

The resurrection of our Savior is like nothing else that was or will ever mark history. It’s the one thing that showed us this is God’s story — what makes us able to see and understand His action among us. Without this, how much easier it would be to ignore God’s message!

We wouldn’t have to be confronted with our sin

hanging there on His shoulders

ripping at the tethers of His heart

making the blood and mercy flow down.

I don’t know, you might wish that this were the case; I mean, what is God if He’s not annoying, right?

I guess like any other person with which we would have a relationship (distant or close), we must all find Him annoying. Yet, why do we see Him as such? What has He done that we should get so riled with Him?

Maybe you don’t want to even face these questions (maybe as you read this, I am becoming annoying). If you feel the need to cut out here, feel free–for you are free to do as you please and decide the limits of what you will bear with. I don’t want to even try to counteract that, but as long as you’re reading, I would like to get to know each other a little better, and most of all, I hope we can both get to know God a little better.

Have you ever found that people are annoying to the degree that you don’t know them, and knowing, understand and love them? As annoying as it may be to consider this, maybe it is easier to just decide you find someone annoying than to acknowledge that you do not know him and have no desire to see that gap bridged.

In many cases it is not that the other person is so little worth knowing, but that we are so little determined to abandon our sense of comfort and superiority to humbly approach them.  We would find it necessary to embrace vulnerability and proceed in spite of a certain degree of trepidation. Could we do this?

Could we allow for one moment that we may be operating more in fear than in power, more in selfishness than in respect to the degree of separation ourselves and another? If we can do this, we can act in such a way that we invite the truth to come and meet with us. And with His coming we just might surprise ourselves–receiving Him with open arms and a hearts unclouded with deceit. Oh, what a prospect!

 

Who is Jesus Christ anyway?

So Jesus is our Savior, but where does His power and authority to save us come from?

His power — yes the one thing in His personal profile that puts Him above every other holy man the world over — is in the fact that He is God’s choice; God’s specific means of saving us.

God looked on us in our sin and saw it as so definitive of our identity and nature that only He could do anything to save us from being who we are. He would send His only Son to work out in our midst the Father’s plan of salvation for us.

But, what did it mean for Him to be the Son of God? How is He different from us who also have the privilege of being called God’s children when we are reconciled to Father God through His Firstborn?

Well, for one thing, Jesus’ coming into the world was marked by the birth of a virgin. Mary carried the Savior of the world in her womb because the Holy Spirit (God) had enabled the physical conception of He who would be God in human form.

From the very beginning of Christ’s life on earth He was strikingly different than any man on earth. Yes, He was similar in visible form to His earthly companions, and yet there was so much of His composition that would not make sense to them unless they believed that He was at once the Son of God and God Himself.

This may sound like a peculiar thesis, but it is on this that the whole of Christianity hinges. Unless Jesus could be God and human simultaneously, He could not reconcile the two. These parties have been astranged because man’s sin can not be deleated and God’s glory cannot be compromised. If God accepted us on our own merits — with our sin — He would need to change His commands and become like we are in character to fellowship with us. This transformation would have done nothing good for either of us; after all, the predicament was not due to the fact God is not good, but that He is and we are in conflict with Him because we are evil.

Therefore, God had to do what would not alter His decree, but deliver us from the harshness of its punishment. The only way for us to be excused from serving our sentance was for it to be served by One who could give perfect righteousness to us in exchange for paying for us a debt He did not owe.

None would do that — none could do that — but Christ. Only He could boast the credentials necessary for a salvation proposition worthy of God’s divine consent. He was holy — it radiated from His whole identity: He glorified God in everything He did; He kept the law in every way, even when it came to the executing the Creator’s intent in His motivations; He knew God and had unbroken fellowship with Him; and He had power over the hearts of man — to declare to them the truth, convict them of their sin and save them from the penalty they deserved by offering divine forgiveness. Yet even in all these things that He did, He did not work to bring glory to Himself; He was faithful to His mission and the temporary limitations that it brought upon the revelation and exercise of His glory and majesty.

Though He was with God when He formed the earth and the world (as it says in John 1:1), He is also the reason all these things were formed. In Christ resides all the essence of God though He for His particular responsibility took on the fullness of mankind’s essence.

The second thing that distinguishes Christ in the eyes of God and the world is that He was sinless throughout the time that He was wrapped in the physical. The weakness of our fleshly bodies subjected Him to every sin that we are tempted and taken in by, but He was greater than the trap. Our mortal limitations were not His whole; He wrestled with sin because He was not under its power and it could have no claim over Him.

This sinless identity and legacy left no room for a barrier to exist between God the Father. In all things He was obedient; The Word (as He is called in John 1) was able to communicate God’s plea for faith to arrise within His people that they might accept His sacrifice on their behalf.

First we were sinners guilty of cursing God and incurring His just wrath, but how much more are we worthy of death if we should bear the guilt of an Innocent’s death rather than claiming it as our only hope before God?

If Christ is not the only thing that we have, then He is the condemnation against us in everything else we have. If I would offer an aliby it would discredit me in the eyes of the Judge; the only plea He will hear is Christ.

More clearly than anything else, Christ reveals the boundaries of God and man, but He also reveals what was the mystery of where they are meant to intersect.

God the Father, our Redeemer Christ, and the guilt of our consciences form the three-fold witness against each of us for our crimes. There is no reason that we should be released from death row except that One who knows our sins would bear them to the grave — putting all their power against us to death under Him.

Christ cannot be dismissed as a false witness on the part of His testimony of our sin. When He was tried to prove the legitimacy of what He testified, He told our end because of what we have done and announced that He would not let us go there without giving us access to His full pardon — a pardon He would offer at the cost of His own life. (God would know death for us so we could freely enjoy His eternal life).

Needs that make me more firmly His

What does it really mean to represent God? I know that this is supposed to be our everyday occupation, but not every day looks the same. What about the days when I’m angry, when I feel ill-used, when I’m not confident that I can be a Good Godly Girl?

What about the moments when God feels far away and I feel too weak and full of sin to chase Him down?

What about the weeks when living for Him doesn’t feel worth it?

What about the instances when I’m not sure I can hold up God in my circumstances because I’m not sure that He’s able to hold me up in them for yet another day?

When my question-petitions are not answered with what I want to hear; when I don’t know how to go on living this way; how can I still be for Him?

When I don’t know what He’ll do next, how can He expect me to rationally say, “I will praise Him still”?

I am broken, and still He is real. He won’t back down. He moves in when I feel like it would be best to move away. He insists on open access to my heart when not even I want that. He knows with all the tenderness of a Father of heaven that I can not represent Him as I am. He cares that I don’t know where He is, and I wonder how He could let me hurt this much.

That’s why I’m in this mess. No, not so that He can punish me for failing to fulfill expectations too lofty for me to even see. My God is just not like that with His own.

Instead, like no other person I know, He is using His power to challenge and chasten me. His highest aim is to make me at home with Him in my heart so that He can make me that woman who represents Him.

Because He orchestrates my deliverance from more sin every day, my heart does not want for opportunities to see Him, reasons to praise Him. He will establish my glory in Himself as He resolutely dethrones my glory in myself. As the comfort I find in sin fades, so will my empty boasts. It is not wrong for Him to deride my sin and devastate my hopes in temporary heroes until there is no one left for me to witness to and bless than the One who ever is my Savior.

When I Let the Rodents In, He Leaves

Jesus called me to a walk today. I rose up and moved with Him, until we came to a place I know so well. He showed me the playground of my heart, and asked me what were these idols He found there.

Welcomed in to fill the gaps His presence seemed to leave, my hope to make sure all was right — that I did not suffer from the holes of emptiness that He seemed intent on leaving bare.

Fearing that if I were not careful, I might fall into one, I went ahead and pledged them to worthy tenants. I asked only that they stay and keep my grounds level, never leaving, never forsaking the duty I had given to them.

These rodents were my support, their presence made me feel at ease — with them there I could relax. Yet, with them always near, I became always busy. They did more to hold my attention than serve the purpose so important to me.

But, so engaged had I become with their winsome personalities that I forgot; I did not hold their ways against them, but rejoiced that I had found friends to fill my hours here, allies who sought me out, and were never far off.

I counted each one as an individual that enriched my life, a mini-savior of my cause. That cause was loneliness, and how they gladly took it up! They hoisted my banner, and encouraged me to hold mine even higher. They did not fill my holes, but they promised with their help they would disappear. I would not be a cast-out, I would not live with less, I deserved more out of life — I would have it all.

That’s what my pride and self-pitying said. It accepted the voice I lent it, and gladly drowned out the whispers from behind that spoke the truth I could not accept. I would not be contradicted, every challenge I would win, even if it meant an unconcerned good-bye to my first and only real Playmate.

If He did not like the atmosphere, then He could leave. There was plenty of fun to be had without Him — the rest of us would make sure of that.

The funny thing, which actually took me a while to notice, was that when my First-Mate left, He took part of me with Him. At first I thought this would still be all right; after all, I had my rodo-pals in tow.

But, then even that began to change. They didn’t seem so happy or concerned with me as they once were. In fact, one particularly quiet morning I discovered them in the most treasonous act imaginable: Not only were they disregarding the holes that bothered me so much, they were making new ones.

I had never noticed their teeth were so violent, not their imaginations so devious. What would I do with them?

I thought to protest and gain their apologies, but they worked on. Again, I tried to command their attention, and give them a firm talking-to, but their ears were too consumed with the sound of their own chewing, to mind anything that I might say. As a last resort, I ran up and kicked one of them, which turned out to be too big to mind the irritation. Moving to the next, I gave him two assaults for good measure, and the sharp-toothed sneer he sent back frightened me so, I screamed and scampered off as quickly as I could through the growing maze of bodies which I now recognized as sickeningly repulsive.

Alone, and now afraid, the truth seemed so ostentation when it sneaked up on me. Interrupting my reverie as I sat hugging my knees and wishing I could somehow return to what I once imagined too dull and unsatisfying, he cowed me:

“What were you thinking? How could you be so blind: missing the teeth, the indifference to your wishes, the sheer number of these little monsters — all these evidences of imminent danger and vicious conquest you would so insolently ignore? Was it worth it? Huh?”

I hated the voice, but I could not run from it — everything he asked begged answers of my shameful actions, and silenced my now remorseful voice.

What was I to do, where could I go?

And as if in answer, I heard His footsteps — the ones that pounded after me in a game of chase, and marched beside me in a walk about the park — I recognized the weight and tempo of a stride that now made me uneasy rather than unafraid. Once having Him at my side had given me confidence, now it put me on edge.

What would He have to say to me — the truth I expected to hear, but then what? What would He demand, what could I expect?

Then His sudden stillness made me voluntarily lift my head — though it seemed later, as if He had been the One to raise my chin. I saw Him before me with outstretched arms that silently called a name I thought He had long ago abandoned. Home was closer than I thought.

With my permission He spanked the rat pack, and reclaimed His territory — the place where I am safe enough to play, with holes that didn’t go so deep as they once had. And He tells me that with time, He will fill them more, as I content myself with the knowledge that He is tending them. In the meantime He teaches me to play amidst them, since He holds onto me in everything we do — whether I should fly in the air above Him, or fall in the ground beneath Him.

So, peace reigns in my playground again — my Mate and I are close once more, yes, closer than we were.