Thursday, December 11, 2014

Jesus' View of the Cross

From Communion on September 9, 2009

Without vision the people perish.

If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.

A farmer, when plowing, finds an object on which to focus in order to plow a straight line.

When you drive, you do not look at the line beside the car, but instead on the horizon where you are headed.

Jesus, from the time He knew who He was, the Messiah, the Son of God, kept His eye on the goal for which He was destined – The Cross.

The first recorded event in the life of Jesus after His birth was when He went with His parents for the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles.  It may have been there talking with the Priests and Elders in the temple that He became fully aware of His mission.  His response, when questioned by His parents concerning His whereabouts, was “I must be about My Father’s business … The Cross”

At His baptism by John, Jesus began His three year march toward Golgotha.

The Cross - in the wilderness, being tempted by satan, each time Jesus refused to give in because His destiny was compelling Him, overshadowing Him every moment.  I cannot yield to the temptation because My destiny awaits.

The Cross – with each disciple He chose, He was looking at the cross.  When He spoke to the multitudes, fed the 5000, healed the sick, rebuked the pious, it was all motivated by His view of the cross.

Every action Jesus made, by His own confession, was in response to what Father was doing.  Every word spoken was in response to what He heard Father say.  All of it – every thought, every act, was with The Cross in plain view.

We are here to celebrate what Jesus did through His death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and seating at the right hand of Father.  The cup and the wafer symbolize that for us.  We do this to remember Him.

But more than that, we are here to remind ourselves of the call that is on our lives.  We are to live our lives with a constant view of our destiny, to become like Jesus; to do the things that He did – listen to Father and say what He says, and see Father and do what He does.

The Cross beckoned Jesus toward His appointment with it.  The Cross now empowers us and thrusts us forward to our appointment with Him.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Hebrew vs. Greek: Remembrance

There is a fundamental difference between Hebrew and Greek ways of thinking. A Hebrew mind would say, after having done something, “I now know about that.”

The Greek mind, however, would exclaim, “I now know about that”, after HEARING about it.

Why is this important to you and me? In 1 Corinthians 11:25 Paul exhorts us to “do this in remembrance…”

Look at the difference between how that word is defined in Hebrew and Greek. The Hebrew word means: “to mark so as to be recognized.” There is an implication of mentioning it. We see this in the command given by God to the nation of Israel before entering into the Promised Land.

Deuteronomy 4:9 (ESV)
9  “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children—

The Greek, on the other hand, means simply: “to recall.” There’s a group of people in scripture specifically mentioned because they did not simply recall. The Bereans were given special honor in scripture as being “more noble” because the searched the scriptures to see if the things being taught them were correct.

We in the West are basically Greek-minded. We hear things and believe them. We then go about our lives as though we now “know” these things. We must be “doers of the word, not hearers only.”

Paul teaches us in Ephesians 1 & 2 that salvation is the process of becoming identified with Christ in these areas: His death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and seating at the right had of God. When Paul, in the book of Romans, says, “If you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth then you are saved”, he meant the same thing. You see, being saved is not just some “mental exercise” of seeing yourself being made the righteousness of God. Salvation is actually experiencing “being made” the righteousness of God.

When you can “mark in your life” that you died, that you buried your flesh, that you were resurrected to a new life, that you have ascended to where God dwells, and have taken you place at His right hand, you are saved. It’s not simply being able to “recall” a time when you filled out a card, or shook the preacher’s hand.

This time, communion, is give so that we can “mark”, again, the change that occurred when we became identified with the blood of Jesus, and became the recipients of His grace, resulting in the saving of our souls.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

2014 08 24 – Communion - Offense vs. Defense

Offense vs. Defense

Of’fense – attack; assault; attempt to take ground
Of-fense’ – a source of annoyance, displeasure, or anger

Our culture has become a defensive culture. At the first hint of opposition we head for the bunker, batten down the hatches, bar the door, so no one can hurt us with their barbs hurled our way. We refuse to be exposed to negative agendas intent on bringing us down to a lower level.

The greatest challenge we face living life in the bunker is our inability to effectively change the outcome of the conflict. As we lob our grenades to chase off or destroy our attackers we cannot engage them in conversation that might lead to a better outcome. My high school basketball coach told us repeatedly, “The best defense is a good offense.” When you score points the pressure is then placed on the opponent to match the score.

Even though the church is not a competition to be weighed in the end by points, for or against, our posture is determined by the approach we choose to take. Do we attempt to take ground – offense, or do we hunker down and wait on Jesus – defense?

Scripture is clear.

Genesis 1:1 – In the beginning God created … - offense.

John 3:16 – God so loved the world that He gave … - offense.

Matt. 16:18 - The gates of hell will not prevail against the church – offense.

John 12: 32 - If I be lifted up I will draw all men unto Me! – offense.

Rom. 10:9 - Confess with your mouth, and believe in your heart … – offense.

Ministers like Josh McDowell, and more recently, Kris Valloton, have shifted their argument for encouraging people to wait until marriage to have sex. Touting the evils of sex outside of marriage, including going to hell, is no longer a deterrent to this behavior. Defense isn’t working. Instead, offense should be the emphasis. Focus on the benefits of living a pure lifestyle. Realize that God loves you and wants to provide a blessed life for you.

Joel Osteen has come under fire for his “positive” gospel. To put it simply, he has taken an approach of offense vs. defense. Instead of preaching condemnation for sin, which everyone already knows they are condemned, he focuses on the grace of God, the love of God, which, according to scripture, is what leads men to repentance. (Rom. 2:4)

Craig Hill, the author of the Ancient Paths seminars, teaches that blessing is God’s chosen position to deal with His creation, not curses. Sin brings the curse. God does not have to curse us. We were born cursed because of sin.

To counter this curse in the earth, God introduced a process of blessing to bring people back to proper fellowship with Him.

According to Craig Hill, even when bringing correction make it based on behavior and outcome. If you violate the “law” there will be consequences. If you stay in fellowship you will enjoy the blessing. The goal then becomes staying in fellowship, not obeying laws.

He gave the example of a rebellious teenage son. His dad asked him to be home at a certain time. He got home late. The next morning the dad greets him with, “Hello son. Did you sleep well? I love you, son! I hope you have a great day.”

The son then leaves the house to only return quickly, yelling, “Dad, the wheels of my car are gone.”

The dad calmly replies, “Oh, that. You see, having wheels on your car is a privilege, not a right. Since you chose to not do as I asked, you will be walking for a while. Have a great day son. I love you!”

Matt. 11:6 – And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.

Matt. 9: 10-13  And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

One reason defense is often the position of choice is because it takes little forethought. Offense has to plan, to be creative, to take chances, to be proactive, to be positive, to be vulnerable. Defense is reactive. The only goal is to prevent someone or something from touching us.

If the offense does not score it has failed. Fear of failure keeps most Christians on the bench, or playing defense, because they do not want to “disappoint” God.

Communion is a type of pre-game meal. We gather as the Body for preparation to go out and do the work of the ministry. It draws us toward one another. It lets us know that we are not facing life alone. He is with us. The other Believers are with us. Let’s become vulnerable and be bold enough to not retreat when attacked. Stay on offense and see what God will do.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

2014 08 12 | My Perspective on the Police Shooting


I felt compelled to respond to the recent incident near St. Louis involving a young man that was shot by a police officer. I am not taking sides because I do not have any information regarding the incident. My comments are aimed at those that take what they hear from the media and assume all of it is 100% accurate. This is NOT a race-related comment.

My father lost his life serving as a police officer in Birmingham. He was shot by someone that was attempting to steal goods from a trucking transfer station in North Birmingham. I often wish he had let them have the goods. Nothing they stole could be worth his life. But he could not. He took an oath to protect and serve, even if it meant paying the ultimate sacrifice.

When a police officer makes an arrest it is based on suspicion. The one taken into custody is presumed innocent by the law until proven guilty. The police become the go-between for the innocent and the guilty. They make choices based on the circumstances that are presented and the training they receive. Many times their decision must be made in microsecond time, and that choice can be the difference between life and death; for them and the suspect.

Even though the suspect is presumed innocent, the police officer is held to a much higher standard. If he discharges his weapon, whether anyone is hit or not, his actions come under scrutiny by a review board. If he does shoot a person he is relieved of his weapon and placed on alternate duty until a review of the incident is completed. The officer is presumed guilty until proven innocent.

I have never served as an officer. I can only imagine what it must be like to always be under a microscope, not only from the public, but also by your employer. I have always found it interesting that people that hate the policemen still dial 911 when they are in trouble. They still expect the police to respond, and they do respond. The police protect the haters with the same loyalty to duty as any other citizen.

Please try to reserve judgment until you know the facts. You have no idea what went on because you weren’t there. Even those were “there” didn’t see things from the perspective of either party involved in the incident. Google this if you don’t believe me: people make the worst eyewitnesses. Our memories immediately become clouded by our belief system and opinions of others. 

Please be part of the solution to this tragedy and not part of the problem.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thor’s Day Thundering | 31 July 2014 – I Change Not

Another facet of the diamond called “faithful” we looked at on Monday is the attribute that God is immutable; He never changes.

Malachi 3:6 (KJV)
6  For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.

Hebrews 1:3 (KJV)
3  Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

Hebrews 6:13 (KJV)
13  For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,

When God gives His word He keeps it! When He promised Abraham He had to sware by Himself because there is none greater. Hebrews 1:3 says everything that exists is upheld by “the word” of His power. Malachi 3:6 says the Lord, God, never changes. If He did the world would dissolve, consuming the sons of Jacob.

Here’s the problem. What do you do with the dialog between Abraham and God concerning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah found in Genesis 18? When Abraham learned of God’s plan to destroy the cities Abraham began to negotiate a settlement to save the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.

“If there are fifty righteous people will you spare them?” God said He would.

Abraham countered, “What about forty? Would you spare them?” God said He would.

“Thirty?” Yes. “Twenty?” Yes. “Ten?” Yes.

Even though there were not even ten righteous, God still allowed Lot and his family to flee before the destruction. So, looking at this story can you still say the God did not change? YES. God did not change because it is His nature to extend grace! God showing mercy on Lot and others simply expresses an attribute of God: He is merciful.

Hebrews 13:8 (KJV)
8  Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

The grace and mercy of God is still available to us through Jesus. Thank God today for His mercy and grace constantly being extended toward you. Thank God that He does not change.