Friday, May 17, 2013

What Do I Do With This Cross?

I was wandering around my home trying to figure out what to do with this cross.   My daughter had given me a beautiful wood and metal cross at Christmas.   Christmas had come and gone... several months ago.  

It was way past time to find the perfect spot for it in my home.

I carried it around with me to every room.   I tried it in an empty corner... or on a wall next to a picture.  After about 30  minutes of going in circles in my house holding this beautiful cross in my hands, I finally found the perfect spot.

Yes, the cross has become a decoration.   They are so beautiful!   We hang them on our walls, set them on our tables as a centerpiece, wear them around our necks, on our wrists, on our feet.   They sparkle and shine as jewelry.   They are painted and decorated gloriously!

For quite a while, this has bothered me.    The symbol of Jesus' sacrifice...  the cross which is an instrument of torture and death has been turned into a decoration, an ornament.

I cringe to see a cross necklace around the neck of someone and hear foul language slip from their lips or see unholy actions in their day to day lives.

Profane..  that's what it is....  blasphemous.   

What is that old saying?  "Point a finger at someone and four fingers are pointing back at you."

The question of what to do with The Cross is asked.   Jesus said
"take up your cross and follow Me".      

He didn't say 'take up His cross'.  He said 'take up yours'.   Mine.  My cross.  

Some of us may have a hard time figuring out just what is our cross actually anyway?  Some of us think that our cross is the life that we live, the joy and hardships we go through along the way.  I've heard people say "Oh, it's just my cross to bear" when something goes wrong in their life. 

Think about it.   Jesus' entire life and ministry was  His cross.   His earthly ministry culminated in His death.

It's what He was put here to do.

I have come to determine that my cross is not the life I live.   My cross is the life of Jesus in me.  My cross is the ministry of lifting up and encouraging others as I walk with Jesus.

My cross is not what has gone wrong.  It is the only thing that is right.

It is what I was put here to do.

That is the mission that He has entrusted to me.  Yet it is not my mission.  It is His.

Sometimes it is not easy to be encouraging.  It is not easy to be like Jesus.   Especially when I am not " feeling " it.   Especially when I think that I am the one that needs to be lifted up and encouraged.

Those are the times that I am trying to live 'my' life.  I want to be put on display, praised, to be the center of attention, a decoration in the perfect spot that pleases the eye and enhances.   I, me, my, mine.

In my thinking, that attitude is just as bad as wearing a beautiful diamond cross around my neck and blaspheming God with my words and actions. 

The "me" attitude profanes what Jesus did for me.   I might as well trample on Him with my perfectly pedicured flip flopped feet that are decorated with those pretty little rhinestone crosses.

Jesus had times when he was not "feeling" it.   The night before His crucifixion he prayed "take this cup from me".... but then He said  "nevertheless."

Nevertheless.   That is an entire lifetime right there.  An entire mission or ministry.  Nevertheless.
It didn't matter how Jesus felt at that time.  What  mattered is that He chose to do the will of the Father regardless of what it cost Him.

I confess... it seems I have more of  the "me" life in me than I do of Jesus.   If I am filled with me, there is no room for Jesus. 

I want to have a "nevertheless" life.  A life where Jesus is the center of attention, the beautiful decoration and the focal point; what people see when they look my direction. A life where it doesn't matter what I want but I count the cost and say "Nevertheless, not my will... not my life... not my idea or desire... but Yours, Lord."

Now that's the perfect spot for my cross. 

"...for you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."  (Colossians 3:3)

"Oh the wonderful cross.  Oh the wonderful cross.
Bids me come and die and find that I may truly live."

Precious and beautiful holy Father, please help me to stay hidden in You and live the life of nevertheless... crucified with You.   Amen.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Smoke of Worship

How do I worship You O God
Through the fog of praise
And vague understandings?
My mind cannot conjure the image of You,
Though Your Spirit within swells joy at Your Name.
You are elusive and shaded from vision,
Yet one in spirit and love and truth.
Even covered by the smoke of worship
The weight of Your righteousness is crushing,
Breaking the shields covering my unbearable truth,
My face unable to hide from You.
Yet the balm of Christ’s blood covers
And You claim me as Your own.
One day… one day the haze and fog of smoke …gone.
One day… one day to know as I am known.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Who Turned Out the Lights?

Don’t you hate it when the electricity goes off and you are in the dark?

You scramble to light a candle, or feel your way through the dark to that multi-purpose drawer that holds the flashlight.   Of course, once you find it amongst all the other gadgets, tools and junk that has accumulated over the years, the flashlight usually has dead batteries and you are still in the dark.  

Pitch black.   Can’t see your hand in front of your face.   Dark.

I much prefer light.

God is light.

Darkness is sin.

So why would we want to sin?    Why would we  want to walk in the dark?  You can’t see where to put your feet.  You can’t see what is in front of you.   You stumble around.  So it is with sinning.

We may not like it, but we are all born in sin and are natural darkness dwellers.   If we don’t admit to that one essential fact of our life, we can not know any truth.

Fortunately, there is a way out of the darkness.

But first:    Why would we try to deceive ourselves about our sin?

Well, for one thing, if I have convinced myself  that I am a good person and if I believe that I am not living in sin, then  there is no action required on my part.     I don’t have to change my life, my habits, or my activities.  I can carry on in a false state of safety and comfort.

It’s kind of like eating a gallon of  Blue Bell ice cream every day and thinking that I won’t gain weight (or get sick).    The  consequences of over indulging are there whether I want to believe it or not.   Before long I will have gained 20 pounds, and it is evident for all to see. 

Romans 8:1 says “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus...”

If we  admit to being a sinner, we are agreeing with God  that we deserve condemnation.  But “there is now no condemnation (from God) for those who are in Christ Jesus...”

So, who’s the liar?

If I say I am a Christian, yet live in the darkness of intentional sin, then I am living a lie.   My entire life is based on a lie. .   But, if I say I don’t sin, then that makes God the liar.

If God lies about one thing... anything..., then ALL of His word is a lie and it has no ‘place’ (no meaning, no power, no basis, no function) in our life.

I have good news for you.    God is not a liar.

He is not the flashlight with dead batteries.  He is the broad light of day.  He is the sun at its zenith!   He has absolutely nothing to do with darkness.   He is the complete opposite of dark.

Where does that put you?    He has provided a way, through Jesus to step out of the darkness of sin and into the light of His love.

If you are in the dark, who turned out the lights?  Here’s a clue:   God didn’t flip the switch.

Lord, I pray that your light will shine in the hearts of each of us to convict us of the darkness of sin in our lives, and to change us into reflections of You.   May we live in your light and truth.   In Jesus Christ’s precious and holy Name.  Amen.

1 John 1: 5-10   “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.    If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.    But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.    If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.   If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.”