The Achievement of the Cross

I see the achievement of the cross in three expressions:

  1. Jesus dies “with us,” entering into our evil, our sin, and our suffering to subvert it and create a new way;
  2. Jesus dies “instead of us,” entering into our sin, our wrath, and our death;
  3. Jesus dies “for us.”  His death forgives our sin, “declares us right,” absorbs the wrath of God against us, and creates new life where there was once only death.

A life shaped by the cross is a life bent on dying daily to self in order to love God, self, others, and the world.  And a life shaped by the cross sees in the cross God becoming the victim, identifying with the victim, suffering injustice, and shaping a pattern of life for all who would follow Jesus.  The cross reshapes all of life.

Are You Trying to Use God?

In 1 Samuel 4:1-2, Israel went into battle without God and lost. In 4:10-11 Israel goes into battle with God…and still loses. They lost because they were seeking to use God; and God cannot be used by us.

It is possible for us to treat God like a waiter in a restaurant. You sit with your friends, enjoying a meal, talking together and most of the time you ignore the waiter. You only call him over when you want something. The waiter does not sit at the table with you. He is not part of your evening. You just call him over when you need him. We can treat God like that. He is not part of our lives. But when we need Him, we call Him over to help. We do not take Him seriously.

It is not hard to see God in this ordinary way. We come to church each Sunday, read our Bible daily, and give money away and think we are doing out bit for God. And in return we expect God to save us from hell and help us out from time to time, ensuring that we are comfortable and happy.

We were made in His image. We are not to make Him in ours. The world does not revolve around you or me. God must be the Center.

3 Reasons Everyone Should Have Ambition

Sometimes people use the word “ambition” like it’s a four-letter word.  “She’s just ambitious.”  What’s wrong with ambition?  I guess it depends what we’re ambitious FOR?  Ambition is commonly defined as “An eager or strong desire to achieve something, such as fame or power.”

A God-given ambition grows out of these 3 truths:

  1. We are created by God and God made us for a purpose.  So as long as we’re ambitious in the area of our giftedness and it’s not a selfish desire for something, then we’re just seeking to live out what God made us for.
  2. We are given responsibility over this world.  And that’s a big and ambitious job!
  3. We are made to reflect God’s image in this world.

How do we domesticate God?

We think the world is going to Hell in a hand basket and the world thinks the church is corrupt and “evil.”

In the 16th century, William Tyndale was martyred because he translated the Bible into English. The Catholic Church had created rituals like penance and indulgences that controlled the grace of God. They had domesticated God. They made His demands manageable. Translating the Bible for the masses threatened their system.

How do we domesticate God? While I do not believe the church is corrupt at the scale it was in Tyndale’s age, I do think the modern church is often complicit to evil or found its own way to harm the gospel.

Why I’m Not a Fan of the “I’m Not Perfect, Just Forgiven” Bumper Sticker

You’ve seen them…more than once.  “I’M NOT PERFECT, JUST FORGIVEN.”  Gives me a bad taste in my mouth.  Theologically, it’s not problematic.  Realistically, it’s 100% accurate.

So maybe I’m reading between the lines but it sounds like, “Hey, don’t get mad at me if I screw up because God’s on my side and I’m forgiven so who gives a hell!”  I come to this conclusion because cars with that bumper sticker tend to cut me off in traffic or refuse to let me in when I’m stuck in the other lane.

Am I perfect?  NO!  Am I forgiven?  YES!  But I don’t hide behind that statement to EXCUSE behavior.  I believe Jesus is my LORD and Savior so I think my behavior should be different (and better) than everyone else’s.  I think His death and resurrection should make a difference in the HERE AND NOW, not just in eternity.  So I’m not perfect, but I should be different.

Do We Really Want Iron to Sharpen Iron?

You were not created to fight the battles of this world alone.

There are few problems we have that others haven’t dealt with.  God calls us to connect with others who will encourage our desires to be better.

We like to talk about how iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17).  It’s great imagery!  But have you ever SEEN it?  Large sparks, rough edges broken, dangerous metal splinters, harsh noises.  It takes strength, patience, and accuracy to sharpen a tool made out of iron.  It’s difficult and dangerous.

We want to be better but we don’t want sparks to fly.

What Do We Need Most in a Crisis?

What Do We Need Most in a Crisis? God’s word.

In the crises of life, we need God’s word. God’s word refreshes the soul, makes us wise, restores joy to our hearts and gives light to our eyes (Psalm 19:7-8). We need to be reading the Bible, engaging with the preaching at our church, speaking the word to one another and reminding our own hearts of God’s word.

In the crisis of our culture, we need God’s word. Our hope will not come through legislation. It will not come through gimmicky methods or trendy services. We will never compete with Hollywood for entertainment. Our hope is in the power of God’s word.

Jesus is the Word of God. And we see Jesus in the Scriptures: the promise of his coming (in the Old Testament) and the record of his coming (in the New Testament).

If God’s word is rare today, it is not because God is silent. God has spoken, loud and clear.