“It is Finished!”

Written By: John - Mar• 30•15

Last night we looked at three words uttered by Jesus from the Cross, “It is Finished.”  Surgeon said this about those words,—“It is altogether immeasurable. It is high; I cannot attain to it. It is deep; I cannot fathom it.”  One of the questions we sought to answer was this–when Jesus said “It” is finished, what was the IT to which He was referring? Matthew Henry gives the following things:

  1.  IT is the malice of his enemies that is finished.
  2. IT is the sufferings ordained by God that are finished.
  3. IT is all the Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled.
  4. IT is the ceremonial law that is abolished.
  5. IT is the price of sin paid in full.
  6. IT is His physical sufferings that were coming to an end.
  7. IT is the work of redemption that is now complete.

As you go about this Holy Week…enjoy the finished work of Jesus!

 

“Camouflaging Greeds to look like Needs”

Written By: John - Mar• 25•15

Kirk Franklin recently said,

To die with untapped greatness inside of you is a sin. To miss the moment you were created for (outside of knowing God and being known by Him) is a travesty. The evening news is filled with headlines of scandals because character was not the main agenda. I agree you cannot legislate morality in our culture, but you cannot avoid holding people accountable.  You can’t let people slide by just because they are charismatic and can “kill” a room.

We don’t have a shortage of greatness, we have a shortage of character.

When a pastor wants people to buy him a private plane while a missionary in Somalia bathes children with sores, that’s a shortage of character. When I camouflage my “greeds” to look like “needs,” that’s a shortage of character. When young students are comfortable enough to sing racial slurs on a bus while furthering their education to someday lead a corporation that may have minorities apply for jobs, that’s a shortage of character…

And it’s something you can’t teach in school.

You can read the entire piece here.

“I’ve Known Grace”

Written By: John - Mar• 23•15

 

Yesterday someone sent me a link to a sermon on grace by Ray Cortese. It would be worth your time to listen to his sermon and you can find it here. It was an incredible sermon on grace, but I think the thing that stuck me the most was a story he told at the end. I could identify with it because I’ve been there and I’m married to someone just like the woman he described. I found the story on a blog by Kelly Flanagan…I don’t know anything about his, but his blog is here.

 “It’s 9pm, and I walk in the door still carrying the burdens of a day at my office. The kids are already in bed, eyelids heavy but holding out for a “goodnight” from Daddy. My wife is tired but smiling and happy to see me.

And I don’t want any of it.

I stomp around, tearing open mail, griping about food that isn’t in the fridge, acting like a serious jerk. And in some secret place inside of me, I know it. Somehow, this only makes it worse. I wait for the reprisal from my wife. The well-earned reprisal. The angry, “I don’t deserve this!”

But it isn’t forthcoming. Instead, she kisses me on the cheek, says she loves me, and goes to bed with the same smile on her face. I stand by myself in the kitchen, but I have two companions. My bad mood. And my wife’s grace…

…I stand in the kitchen with my bad mood and my wife’s grace. And the brilliance of her love quickly becomes clear. Her attack would have only rooted me deeper in my anger. Instead, she has given me acceptance in the midst of my anger, the space to feel it and experience the fullness of my self.

I still feel grumpy, but I discover there is something else there inside of me: I want to apologize.

I go to the bedroom and I tell her I’m sorry, and her response is quick and her grace is complete: “You had a long day, you’re allowed to be in a bad mood, and you’re a good man, I knew you’d apologize.”

…I used to say I believe in grace. I don’t say that anymore. Now I say I have known grace, and what I know is this: grace believes in me.

 

What a Way to Go!

Written By: John - Mar• 18•15

If you knew you would die within the next hour how would you spend the next 60 minutes? Yesterday I read about a college president (the author didn’t give the name) who was told that he would die within thirty minutes. He said,

“Then take me out of bed and put me on my knees, and let me spend it calling on God for the salvation of the world.”

Christianity is War!

Written By: John - Mar• 16•15

Last night I shared the following quote from Ed Welch,

. . . There is a mean streak to authentic self-control. . . Self-control is not for the timid. When we want to grow in it, not only do we nurture an exuberance for Jesus Christ, we also demand of ourselves a hatred for sin. . . . The only possible attitude toward out-of-control desire is a declaration of all-out war. . . . There is something about war that sharpens the senses . . . You hear a twig snap or the rustling of leaves and you are in attack mode. Someone coughs and you are ready to pull the trigger. Even after days of little of no sleep, war keeps us vigilant.

There is a mean, violent streak in the true Christian life! But violence against whom, or what? Not other people. It’s a violence against all the impulses in us that would be violent to other people. It’s a violence against all the impulses in our own selves that would make peace with our own sin and settle in with a peacetime mentality. It’s a violence against all lust in ourselves, and enslaving desires for food or caffeine or sugar or chocolate or alcohol or pornography or money or the praise of men and the approval of others or power or fame. It’s violence against the impulses in our own soul toward racism and sluggish indifference to injustice and poverty and abortion.

Christianity is not a settle-in-and-live-at-peace-with-this-world-the-way-it-is kind of religion. If by the Spirit you kill the deeds of your own body, you will live. Christianity is war. On our own sinful impulses.

I Want to Yearn for You!

Written By: John - Mar• 10•15

Yesterday I posted a video by Shane and Shane.  A few weeks my daughter, Hollie, told me to listen to a song by them that just spoke to my heart and I want to share another of their videos.  Make this your prayer…

Though You Slay Me

Written By: John - Mar• 09•15

Written By: John - Feb• 26•15

“In the Spring of 1194, during the third crusade to the Holy Land, crusader Henry of Champagne went to a mysterious castle in the rugged mountainous region of Nizari in Syria to meet with Abu Mansur, the notorious ‘Old Man of the Mountain.’ This man was the leader of the most dreaded commandoes of that era, the Assassins, who were specially trained to sneak into enemy fortresses and assassinate a king of other key leader on whom a contract had been settled. Abu Mansur welcomed Henry and entertained him with a lavish feast. At the end of the feast, to prove the unswerving loyalty of his soldiers, Abu Mansur summoned two men and commanded them to fling themselves from the ramparts of the castle. Without hesitation, these two men obeyed, and hurled themselves down to their deaths.

Now this story rightly horrifies our modern sensibilities. But the fact is that the most loving and gentle emperor in the history of the world, Jesus Christ, commands his subjects to do something vastly more difficult. Not just once, but possibly hundreds of times a day, he commands us to die to our self, to sacrifice ourselves for his glory. He summons us forward and commands us to lay down our lives, to ‘die’ before angels and demons, before friends and foes. The perfection of the Christian life is this: a constant death, what Paul calls, in a mysterious paradox, ‘a living sacrifice.’: ‘I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.’ (Romans 12:1, ESV) This is the primary action of the godly Christian life. This is what Christ calls on all of his disciples to do every day: to present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice. A far greater thing he demands than anything any commander has ever asked of one of his soldiers, for it is a living death, offered countless times over the course of our lives. Other than the sacrifice of his own Son, it is the costliest thing God ever demanded of anyone, and only this pattern of life leads to heaven. All other physical obedience hangs on this first act, and it hangs continuously on it.” (Andrew Davis, An Infinite Journey, pages 293-294)

Our Two Journeys!

Written By: John - Feb• 23•15

A while back I picked up Andrew Davis’ book, An Infinite Journey. I finally started reading it today and the first few chapters were really helpful. As Christians, Davis said, we are involved in two journeys. The first is external—it involves the “worldwide advance of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ to all nations.” The second journey is inward—it involves the journey from “being dead in sin to gloriously perfect in Christ.” (page 18)

He went on to talk about the external journey and said,

“The Church has been traveling this journey for almost two thousand years…Missionaries have crossed the burning sands of the Arabian Desert, the forbidding slopes of the Karakoram Mountains, the measureless expanses of the Pacific Ocean, and the dangerous wilds of the jungles of Irian Jaya. Martyrs have suffered persecution and died, families have suffered tropical illnesses and died, missionaries have suffered starvation and died, all to accomplish the ‘advance of the gospel,’ to make progress along this external journey.” (page 19)

As I read I was struck by the sacrifice of those who have carried the Gospel to the Nations, but then Davis turned his attention to the inward journey and compared the journeys of Captain Cook and William Carrey.

It was said of Cook, “He left nothing unattempted,” and Carrey, who was moved by the adventures of Cook as a boy, famously said, “Expect great things from God, and attempt great things for God.” I loved what Davis said,

“We need to spare nothing in our efforts to reach as high in personal Christlikeness as Carey reached wide in missionary achievement. We need to take on sin patterns and defeat them by the power of the Spirit. We need to make ambitious resolutions in Scripture memorization and prayer and character development, and see those goals met to the glory of God. We should yearn to reach the end of our days here on earth knowing that we never rested in our efforts to grow to maximum Christlikeness. We should fear lying on our deathbed and groaning, knowing that we let some lust or sin habit rob us of the best years of our lives here on earth. What was said of Captain James Cook concerning the immeasurable secular journey must also be said of us concerning our infinite spiritual journey in sanctification: ‘We left nothing unattempted.” (pages 26-27)

Are we growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ? Are we living in the fullness of the Holy Spirit and is the Word of Christ dwelling in us richly? In the words of David, are we earnestly seeking God, is our soul thirsting for God, and does our flesh faint for God?

Praying for Revival

Written By: John - Feb• 20•15

“I don’t think the world has ever been in a greater sense of turmoil than it is in this moment. I don’t think our nation has. Whatever we shall say about revival we have to recognize this: There are three things about natural life: conception, gestation, and birth. You can’t alter the program. There has never been revival, that I can trace, that has not been preceded by agonizing prayer. You might say, “I haven’t got to that stage yet of agonizing prayer. How does is come?” Well, it comes through VISION.

If we are really going to get a concept of revival we have to get a vision of God’s sorrow over sin. We have to get a concept of how, day by day, we offend God. As a nation we offend God in millions of ways.”

~ Leonard Ravenhill