The Grace of the Cross

Written By: John - Apr• 07•15

As we come off of one of the highlights of the Christian’s year…let’s not forget what Jesus did on the Cross and in His Resurrection. This morning I read the following words from John Owen’s book The Glory of Christ,

“That intimate conjunction that is between Christ and the Church; whence it is just and equal in the sight of God, according to the rules of His eternal righteousness, that what He did and suffered in the discharge of His office should be esteemed, reckoned, and imputed to us, as to all the fruits and benefits of it, as if we had done and suffered the same things ourselves. For this conjunction of His with us was an acts of His own mind and will, wherein He is ineffably glorious.” (from Kindle, but it is second paragraph of chapter 9.)

Now that is a mouthful and it is typical of John Owen’s writing, but what he is saying is this…he is saying that what Jesus suffered on the Cross is applied to us. It is “esteemed, reckoned, and imputed to us,” and though faith, we get all of the benefits of His sacrifice. In fact it is so credited to us that in God’s eyes it is as if we were the ones who suffered! That’s the love, that is the grace, and that is the mercy of our great God and we should fall to our faces and worship Him!

A Sacrifice of Praise

Written By: John - Apr• 06•15

“Every creature is happiest when it is doing what it is made for. A bird that is made to fly abroad pines in a cage. An eagle would die in the water, even as a fish that is made to swim perishes on the river’s bank. Christians are made to glorify God. We are never in our element until we are praising Him. The happiest moments you have ever spent were those in which you lost sight of everything inferior and bowed before Jehovah’s throne with reverent joy and blissful praise. I can say it so with me, and I do not doubt it so with you. When your whole soul is full of praise, you have at last reached the goal at which your heart is aiming. Your ship is now in full sail. Your life moves on smoothly and safely. This is the groove along which it was made to slide. Before, you were trying to do what you were not made to do, but now you are at home. Your new nature was fashioned for the praise of God, and it finds rest in doing so. Keep to this work. Do not degrade yourself by less divine employment.”

 

Charles Spurgeon, The Practice of Praise, pages 161-162

Written By: John - Apr• 03•15

It’s Friday…But Sunday’s a Coming!

“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