The Power of the Cross

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 It’s Saturday morning. As I sit on the porch with coffee in hand, snacking on a hot cross bun, I am reflecting upon the awesomeness of Holy Week, of Easter, of the cross. 

“Why the cross? Let’s gaze on it together. As we draw close, don’t assume that you already know or understand what happened there. Come to the Cross as if for the first time. As you read, refuse to let the scene be familiar. Let its reality shock you and break your heart.”

The face that Moses had begged to see—was forbidden to see—was slapped bloody (Exodus 33:19-20). The thorns that God had sent to curse the earth’s rebellion now twisted around his own brow…

“On your back with you!” One raises a mallet to sink in the spike. But the soldier’s heart must continue pumping as he readies the prisoner’s wrist. Someone must sustain the soldier’s life minute by minute, for no man has this power on his own. Who supplies breath to his lungs? Who gives energy to his cells? Who holds his molecules together? Only by the Son do “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17). The victim wills that the solider live on—he grants the warriors continued existence. The man swings.

As the man swings, the Son recalls how he and the Father first designed the medial nerve of the human forearm—the sensations it would be capable of. The design proves flawless—the nerves perform exquisitely. “Up you go!” They lift the cross. God is on display in his underwear and can scarcely breathe.

But these pains are a mere warm-up to his other and growing dread. He begins to feel a foreign sensation. Somewhere during this day an unearthly foul odor began to waft, not around his nose, but his heart. He feels dirty. Human wickedness starts to crawl upon his spotless being—the living excrement from our souls. The apple of his Father’s eye turns brown with rot.

His Father! He must face his Father like this!

From heaven the Father now rouses himself like a lion disturbed, shakes his mane, and roars against the shriveling remnant of a man hanging on a cross. Never has the Son seen the Father look at him so, never felt even the least of his hot breath. But the roar shakes the unseen world and darkens the visible sky. The Son does not recognize these eyes.

“Son of Man! Why have you behaved so? You have cheated, lusted, stolen, gossiped—murdered, envied, hated, lied. You have cursed, robbed overspent, overeaten—fornicated, disobeyed, embezzled, and blasphemed. Oh, the duties you have shirked, the children you have abandoned! Who has ever so ignored the poor, so played the coward, so belittled my name? Have you ever held your razor tongue? What a self-righteous, pitiful drunk—you, who molest young boys, peddle killer drugs, travel in cliques, and mock your parents. Who gave you the boldness to rig elections, foment revolutions, torture animals, and worship demons? Does the list never end! Splitting families, raping virgins, acting smugly, playing the pimp—buying politicians, practicing exhortation, filming pornography, accepting bribes. You have burned down buildings, perfected terrorist tactics, founded false religions, traded in slaves—relishing each morsel and bragging about it all. I hate, loathe these things in you! Disgust for everything about you consumes me! Can you not feel my wrath?”

Of course, the Son is innocent. He is blamelessness itself. The Father knows this. But the divine pair have an agreement, and the unthinkable must now take place. Jesus will be treated as if personally responsible for every sin ever committed.

The Father watches as his heart’s treasure, the mirror-image of himself, sinks drowning into raw, liquid sin. Jehovah’s stored rage against humankind from every century explodes in a single direction.

“Father! Father! Why have you forsaken me?!”

But heaven stops its ears. The Son stares up at the One who cannot, who will not, reach down or reply.

The Trinity had planned it. The Son endured it. The Spirit enabled him. The Father rejected the Son whom he loved. Jesus, the God-man from Nazareth, perished. The Father accepted his sacrifice for sin and was satisfied. The Rescue was accomplished.

“Don’t move too quickly from this scene. Keep gazing.

The Rescue accomplished here was for you. Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us … As we face the cross, then, we can say to ourselves both ‘I did it; my sins sent Him there,’ and ‘He did it; His love took Him there.’

Did you see your own offenses on the list of sins that necessitated the Cross? If not, name them yourself. Name your darkest sin. Now reflect on the fact that Christ bore the punishment for that sin. He took the punishment you deserved. Do you feel His passionate and specific love for you? He died for you. He was condemned and cursed so that you could go free—He was forsaken by God so that you would never be forsaken (Hebrews 13:5).”

That’s the power of the cross.

That excerpt was taken from the book “Boy Meets Girl” by Joshua Harris and has been my all time favorite picture of the cross.

Hope it has blessed your heart as it has mine.

Happy Easter y’all!

Welcome To The Table

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And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
– Luke 22:19, ESV

Text: Luke 22:14-20, Revelation 3:20

I am taking the following directly from day 13 of the She Reads Truth study, because it is perfectly put…

” Hospitality is not just about the table. It’s about the people. It’s about the Gospel.
We’ve said that Jesus is the Ultimate Inviter. And what He invites us to is not just a gathering, not just a meal, but a whole new life.
The Gospel is life-giving. Hospitality is actively seeking to share that life with others. It is taking the gift of new life we have in Christ and giving it away with both careful intention and unabashed enthusiasm.
As followers of Jesus, it is our privilege, our responsibility, our JOY to invite people to the Gospel.
Jesus welcomes us to His table for a life of holy communion with Him. He joyfully anticipates us and unreservedly welcomes us. In turn, we welcome others—all others!—to more than just the dining room table. We welcome them to the table of our Savior.
This is the Table that changes lives.
As we take all we’ve learned about hospitality in God’s Word and apply it to our hearts and lives, may we remember the Why of our invitation. May we remember Who is truly extending the invitation to those around us. Let’s not just invite people to the table. Let’s invite them to Jesus.”

Expect The Unexpected

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“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
– Acts 20:35

Text: Acts 28:1-10, 1 Kings 17:8-24, Psalm 128:1-2

Let’s talk about unexpected guests… I’ll go ahead and say it- generally, I’m not a fan of random drop-ins. There’s nothing like the unexpected knock at the door. Come to my house unexpected and you’ll likely find me peeking out from a window to see who’s there. Debating, welcome them in… or pretend I’m not home.

Remember Publius from Acts 28 last week? The whole island is healed because of the welcome extended to strangers. The island is transformed by radical hospitality.

And the widow in Zarephath from 1 Kings 17? She gives Elijah, a complete stranger, food and drink despite the fact that she only has enough for herself and her son. She is a mom whose son falls ill, and because she had offered such unusual kindness, Elijah petitions the Lord for healing.

This woman opened her door to an unexpected guest and received blessing herself because of her willingness to live generously. Her kindness yielded healing for her household.

We receive blessing in the welcome.
When we extend ourselves in kindness for others, often we are the ones who receive the greater blessing.

Kinda makes you want to open the door more often, doesn’t it?

Ready The Table, Ready The Heart

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But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.”

-Luke 10:41-42

Text: Luke 10:38-42, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Matthew 6:33, Luke 10:27

When we are able to love, we are able to be hospitable. But before we can love anyone, we need to prepare our hearts. And to do that, We need to sit down with Jesus and listen to Him for a while.

Hospitality isn’t about a home or a physical table or food, or any of that. Hospitality is about love.It’s about loving other people; the rest is just trappings.

We can make a table for people to gather, but that alone doesn’t reflect love. Look at Martha, that beloved friend of Jesus who was so distracted with serving and being irritated with her sister and with God Himself that she missed it. She missed the point of it all. We serve, we work, we make a table in order to gather and to listen and to enter into relationship.

The point is the person, not the particulars.
And the person or people, what we all need is love.

Before we prepare a table, let’s remember to ready our hearts.