My Journey Along the Narrow Way

Posts tagged ‘the cross’

We are a Moment…

My stepmom fell today (at a doctor’s office, no less) and broke her hip.  She is currently in the Emergency Room getting admitted into the hospital where they will do surgery  tonight to fix her hip.

Prayers are appreciated – her name is Louava and my dad’s name is Troy.

This immediately brought to mind the suddeness of her fall.  It’s funny how we wake up each morning and we expect to make it through the day in one piece.  We expect for everything to be the same when we get home in the evening as when we left in the morning.  We forget how fleeting life is and how it can all change in the instant.

Before I was a believer, I used to still understand deep down in my heart that if I died without Christ, I would go to Hell.  I didn’t want to go to Hell.  I had been in church enough growing up to know Hell was not where I wanted to spend eternity.

So, what did I do about it?  I stuck my head in the sand.  I put my hands over my ears and closed my eyes and sang, “lalalalalalalala, I’m not listening.”  If my thoughts came even close to thinking about dying, I would quickly and firmly push them into a box and ignore them.

When I did actually let the thought of myself dying come into the corner of my mind, I would assure myself that when the time came, I would have time to “get things right” before dying.  I really thought that.  That I would actually have time to “get saved” at that last instant.  However, the Bible tells us in Job 14:1-2, “Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble.  He comes forth like a flower and fades away; he flees like a shadow and does not continue.”

James 4:13-14 says, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”

God calls us “a vapor”.  That is how fragile our lives are.  Just like a vapor that comes from a boiling pot, it soon disapates and is gone.  How silly of me to think that me, just a vapor, could just say to God, “Hold it just a minute, I’m not quite ready for You to take me.  I need just a few minutes so I can get saved”?

Ecclesiastes 8:7-8 says, “For he does not know what will happen; So who can tell him when it will occur?  No one has power over the spirit to retain the spirit, And no one has power in the day of death. There is no release from that war, And wickedness will not deliver those who are given to it.”

What an arrogant thought.  And what an insult to the Cross of Jesus and the blood He shed to save men from their sins, for me to make it so cheap that I could just slide into salvation at the last minute.

But that’s what being lost does to you.  It makes you arrogant and self-righteous.  It makes you think that you have all the time in the world to do and live however you want to.  You’ll get right in the end…no problem.

Ecclesiastes 8:12-13 also says, “Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God.”

All this to say… Don’t wait!  You could be gone in an instant!  Romans 10:13 says, “For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”” Call on Him…be saved!  Do it now.  You may not have another chance.

Psalm 90:1-2

Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

Amazing Love…

habakkuk2_14I have been thinking about some things that I was taught this weekend and mulling them over in my head.  There was much that I learned from this conference but one thing has been bouncing around in my head for hours and hours and is now ready to come out.

The gist of the teaching was that most things in the church tend to be “Me” centered.  This is talking about and dwelling on solely what God did for me.  Jesus died for me, Jesus thought about me while on the cross.  And both of those things are true.  However, that isn’t the whole picture.   The other side of the equation is that Jesus died to bring glory to God.  I guess what has really made me think is the idea that one is more important than the other.

Before we were saved, we were shaking our fist and telling God to “Leave me alone.”  I literally was doing that.  And let me be clear here, so were you.  You may not have been physically shaking your fist or audibly saying the words but emotionally, intellectually, and in your heart, you were saying the same thing.

Jesus and the cross changed all that.  He drew me to Him and He saved me.  The Bible tells us that we love God because He first loved us.  And that love saved us.

So, where is the glory of God in there?  The Glory of God is in Jesus’ obedience to the Father in going to the cross; it is in the death of death, and the final defeat of sin.  But it is also in our salvation and sanctification.

While I agree that you can’t look at the cross and think about ONLY your salvation, you can’t forget it either.

I think part of the difficulty is in how you think about God and your salvation.  If you are more free will in your belief, your salvation originates with you.  You alone make the choice to accept Jesus.  It is your decision.  Because of this I think some need to get to where the glory of God is revealed and that is why there is this dichotomy between the glory of God and our salvation in regards to the cross.

If you are more reformed in your belief, your salvation originates totally with God.  He calls you and then you respond.    The drawing of the sinner to God, the call, and the salvation all bring glory to God because they are all about God glorifying Himself by saving us.

Therefore, I think in our worship we need to sing songs about both the glory of God and Jesus’ dying on the cross for us.  I don’t think you can divorce one from the other without losing God’s greatest glory.

And that’s why I can sing one of my favorite hymns and know it is not about me, it never was.  It’s about Him!

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach the eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

The Death of Death…

Last night when I got home from choir I went to check on Bella’s recently acquired gerbils. There are two of them – Rick James and Lucy. Rick James was Bella’s gerbil for a semester long experiment last semester. After the class was over the students were given a choice to either keep the gerbil or to donate it to the zoo to feed the snakes. What kind of choice is that? Get attached for 3 months and then send it to its death? So Bella chose to keep Rick James. She also “adopted” Lucy, one of her other classmate’s gerbil.

Lucy (left) and Rick James

Lucy (left) and Rick James

So…after the issues we had with rats a few months back (plagues), I was trying to see these little rodents as something different…even working up the courage to hold one of them. Every day I check on them but last night something was different. Something was wrong with Lucy. At first I thought maybe she was trying to have some babies since she had gotten a little plump over the last week. But I quickly realized something was seriously wrong.

Lucy was in a little ball with her eyes barely open and her breathing was labored. The only time she would move was when Rick James would get too close and then she would almost fling her body across the cage to other side. When Bella got home we took Lucy out of the cage and put her in a cool-whip bowl lined with paper towels. Eventually Lucy died. I was so incredibly sad. I really don’t know why I reacted so strongly as I thought I hated rodents. But this was so sad to me.

I hate death. I hate it because it takes those we care about away from us. Whether it is a beloved dog, a new gerbil, or the person we love most in the world. I think I got so upset because I have seen a person die and I had such an incredible sadness about the end of life. Death is such an offense to God’s creation.

Should death be an offense to us? Yes. But death can also serve as a reminder to us of how our Lord Jesus Christ has conquered death. It should bring us back to the cross. So when someone we love dies should we grieve? Of course we should. However, the Bible tells us in 1 Thess. 4:13, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep [dead], that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”

Now, I know what some of you are thinking…how can I equate the death of an animal to that of a person? I can’t – not really. I know that animals and humans are totally different. And I really don’t want to get into a debate about whether or not our beloved animals go to heaven or not. The Bible just isn’t clear on that one. I will leave that debate to those more scholarly than I. I would love to think that I would get to see my sweet dogs that have died when I get to Heaven…but I don’t know. I do know that I sure don’t want those rats we killed awhile back running around on the streets of gold. So…it’s a mixed bag.

But I do want to use this sad occurrence to bring me once more to the cross and remember that death has ultimately died. That God is in control of everything…even this little gerbil’s life and death. (“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” – Matthew 10:29) And that He is a loving, merciful God.

The Flood…

I haven’t written anything because I’ve just been completely surprised about the power of the water and flooding that came into Montgomery and the surrounding areas yesterday.

I know that our church suffered water damage and flooding as did other churches.  I also know that at least one family in our church had some flooding at their house. We had a lightening strike in our next door neighbor’s backyard that fried our TV. But thankfully no one was hurt – both kids were home at the time.

Just looking at all of this water brings to mind the floods that were over the earth during the days of Noah. Our God is a consuming fire!

Believers need to look at the power of this small, regional event and remember that this world will one day end. God’s judgments will destroy the earth and we know not when.

This type of event should drive us back to the cross and God’s mercy again. We should remember the sacrifice made so that we do not have to be crushed under the wrath of our Holy God.

Inventory…

My children both work at Lifeway Christian Bookstore and for the second year in a row, Bud and I helped with Lifeway’s inventory this past weekend. There we were scanning all the items in the store for the inventory and I started thinking about keeping track of things.

In a store (or a warehouse like where I work), we do cycle counts and a yearly inventory to keep track of the inventory. In life, God keeps track of everything we do, both good and bad. What a truly frightening thought! Just think about that a moment…that ugly thought you had about your spouse or child, that curse word you said when something didn’t go right, that moment of complete selfishness…..all recorded for all eternity. Wow…I’m in big trouble.

But here’s the good news. When our “inventory” of sin is done, the report is still good! What???? How can that be? Even though our “numbers” should be horrible, and I will admit mine would be even if only a day’s worth of sins were recorded, they aren’t. The reason….the Lord Jesus Christ has given me his record in place of mine. Oh, what wondrous love! This is not how things are supposed to work but I rejoice in the lovingkindness of our God that this is how He has determined they will work!

So, in thinking of all of this, I am again driven to the cross. And I am more determined to work out my salvation in fear and trembling by leaning on the Holy Spirit for power to overcome these sins.