Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Cross of Christ

(I originally wrote this June 8, 2015) 

So I’ve been reading a great deal about the homosexual issue that is sweeping the country right now.
After reading in an article from the New York Times today where several pastors and even some heads of prominent Christian organizations are meeting to map out their strategy on how to deal with the ruling once it comes down from the Supreme Court, and where those opposed to homosexuality are meeting with those in favor of, I was left scratching my head.

I read the Bible a lot. I read the gospels a lot. What I see happening here resembles the sessions the Pharisee and Sadducee's had behind closed doors when trying to rid themselves of Jesus.

And before you jump ahead of me here, and think I am likening the LG community to Jesus, let me be clear. 

It wasn’t Jesus that bothered the leadership of the church so much as it was what he represented.
A power they couldn’t control. 

Miracles, deliverance’s from demons, resurrections from the dead, and worst of all, forgiveness from sin. They said it themselves, “Only God can forgive sins!” 

And they knew that they had come face to face with God. Like the Old Testament Israelites who begged Moses to stand in the gap for them, these folks didn’t really want to come face to face with God either.  

Over the past few years I have been wondering and praying about the impotence I see in people who call themselves followers, disciples of Christ. Let’s face it Christians, especially in America, according to statistics, don’t really differ in behavior or lifestyle from those who claim no faith. What has happened to the power of God in the church that has left the leadership scrambling for a position on what has become such a polarizing issue? 

I’m not a theologian, nor a pastor, but I’m a failure at being a follower and disciple of Christ more often than not. And after proclaiming myself to be a follower for better part of 50 plus years, I’m desirous to know why there seems to be this gap between what we say, and what we do, how we live, how we choose…….

That is what made me realize that all this posturing about Gay and Lesbian issues are simply a symptom of something that the church is still afraid of.

The Power of God through the Holy Spirit.

I know, you mention the word “spirit” and people immediately look at you like you have grown a second head, step back, and brace themselves for an onslaught of an “unknown tongue”.

As I read scripture, especially the gospels and the book of Acts I am struck with the power of the Holy Spirit. What ordinary, everyday, common people were able to accomplish for God’s glory.
Has God shrunk? Has His power diminished?

Even in the old testament there example after example of situations from the Red Sea on and even before where the impossible becomes possible. And it had nothing to do with man’s power and everything to do with God’s power.

I think the thing that the church is really afraid of is having its power exposed for what it really is; counterfeit.

We lead people to Christ, and promise them free grace, and some even tell stories of abundance and blessing and profound joy and happiness. But somewhere in the telling, we fail to lead them to the foot of the cross of Christ. Somewhere in the invitation, we leave out the price of the ticket.
I had noticed this several years before at a service where an altar call was given, but no one had to leave their seats. Just raise their hands while everyone else’s eyes were closed and heads were bowed. Easy enough. Salvation becomes a secret that we keep from the rest of the world, even those who are most anxious to share in what should be the most monumental life changing time of our lives. If we can’t share our faith in the house of faith, what has happened to us? How will be possibly ever be able to share it out in the world?

It starts at the foot of the cross. Where there was anguish, and sorrow, and pain beyond description. Where the innocence of heaven came full force against the evil wickedness of sin.

We desire others to know Christ, but we fail them when we reduce that moment to short prayer where the promise of heaven is given without the power of God to enable them to get there is prayed for as well.

Anyone I know who has walked this sod after believing in Jesus as their Savior and Lord for any length of time will tell you that following Jesus can sometimes be the hardest thing they have ever done, and if we don’t take people to the foot of the cross where they can gaze upon the Savior has who made the trip for us, in whom we are crucified too, and yet no longer live, but He lives in us by the power of that Spirit, we set them up for struggles and heartache, and ultimately feeling of intense failure, if not a turning away from the God they sought, who still loves them intensely.
Where is God’s power?

The early disciples experienced it on Pentecost when the Promised Comforter (Jesus knew we would need comfort) came. After hours and days of prayer Peter preached that day taking all those in ear shot back to the cross, the injustice of it, the selfishness behind it, the pain and sorrow and led them beyond it to the empty tomb, to the power of the Spirit which awaited them that they might walk with that Savior they loved.

The Spirit was just the Christ they loved in another form. He was as present to them and with them as he had been when he walked the earth. Their fearlessness at His presence with them was evidence of the power they sensed. They prayed and acted on the assurance that the reality of the Spirit of God was there.

This was the early church.

Let’s face it. I think that we in the church are more than aware of the power of god, but it is with lowercase letters as we are afraid of the God that written in capital letters.

We are as afraid of the power of God today as the early Israelite's were in the desert of Sinai, and the Jews were in Jesus time. We know we cannot wield it, we can only humble ourselves before it, and allow it to do its work in us. We need to get on our faces like the early church, in prayer and fasting. Humbling ourselves on our knees and faces to allow the Spirit to sweep over us. Get out of his way and let Him work.

People would rather conspire, and meet, and plan but not pray, not come to the foot of the cross because there is an admittance that we are not in control. He is.

May God help us!

Hurry UP!!!

There was a time when Life wasn’t “hurry up!”

But I can’t remember when.

Generational hurrying…..that is what it is.

You push forward, and hurry. Are you running away from, getting away from something so painful you don’t want to give it time to catch you? So you keep hurrying forward, and it is generational, and you have been doing it for so long, you don’t even know why anymore, and you’ve done it for so long, that you find it hard not to………hurry up.

I know why she hurried. I know why she didn’t want to get caught; why she ran from the memories and the sorrows. They would be overwhelming, and overcoming, and heart wrenching and heartbreaking, so she kept hurrying and kept going, and didn’t look back unless she had to. And the tears and the anger they always came when she did, so she just kept moving, and busy, and hurried, and drug us along behind, until we had been trained to catch up with her, and even surpass her. And that same urgency was ingrained in us. 

I do it still.

And I don’t even know why.

When I think of “the back then”, the “behind me”, I cry too, but not so much from the sorrow, but from the hurry that blurred my vision, and robbed me of………….more than I can list.

“Time waits for no man.”  So we hurry…….

Because of this hurrying, I do not have the capacity to see so many things; I’m blind. I don’t have the capacity to hear so many things; I’m deaf. I don’t even feel so much because the senses are dulled from the speed that has propelled me forward for so long, that I can’t stop. Stopping, it actually feels so wrong I can worry myself sick with the idea of doing it.

I have so much to stop for though, to relish, to steep in, but that urge inside of me, that constant inner push is there, and I can’t make it…..STOP!! It’s a feeling in the pit of my stomach that makes me feel guilty when I sit down and read in the middle of the day, or just sit outside and admire the color green, and the sounds of the birds, and the warmth. That inner churning deep down in my belly that


If I put my feet down to slow down this ride, I’m sure they would wear right off. Then I’d be footless, which would only complicate my ability to keep moving and hurrying. It’s awful.

The rest of the world is doing it too, and to have friends, you sort of have to do it ...hurry and keep up. In so many ways, we are all hurrying and trying to keep up.

I don’t know if it is because of my time in life, or what, but I am tired of hurrying, and I grow wearier of it every day. The guilt that comes with sitting will just have to burn in my belly and my brain until it burns a hole, or goes away, cause I am finding I simply haven’t got the physical ability to hurry anymore, even though my mind is still miles and miles, if not years ahead.

My sister said she wants a brain transplant to enable us to stop….so many of those things that we are hurrying to get done, or get to. We both chuckle, because at our age, we sort of know what that might entail, and yeah, well no. But we agree, it would be good if there were a switch.

So maybe the beginning is being aware of the hurry; the rush, maybe that is where it begins to stop.