Sunday, June 10, 2012

What was the first thing you thought when you saw this flag?  The blog isn't about the merits or the meaning of the flag.  However, the flag does have a connotation.  When you say you're a Christian, the same thing applies to you.  You can say being a Christian is ZYX but in the final analysis, it means you are a follower of Christ.  If you are not doing Christ-like things then you should question whether or not you are really carrying the Christian flag.  The question of the week is, what things are you doing now that does not represent Christ?  Let's talk about it.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

7 Statements From the Cross - Statement 6

"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" (see Luke 23:44-49)
Jesus came into the world with an Angelic choir.  He was born, not at the Ritz Carlton, but in a humble and meager place.  He is now about to leave the earth quite different than how He came.  It looks like He is not only humiliated and defeated but now He is about to die.  After all, how dare He defy the rulers and Priests of the day?  How dare He upset the status quo?  Who did He think He was?  Pontius Pilate placed the inscriptions above His head that stated exactly Who He was. Yet, those were only words and this “man” is dying.  Possibly, the crowd saw a defeated man.  Possibly, His followers saw the end of this new “Way” and a Rabbi that was wrong.  Possibly, Mary saw the death of her first born.  What could be going through their minds?  What do you think about when you reflect on the “COST” that Jesus bore for us?
In truth, those people were witnesses to witness “Act 1” so to speak.  Jesus repeatedly told them this event had to happen in order for God to be glorified.  I image I would have felt the same as His family, friends and followers felt.  You and I have the privilege to, as some writers say, flash forward on the story.  We read the book but they were living it.  
Jesus showed obedience to God even while on the cross. Think about this for a second.  Our Lord was beaten and scourged and didn’t complain.  He was talked about and disrespected by the thief and people in the area. It should assure you that you have a Savior who loves us dearly.  

Jesus has now relinquished His spirit.  He is about to die for our sins.  He said, "into your hands I commit my spirit."  Jesus stayed obedient to God.  He stuck to the plan despite the heart ache and pain. In a sense, Jesus was saying, “Father, it’s now time to take this to the next level.  You will be glorified even more after I am resurrected in three days.”
It is debatable whether this statement was His six or seventh one.  Remember, we’ll go more in detail about the statements in our bible study.  For this internet study, we are seeing how the words apply to us.
As we wrap up, remember a few things.  First, Jesus was not thinking defeat. Nor, was He admitting defeat.  No, our King of Kings was about to take the sins of the worlds upon Himself.  Defeated individuals don’t look for another challenge. They run from it.  Jesus ran towards the challenge.  Second, Jesus was being obedient to God.  He was nearing the finish of this earthly mission.  Jesus was about to, in a word, kill or defeat death.
Last observation, it was an unbeliever who made the comment “Truly this man was the Son of God.” (Mark 15:37 NASB)  Can an unbeliever tell you are a Christian or do you act, talk and think like them?
This week, commit yourself unto God.  Be obedient to Him and Glorify Him through your work ethics this week.  Let your co-workers, family members or neighbors see you being the Christian you’re called to be.  Prayerfully, when they see you...they’ll see Christ.  Also, spend some time in prayer and bible study.  You’ll see more of the One whom we love and serve.
Bless you

7 Statements From the Cross - Statement 5

"I thirst" (see John 19:28-29)
Jesus, The Living Water, says, “I thirst.”  He has been beaten, flogged and crucified.  The Gospel writers did not mention Him wanting anything throughout this ordeal.  Personally, I’m amazed that He would have the strength to say anything after enduring all that torture.     

In this short article (as well as the entire 7-series) I want to illustrate what Jesus endured.  Jesus has helped countless people.  Now, with His hands nailed to the cross, He needed someone to assist Him.  My mind races to, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. (Isaiah 53:5).  When we look to and at the cross...remember His blood was soaked on those wooden limbs for our sins.  Let’s "thirst" for the righteousness of God.  Be blessed and stay thirsty for our Lord

Sunday, March 18, 2012

7 Statements From the Cross - Statement 4

"My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" (see Matthew 27:45-50)

I’ve heard many people say that Jesus was praying to God when He says these words.  Then this is certainly a true statement if you take the stance that speaking to God is prayer.  Conversely, you’re equally correct if you take the stance that yelling out to God is simply communicating to Him.  I’m not certain which way Jesus was talking to God.  What I do know is this, at a time when He was hurting...He reached out to our Father.  This is an object lesson to us all.  It shows us that no matter where we are, God is there with us.  It is true that God was silent.  It is also true, this was one of the most pivotal moments in the annals of time.  For this study, our focus is on knowing Jesus took on our sins despite not being guilty of anything.  

God said that He was “well pleased” (depending on your bible version) with Jesus at least two times in the New Testament.  At this moment, God and Jesus were separated.  Let’s recap Jesus’ past few hours.  He was arrested in Gethsemane, His followers abandoned Him, He was falsely accused, He was beaten and humiliated,  He had to carry a cross (a symbol of death), then He was crucified on that cross, one of the fellow prisoner is mocking Him while on the cross and people were also mocking Him.  Now, after all of that...for the first time, Jesus is all alone.  Remember He prayed so hard in Gethsemane that His sweat was “like drops of blood.”  Despite all of those hardships, He took all the sin onto Himself for you and I.  Jesus carried away our sins on that rugged cross on Calvary.  
This week, try to remember His sacrifice.  Think about the things Jesus gave up to be here on earth with us.  Think about the pain He endured.  Ask God what do you need to forgive and forget this week.  Jesus dealt with all those issues for us without “a mumbling word.”  Many of us are ready to “lose our religion” if someone looks at us wrong or cuts in front of us in the grocery store line.  Lets be like Jesus.  Lets remember God has not forsaken us.  Lets remember Jesus knew His destiny and those things had to take place and He went through it for us.  Whatever God has set before you, go forward in the peace and understanding God has set it up for your good and His glory.
We should be thankful we have such a loving Lord God and Savior.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

7 Statements From the Cross - Statement 3

"He said to His mother, 'Dear woman, here is your son,' and to the disciple, 'Here is your mother'" (see John 19:26-27)

In the first two statements Jesus was still ministering to the people.  He clearly displayed his deity.  Now, Jesus takes care of His mother.  What could be going through Mary’s mind?  Years earlier she received an angelic visit.  Mary was told she would be the vessel from which the Savior of the world would be housed, for a lack of a better term.  Now, her first born is on a cross and nearing death.  Despite His condition, He was concerned with her present and future condition.  We should take comfort in knowing that Christ is always looking out for us.  John, although now an adult and seasoned Apostle, has been adopted into Jesus’ family.  He wanted John to take care of His mother.  
Who can you take care of this week?  Is it through prayer?  Is it through a phone call?  Is it through the repairing of a fractured relationship?  Ask our Father to show you which direction you should go this week.  Also, if you have a parent...remember one key thing.  You are growing older and are they.  Take time to show them love today.  Give them their flowers while they live.
Don't forget to review the previous statements.  Please remember we're looking at each statement from Ash Wednesday until Easter.

Women At The Cross

John 19:25
Matthew 27:56
Mark 15:41
Mary, Jesus’ mother

Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene
Mary Magdalene
Mary, the wife of Clopas and Jesus’ Aunt
Mary, James and Joseph’s mother
Mary, James and Joseph’s mother

Mary, the mother of the sons of Zebedee


Wednesday, February 29, 2012

There Is No Gray In Moral Failure

Folks, my first book should be...should be, did I say should be?  Seriously, it should be published and ready for purchase on April 1, 2012.  I'll let you know if it is available before then.

You 2.0

Please click You 2.0 to see the Bible study on You 2.0.  This lesson concentrates on developing your spiritual life as well as self-reflection.  It's a continuation of our study on Becoming the Best Christmas Present You Can Be For Jesus In 2012.

If clicking on You 2.0 doesn't work, go to this link:

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

7 Statements From the Cross - Statement 2

Statement 2: "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise" (see Luke 23:39-43).

Let’s look at both criminals.  The first criminal, as Luke states it, “was hurling abuses at Him, saying, Are You not the Christ (Messiah)?  Save Yourself and us!”  Let’s dissect this for a second.  There are two other people on crosses besides Jesus.  All of them had to be suffering in pain.  We know what Jesus went through but Scripture doesn’t tell us if they had to endure other brutalities before being attached to their crosses.  For instance, the first guy (the criminal) might have been flogged also.  If so, he would be in a lot of pain.  Scripture does not tell us that he had family or friend around him giving him water or offering kind words.  Yet, this criminal had the audacity to make those comments to Christ.  We can look at it in two ways.  First, he didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah.  So, his words are meant to be hurtful and mocking.  Second, he believed in the Messiah and was upset that the “so called King” was in the same predicament that he was in. 
The focus is on Jesus’ statement but I feel if we get a feel of the context, His words will resonate with us much better.  Now lets look at the second criminal.  This person realized and accepted the fact that he deserved his punishment.  He also recognized God in Jesus.  The Scripture does not record this man reciting the so-called “Sinners Prayer.”  Nor does it record him repenting of his sin.  Yet, he was cognizant of the Almighty in his presence.  He simply asked Jesus to remember him in Paradise/heaven.
In looking at the two criminals on the cross, we can almost see a few symbolic features of us carrying our cross
  1. Either you’re holding up your cross and saying good things for and about Christ or you aren’t.  
  • A bit of a stretch in the context of this setting but it’s a good word picture nonetheless
  • I say this tongue-and-cheek but if the man on the right asked to be with Jesus, he might have been on the right hand or in the right. If the guy who mocked Jesus was on the left, he was just left out. 
  1. Our simple but honest requests to the Lord are heard
  2. It’s never too late to come to Jesus
  3. Even sinners who are rightfully punished can still receive Grace.
  4. God still hears from those who are mired in sin. 
  • This is an about face from the popular premise, “God doesn’t hear the prayers of the sinful.”  It also goes against, “God won’t bless you in your mess.”
Let me clarify those two statements.  This is not to say that God doesn’t mind you doing wrong and He wants to bless you.  No, I believe it shows us that God is not boxed into a “You must do this in order to get that.”  Rather, His ways aren’t our ways.  He blessed this man only hours before their death!  This is, in my humble opinion, the first deathbed confession of Christ in the bible.  In other words, it’s never too late to come to Christ.
Note: Jesus said, “today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”  At face value, it indicate that as we close our eyes on this side of Heaven, we open our eyes in Glory/Paradise.
Lastly, let’s look at the cross from Jesus’ perspective.  Luke 22:44 shows Jesus praying the “Blood prayer” (my title only) only hours earlier in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus requested His three closest friends/disciples/Apostles to accompany Him to this spot.  Jesus picked a serene place to be with God.  He asked His companions, (1) the men who labored with Him for three years, (2) the men He had taught for three years, (3) the men He personally chose for His earthly mission, (4) His inner circle, (5) the ones who witnessed the Transfiguration, to simple keep stay awake and keep watch for Him.  They were unable to stay awake and keep watch for Him.  We’ll discuss those reason in a future lesson.  Take a moment and look at His prayer in Luke 22:39-46.  
Now, lets look at the disappointments Jesus endured prior to being crucified.
  • He was betrayed by Judas
  • Falsely arrested
  • Betrayed by His people (Matt 27:20-21, Mark 15:11-14, Luke 23:18-23, John 19:12-15)
  • Scourged (Matt 27:26, Mark 15:15)
  • He was mocked (Matt 27:27-31)
  • He had a crown of thorns put on His head (Matt 27:29)
  • He was spat on (Matt 27:30)
  • He was beaten on the head with a reed (Matt 27:30)
Note: Apparently His beating was so severe, He was unable to carry His cross all the way to Golgotha.  A believer had to help Him.  
A quick time line. All of these things mention above transpired after Jesus and the 12 had eaten dinner. Jesus didn’t go before Pilate until “early in the morning” (Mark 15:1).  Also, cocks crow at around dawn.  At 6:00AM (John 19:14) His people betrayed Him.  The Romans crucified (put Him on the cross) Christ around 9:00 AM (Mark 15:25).  
That’s a lot of things for one person to endure.  Now, go back an reread His statement.
Jesus says, "Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise".  Jesus was still ministering while He was suffering.  We should note this and remember to help others even when we are “going through.”  
I’m encouraging you to remember your wayward family or friends.  There is still a chance for them to receive Christ.  Don’t give up on them.  Continue to pray for them.  Jesus didn’t stop and nor should we.
Blessings to you

Friday, February 24, 2012

7 Statements From the Cross - Statement 1

The Background: Jesus uttered seven powerful statements while hanging on The Cross.  Each week leading up to Easter, we’ll look at each statement.  We’ll look at them individually and then collectively to see what He was telling us.  We’ll see God's plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. The intent is to learn how we can change our lives to look more like Christ.

It is important to remember that Jesus was (1) beaten, (2) scourged and (3) forced to carry His vessel of torture - the tree or crucifix.  The cross was not some lacquered and beautifully even cut of prime wood. It they were more like scrap wood.  The criminals would get their cross and lug it through the streets to their “death station.” It is equally important to know the Romans made the criminals walk through the market place while carrying their crosses. This provided the onlookers, mostly Jews, with two things.  First, it instilled fear into all who witnessed the event.  The onlookers had no doubt in their mind what it meant to carry a cross. As 21st century Christians, the meaning may be a little lost on us.  However, for those first century listeners and viewers, they knew what Jesus meant.  It meant, “Dead man walking.”  Jesus challenged us to take up our cross. I think it’s important for us as a modern day Western Christian to keep in mind what it means.  For us, we need to bear the cross of Christianity.  We must bear the weight it carries with us.  It means we might not be popular any longer.  It means we should be distinguishable from the world, the casual onlooker who aren’t believers.  That’s our cross.  Second, it showed the Jews and everyone else that no one defied the Roman government.  The iron heel of the Roman Empire was on the neck of the oppressed Israelites.  Little did they know that it was all a part of the plan.  In our contemporary time, we are not oppressed.  However, issues like gay marriages are forcing some of us to forget the cross.  We accommodate, or show tolerance for unGodly things.

Jesus’ sacrifice provided us equal access to the Father.  His death, burial and resurrection provided us with eternal salvation.  We must be reminded to reflect on His sacrifices.  We also must walk the faith.  I can almost picture us walking with our figurative crosses through the street.  The streets are our everyday walk.  Our cross is our Christian lifestyle.  I can see those who want to be with the world (Romans) speaking bad about us.  However, “be alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Cor 16:13 NASB).

Take time each week and think on what our Lord has done for us.  As you read the Scripture, put yourself inside the story.  “What were these people thinking? How would I have reacted?”  I also encourage you to reflect on what does the words of this 1st century Jewish teacher, prophet and carpenter (more so a construction worker) mean to me?

I pray your understanding grows exponentially. 
Statement 1: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (see Luke 23:34).
Nails in the foot of a crucified person
Jesus was falsely imprisoned; lied on by His people and the religious institution; mocked by the Roman court, spat on; beaten by the Romans and abandoned by His friends (the Apostles) and disciples.  What would you do in that situation?  You’ve been treated worse than anyone should be treated.  Your closest friends left you.  You’re defenseless.  You’ve been whipped with a tool of death.  Each lash on your back takes pieces of your flesh from your body.  You’re humiliated.  Then you are forced to carry a tree for some distance.  Now your torturers are cast lots to see who will get your garments!
Golgotha and Calvary at the top (March 2011
Ok, you’ve had enough time to think about what you’d do?  Jesus did the opposite of what we would do.  He asked God to forgive them.  Forgive them?  What?  He didn’t ask God to help Him.  He did not ask God to send down a legion of angels.  No, Jesus was saving people from themselves even as He hung from the cross.  He asked for their forgiveness!  Only Jesus, our sinless sacrificial Savior, would do that.   
Look at the cross and the nails in that man’s feet.  This is a picture of what our Lord went through. Well, not exactly since Scriptures says His bones weren’t broken.  The picture is a good illustration nonetheless.  Jesus asked for forgiveness of His torturers.  This week, see who you can forgive.  Or, see who you need forgiveness from.  Perhaps you can speak on forgiveness to someone.