What is so significant about the cross? The typical response would have something to do about the death of Jesus. However, if we were to be more detailed we may say that its not just the death of Jesus but the fact that Jesus reigned victorious over death by defeating sin and raising again on the third day. So, the cross has become an object for many that is a sign of the victory of Christ in a particular point in history. Our culture has embraced the cross as a symbol that can sell on t-shirts, in the form of jewelry, and other retail objects.
What if we are missing the point or purpose of the cross? What if our view of the cross is short sighted in both width and depth? What if we are asking all the wrong questions about the cross? So, I want to pose a different questions:
What is the purpose of the cross? When I think about the cross here are three things that come to mind:
One of the things that has always captivated me is how important positioning is in life. Now, follow me on this. When you play sports, the right position against your opponent is the foundational building block of learning that will help an athlete achieve their victory. In the world of business we always consider “how can we position ourselves for success”? This is especially true of relationships or the right deals in order to achieve success. It’s again, about position.The same is true within the context of military battles. Generals slave over maps that take into account topography, landmarks, and other important distinctions that will help them determine how they will position their troops.
When I worked for Faithlife (makers of Logos Bible Software) and traveled extensively I always loved flying into San Diego. Grabbing my rental car and leaving the airport I passed by massive war ships. I would instantly begin to think about what it would look like for these ships to be out in the middle of the ocean and the immense amount of calculation it would take by the entire crew if they had to engage in battle.
Ephesians six brings us to the conclusion that the work of reconciliation that was made possible in and through Christ alone has tremendous impact in both a spiritual and physical sense. The cosmic reconciliation of mankind through the power of the Gospel of Jesus invades every aspect of our present life and should be transformative in every relationship. The presence of the Gospel and how it transforms families should be seen within the context of marriage, extending further into parental relationships with children. An interesting note in Ephesians 6 is that this is the first time when children are directed to honor their parents where there is also a promise attached to it. In fact, Paul is taking a command from the Old Testament (Ex 20) that was specific to the children of Israel and now communicates that same message and command to the children of Christians and universalizes the promise by saying that it would “go well for them and result in a long life”. However, it’s important to note that Paul views this as a two way road with a special message for fathers to not provoke their children, rather; to raise them up in the LORD. The emphasis that Paul is making for parents is not so much for children to learn moralistic behaviorism which is predicated on good works. Rather, obedience should come from a heart that is aware of the great grace that was given and in response to the beauty of the Gospel.
Ephesians 3 may be one of the most important passages in scripture for all of us who are not of Jewish descent. In these verses the Apostle Paul finally makes known the “mystery” that had been hidden from the time of the Old Testament covenant until the time of Christ. Paul clearly states that the gift of the Gospel was for all people including Gentiles. In fact, elsewhere Paul brilliantly shows us that this mystery is not something new that came as an addition, rather God had been working his purpose for Gentile inclusion into the family of God throughout the entirety of scripture beginning with Abraham.
The setting of 2nd Sam 15:30 takes place under the harshest of conditions as King David begins to see his kingdom crumble in front of him. Absolom has successfully “Stolen the hearts of the men of Israel” (2nd Sam 15:6b). In fact, it seems that the waywardness of the men of Israel plays a significant role in Absalom’s rising power and strength as this phrase is repeated as a messenger comes to tell David “The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom” (2nd Sam 15:13). Within this story we are reminded of the larger story – One where the people of God are continually wayward in their love and affections toward God and are prone to stray and allow their hearts to be captivated by others. In light of these events David sees that his situation and place in the Kingdom is uncertain, and therefore needs to retreat and escape.
2nd Samuel 12:13
13 David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die.
We find David in what may be the beginning of some dark and troubling days for one of the greatest Kings in Israelite history. As we will see later through these chapters, even kings that have a deep devotion to God are susceptible to wavering and pursuing the desires of their heart. King David was no different. Through chapter 12 we see the consequence of David’s sin and the interaction that he has with the prophet Nathan. Its interesting to see that almost a year has passed with David in sin before Nathan approaches him. Further, we find the prophet Nathan utilize very specific language to describe the sin of David. David himself murdered Uriah and took his wife. Even worse, David used the enemy of God, the Ammonites, as the means by which he would murder Uriah. David was in every way complicit and active in this treachery.
The mark of a great leader – 24hrs. That’s all it took for for Ittai the Gittite and all of his 600 men to know the type of leader/king that David was.
3 verses. Thats it – that’s all Ittai the Gittite gets in all of scripture. But these three verses give us insight into two very important leadership aspects, one about David and the other about Ittai.
It’s here. The New Year has begun and everyone is figuring what changes they are going to make for 2017. Some are thinking multiple small changes while others are looking for that one huge change. The really motivated are going to do it all! Then the 2nd week of January hits and you find yourself back in the same routines and doing your best to ignore your commitments to 2017 chalking it up to too much food or drink. In fact, take a moment to look at your 2016 resolutions and count up how many of them you achieved?
I think the real problem isn’t the resolutions but more about your commitment. The real challenge is our response to our faltering resolve. The problem is, we don’t have a response. We simply fall back to old habits, tendencies, and vices that keep us from achieving our goals. The best thing you can do for yourself is plan for the challenge and define your responses for each possible scenario. It’s possible to stay committed but here is the disclaimer – it takes work. Real work. Really hard work. If your willing to put in the work, here are a couple things to help you on journey.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to share Logos and speak at the Women of Faith events across the U.S. I was usually introduced by either Lisa Harper or Lysa Terkeurst – Both amazing women of God and incredible Bible teachers. Over the last few years I’ve gotten to know Lysa and her ministry Proverbs 31 through teaching at their event She Speaks and training their ministry teams on Logos. Throughout the years Lysa shared her vision to eradicate Biblical poverty. Helping people have access to scripture and take hold of it. Teaching them how to study so that they weren’t constantly looking to others to unpack the depth and beauty of the Bible. As I heard this vision I realized this simple statement – “Eradicating Biblical Poverty” was a defining phrase that captured my own heart beat and desire. I’ve had the opportunity to see how this vision has been put into action through P31’s First 5 app (which is amazing and all of you should download now). The Experience Guides that go with each study, and Lysa’s own books Uninvited and her newest study “Finding I Am” which I had the incredible opportunity to help her in with some research.
After a lot of prayer and asking our mentors for advice and wisdom, Brittany and I have decided to accept an offer from Lysa and P31 to join their team as the Director of Theology and Ministry Products.
I’m excited to help with the future development of First 5, bring support and help around theology development, research and writing, and a couple other really exciting projects that I’ll share with you all in the coming months!
My son’s seizure. I never honestly thought I would ever say that phrase. In the most terrifying experience of my life I held my 9 month old son as he went into what I now know is a complex febrile seizure. Little Lucas had a spike in fever while we were just 10 minutes away from my uncles house to surprise my mom for her birthday. Just before he went into the seizure he had a unique pain cry that we had never heard. My wife, Brittany, knew instantly something was wrong and jumped into the backseat to see what was wrong. As he went into the seizure, I pulled over, called 911, and then I stood there holding my 9 month old son as his left hand and left foot convulsed for what seemed like an eternity until we heard the sirens approach us.
It’s taken me some time to process what was taking place in my mind but I realized I began to pray Psalm 46 earnestly to the Lord in those moments and I continued to pray it over the next 48 hours of testing, confusion, anger, and anticipation. Why Psalm 46? Actually, its because it was the first Psalm that was released as a pre-release in song form from my friends Shane and Shane. I’ve been listening to this song easily over 50 times simply because I loved their arrangement of this powerful Psalm. Little did I know that God in his sovereignty began to prepare my heart days before this scary moment as I watched my son not only go through the seizure but watch as he was subjected to multiple tests.