Our understanding of who God is and who we are drastically affects our understanding of who Christ is and why we need him. For example, if God is only a loving Father who wants to help his people, then we will see Christ as a mere example of that love. We will view the Cross as just a demonstration of God’s love in which he allowed Roman soldiers to crucify his son so that sinful man would know how much he loves us. But this picture of Christ and the Cross is woefully inadequate, missing the entire point of the gospel. We are not saved from our sins because Jesus was falsely tried by Jewish and Roman officials and sentenced by Pilate to die. Neither are we saved because Roman persecutors thrust nails into the hands and feet of Christ and hung him on a Cross. Do we really think that the false judgement of men heaped upon Christ would pay the debt for all of humankind’s sin? Do we really think that a crown of thorns and whips and nails and a wooden cross and all the other facets of the crucifixion that we glamorize are powerful enough to save us? Picture Christ in the garden of Gethsemane. As he kneels before his Father, drops of sweat and blood fall together from his head. Why is he in such agony and pain? The answer is not because he is afraid of crucifixion. He is not trembling because of what the Roman soldiers are about to do to him. Since that day countless men and women in the history of Christianity have died for the faith. Some of them were not just hung on crosses; they were burned there. Many of them went to their crosses singing. One Christian in India, while being skinned alive, looked at his persecutors and said, “I thank you for this. Tear off my old garment, for i will soon put on Christ’s garment of righteousness.” As he prepared to head to his execution, Christopher Love wrote a note to his wife, saying, “today they will sever me from my physical head, but they cannot sever me from my spiritual head, Christ.” As he walked to his death, his wife applauded while he sang of glory. Did these men and women in Christian history have more courage than Christ himself? Why was he trembling in that garden, weeping and full of anguish? We can rest assured that he was not a coward about to face Roman soldiers. Instead he was a savior about to endure divine wrath. Listen to his words: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.” The “cup” is not a reference to a wooden cross; it is a reference to divine judgement. It is the cup of God’s wrath. This is what Jesus is recoiling from in the garden. All God’s holy wrath and hatred towards sin and sinners, stored up since the beginning of the world, is about to be poured out on high, and he is sweating blood at the thought of it. What happened at the cross was not primarily about nails being thrust into Jesus’s hand and feet but about the wrath due your sin and my sin being thrust upon his soul. in that holy moment, all the righteous wrath and justice of God due us came rushing down like a torrent on Christ himself. Some say, “God looked down and could not bear to see the suffering that the soldiers were inflicting on Jesus, so he turned away.” but this is not true. God turned away because he could not bear to see your sin and my sin on his Son. One preacher described it as if you and i were standing a short hundred yards away from a dam of water ten thousand miles wide and ten thousand miles high. All of a sudden that dam was breached, and a torrential flood of water came crashing towards us. Right before it reached our feet, the ground in front of us opened up and swallowed it all. At the Cross, Christ drank the full cup of the wrath of God, and when he had downed the last drop, he turned the cup over and cried out, “it is finished.” This is the gospel. The just and loving creator of the universe has looked upon hopelessly sinful people and sent his son, God in the flesh, to bear his wrath against sin on the cross and to show his power over sin in the resurrection so that all who trust in him will be reconciled to God forever.” Pg 34-36 Radical by David Platt
Today was an excellent start to the week. While on a guard shift for a couple of hours filling in for a co-worker, i ran into the Battalion Chaplin. We got to chatting about this, and that for a few minutes before he asked me how my deployment had been so far. I expressed my feelings, in regards to just struggling as i assume most people do, to keep 100% positive about situations that are pretty undesirable. As i am aware that the Lord has great things planned for me to take away from this experience, it just becomes difficult to keep every area of your thought focused on the positive. His immediate reaction after he realized i was serving the Lord was, “I’d like to hear your story if that’s OK?”. So about 45 minutes later, and extensive detail in regards to my testimony, his reaction was nothing short of the encouragement i needed to continue to give myself to God’s call for this season of my life. The ability is available through God, as the responsibility is placed by God. A quote from pastor Judah Smith that has repeated in my head for months now since i first heard it. This conversation lasted another 30 minutes, talking about the various people who were serving the Lord in 2nd battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, the plans they have for trying to get people plugged in to various churches in the area, and the amazing passion this man has to see all of his soldiers saved by the Grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ. It was very encouraging simply to share with another in the same place, our passion for seeing a breakthrough in the people around us. In the military and especially a unit such as this one, there is a very firm sense of brotherhood. I want to take that to another level. As one of my fellow rangers has tattooed on his arm “BROTHERS in CHRIST” is what i pray for. Thank you Jesus for your presence, and your constant blessing. I recognized favor from God as i walked away, realizing there was an endless list of young men just like me that Jesus is longing to reach.
i sat at church, the seat next to me empty and the utter awareness that you were not by my side overwhelmed me… and i cried.
i sat in the back seat, headed to the coast with my family and the utter awareness that you were not by side overwhelmed me… and i cried.
i sat here tonight, looking at the blurred skype version of you and the utter awareness that you will not be by my side for another 3 months overwhelmed me… and i cried.
its in these moments, when i feel so weak, even to the point that i question my capability to endure and my strength to carry on, that you lift me up. with simple words of encouragement and love you reassure me that we will endure and that we do have the strength to carry on. you remind me of that verse and that post that i wrote about that verse, when we were first beginning our journey together, and how much more relevant it is today than it was then.
it is in these moments that you have the amazing ability to display Jesus to me in a way that is so real, genuine, and true.
its in these moments that i thank God for all that you are to me.
and it is in these moments that i fall more in love with you than ever i imagined possible.
As seasons come and go, from God’s perspective, they each have their own divine agenda. A goal to be accomplished, a change to be made, an area of our hearts to be altered. Certain seasons however, change us in ways that are unseen. They deposit attributes we are unaware of that will be vital to the degree of success we experience in the next season. One of the most important aspects, is our gauge of success. Success in God’s eyes is very different at times than ours is. Understanding the goal he has for us is the pivotal aspect in determining our level of success. I have been struggling daily to stay encouraged about what i am here doing. I don’t mean in the military, or in afghanistan even, but here on a mission for the Kingdom of God. My success is measured by the impact i have on those around me, the influence i can be in someone elses life. There are times in life when you must do things you don’t want to do. Go places you don’t want to see, and talk to people you wouldn’t usually talk to. Its difficult to process, accept, and identify success in a season that in nature is entirely undesireable. What i am learning to understand better, is that sometimes success is unseen, no matter how hard you attempt to see it. Until the season when what was deposited, shows itself. This season i am seeing constantly things that i was unaware of within me. Now i must learn even more so that i must trust and rely on the Lord in every moment. Having faith that what i am struggling through is a blessing. As romans 5 states, we must rejoice in our stuggles because they bring about perseverance, which will build character. My hope is in the Lord, believing that my current struggle is his will for my life, creating new things in me that will bring about a successful future in HIS eyes, and hopefully have a positive effect on HIS kingdom. In a time of hardship, unseen success, and blind steps, we must rely completely on the Lord. Be spirit led. I’m believing the result will be exponentially more than i could ever have imagined.