Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Drinking the Cup of Wrath

This morning with our Fellas @ 5 group, I focused our attention on Matthew 26. In this text, we see Jesus in Gethsemane and we read His request, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." The question I asked the Fellas was "what cup?" What's Jesus talking about. Shouldn't He say, "Let this cross pass from me?" Or maybe "Let this scourging pass from me." Jesus' request shows us exactly what was on His mind - exactly what His concern was - and it was not a whip or nails. His concern was the wrath of God. The "cup of God's wrath" contains "fire and sulfur and a scorching wind" (Ps. 11:6). The "cup of His wrath" is also called the "cup of staggering" (Is. 51:17). Again, nails, mocking, and the cross are not His greatest concern - experiencing the full brunt of Divine Judgment, the full force of wrath, the searing silence of abandonment and alienation, and the utter devastation of forsakenness are clearly on His mind. Yet why would a sinless Son in whom the Father is well pleased ever experience "damnation" from the Father? My sin. Jesus did not experience the "cup of wrath" because of His sin but because of mine. And as unfathomable as it is, God the Father punishes God the Son because of my disobedience (2 Cor. 5:21). As Isaiah says, the cup will be drunk "to the dregs," which means the reason Christ declares "it is finished" is because He had drunk the full contents of the cup of wrath. And because Christ drank the cup of wrath - I get to drink from another cup - the cup of salvation. As David says "you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows." Christ drank the cup I should have tasted yet because of His sacrifice and substitutionary atonement I get to drink from a cup I never deserved to even see. Friends, no matter what today holds, Christ has already experienced the worst thing possible. You've never had a day like Christ had on "Good Friday" and thanks to His righteousness you will not have an eternity of wrath. Flee to Christ friends. Take shelter in Him. There is no other name given unto men for salvation. Whatever obedience you are called to today, the One who has been most obedient lives in you. Yes Paul, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Thank you Father for not letting the cup pass from Jesus for I would have no other hope in the world for reconciliation with you. Thank you for your silence in the Garden. I will never fully know how much my salvation cost you and the Son.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Last week, Tara's grandfather passed away. It's still a shock. For the nine years I have known Tara, Papa has been the only grandfather I have ever had. He was described by others as "the best of men" and a "prince of a man." I have never met a more faithful husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. The words "sacrificial," "servant," and "selfless" were embodied by him. He worked to help African-Americans get into Wood Jr. College, get jobs as operators with Bell South, and get into the Rotary club. His efforts with Habitat for Humanity have helped thousands have a place to live. And in all of his service his family was never slighted. You have never met a more faithful family man, who chose to chase his granddaughter rather than chase dollars. They were both the richer for it. And so am I. Because we know Papa knew Jesus intimately, we are not those who grieve without hope - for we know we will see him again. But we do grieve because he was such a treasure. May the Lord empower me to be as selfless and sacrificial for others and may He empower me to love my wife and children as Luther Millsaps did his. May I one day be an 83 year old gentleman who still kisses Tara on the cheek and opens doors for her and steadies her through all that life brings. Thank you Papa for not wasting your life. May you enjoy all of the rich treasures you have stored in Heaven - most importantly - may you enjoy Christ Jesus - the One who gives you life even now! With His strength, I will take care of all your girls and little buddy boy.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

We Make it Our Aim to Please Him

In 2 Cor. 5:9, Paul says, "So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him." Did you see what Paul just said? Wherever we are (in context: Heaven or earth), we have ONE aim: Pleasing Christ. Is this your aim in life? Is this the aim of the church you attend? Oh, by His mercies that are new every day, may we make it our aim to please Jesus. May we not just live to please ourselves or to please the world or to even just please well-meaning friends. May our aim instead be from the early hours of the morning to the late moments in the evening: one aim - pleasing Christ. Whether we are in a room full of people or in a quiet solitary place may we have one aim: pleasing Christ. May we by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the flesh and may we be transformed by the renewing of our minds, so we can know and do what God wants. What is that? Pleasing Christ. Now having shared all of this, I wonder if you would do something that I will do for you? Would you pray that I would live this? Would you pray that this would be evident in my life and the cry of my heart? Would you pray that as I preach tonight and tomorrow morning in Atlanta that my one aim would be to please Christ? Would you pray that as I interact with youth ministers or as I sit quietly in a hotel room that I will have one aim: pleasing Christ? So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Jesus Will Sustain You to the End . . . Guiltless

This morning I started reading 1 Corinthians. On Sunday morning, a friend sent me a text at 6AM that contained 1 Cor. 2:9 and that he was praying for me. How grateful I am for six o'clock prayers! As I was reading 1 Corinthians, I was struck by several of Paul's introductory phrases. First, he describes the church as those "sanctified in Christ Jesus" and "called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Our only hope for sanctification is in Christ and we were never called to be saints individually but "together!" This is part of my burden for why church membership matters. We need each other and it's God's Will that we rely on one another (Rom. 12:3-8).
Reading further, I was encouraged as Paul told the Corinthians that while they were waiting on Christ to return they could rest assured He "will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." What great hope for us today! What great fuel for worship! Paul has not one shred of doubt that Jesus will fail in seeing the Corinthian believers persevere. No matter what we are going through now or what the future holds, our confidence is not that we are strong enough (because we are not!) Our confidence is that Christ is strong enough - HE WILL SUSTAIN YOU. For how long? TO THE END! And on top of that hear the glorious word that drips with God's grace - GUILTLESS. If there was anything the Corinthian church was on their own it was not guiltless. They were even doing stuff that the pagans didn't do (1 Cor. 5:1). Yet over these wretched sinners a greater word is spoken - Guiltless. Is there any doubt that our friends, family, co-workers, and strangers we meet today need to hear this Gospel word?
One final word: Do you know how we can be certain of what Paul is saying? The answer is in 1:9 - God is faithful! Here's the grounding of our confidence. God is faithful. And He is the One "by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord." We were called "by" Him. The One who called is the Faithful One. The One who called is the Sovereign One. The One Who called is both just and the justifier of those who have faith in Jesus (Rom. 3:26).
SUSTAINED and GUILTLESS - meditate much on these two Truths today dear friends and see if our hearts are drawn more in love with the One who Sustains and had our Guilt placed on Him.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dirt and Rotted Wood

I'm getting ready to head to Leesville tonight and speak for Leesville High School's Principal's Banquet. Yes, I know it's the night before our Disciple Now here. Yes, I know I still need more preparation. Yes, I know it will take time to travel there and back. But yes, I also know that a stewardship has been entrusted to me by God. But yes, I also know that there are people who will be there tonight who are still enslaved to sin. But yes, I know that my desire is the same as Paul's: "Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me" (Col. 1:28-29). May we order our lives for the sake of the Gospel.
Now - about dirt and rotted wood. As I was preparing to leave this morning, I noticed how filthy my truck was. I decided to give it a quick wash. While trying to clean all the grime off the wheels, I realized if I had done this at least once in the past year, then the job would not be as difficult. Instead, I let month after month of road refuse cake on the wheels so that the chrome shine was nowhere to be seen. The exercise caused me to think of the sin that we often live with and less often deal with. The longer we let sin be a part of our lives, the more difficult and painful it is to get rid of it. 1 Thess. 4 reminds us that God's will for our life is our sanctification. God help us to kill sin and not just cultivate it. May your glory shine through us and not be blocked by the sin in us.
Now about the wood . . . as I was cleaning the tires I noticed that a triangular piece of wood had fallen off the eaves of our house. When I picked it up it was rotted. I was immediately reminded of the fleeting nature of material things and all the effort it takes to maintain them. May we not waste our lives solely on acquiring and maintaining things that are rotting. May we set our hearts and minds on things above.

Monday, March 1, 2010

What Our Children Will Say

As some of you know, I meet with 8-10 guys on Tuesday mornings at 5AM. I call it Fellas @ 5. I had a burden to see a group of men in our congregation catch a vision for Biblical manhood . . . I've never, however, had a burden for 5AM! This semester we are focusing on Proverbs and what I am calling "Father Knows Best." Should the Lord give us tomorrow morning I am going to ask the men the following questions based on Proverbs 3:

1. Will our children say that we modeled for them how to write God's Word on their hearts?
2. Will our children say that we modeled for them how to trust in the Lord with all their heart?
3. Will our children say that we modeled for them how to turn from evil in the fear of the Lord?
4. Will our children say that we modeled for them how to honor the Lord with their wealth?
5. Will our children say that we modeled for them how to embrace and love the Lord's discipline?

May Arabella, Adalaide, and Adoniram say this and more. If they do say these things, it will only be because the Lord's mercies are new for me every day. May we not squander the opportunity to parent for the good of our children and the glory of God.