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Posts Tagged ‘Cross’

I remember when I was a little boy, momma loaded us up and took us to Mineral Wells to the city pool.  It was a major event for this country boy, because, for us, “swimming pool” meant stock tank.

If swimming didn’t include brownish-red water, mud between your toes, and having to avoid cow patties on the way down to the water, then I was just a little out of my element.

To tell you this truth, I still get a little uncomfortable if I can see my feet when I’m in the water.  It just throws me off.  I didn’t learn to swim in crystal clear water, and that may explain why my trip to the pool almost ended in disaster.

With my momma resting in the shade and my older brother playing around the diving board, I was having the time of my life in the shallow end of the pool…looking at my feet!

About that time, a boy decided to befriend me and let me ride on his little boogie board floaty.  I hopped on while he pushed me around, but then, suddenly, without any notice, he said, “Now are you ready to go into the deep water?”  And as I shook my head “no,” he laughed and gave me a shove toward the deep end of the pool.

I remember holding onto that boogie board, panicked and paralyzed as it floated over the rope signaling that I had just crossed into the deep water.  My knuckles were turning white as I held on.  And, as the board continued to float into deeper and deeper water, I realized that I had to do something.

So, to avoid getting into any deeper water, I jumped off of the board.  That was my safety plan: to bail out.

And I jumped off of that board right into water that was over my head.

I sank to the bottom of the pool, pushed off, and resurfaced just in time to see that I was situated right under the life guard stand.

I gasped for air, sank back down, hit the bottom, pushed off, and came back to the surface.

I remember looking at the life guard as he sat on his perch in yellow shorts with a big glob of sunscreen on his nose.  I literally made eye contact with him, mustered up all of my courage, and let out a little whimper of “Help.”

And as I fought to float, sputtering, he just looked at me and then looked away.  And I sank to the bottom of the pool for the third time.

And it was when I hit the bottom of the pool that third time that a thought was planted in my mind, a dangerous thought, a damaging thought: “You are all alone.  No one here is going to save you.  If you are going to get out of this mess, it is up to you.”

I pushed off the pool, surfaced again, took a breath, sank back down and became the architect of my own rescue as I gradually began to bob my way toward the shallow water.

In a pool full of people playing and having a good time, with lifeguards stationed all over the place, with my mom resting in the shade and my brother off playing somewhere, I saved myself.

The boy came up asking about his floaty, and I gave him a piece of my mind about almost killing me and stormed off.

But, guess what.  That seed stayed with me, “You are all alone.  No one is there to save you.”

And throughout life, many other experiences only reinforced that lie.

And the painful reality is many of us have bought in to some version of that lie: I’m all alone; I’m all I have to depend on; It’s up to my paycheck; It’s up to my hard work; It’s up to me to get myself out of this mess.

Me, me, me, I, I, I, Alone, Alone, Alone.

If the enemy can get you to buy into that one lie, he will have you tied in knots because you will feel you have no one to turn to and nowhere to go when you are in trouble.

You will carry your burden all alone, and the weight of it will crush you.

At our church in Sweetwater, TX, we describe our fundamentals of faith in what we call our Pillars of Faith.  We believe:

  • God is Good
  • We Live from Heaven to Earth
  • Everyone is Significant

And our fourth pillar of faith is the fact that:

  • Nothing is Impossible

But if you have believed the lie I just described, if you have come to believe in your heart, “I am all alone.  I am all I have to depend on.  I am the architect of my own rescue.”  Then you will never believe this truth.

When we are limited to depending only on ourselves, we live in a world full of impossibilities.  And it leads us to feeling overwhelmed and hopeless.

When life is up to us, many things are impossible.

I want to take you to the cross for a minute.  I want to reintroduce you to a man who was beaten beyond human recognition.  An innocent man hanging naked between two thieves as those who passed by mocked Him.  A man who’s blood had been spilled out into the dirt below for hours and who’s lungs had slowly been filling with fluid.  A man at the breaking point of suffering and mental and physical exhaustion.

That man hung on the cross because you are not alone, because you are not the architect of your own rescue, because you can’t depend upon yourself in this world.

No matter what you have believed in this world, the truth is you have a hero.  You have a rescuer, and His name is Jesus.

And as He hung on that cross, on the brink of death, he somehow mustered the strength to push against those nails in his feet, to pull himself up by the nails in His wrists.  Through the excruciating pain he drew enough air into his lungs to utter one last word before He died.

“Tetelestai!”  It is finished.  Paid in full.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.  John 19:30 (NIV)

There is a precious song I remember that describes this event perfectly.

He paid a debt, He did not owe.

I owed a debt, I could not pay.

I needed someone to wash my sins away.

And now I sing a brand new song,

Amazing grace, all day long.

Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay.

But what is the little boy in the pool still trying to do?  He is still trying to rescue himself, still scrambling, still grasping for air.  He is still living in a world filled with fear and impossibilities, because it all depends on him, and he just isn’t enough.

My friends, before you come to understand that truly nothing is impossible, you must come to peace with the finished work of Christ.

When Jesus paid your debt, it left you with nothing to pay.  When Jesus covered your shame, it left you with no reason to hide.  When Jesus forgave your sin, it left you with no need to earn your forgiveness before God.

All there is left to do is believe it is true and receive it for yourself.

Consider Paul’s introductory words to the Corinthian church.

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.  It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  1 Corinthians 1:26-30 (NIV)

I love the way verse 30 reads in the NASB

But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption… 1 Corinthians 1:30 (NASB95)

When you were drowning in this world, overwhelmed by sin and its devastating consequences, when you could not save yourself, He became your rescue!

And once you embrace this fact, once you embrace the astounding reality  that you may have gotten yourself out of some tight situations in life, but the truth is you have no capacity to save yourself, then nothing will be impossible for you.

Because it will no longer depend on you, but on the God of your salvation.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”   Matthew 19:26 (NIV)

Let me conclude with a quote from evangelist Reinhard Bonnke:

God is our secret. He raises the threshold of our ability so that we can do His will. He doesn’t come just to make us famous or great, but only great enough to do what He wants us to do. True greatness is to do what God says.

God never asks us to do anything without Him, and with Him we can do anything, He says. God and I can do literally anything together!

The Africans have a story about an elephant that crossed a bridge with an ant sitting behind its ear. When they reached the other side, the ant said, “My, didn’t we make that bridge shake!”

Imagine: Jesus and YOU in 2012 will “make the bridge swing.” REINHARD BONNKE

God and I can do literally anything together!

What impossible bridges are you and God going shake this year?

Nothing is impossible,

Pastor Eric

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JOSHUA 3:1-17

Scripture reference post for “THAT FIRST STEP INTO A FLOODING RIVER.”

Joshua 3:1-17 (NIV)
Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. 2 After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 3 giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. 4 Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about a thousand yards between you and the ark; do not go near it.”

5 Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”

6 Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.” So they took it up and went ahead of them.

7 And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. 8 Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’ ”

9 Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God. 10 This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. 11 See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. 12 Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13 And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”

14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15 Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, 16 the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984

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It is easy to overlook the fact that there was more than one mommy who wept at the base of a cross on the day our Lord was crucified.  Two men hung on either side of Jesus, and each of those men had a mother as well, a mother who had dreamed of so much more for her son. 

And that is why the cross of Jesus is so significant.  Jesus died so the men beside him might know forgiveness.  Jesus died so their mothers might know peace.  Jesus died for each of us who has ever experienced disappointment, frustration, heartbreak, and shame.  Jesus died that we might have life.

I invite you to gain a new perspective on the events and people surrounding the crucifixion of our Lord.  Click on the media player to hear the dramatic presentation, “Vantage Point: A Mother’s View” and the follow up message “The God of Comfort.”  May you be blessed and refreshed as gain a new glimpse of the cross.

 

On the Radar

Community Sunrise Easter Service at the Mustang Bowl, April 4, at 6:30 a.m.

“Beautiful One,” EFC’s Spring Women’s Event is coming Saturday, April 17.  Mark your calendar for this special time of fun and ministry.

Family Connection

Did you miss the Parenting Class?  If so, check out the resource station at the back of the sanctuary to get a manual and cd set.

Parents, be sure to check out the Worldchangers website.  We align our Bible curriculum from the nursery all the way up to our youth.  Access the Family Connection page on the website to bring your children’s Bible lesson home to the kitchen table. 

We also have all the info you need about RAMP, our ministry to youth in Sweetwater High School and Middle School and surrounding campuses, as well, at www.efcyouth.com.

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “Grace Like Rain” by Todd Agnew
  2. “I Adore You” Jesus Culture version
  3. “Healer” Kari Jobe version
  4. “Revelation Song” Kari Jobe version

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, March 28, 2010, we will continue our dramatic preaching series, “Vantage Points” with a look at the cross from the perspective of a disciple of Jesus.

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The View from the Cross by Lillian Jane Neal

 

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…”  –Hebrews 12:2

Special thanks to Lillian “Lightning Bolt” Neal for sharing this wonderful piece of art with us.  For order and usage requests contact efcsweetwater@aol.com

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Each of us has a perspective, a point of view concerning the cross.  All of our lives have been influenced by the crucifixion of Jesus.  But, what did those early witnesses see?  What was the perspective of those first century merchants, craftsmen, soldiers, and politicians?

The Bible records one sentence written in a message from a politician’s wife, and we discover even from the safety of her vantage point, her life was impacted by this Messianic preacher from Galilee.

Mathew 27 records her story: 

11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.

12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.

15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the Feast to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.

19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”

20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.

21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.

“Barabbas,” they answered.

22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called Christ?” Pilate asked.

They all answered, “Crucify him!”

23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”

25 All the people answered, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!”

26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

Click on the media player to hear a dramtic presentation of a view of the cross through the eyes of Pilate’s wife.

On the Radar

We will not have any church activities this Wednesday evening due to Spring Break.  We pray you enjoy a wonderful time with your family this week!

Family Connection

Parents, be sure to check out the Worldchangers website.  We align our Bible curriculum from the nursery all the way up to our youth.  Access the Family Connection page on the website to bring your children’s Bible lesson home to the kitchen table. 

We also have all the info you need about RAMP, our ministry to youth in Sweetwater High School and Middle School and surrounding campuses, as well, at www.efcyouth.com.

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “See His Love” Jesus Culture version
  2. “Your Love Never Fails” Chris Quilala version
  3. “You Gave Your Life Away” by Katherine Scott
  4. “Here Is Love” Brian Johnson version

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, March 21, 2010, we will continue our dramatic preaching series, “Vantage Points” with a look at what three different mothers saw when they stood beneath the cross.

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Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984.

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