Holy Week Musings: Good Friday and the Crux of the Cross.

The day of April 22nd, 2010 is Good Friday.  It is the day we focus on Jesus death on the cross as the sacrifice for our sins.  The very action taken on that day is really the fulcrum point of all of history. The cross and Jesus death as the eternal lamb is central.   Now in order to understand how essential and critical Jesus death was to the whole of history let us go back to the beginning of humanity and the first sin of man.

Back in the garden of Eden, Adam and Eve chose to disobey God.   In that disobedience, lies of being able to be able to determine right from wrong and elevate self to be “like God” was at the core.  It was a move out of being dependent on God, to being able to determine for self what is right and wrong.  This decision brought separation from God and resulted in consequences for the whole of creation. Those consequences entail the varied forms of suffering and the twisting of all creation.  The consequences that are suffering were designated by God, for apart from God, nothing is right, nothing is as intended.  It is a natural out-flow. When things are not in correspondence with how God intended to work, through dependence on Him, the result is pain.

Now recognizing that the pain and suffering comes as consequence to the initial deportation from depending on God, let us look a bit more closely at what Jesus death means.   Jesus came because of love. God had the plan ready to go when humanity chose to go on way.  The plan was for the innocent to take on the wrath for the guilty, but not just any innocent, a member of the Godhead himself,  Jesus the Son.  He left the full dynamic relationship with the Father and Holy Spirit, took on humanity, and took on all of suffering.  He lived perfectly, was wholly innocent, and suffered that we might live.  It was God’s plan, for there had to be away to redeem that which went another way.  Love dictated such an act.  The wrath of love dictated that the price be paid. So God paid it Himself. 

It is very important to grasp the depth of what it means that the Son of God came in the flesh.  Jesus, in whom “All the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in bodily form”(Colossians 2:9), came to earth, entered in to suffering all in order that we may be free.  All God actions prior to the cross pointed ahead to the event and after everything points back to the cross. It is the center point.   He endured the suffering of humanity. He took on the worst death humanity could conjure. He was betrayed, mocked, belittled, and scourged.  This all because He did not measure up to what humanity expected, that He make the immediate life more comfortable and undo the tyranny.  He came to undo a tyranny, but that tyranny was the consequences of humanities sin. Just as through one man, sin entered the world, so too by one action, a solution was provided and tyrants defeated.  Just not in accordance with human perspective. 
Jesus came, suffered, and died so that the justice demanded by human pursuit of self-determination and moving away from surrender to God was fully satisfied making the action on the cross the crux of God’s plan and His story for humanity.  

It starts with sin and God establishing the consequences as the whole of creation is twisted. God takes on humanity, takes on suffering, and dies.  Dies, rejected of men.  For the first time the relationship of the Godhead is broken as the Father turns away from the Son for he cannot look upon the sin, for it is too much.  Jesus takes it all on, willingly, following the fathers plan, always in perfect submission to His will.  It is noteworthy, that at the moment of the death there were many events testifying to the importance and crucial moment.  Storms, darkness, earth quaking, and the veil tearing in two.  There has never been a greater act of love.  For some the act is foolishness, how can a Father require a Son to die for those who reject the father and are in conflict?  What is not grasped is the Son was fully on board, always in surrender to Father’s will, for there was no other way to make things right.  No other way to undo the twist and the suffering that entered due to self-determination.  God took the initiative. One that demands response from all and one of which to all response will one day be given, some just with weeping and gnashing of teeth because they continued along the way of self-determination instead of surrender to the one who suffered all so that all can be freed.

Late Night Musing Related to Care and Concern for Bill and Janie Blake

Well tonight I am writing because I know not what else to do.  I was set to head to bed to sleep and plugged my phone in to charge when saw a text from my father. The text indicated Janie Blake had less energy today and that to him it seemed that the Janie that we have all come to love is slowly slipping away. Turning to God in prayer with no real words all I sense is pain. It hurts.  Questions fill my mind as my heart reels with the pain.  What is occurring that brings this point forward? Is this a point to the death? Is that what this pain is?  Does God still hold her with life left. When the battle was engaged a few years back leading to her appearing cancer fear over a year ago Janie reported receiving a promise or word that it was not to death so did something change?  I do not have an answer to the question. Only the response of pain.  So here I sit and write. I did dig out notes and an article someone sent me in the mail, looking to see if God had an answer for me. The notes discuss the nature of cancer. Cancer being a twisting of natural DNA so that they no longer are fulfilling their God given roles and have gone rogue or independent. The articles go on to discuss the nature of transcription errors and the God design of apoptosis. This is what most cells do when damaged. Cancer are cells that have failed to do so, pretend to be something they are not, take over, and steal nutrients.  Now there are nutrients that can possibly aid and help defeat cancer such as Tumeric, Green Tea, elderberry, ellagic acid, skullcap, Vitamins D3 and A, and Broccoli with “Indole 3-Carbinol.”  Now I don’t know what nutrients Janie is taking. I know she is aware of tumeric.  I know that whether she takes the nutrients or not whether she lives or dies is in God’s hands. Yet, there may be things that need to occur to allow God to move.  Actually, there is one word that comes to me in the midst of all the pain and that is surrender.  Of course surrender to their proper place and role is what cancer cells do not do. I don’t know what that word means to Dad and Janie.  All I know is God calls each of us to surrender, of walking in accordance with God’s will and not walking in accordance with our own.  I do not know God’s will here.  I know that God will keep his promise, but we always need to submit or like cancer we are going rogue and wild.  Yet God has given us this verse in Romans 8:13 (ESV) For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Now I do not know if that is a specific word but felt led to Romans 8 and that verse stood out to me given the nature of cancer and the way cancer will be undone through the activation of apoptosis.  So even taking the proper nutrients, if done in flesh will be of no avail. This again leads to the importance of surrender to God. And ultimately the battle belongs to the Lord. If Janie is to live or die at this time it is in God’s hands. She is currently described as slipping away and it is difficult to see beyond the now. But God is in sole control and always as Paul wrote, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”   All of us are to walk in surrender to Him.  Like the cells in our body we are all exposed to things that damage us daily.  Each of us in a moment can suffer great illness or injury.  We need to walk in surrender to the King of Kings no matter what the cause.  If we walk in surrender to God and equipping ourselves with His armour, the battle is His, and His alone. We just need to walk in obedience in truth and love even when it appears that our hopes and dreams and desires are shattered. Maybe they were only our own flesh to begin with and God has something else in store. Maybe it is all the process of being sanctified and refined in trials of this life.  I don’t know, but I know God is with us every step of the way. God feels our pain. The empathy and overwhelming sadness I feel is felt in whole by God.  As my most recent musing discusses in part, God’s empathy is a reason he cannot tolerate sin, for it hurts him, and the closer He is to sin the more the pain.  Some other articles make similar points Does God Feel our Pain and Empathy and New Testament.   Well I think I am done rambling but hopefully there are thoughts here that build up and encourage.  Perhaps now God will allow sleep. For right now the path my Dad and Janie on is tough and filled with pain. Yet, in Jesus and Him alone is life. In Him alone through the cross is any healing. It is His stripes and His suffering that will make all things right it is just a matter of when, but all who are in His Kingdom are in the process.  In Him alone is life, and the life is everlasting and not of this world.   So to close this off these are the words that come to my mind:  Verily, verily all life is in the Son, the walking embodiment of God’s divine empathy. The great physician.  The seal of that life is the Holy Spirit, the great comforter, the counselor, the one who leads us to His restoration.  Walk in His ways, not our ways.  Follow His steps.  He alone makes the twisted straight. His word gives light to the path through the darkness. Whatever is, is!  For all that is comes from God the Father who we can approach by the gift of Jesus our Messiah and we are guided to the the right way and empowered to walk in it by the Holy Spirit.  So submit therefore to the Godhead for there is no other way.  AMEN!

The praise song The Horse and Rider- What it teaches us about the Joy of the Lord

Recently the praise song The Horse and Rider has been on my mind.  The song when sung is often done in a round. It is catchy tune but rarely have taken time to reflect more on the meaning of the little song.  Here are the lyrics (sadly could not find a video.)

THE HORSE AND RIDER:

I will sing unto the Lord
for He has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and rider thrown into the sea…

The Lord my God,
My strength and song
Is now become my victory.

The Lord is God
And I will praise Him,
My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.

The song is based on Exodus 15:1-2 when God delivered Israel from Egypt in the Red Sea. It is known as the Victory song. It celebrates God supernaturally intervening and giving Victory. God served as the defender of His people who he brought out of the slavery of Egypt. It is no different for those of us who have become His children and entered into His Kingdom through Jesus.  God is our strength and our defense.  The enemies are powerless even if it looks like all  is lost and darkness will overwhelm and win.  God assure victory. In fact the ultimate victory has already been declared through the death and resurrection of Jesus. 

So reflecting on this there are simple facts clearly stated.  God is our strength and song.   God as our strength  easier to grasp. God is our defense, or shield our covering, our attack force, and so on.  All measure and concept of strength is found in God and He shows it on an ongoing basis. 

The harder to grasp concept is God is our song.  In thinking about this song really is about a response.  Now often the words have been used as shield and reference defense but the concept of praise and source of joy is also appropriate. In essence, a response to the difficult and trying times including times of wilderness call for response beyond self.   In a sense this song and passage really reflects the concept of the Joy of the Lord. 

It is also interesting that if you think about strength and song they reflect male and female characteristics.  Strength is masculine and denotes the ability to take initiative.  Responding to others  a feminine characteristic and the use of song reflects that.  So the song really points to God being our initiative and response. In Him alone is totality and the source of all strength. 

In this is His Joy,  God’s initiative and response, including Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Godhead fully engaged, fully relating to us.  There is nothing that can stand, ever.  This is the source of Joy in the Lord.  Nothing can stand before Him. Not mountain, not sea, not armies, not disease, not sin, not suffering,  not anger, not hate, not a thing. If we grasp even a wisp of the totality of God and His initiative and His response we have no other response but to rejoice.  In God alone is victory and it has been declared and demonstrated with All that God is, His entirety. 

Now, these thoughts come at an interesting time here.  Prayer and thought has been going into writing an article on coping with acute stress relation in part to minister to the Livesay’s and others.  The writing has not come easy, the words have not yet really flowed.  The thought is that may be in part because the starting point is the Victory Song.  That whatever we have endured, gone through God has been there.  He has been our strength and song.  In the midst He is there.  So whatever words I say that point to skills and means of coping, they would be empty without first this recognition.  For the Joy of the Lord is our strength. The Joy of the Lord is in His Victory and His Victory involves His totality in both initiation and response.  It is His Love which is so Amazing. So take time and Rejoice and Rejoice again.  For YHWH is our Strength and Song.  He is our victory.