Wednesday, 20 March 2013

We are all carpenters.

I wonder who can lay claim to being the guy that made the cross that Jesus hung from? Which skilled tradesman got the woodwork contract from the Romans?

Somebody must be responsible for choosing the wood, measuring the two beams and meeting the deadline for the Nazarene's trial.

Considering who that bloke was is an interesting thought. I'm sure he wouldn't have imagined just how famous his work would become. Hundreds and hundreds of years later, his craftsmanship is still depicted on artwork, jewellery,  tattoos and t-shirts, the world over. Hard to imagine, considering he probably just fixed those two beams together in a dusty workshop somewhere in ancient Jerusalem.

The reason I prompt these thoughts is because I've had a portion of a verse going round in my head today. It's five words from Acts 2, during which Peter is addressing the large crowd at Pentecost:

"...this Jesus whom YOU crucified." (v36)

Despite the fact that the Pharisees caught him, Pilate didn't want to have anything to do with him, the Roman guards mocked, whipped and beat his limp body and a carpenter made the cross that this fellow tradesman would one day hang from, we're all implicated in the Messiah's murder.

Me and you - the skilled craftsmen who may as well have whittled that cross out of tree trunks ourselves.

It's difficult to imagine the brutality involved - it's almost harder to stomach the fact that it was my sin that caused such an almighty response from The Almighty. The extent that He went to shows just how much God hates sin, whether it's a 'big' sin or a 'small' one (if you're trying to justify such differences!?).

The crowd that heard Peter's words were 'cut right to the heart' when this truth sank in. He urged them to change their life by turning to this crucified Christ as THE only antidote for sin.

Put down the sandpaper and the nails for a moment and read Acts 2 in it's entirety - what is your response to the charges going to be?

Sunday, 3 March 2013

This seems too improbable to be possible. The notion that a Spirit so holy might indwell me. The concept that God would breathe a living power to reside within and enable me to see?! Please, you have to be joking me, this is surely a truth that must be too good to be true?!
So, can we take a step back, lets just be clear here - God's son, the Son of man, walks middle east dusty sands and is man-handled , broken and has nails driven into His bloody hands. Strung out on a tree, to bleed for me for what must have seemed like forever, so that I can see the good side of eternity? He knew such Father-intimacy yet cried a final breathe like 'Dad, why did you forsake me!?'. And then this Saviour's life that started in a virgin's womb culminates in a flesh-torn body being dumped in a tomb. There must have been a far bigger picture being outworked, I can only assume!?

This terrible tragedy might just be the build-up to a greater heavenly strategy. Whereby, God goes to the grave, exhumes Himself and like an encore returns to the stage, amidst disciple applause and Roman rage. They all thought He'd been defeated and gone home but the whole thing had just shown that when God faces the darkness and defeats sin and death, the Devil's cover is blown. Satan's ultimate weapon against us - stealing our life - will be overthrown. With the power of a nuclear drone, Jesus rolls away the ten-tonne tombstone and strides confidently back to His throne.

Heaven's greatest treat - His work now complete, blood-washed robes now replaced with a clean sheet and a new path that guarantees we can steer clear of Hell's heat. His life, death and then resurrection, reveals to us a new direction. No more laws, arks or man-made works - It's a life-changing offer for us lustful, greedy jerks. A redemptive deal-breaker so amazing, broken hearts no longer hurt!

He promises to walk before us, lead us, teach us, forgive us and introduce us to the Father. Some think He's mad, bad or just a liar, but I know which life I'd rather. On my own I'm ALWAYS weak - He's strong; He's right - I'm ALWAYS wrong. I know if I go alone I'll royally screw it up, so I'm gonna cling tightly to Royalty's loyalty and trust Him to bear this cup.

So back to this Spirit He sent. It'll teach us daily how to go where He went. It's an invisible but tangible force, so powerful it'll make the busiest doers pause for thought. It brings fuel to our Father-fire and passion to our Son-desire - allows us to see them more clearly and brings glue to the Trinity community. I need them far more than these three need me.

Allow Him to work into your life today - the way He'll make you alive will leave you with everything and nothing to say - mouthfuls of speechless. He's totally unimpeachable, none of this is deceitful and if you doubt me, my God, He is constantly reachable. It's not about old hymns and dusty pews - take your cues from this culture-challenging Jew - each day with Him is new and fresh like morning's due. A radical so extraordinary He'll reshape your world view. 

From start to finish this journey will unveil a love victory that will never neglect, bore or diminish.