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Blog for Good Friday Service

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In preparation for our Good Friday Service, we are asking that you blog inspirational quotes, thoughts or questions related to the Cross all throughout the month of March. We are specifically focused on four areas affected by the Cross: sacrifice, propitiation (satisfaction), redemption, and reconciliation. Since the Good Friday Service will address each of these areas in song and message, we’d love to incorporate some of your ideas. Let’s make March a month for all of us to have our minds and hearts driven to the cross! Happy blogging :-)!

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Judson Howry Mar 1, 2018 10:40am

From Barry

Some initial thoughts on the cross to meditate on:
The one thing God could not do in the face of human rebellion was nothing. ‘He must either inflict punishment or assume it’ – so assume it He did. The course would be set. Since His holiness would always expose sin and His wrath would always oppose it; He would therefore unleash His eternal love to conquer it. This is where the cross takes center stage. The cross tells us that when God searched in His mercy for some way to forgive, cleanse and accept evil-doers, the option of divine moral compromise would never be on the table. Indeed, the only path before Him to rescue sinners and be true to Himself must be paved through divine sacrifice alone! It wasn’t just blood that dripped from the cross. In one holy sense, it was divine blood that fell from the cross forever leaving the unmistakable mark of God’s love for sinners upon the very soil of His fallen creation.

So, in what ways does His great love displayed at and on the cross comfort and motivate you today. Why not blog your top 2-3 thoughts here.

Judson Howry Mar 1, 2018 10:41am

From Phil

As we anticipate our Good Friday celebration, the words of Matt Redman’s The Cross that Changes Everything reminds me of the profound, life altering, world changing power of the cross!  Here’s some of the lyrics to ponder:

Some see, just a wooden cross but
I can see the grace of
Your redemptive heart
Some say, this is foolishness but
I believe the truth of
Your redeeming love
And some will say
This place belongs to history
But I can see
Yes I can see
A cross that changes everything
And a love that sets the captives free
A hope that resurrected me
And the power of God
For all who believe
I believe

Some look at the cross and wonder why Christians would choose such a simple object of torture and death as their symbol of their faith!  But when we look at the cross we see so much more than simple pieces of wood slapped together or an ancient form of the electric chair.  We see a wonderful cross where the greatest exchange ever took place.  This is the the cross where Christ died for us.  This is the cross where God took something so evil and tragic but by His great reversing power brought salvation to us through it!  We see a cross that changes everything for us!  

So this coming Good Friday, through song and reflection, we are going to look at four of the many facets of what God accomplished for us through the cross!  I am looking forward to sharing about how Jesus provided propitiation for us on the cross.  Propitiation has completely altered my approach to every day! 

As we look forward to Good Friday together, what’s one thing you are thankful that God accomplished in your life through the cross?  Why don’t you go ahead and blog right here a few thoughts about how through the cross God changed something for you?

Judson Howry Mar 1, 2018 10:41am

From Blake

To His dying breath Jesus gave himself. From teaching as a child in the synagogue to forgiving his torturers at Calvary. Even after He rose He gave himself, from ministering to Mary to redeeming Peter to giving the Holy Spirit.
Our Savior gave himself to the Father's will and to serving man.
The cross is the ultimate reminder of Christ willingly giving himself unto death to reconcile us to the Father. 

As we rest in the work that Christ accomplished on the cross, share with me how you can tangibly serve others, whether they are loved ones or enemies.

Judson Howry Mar 1, 2018 10:42am

Blog for Good Friday 2018

Ponder the Cross for a moment. We are definitely struck by the price paid for our sin. When Christ went to the cross we were bought and He became our Redeemer. The price of that redemption was with His own life which was the ransomed paid to free us from the bondage of sin. Christ is our Redeemer! He has redeemed us - He made us new!  Amen!

We now bear witness to the great love God publicly declared for us. This stirs reflection as we prepare for our worshipping together with the upcoming Good Friday Service.

What do you think of when you hear that you are redeemed?  Dialing in more - you are redeemed, whole and complete in Christ, how does that cause you to respond? Share here on the blog.

What are some ways that could be keeping us that  believe in Jesus Christ from embracing that we are a new creature /redeemed / walking in newness of life? Share your thoughts here on the blog.

Barry Teague Mar 2, 2018 2:30pm

The irony: The utter darkness of the cross reveals the staggering light of divine forgiveness.
Pastor Barry

Barry Teague Mar 3, 2018 10:39am

The cross changed all my sunsets into sunrises!
Pastor Barry

Barry Teague Mar 4, 2018 9:47am

"It is finished" on the cross was not the cry of defeat but of victory! It spells out the victory we will be focusing on during our Good Friday Service. What Jesus "finished" on the cross was 1) the perfect sacrifice for our sins; 2) complete satisfaction of our sin problem before God; 3) the execution of the perfectly devised divine plan to redeem us from under the debt of death; and 4) the full and final restoration and reconciliation of sinners back to fully accepted children of God!
I know you are going to be profoundly moved by the Good Friday Service as we chronicle what the cross achieved for us. So begin making your plans now to join us!

Barry Teague Mar 5, 2018 10:34am

The cross and the communion go together. The Lord's Supper, which Jesus instituted, was not meant to be a slightly sentimental 'forget-me-not' moment, but rather a service rich in spiritual significance. Jesus wanted us to constantly connect the picture of a passover lamb, the blood applied, the enemy defeated, bondage broken, and a complete rescue achieved to His work on the cross. That's why for me the partaking of communion on Good Friday is the highlight of the service.

Barry Teague Mar 7, 2018 8:32am

Sin brought about death for mankind and on an instrument of death ( the cross) Jesus brought back life for mankind! Oh, so that’s what “it is finished” looks like.

Michael Quinn Mar 12, 2018 6:29am

Good morning,

So, I don't think you'll want to post this, but I wanted you to know that I've just finished registering to "blog" . What an opportunity; I'll be back!

Michael Quinn Mar 13, 2018 6:08am

Anyone can comment on the cross and most due, in one way or another, daily. But, to say anything worthy of what Jesus did, what the Creator of EVERYTHING, did through His action on the cross, well, as we know, that is the challenge and the stuff of true praise and whorship.

Normally, when asked, I'll refer to the times when I used to scoff at the folks about who when asked, "How ya doin'?" They would reply, "Better than I deserve!" I used to think, "Alright, here we go . . . another Holy-roller, gonna tell me how GREAT their life is and how I should be livin' differently, clean up my act, get it together, stop livin' in SIN!" But the fact-of-the-matter is, they were pretty much right. I just didn't "see". Now, though I try not to use that phrasing, I understand. I am "better than I deserve."

ALL of us "deserve" what Jesus received on the cross (here me out), but none of us deserve what we receive because of what Jesus the Christ did on the cross. Through His effort, most generous and sincere, we, those who believe, receive an opportunity to "chat" with the CREATOR of EVERYTHING! You and I get to step into the presence of GOD . . . ANYTIME (too, many caps? Sorry, I get a little excited sometimes.) Not only do we get to chat with The Man-God, we get the opportunity to stay with Him, live with Him, both here and now (because of the Comforter) and later, in this other place called Eternity, Paradise, Heaven--they all mean the same thing . . . being in the eternal presence of God. Now, the Trinity is plenty of subject material for another whole conversation. So, I'll just try and focus on one thing at a time. Again, "What does the cross mean to me?"

So, "What does the Cross mean to me?" It means, that I can, with ironic excitement, call myself a Sinner. Simply put, the cross is . . . for me. It represents Jesus, my friend, my God, my Christ . . . the man who demonstrated His unfathomable dedication and love by sacrificing himself for me . . . to, ultimately and FOREVER, be . . . with . . . me.

Pretty, awesome, eh?

Barry Teague Mar 13, 2018 4:28pm

In the words of Carnegie Simpson, "forgiveness is to man the plainest of duties; to God it is the profoundest of problems." Confronted by human evil, God chose to decisively conquer it with a divine cross. So, that's what "it is finished" looks like

Tanya Middlebrooks Mar 14, 2018 3:53am

When I think of Christ’s redeeming work on the cross two writings come to mind. First the writings of Paul in Philippians 2:5-11 where Jesus leaves the majesty of heaven in order to pay for all sinners everywhere. And it was done willingly, with audacious love! This humbles my heart and fills me with worship for Him. I also think of a George McDonald poem called “That Holy Thing” - I think that’s the title. This poem describes the difference between what people expected from the Messiah and the blessing of what they got - God in their hearts, listening and responding to them. That’s what drives me on.

Michael Quinn Mar 14, 2018 4:47pm

Last year, I remember standing outside talking on the phone enjoying God's creation . . . and by that I mean, both all of the great outdoors and our very own Pastor Jud. I don't remember, exactly, the subject matter of the phone call, but I remember Jud discovering that I was unsure of weather or not I was going to Heaven. AND, if I'm being honest, Satan still plays that card against me.

What I remember most about the conversation, besides the pregnant pause, was the confusion, disappointment and/or, perhaps, even disbelief in his voice. I seemed to hear that the possibility of me NOT going to heaven was so far from his perspective of me that he just couldn't make sense of what I was saying. I CAN say without doubt, it was the first (and last) time that I didn't hear that signature enthusiasm in his voice.

Since that conversation, I have made it a point to study up on redemption, reconciliation, salvation and pretty much the gifts and opportunity that my Jesus offers. One of the events in the gospels records a conversation between Jesus and the father of a young girl for whom Jesus is providing healing. When Jesus asks the father if he has faith, more specifically, if he believes that He can heal his daughter, the father replies, "Yes, lord, I believe," and then adds, "Help me with my unbelief!" I always thought that was such a curious response. "Look dude, you just said you believe! So, what's up with the unbelief? Either you do or you don't!"

Well, now, I think I may understand the father a bit more. Simply put, I find the closer I get to Jesus, the more the sneaky snake hisses! Sometimes, he's hissing so loudly, I can't hear the promises of my God. That's when I doubt and when I lose focus. But then, I remember and all I need do is whisper the name of Jesus and that hissing, that noise, begins to fade. And, once again I can gain my footing and step closer to the cross.

For me, the cross is my visual, certainly, of the sacrifice, but also of my value to my Lord. He did ALL that for me! And, for you! The cross is a representation of a love that has no boundary. And, all we need do, if you're a sinner like me, is to turn from your wicked ways, lift your face to Him and cry out His name . . . sincerely . . . genuinely . . . honestly. You are that valuable. You are that wanted. You, we, are that loved.

So, Jud, if you happen to read this, I'm still a mess, but I believe . . . "yes," for reasons I can't, fully, explain, but that have everything to do with the cross, I believe I'm going home someday to my Father Who art in Heaven. Thank you for the phone call and the inspiration. You make a difference. I'm proof.

Michael Quinn Mar 15, 2018 5:00pm

More musings on The Cross . . . I have a friend-in-Christ who is now in an awkward position within his church. The short version of his story goes something like this . . . He was in a dark chapter in his life; lost the job, the house, the wife, the child, the dog, chickens, you know, going through rough times, when some well-intentioned Christian folk took him under their wings for shelter (literally) and a time of strengthening and recovery.

Shortly after taking him in, they became protective, possessive, intrusive and restrictive to the point of becoming litigious and had him sign a contract stating the provisions from them and rules and restrictions for him. By signing the contract, he agreed to all conditions. Again, I say that whatever took place, he believes, as I, that all was well-intentioned. However, as he spoke the situation under which he was living sounded to me more like an extended intervention than a well-meaning convalescence. Still, he did agreed to the conditions.

As time went on, the conditions to which he agreed became—in his mind—intolerable. Now, we could argue (or agree) that it seemed like this grown man was being treated as a child or that this grown man, no matter how dark his living conditions prior to his rescue, was acting like a child; no matter the side on which you stand, the conditions become intolerable and he broke the contract and left the home.

However, before leaving or shortly thereafter, the well-intentioned Christian and the convalescing young man had a damaging verbal exchange. As a result, the young man believes that he is looked upon as unreliable and a charlatan. Now, whether those labels are self-imposed or something that was, actually, stated, I’m unsure; regardless, it is how the young man feels and what he believes today.

As I ponder a good plan gone awry, my heart goes out to all of these folks, while my mind goes to the teachings and lifestyle of Jesus. My heart, because, now, there is no communication between those offending and those being offended as the crevice continues to deepen and stretches wide between the two. My mind, because of how many times I watched Jesus—the original Christian—heal matters not just physical, but of the heart and mind and, ultimately, soul.

Best I can tell from the recorded events of the Bible, Jesus handled things differently and with not only grace, but also greater success. From the adulterous woman about to be stoned (which by the way, never heard anything regarding the man involved in that scenario), to the crippled man by the healing waters, to the woman with the hemorrhage who, by the world’s perspective, defiled Jesus by touching Him, to the lunatic in the graveyard with a legion of demons in possession, to the volumes of folks not mentioned, Jesus gives of himself tirelessly, genuinely and humbly without condemnation of their sinful lives. He came, as He said, to heal the sick, give sight to the blind and free the captives—like me.

Instead of healing in Jesus’ name, the result of this well-intentioned plan has left a wake of illness. Now, the young man feels he cannot return to his place in the church; therefor, he receives not the benefit of corporate worship and a strengthening that only comes from such a respite from the world. And, best I can tell, the well-intentioned Christian folks are doing nothing to heal that fracture.

If Jesus is to be not only our model, but also our focus and the action of the cross is to be considered the ultimate example of forgiveness, then I believe both parties need to reexamine the situation and work on reconciliation, perhaps reviewing the book of Ephesians for supportive material. Certainly, through that reading, we can see not only a well-intentioned plan, but also a successful example of reconciliation by which we should strive to implement into the daily routine of our lives.

Judson Howry Mar 15, 2018 8:34pm

From Roland Hargett
The cross is immensely personal for me who was a sinner on the path to hell. The Apostle Paul said, "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet, not I but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)
The cross is a constant reminder that Jesus bled and died for me so I can live for Him.
Paramount to anything else the cross made it possible for me to be adopted into the family of God and forever be His child and He is my Abba Father - and what a GOOD GOOD FATHER HE IS!!

Michael Quinn Mar 19, 2018 2:02am

Not sure where this one's going. It's about 2:00 in the morning--so much stuff running through my head; not "bad", just stuff. Mostly, if I'm not thinking about my God, it's His children--the ones in my little pebble of a life: my wife, my kids, my students, the list radiates out so much like the ripples of that pebble in the living waters of this still pond.

Now, my church family has moved off the distant beach and entered into the water. Not just Barry and Jud, Blake and his crew of dedicated ones, risking themselves each week to do Kingdom work out loud; not just the main players, but the players off stage (literally), the ones who, for me, prove more uncomfortable with which to interact. Most services, on Blake's command, I force a Sunday-Good morning-stroll around the sanctuary to greet and be greeted.

I'll break out of my row, reaching out to touch skin with folks I don't know. Sometimes, you can feel the energy or the sincerity of their touch and it's good. Sometimes, I drop my gaze and create safe passage back to my seat, before Jud begins his energetic morning message. And, sometimes I don't even notice the retreating worship members from the stage, even though their talents (on loan by God) have just created that tear you may see.

Today, well, technically, yesterday at this time of writing, I spoke with someone I try to avoid (just being honest). Don't get me wrong, I can make the "missed" opportunity (the avoidance of people) look good; you know the friendly-waving-yet-safe-distance-overture that makes me appear friendly, but that I don't, really, need to risk anything and I can check that little box in my little pebble-life and go sit down in the safety of the crowd and, perhaps, check another box because I attended Sunday morning service and ain't I just the good, Christian boy. Yeah, I can make it look good. But, lately, God's been calling me out.

So, today, at His command, I risked . . . a little. Spoke to the one I try to avoid. And, you know what? You guessed it; I survived. Really, if I think about it, for the brevity of that time, I, actually, lived. My little pebble-life radiated a new a ripple. Sure, it was a bit awkward and it only lasted a few minutes, but for those few minutes, I was LIVING; ya know, the Jesus kinda living. Reaching out to (in my mind) the "unclean"; people I would, normally, shun. No specific criterion; could be, simply, that I just don't get a "good vibe", but still, I shun. Seems funny for me to admit to since I work with some of the most notorious (again, literally) folks in our society to be shunned.

Anyway, if you're still floating along on this, all-too-early-morning stream of consciousness, I think the point is that my little pebble life is not my own, as I'm sure Paul probably said (That guy gets all the good lines!) And, it would do me well to remember that my ripples, though small as I touch the water, do radiate, until they touch the shore of another pebble-life . . . and another . . . and another. And, that's how it works with this living water. Jesus empowers us, as Barry would say, to do more with that "insufficient" pebble-life of ours than we could ever do on our own. Don't believe me? Just drop your pebble in the water of Jesus and see.

Michael Quinn Mar 19, 2018 2:21am

So, if I would've been on my game, I would've included this quote I just read by Corrie ten Boom someone to whom I was just, today, introduced (Thank you, Barry). However, I researched her after I submitted the blog for today. Regardless, I think you'll understand the relevancy. She said, "Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives, is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see." Thank you, Ms. ten Boom; it should be obvious to anyone that your pebble-life is still radiating.

Michael Quinn Mar 21, 2018 6:04am

Hmm . . . at the risk of filling this blog with "The World According to Quinn", I'll press on.

This morning, He woke me at 5:00 AND, I, actually, got up! 5:00 AM is the time I desire, but rarely achieve if given the additional 45 minutes extra. And, here are the simple facts associated with that feat: waking earlier is better; waking later is worse.

Can't help but think of Peter and others of the inner-circle, who when asked by Jesus to stay and watch while He sweat blood and pour out His heart, fell asleep on the job. And, not just once. So, the question begs to be asked, "What did they miss?" It's the same question I ask myself when He stirs me to rise, but, instead, I roll over. This morning, I got up.

It makes me also ponder the prospect of all of us doing the same. What if we didn't rely on the alarm clock, but instead awoke to His whisper? And, what if we didn't hit the snooze? But, instead, smiled at His gracious care and gentle touch, stretched a bit from His blessing of rest and stood to greet the day in His name? What if the first moments of our day, EVERYONE of us, were filled with His presence welcomed by praise, instead whatever electronic device for which we reach. What if instead of the media we tune into the Master?

Now, I know, I may be preaching to the choir and this wondrous exercise may be, exactly, what y-o-u are doing in your life, but what I'm musing is the miracle of EVERYONE in our communities doing it. If, indeed, all of us arose to quality time with our Creator. How would our world be different if the first impressions of the day weren't crammed with the criminal activity of the night or the severity of the stormy weather ahead? If we would, at least, just take the time to revel in the radiance of His light and goodness? If, instead of facing, immediately, the sin that is so pervasive in our world, we seek strength and sustenance through the Holy Spirit. Instead of searching for the cup of java, we seek the capable hands of Jesus? Instead of the boost of caffeine, we boast in our Christ? Hmm . . . all the sudden, I sound a bit like Tony Evans! Still, what would it be like?

And, what of this "sleep"; this wonderfully mysterious, God-created balance of which many of us don't get enough. I remember Alaska and the extreme balance of light and dark and the life-style that follows in which sleep is for the hibernation period of winter, but when there's light, you're on the move! I remember my first time sitting on the side of a mountain in Wildwood watching a small, single-engine plan pierce the face of a HUGE (everything's huge in Alaska), orange cantaloupe, curiously suspended in the sky. Feeling a little jet-lagged, I checked the time on my watch . . . it was 11:42 PM . . . Yeah, in the evening. I was watching a never-setting sun at almost midnight in the land of the Midnight Sun! Magnificent. But, had I been asleep, that vision would belong to someone else.

I also remember putting up the word "somnambulism" on a message board for all to see and consider as they passed by at 60 MPH. And, later in the week, one of the tellers at the bank offered, "I'll bite. What the heck is somnombula-something?" Much to his chagrin, I said, "Exactly!" I told him that it is a disease from which most of us suffer in this world. And, walked away. The next time I saw him, he just smiled and nodded his head in agreement.

Sleep is a necessary and God commanded sort of thing. Personally, I'm an 8 hour kinda guy, but I couldn't tell you when the last time was that I consumed that kind of time in rest. So much self-assumed responsibility in life, so little time. I'm not complaining; my responsibilities are fewer than some and more than others, but all God-ordained and most, near and dear to my heart. But they do take time. So, not wanting my God to receive the "left-overs", I need to get up!

This morning, I got up. I'm spending time with my God (and you) and it has made a holy difference in my day; may the God of ALL our days wake you tomorrow to do the same. God bless you, My Friend.

Barry Teague Mar 24, 2018 10:35am

When Christ died on that cross - hell smiled, the darkness fell, the women wept, the disciples fled, and hope lay shattered - but what did God do? He just started counting to three

Michael Quinn Mar 27, 2018 8:51pm

A Prayer of Recognition

With You I have strength
In You I have hope
Through You I have salvation
Because of You . . . I am

Denise Kolody Mar 28, 2018 10:18am

The following verse used to puzzle me because it seems like it is backwards:

But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

It seems like it should go from the lesser thing to the greater thing…that waiting upon the Lord would allow me to walk and not faint, to run and not grow weary and then to rise up on wings like eagles…I have hit the peak of my Christian journey! Anyone can walk but I want to fly! But it doesn't say this. It says fly and then run and then walk.

When thinking about flying, walking, and running, it brings to my mind that the Apostle Paul frequently compares the Christian journey to a race. In 1 Corinthians 9:24 I read:

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

But the race is not a sprint. It is a really long race. A cross country race. And sometimes there are some really big mountains to climb, and really deep dark valleys. There are deserts to cross…and cold and storms and rain. And sometimes I feel like I am flying like an eagle. And sometimes I am not flying anymore…I am running. And sometimes the mountains are so high and the valleys are so low and the circumstances so difficult, that I can only walk. Trudge on. There are those who teach that God wants everyone to be wealthy and healthy and live in a mansion and if you have enough faith this will happen. But Jesus tells a different story. He says in John 16:33:

"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

I also know that as I run this race, through the tribulations, the highs and lows, the mountains and valleys, I am to become more like Jesus each day. 1 John 2: 6 tells me:

He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

I am to walk like Jesus. And at first, I am okay with this. Who doesn't want to be more like Jesus, right? Wisdom. Power. Miracles. Healing. But Jesus was something else too. Isaiah says in 53:3:

He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

And on Good Friday, Jesus found Himself in a dark valley…on a walk to the cross and a horrible death. And you know what? He didn't really want to walk the walk that had been set before Him. Hebrews 5:6 tells me that Jesus "offered up prayers and supplications with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death." And in Luke I read that He was in agony praying fervently and His sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. Matthew says:

He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."

Before His walk, Jesus wept before God and prayed. And asked the Father if it was possible…if there was any other way that you or I could be saved… then let this cup pass from Him. But there was no other way that we could be saved. And at the end, Jesus prayed, "Nevertheless, not what I will, but Thy will be done." He submitted to the will of the Father and He walked to the cross.

I don't know about you but this is not one of the things that pops up first on the list when I consider becoming like Him. This doesn't sound like a lot of fun. I'm willing to become more like you in other areas, Jesus, but let's just skip this suffering part. And yet, it is perfect. Because I can never stand up to God and shake my fist at God and accuse Him "You don't know what it is like, God!!! You don't know how hard it is to run this race! You are God…up there on your throne in heaven…what do you know?" But He does!

Shed tears over a loss? He has too. Experienced grief over rejection or because someone treated me wrongly? He has too. On a dark and lonely path that I don't want to go down but it seems as if that is what I am going to have to do? He has too. He knows what it is like to suffer.

And if fact, He takes it farther…He suffers something that I, as a believer, will never have to suffer…the wrath of God as it was poured out on Him for my sins. Jesus cries a cry that I will never have to cry. "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" As my sin was laid on Him, the Father turned His face away. He was forsaken of God so I would not be.

Jesus chose to go to the cross. He could have called down legions of angels but He said to the Father, "Thy will be done." The Bible tells me that He did if for the joy that was set before Him…that was His joy…to do the will of the Father. And that was us…that was you and me…to restore sinful mankind's broken relationship with a Holy God. We are His joy! And He didn't stay in the grave. He rose again! I have victory over sin and death and an eternity with Him because of what He did…on the cross.

And Jesus tells me to deny myself and pick up my cross and follow Him. And walk. For the joy that is set before me. An eternity with the One who loves me. And I understand now about the verse that I started with. Why it is fly, then run, then walk. It is hard to run or fly with a cross on your back. Gliding on the wind like an eagle is much easier that walking with a cross. But that's the greater thing…that's the peak…walking through tough times and keeping the faith…a sacrificial life…with a cross…like Jesus. And it is when I am the most like Jesus in suffering, that I need Him to renew my strength the most. And He does! Isaiah 40:29 reads:

He gives power to those who are fainting; and to those who have no might he increases strength.

And the Apostle Paul said, "For when I am weak, I am strong." So, because of the cross, I can make that decision each day to keep walking no matter what. No matter what life, or the enemy throws at me. Even when all I want to do is stay in bed. And pull the covers over my head. I don't quit. I don't give up. I walk. And He renews my strength as I wait upon Him. And He gives me joy despite my circumstances. And He gives me peace that passes all understanding even in the storms or in the desert. And I get to enjoy His beautiful presence along the way. And the best part? Someday there will be no more trudging through dark valleys and desserts...it will all be smooth flying. And I will be healthy and wealthy…and Jesus tells me in John 14 that there will be mansions. The beloved daughter of a King…a member of royalty.

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. Romans 8:16-17

I am a child of the King of the Universe- and His heir. And, because of the cross, I also have these promises:

Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh. Luke 6:21

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Rom 8:18

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4

All of this is possible because of the cross! It is God that renews my strength but I play a role too. Because of the cross, I can purpose in my heart to walk each day no matter what. I can recognize the lies of the enemy and I can chose to not let hard times distract me or pull me away. When the enemy whispers to me that God doesn't love me or this situation wouldn't have happened, I can turn my anger and rebellion against the enemy…not the One who loves me. And when he tells me that I have messed up and God wants nothing more to do with me, I can run to God, not away from Him. And tell the enemy that he is right! That I am terrible…and I am unworthy, but that is why He died for me! He has covered me with His blood and He loves me and I stand before the Father perfect just like His Son. Because of the cross. And although I don't understand everything that happens in this life, I trust Him. So until I see Him face to face, I can press on! Because of the cross!