Tuesday, April 26, 2011

One Hot IPhone Coming Right Up!

Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood
- Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Robert Robinson, 1757

Little Maggie provided quite an Easter surprise Sunday morning.  I walked into the kitchen to find she'd put my all-too-cherished iPhone in the microwave for approximately 4 seconds.   Sadly, that was all it took....it was fried!  Good News: our Savior is indeed risen.   My "bump in the road" bad news: my iPhone will not be coming back from the dead. 

Obviously I was more than a little frustrated.  Megan told me Maggie had  proceeded to cook the phone just after she'd told her, "do not put that phone in the microwave." 

Although Maggie did receive a little discipline for ignoring her mother's command, her punishment was far from commensurate with my frustration.  In fact, overall, I'd say she received a pretty spectacular day.  Dressed in her new spotless pink, smocked dress, she enjoyed Sunday school with friends, a beautiful outdoors brunch with her Mimi and Papa and yet another exciting jelly-bean-filled  Easter egg hunt (probably the sixth one this April).

All day as she laughed and played and I considered her transgression every time I habitually reached for what was a now my useless iPhone. She played on blissfully unaware of the cost of what she'd treated like a Hot Pocket only hours earlier.

It turns out that this Easter was indeed a day for me to treat my daughter like our Heavenly Father has treated us in Christ Jesus, with both mercy (not getting what we do deserve) and grace (getting what we don't deserve).

How often do we stop to consider the cost at which we were purchased?  On Easter morning our pastor said that what was once a very common topic of Sunday morning preaching, The Precious Blood of Jesus, is now largely considered by many denominations distasteful and sadly, an inappropriate topic on which to preach.  When we ignore the cost of our salvation and sanctification and rely on our own efforts, we cheapen His grace and rob ourselves of the blessing of what Dietrich Bonhoffer (The Cost of Discipleship, 1937) calls "Costly Christianity".

"The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"
- Mark 1:15

Christ said repent and believe.  In order to walk in a life of faith in Christ I must allow my mind to be captivated by a radically renewed paradigm.   He doesn't need me.  I need Him.  I haven't come to Him (law).  He's come to me (grace).   I must know that I've been forgiven for all my sins past, present and future then I must continue to invite Him to be my portion, to bring about within me what I'm unable to bring about on my own: His holiness.   All this is predicated on my understanding of my desperate need for Him to "stand in the gap" for me. 
         The Logic of Substitutionary Atonement
Since Jesus is God, He is perfectly righteous and holy. God’s perfect righteousness and holiness demand that sin be punished (Ezekiel 18:4), and Jesus’ perfect righteousness and holiness qualified Him to bear the punishment for the sins of those who will be saved (Romans 6:23). Jesus is the only person who never committed a sin; therefore, the punishment He bore when He died on the cross could be accepted by God as satisfaction of His justice in regard to the sins of others.
If someone you love commits a crime and is sentenced to die, you may offer to die in his place. However, if you have also committed crimes worthy of death, your death cannot satisfy the law’s demands for your crimes and your loved one’s. You can only die in his place if you are innocent of any wrongdoing.
Since Jesus lived a perfect life, God’s justice could be satisfied by allowing Him to die for the sins of those who will be saved. Because God is perfectly righteous and holy, He could not act in love at the expense of justice. By sending Jesus to die, God demonstrated His love by acting to satisfy His own justice (Romans 3:26).
         (HT: Ligonier Ministries)

When God looks upon me forgetting to pray, He sees Christ sweating blood whilst praying in Gethsemane. When God sees me failing to live up to my self-imposed moral standards,  He really sees Christ living a sinless life every breath taking Him painfully closer to His glorious final act of obedience.  When God sees me seduced by a world full of empty promises that will never satisfy, He actually sees Jesus, faithful to the end to His bride, the church, whom He loved with total purity.

I would like to rise from my bed, during the last five minutes of my life, to bear witness to the Divine sacrifice and the sin-atoning blood. I would then repeat those words which speak the truth of substitution most positively, even should I shock my hearers; for how could I regret that, as in Heaven my first words would be to ascribe my salvation to my Master’s blood, my last act on earth was to shock His enemies by a testimony to the same fact? - Charles Spurgeon
What I ruin and waste He redeems and restores. What I lost He finds and where I fail He is forever and always victorious. 


I got a new phone yesterday and Maggie got a Cadbury Egg!   I love her!

This Week

* Tyler Men's Gathering - 7am Wednesday AM Kings Cross Chapters 1 & 2
    2 American Center, 5th Floor (Ritcheson Law Firm)

* Tyler Men's Gathering - 12pm Monday @ Dakota's Kings Cross Chapter 3
    5377 S. Broadway (back room on the left)

Please pray as Megan and I continue to meet with hurting couples who are desperate to experience God's healing in their marriages and families.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Following Preview Has Been Provided for All Audiances......

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. - Luke 22:19, 20

I get so excited when I see the "green screen".  What can I say? I love trailers!   All that hope and promise of what's to come at no expense to me....which is key because 9 times out of 10 the actual film disappoints.  Thus a responsible movie lover's first job is to be an educated trailer junkie.   After all what is the use of seeing a bad movie?   These days with time and money at a premium who wants to waste both watching a movie that doesn't entertain or edify (hopefully both)?
So once a week I visit a trailer site online and watch trailers for upcoming films.   Once in a blue moon I see a movie that looks so special that it seems sure to leave me more compassionate, empathetic and grateful.   These are the films I anticipate seeing.   The trailer has sparked my interest and my anticipation.

During this Holy Week I've been considering the way Jesus literally gave His disciples a preview of what was to come during The Last Supper.

Jesus showed His disciples the greatest trailer ever in an upper room only hours before he was handed over to the Roman authorities and ultimately, crucified.   During His last passover dinner, after washing His disciples feet, He likened the wine to His blood and the bread to His body and in effect once again offered the disciples the chance to eat his flesh and drink his blood. 

He'd talked like this some time earlier and in doing so lost some of His following.  In one of His biggest public appearances, just after feeding 5000, Christ drove many of His Jewish disciples (with their insanely strict cleanliness laws) away from Him after saying....

“I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” - John 6:53-58

But the true meal was yet to be prepared.   It was not until Good Friday that the bread was broken and the wine was poured out.

Only The Gospel of John mentions that one disciple, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was near enough to see Christ's crucifixion.
In one of the most striking portions in Mel Gibson's The Passion of The Christ one of Christ's disciples "puts 2 and 2 together" so to speak and understands the connection between the preview and the real thing.   

In one of only a couple of transitions from the nearly completely linear telling of The Passion, Gibson interposes scenes from The Last Supper and the disciple watching Christ literally "broken and poured out" on the cross of Calvary.

In the film there was this beautiful "Ah ha" look on the disciple's face indicating that he understood that Jesus' words and actions had reached a painfully perfect culmination on Golgotha.   When all the others had left Him in His darkest hours, He was still "about His Father's business" preparing the meal that Christians forever and always will feast on.   
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ - Romans 5:1

As we feed on His truth, love and atoning work His presence envelopes our selfish wills and we become full of Him.  But like my one-year-old, Blythe, we have to learn how to eat what has been provided.   When Blythe spits out her food we have to help her to try to eat again.   In a like manner our Lord is patient with us and steadfastly pursues our hearts that we might with increasing clarity bare resemblance to His Son and consequently, bring glory to Him.  The bread of life (John 6:35) is Christ and His offer stands.  There is always room at His table.

The heart of sanctification is the life which feeds on justification. 
- G. C. Berkouwer 
Paul called Jesus the first born among many brethren (Rom. 8:29).   In a sense His entire life was a trailer for the life that He would live out in the years to come in every heart submitted to Him.  As we celebrate the resurrection this Sunday I pray that we'll continue to walk in the newness of life that only His Spirit alone brings about within us!

He Has Risen Indeed!

This Week

* Tyler Men's Gathering - 7am Wednesday AM
   The Obedience Option - Chapters 10-12 
   2 American Center, 5th Floor (Ritcheson Law Firm)
NEXT MONDAY - New Men's Lunch @ Dakota's in Tyler, TX - Mondays @ 12pm - Keller's Kings Cross is the first book!!!!  Make plans to be there!  Chapter 2 next monday!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

No Se El Tango Senorita

Dance, Dance, Dance all night long....

We'd been anticipating our vacation with friends to Buenos Aires, Argentina for the better part of six months.  With two little girls in diapers we needed some husband/wife time away from our parental responsibilities.  Let's call it a romantic re-fuel!

With both modern luxuries and old world charm, BA is a city with it's own rhythm.   Upon our arrival early last week it took us a few days to "find our groove", but on our fourth night we found one of many Milongas, locals-only night spots where lovers of The Tango come together to literally dance the night away.   This was my shot!

Though I remembered a surprising amount of Spanish when it came to ordering food (surprise!) I had totally forgotten our dance lesson and I struggled to recall even a few steps in an attempt to fake The Tango.  Incidentally, my having done so would have thrilled my wife, an accomplished dancer, beyond compare.  Consequently, though very much in love, Megan and I are back from an embarrassingly-dance-free vacation.

A less-than-savory history, the Argenitine Tango originated in late 19th century lower-class Buenos Aires bordellos hence the passionate nature of the dance.   It's more refined these days but the passion remains and reads like a book on the faces of those we watched - even with their eyes closed!

The tango is a dance that depends on the male leading the woman.  She waits patiently for him to lead her and he guides her along stopping at times to allow her the opportunity for some fancy footwork.   I was found wanting.
I was "outside the dance" and there was nothing I could do to break in. As we watched the romance literally swirl around the room I was an impotent bystander ignorant of the choreography of the moment.  I didn't know the language.  I didn't have the vocabulary to express myself within the dance much less lead Megan with the kind of tender strength the dance demands from the man.

In Kings Cross, Tim Keller writes that a life in the Spirit of God is a dance that we are drawn into.   Most perfectly exemplified by the way The Father (God), The Son (Jesus), and The Spirit relate to one another as The Trinity -- none taking anything from the other only giving and receiving freely in a flowing, blessed interchange of mutual love.

There is nothing we can do to work our way into relationship with any of the three.   Like The Tango the church (the feminine) is lead by the trinity (the masculine) in a dance that brings forth The Creator's desired results.  Only to the degree that we find ourselves enveloped and overwhelmed by Jesus, the suffering servant and the Son with whom God is well pleased, does our life move from mortal flesh to eternal spirit.   He has taken the lead but will we follow?

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.  He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.  - Psalm 23:1-3

See if there is any offensive way in me,
   and lead me in the way everlasting. - Psalm 139:24

The verses above strongly indicate that King David, a shepherd in his youth, understood what Isaiah would later write....

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.....

David indeed knew that we are all in dire need of a good shepherd to lead us from temptation and to deliver us from evil (Matt 6:13) both within us and around us.  The second part of Isaiah's prophetic verse reveals what was to be God's answer to David's constant plea for guidance.

......and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. - Isaiah 53:6

Ironically, Jesus, our perfect shepherd, was also the Lamb of God who took upon Himself the sin of the world to lead us into the dance of grace and peace with God for which we were created.   Like The Tango it is a passionate dance that expresses beauty to all who behold it, unlike The Tango we do not decide to dance it and there are no steps to learn as a pre-requisite.  We are simply swept into it by our God of grace who loves us enough to both choose us and lead us in His dance.

Let's dance,

The Frank Sinatra of Argentine Tango: Carlos Gardel.....

This Week

* Tyler Men's Gathering - 7am Wednesday AM
   The Obedience Option - Chapter 8 & 9   
   2 American Center, 5th Floor (Ritcheson Law Firm)

* The Magills w/ special guests The Scrips @ KE Cellars - 6pm Friday - Tyler, TX
   The Magills @ The Forge Bistro - 7pm-10pm Saturday night - Ben Wheeler, TX 
* The Magills - 3 Services Sunday Morning at Rock Hill Baptist Church - Brownsboro, TX
   Then in Concert - 6pm Sunday Night @ Rock Hill Baptist Church - Brownsboro, TX
NEXT WEEK - New Men's Lunch @ Dakota's in Tyler, TX - Mondays @ 12pm - Keller's Kings Cross is the first book!!!!  Make plans to be there and RSVP to mpmagill@gmail.com