Drink the Cup

So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

John 18:11

Each one of us deserves to “drink the cup” of God’s wrath to pay for our sin. Our sin merits a full measure of God’s wrath to pay for it. However, since each one of us isn’t holy and perfect or God’s son it was going to take us all of the eternity to drink the cup of punishment, in fact, there would never be a time when we would be able to finish the cup. In this story, Peter tries to save Jesus, but Jesus says he doesn’t need to be saved: God has a better plan. Jesus had come humbly to Earth so that he could take that cup that each and every one of us was supposed to drink and drink it for us. By dying as a substitute for us Jesus took that cup of God’s wrath that I deserved to spend eternity drinking and drank it all and turned it over and said, “It is finished.” He took the punishment that should have separated me from God for eternity and now through Him you and I can have a right relationship with God because our debt has been paid. Nothing spurs me on into a greater and deeper love for God and others than remembering the powerful sacrifice Jesus made in his death, and I hope reflection on that does the same for you.

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Waiting on the Sunrise

For God alone my soul waits in silence;

From him comes my salvation.

He alone is my rock and my salvation,

My fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken

Psalm 62:1-2

This morning a few friends and I decided we would wake up early and try and watch the sunrise. We went out to a state park by around 6:15 because we didn’t want to miss any of the sunrise. We found a great place to watch what we hoped would be a beautiful sunrise and sat waiting. The sky was perfectly clear when we arrived, and you could still see thousands of stars twinkling in the sky. Somehow between the time when we could see the stars and when the sun was supposed to rise, clouds that covered the entire sky rolled in. We waited for more than half an hour in anticipation of the sun rising, but we never saw it. It was still fun, but it was kind of a bummer that we waited on the sun and it never showed up. Thankfully when we wait on God we never have to worry about him not showing up. God isn’t like people we rely on in this life who will fail us and let us down. God is ultimately reliable and we can trust that if we wait on him he will arrive in his perfect timing and providence even if how he arrives and provides isn’t exactly how we expect it or would plan it.

Shrimp and Grits

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger and whoever believes in me shall never thirst

John 6:34

One of the things from back home that I miss the most while I’m away for college is my mom’s cooking. Nothing compares to coming home from school or soccer practice or a long day and eating some home cooked food. My favorite food that my mom makes is undoubtedly shrimp and grits. It sounded a little weird to me at first, like shrimp and grits don’t seem like they belong together, but I promise you shrimp and grits were created specifically to be eaten together. The grits are all cheesy and garlic-ey and I’m sure there’s all kinds of good spices and fancy cooking stuff in there too that makes them so good. My mom’s shrimp and grits are so satisfying that I really think I could eat an entire bathtub full of that stuff. I’ve certainly tried to eat enough of them to never have to eat again, but for some reason no matter how much I eat I always wake up hungry the next morning. In John 6:34 Jesus explains that when we come to him we never have to hunger and thirst again. We don’t have to look for satisfaction in friends or in money or in popularity because we already have ultimate satisfaction in a relationship with Jesus that can never be topped. Nothing in this world will ever wholly satisfy us like an intimate growing relationship with Jesus.

Wake Boarding

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2

A couple summers ago I was learning how to wakeboard with a guy from my church who runs a water sports ministry. I had gotten to the point where I could consistently get up and ride in a straight line but every time I tried to turn and move at all I would immediately fall on my face. After about 3 or 4 times of falling flat on my face, Chris brought the boat around and told me he had figured out why I kept falling. “You’re looking down at the water”, he said. “You always end up heading towards what you look at. Look up and you’ll be fine.” The next time I focused on getting my eyes up as I rode and sure enough I didn’t fall on my face. Our Christian walk is the same way; if we let our eyes drop and focus on things on the Earth we’re sure to fail. Jesus endured the cross and the shame for us, so we ought to keep our eyes focused on him, and only him. As Christians, we should want to become progressively more like Jesus, but that’s only going to happen if our gaze is set on him. Remember, we’re always going to move towards what we look at most.

Get Out of Bed

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Ephesians 2:9

I take really long showers. It’s not because I think a lot in the shower or take a lot of time to get clean, but because I hate being cold. Every morning I spend an extra 5 to 10 minutes just standing under the hot water dreading how cold I know I’ll be the second I shut the water off. As soon as I turn off the water I dry off, wrap myself up in my towel, and hurry back to my room where I promptly huddle under several blankets to warm up. When I’m in the bed comfy and warm after a shower it’s really hard to get up and get out of bed and go to class. If it’s that hard for me to get out of bed and go to class I can’t even imagine how hard it would be to give up a position in heaven to come be a servant on Earth– but that’s exactly what Jesus did. Jesus humbled himself enough to leave heaven, a place of absolute perfection, to come be on Earth. And he didn’t just come live on Earth, he came and served and lived in obedience, even when that meant dying on a cross. His love for us must be unimaginable for him to give up being in heaven with the Father to come to this lowly Earth and live a life of humility and obedience.

Car Accident

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

My dog loves to go exploring. Unfortunately she likes to explore by herself. Basically she likes to run off and see what all is going on in the neighborhood whenever she can. One time specifically, I let her outside and went back inside to take care of something. Somehow I inexplicably forgot that I had let her out until an hour or so later when I heard one of our dogs barking on the back porch. I walked out of the door to see what was going on and saw my dog laying on the porch not moving, and when I knelt down to pet her I could hear her whimpering as she breathed in quick shallow breaths. My mom and dad rushed out and saw that she was clearly in a lot of pain. We decided that we needed to get her inside. I know for sure I’ll never forget how she squealed when I picked her up and carried her through the back door. We rushed her to the veterinarian and later found out she had been hit by a car on a nearby street when she wandered off. I thought for sure she was going to die that day, and now I watch her incredibly carefully when she’s outside, and would never ever let her wander off. In our lives, we all wander away from our master. We’ve all chosen to run away and put our eternal destiny in danger. The best part is that when we come home to God through his son Jesus there’s healing. God puts us back together and then he never lets us go. The same way I would never let my dog leave my sight in the backyard again God promises to hold his children close to him for all of eternity, and nothing in this life or the next will ever separate us from Him!

Lion King

Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Romans 5:20

The Lion King is one of the greatest movies to ever be produced. Don’t argue with me on this because you will lose. The craziest part of the movie is that it can toy with the emotions of people from 4 to 94. I know it still gets to me when that evil Lion makes Simba think it’s his fault his dad dies and tells him to run away. I couldn’t help but think about times in my life where shame and guilt over my sin has driven me to ‘run away’ from God and anything that has to do with him. I know how incredibly hard it is to understand that God’s grace really can cover all of our sins. We never have, or ever will, see anything like it, but that’s what makes it so special. God’s grace is one of a kind, so no matter how short we fall his grace makes up the distance. May this never be a license to sin freely, but a comfort that brings us back to our Savior when we feel guilt and shame. Don’t allow sin to be a reason to run away from God; run to him. If we run to him we’ll always find forgiveness and correction that will lead to growth. This verse sounds complicated, but in this passage Paul is just reminding us the instructions and laws of the Bible are impossible to meet, and that when we look at how often we fall short our debt looks unpayable; however, no matter how great a debt we accrue God’s grace through Jesus Christ our Lord is enough to cover what we owe.

Airplane

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Matthew 6:20

The other day I was flying home from college when a really odd thought crossed my mind. On my connecting flight from Atlanta, Georgia to Greensboro, North Carolina it seemed to me that pilot took an extra aggressive takeoff. It sort of felt the same as when a teenager is driving for the first time and doesn’t know how hard to step on the gas. I mean we really took off quick. As we were taking off my leg was against the side of the plane since I had a window seat and I felt the plane’s side vibrate, and I thought wow this plane could really just fall apart at any time. As I looked out the window I realized that my life could legitimately end at any point during that flight. Now obviously the plane was safe and my life wasn’t really in danger, but just the smallest of hiccups on the plane take off made me think about how quickly any of our lives could end. I’m just as guilty of anybody at getting caught up in temporary things. Nothing in this world is as important as the things of God because everything is this world will pass away someday. Like C.S. Lewis says: If we as Christians spent more time thinking about the next life we’d be a lot more effective in this one. Let’s not get caught up in things that won’t last forever when we could focus on something eternal.

March Madness

For if you will be careful to do all this commandment that I command you to do, loving the Lord your God, walking in all his ways and holding fast to him, then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier that you

Deuteronomy 11:23

I can’t really think of a time of year that’s better than March. The weather starts to warm up some (unless you’re in Ohio apparently) and more importantly the NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament happens in March. 68 teams play in a huge tournament over several weekends to determine who is the national champion. Every year the teams get seeded from 1-16 in four groups. Theoretically, the best teams are 1,2, and 3 seeds and should never lose to lower ranked seeds; but that’s why the time around the tournament is referred to as “march madness.” Sometimes teams who nobody has ever heard of beat some of the tournament favorites. For the Israelites trying to take the promised land, they were certainly a 16 seed in a lot of ways. On their own, they never would have been able to take the promised land from the more powerful nations that held it. The difference is that they had God on their side. Many times in our life we might feel like a 16 seed team trying to beat the best team in the country to accomplish what God has lead us to do. Remember that when God leads you in a direction he will provide. We don’t have to rely on our own power, in fact, we shouldn’t. If we rely on ourselves we will certainly fail, but when we keep God’s commands and walk in his ways we shouldn’t be surprised when he accomplishes incredible things through us.

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