Scared Straight

6 04 2015

My son went to jail last week. It was part of a class project. He and his fellow students boarded a bus and were driven to a maximum security facility. The “field trip” was part overview of the prison system, part introduction to corrections as a career option, and part reality check. They toured the facility, walked through cell blocks, met with prisoners, saw the execution chamber, and even laid down on the lethal injection bed. He talked with one seventy-year-old prisoner who has been in jail since he was seventeen. It was a sobering and eye-opening day for my son. My son, who is a great kid, sent me the following text when he left the prison. “Mom, I’ve been scared straight. I never want to go to prison.”

His experience got me thinking. The realities of prison are shadows of the way sin holds us captive. Spiritually, what would it take to be “scared straight?” Sin has such a seductive lure. The world packages it with ribbons of pleasure, independence, and indulgence. Yet, when we rip off the packaging we find ourselves a little more entangled than we imagined. If we spent just five minutes in hell, would sin lose some of its luster and hold on our souls?

Walking out of the prison gave my son a different perspective as well. The open sky looked more expansive, the air seemed cleaner, the sun brighter, and his possibilities more open. Walking in Christ should feel the same way. The cross breaks sin’s chains, allowing us freedom to explore all the richness of life. We get to breathe deeper, see farther, walk taller, and know that the possibilities in Him are endless. If we spent just five minutes in heaven, would it ignite a passion within us that could not be quenched?

My Jesus Resolution today is learn the lessons of jail. The Bible shows me both the wretchedness of life without God and the fullness of a life in Christ. There are days in which I need to be scared straight – to be reminded of the devastating consequences of sin. There are days when I need to plant myself more fully in the realities of His love and rest more completely in the surety of His grace. Either way, today I want to celebrate the truth that I walk free because Someone redeemed me from my prison of sin. It is time to spread the good news.

The Challenge of the Cross

3 04 2015

“It is to the cross that the Christian is challenged to follow his Master: no path of redemption can make a detour around it.” – Hans Urs von Balthasar

Sanctification is a big word. We generally look at the cross in the context of our salvation. Jesus saved us by His work on the cross. He made right what we did wrong. The cross, however, is about more than fixing our mistakes. Its power is unleashed in us in order to change us, make us different, reshape our hearts, give us new eyes, and ignite a fire within us that enables us to walk with God in the right way today and tomorrow. That is sanctification – the transforming power of the cross at work in you today.

Here is a list of ten things the cross compels us to do:

  1. Worship
  2. Surrender
  3. Give
  4. Love
  5. Speak
  6. Imitate
  7. Pray
  8. Celebrate
  9. Repent
  10. Be transformed

My Jesus Resolution today is to embrace the challenge of the cross. I will be honest. Too many times I want the joys of salvation without accepting the challenges of sanctification. I want to be different without wanting to change anything. The cross compels me to move out of my comfort zone and more deeply into the example of Jesus. Transformation is what the cross is all about. Sanctification is the process by which I learn how to daily die to self and live a cross-shaped, resurrection-empowered life. Accepting a challenge is never easy, but in taking on this challenge I learn how to take on the image of Jesus.

The Release of the Cross

1 04 2015

“We sinned for no reason but an incomprehensible lack of love, and He saved us for no reason but an incomprehensible excess of love.” – Peter Kreeft

The beauty of the cross is multi-dimensional. Its plain wood speaks to a simple purpose. Its roughhewn nature underscores the truth that its treasures demanded a price. Its height draws our eyes to heaven. Its base is planted firmly in the earth. The cross releases power in both places. In the heavenly realms, the cross speaks to the holiness of God. On the earth, it releases us from the bondage that has held our souls captive since the Garden.

Here are ten things from which the cross releases us:

  1. Shame
  2. Guilt
  3. Doubt
  4. Fear
  5. Loneliness
  6. Worry
  7. Sin
  8. Distance
  9. Lies
  10. Death

My Jesus Resolution today is to breathe deeply and shake off the chains of this world. The cross releases me from the shackles by which sin wants to hold me hostage. I don’t have to walk around burdened by despair or loaded down with shame. Jesus paid the price to lift those things from my soul and set me free. Too often I believe that guilt and worry are just a part of who I am. Not in Jesus. The cross stands ever before me as a reminder that I have been released from their power by the might and determination of a Savior’s love.