THE STEEL AND CONCRETE MISSION FIELD NEWSLETTER April 2000
by Bro. Gregory Wamsley
As I start another year of service through this forum, I thank God for the blessings and recognition I've received; for truly all credit, honor and glory belong to Him. I write as the Spirit directs and will continue to do so by His grace. As this new season begins, and the current holiday creeps up on us, this month closes out with most of society, both saved and unsaved (including the Church), celebrating what is most commonly called Easter. It's that which I appropriately refer to as "Resurrection Sunday."
I do so wish that the world would look upon this season as something other than another holiday. I also wish that all of their focus and views would be proper. Some will no doubt only see a time of physical rest; some ~ maybe a cross and some yet an empty tomb. As I attempt to speak to you about the cross, I am reminded of the statements of Paul in 1st Corinthians 1:17 & 18:
"For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching (message) of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."
These very words tell us that some will think of the cross and yet never acknowledge the cost that was paid. The only real cost they might acknowledge will probably be the financial one of this commercialized holiday. Seeing only that value and worth isn't enough. May I never forget that my worth in this world isn't who I am outside of the cross. My worth is only in what the Great "I Am" made of me in Christ ~ because of the cross.
Keeping my focus on the cross has kept me from looking for sin. Sin is the one thing that the more you do it, the less you realize you're doing it. May I get so used to always looking at the cross that it will become automatic. Satan will tell you, "Your sin isn't that bad." He knows the power of the cross and he tries to block the effects of the cross in our lives. I never mean to speak of any one person or persons, and I try to remember that old saying, "There can be so much evil in the best of us and so much good in the worst of us that no one has the right to talk about any of us."
It is sad but true that most people don't even know the meaning of the cross, or why they're so offended by it. The Bible itself calls the cross a "stumbling block" to many (1st. Cor. 1:23). Crosses are everywhere; on and in churches, on bumper stickers, and worn as jewelry by believers and unbelievers alike. In Paul's day, he found out that the cross provoked people and caused antagonism within them. To Paul, I'd say today, "Not much has changed." It's true that our Christ is not always attractive to the fleshly human heart, and many today still get offended by Him and turn away in contempt and or rage. Centuries and centuries have been unable to stop the cross's unfailing judgement upon all flesh against pride, hate, greed, selfishness, and all the "isms" and "schisms" in this present world.
This reminds me of the statement of Brother George Carter from a Bible study years ago. He said that most people have one of two reactions towards the exposure of sin in their lives, that of either a moth or a roach. In nature, when a light is turned on, only the moth is drawn to it. The roach flees from it. The cross is that light, that searchlight in our lives. If your reaction is that of the moth, you'll accept the evidence of sin as it is exposed and repent and desire to move yet closer toward it's revealing rays. However, if your reaction towards the exposed sin in your life is that of the roach, then when the cross shines its light of conviction, you will flee its revealing rays.
The cross is an offense to some because Christ's precious, guiltless blood was shed there. It demands a change and a verdict upon us all. Without that precious blood being shed there, we would be made accountable for our own sins. Why do so many reject the power of God that the cross truly is, that which was meant to bring us the ideal life? It's that life today that should manifest joy, peace, satisfaction, and true meaning and purpose for Him. Christ not only cried out upon the cross, but He still cries for us to live that life of self-crucifixion. We are called to die to self daily. No matter where we are; work, home, office or prison cell; Jesus wants us to take up our cross and take a stand for Him. Our cross is to have us identify with Christ and boldly stand true and tall for the cause of Christ no matter what the suffering or trial.
Now, I know this is not a popular concept, but it's just that: Christ-like, no more "I" but Christ instead. Many look at the cross and their vision ends there. When someone said to Helen Keller (a famous blind person), "I guess the worst thing in life was to live without being able to see," she replied, "No, being able to see without having any vision is much worse." So many see the crucifixion but lack the vision (spiritually) to see it in it's total reality. "The cross is the resurrection." If the world ever needed Christ's resurrection to come alive within them, it's now. Paul again puts it so eloquently in Galatians 6:14:
"But God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
Salvation is about being resurrected today, NOW, everyday. May we live NOW in that resurrection and worship Him, living in it with God the Son (Jesus Christ) and God the Father in heaven. When Christ died, all believers died. When He arose, we all arose. He resurrected us to an abundant life, to change our walk, our talk, our actions. With the Word of God living in our lives, the resurrection Spirit will come to comfort us and we won't have to say, "I have problems." Instead, we can say, "I have answers" because we do!
Many people in that day of Christ's crucifixion witnessed the event; His enemies, the other men on the other crosses, the women from afar, multitudes, centurians, and His very disciple John. From where you are in your life today, what do you see when you look upon the cross? Do you just see a symbol of crucifixion or the beginning point of the resurrection? Don't allow your sight, focus, or view to become visionless, or crissCROSSed!
THE TALE OF THREE TREES by Angela Elwell
Once upon a mountain top, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they would one day become when they had grown up.
The first little tree looked up at the stars twinkling like diamonds above him. "I want to hold treasure," he said. "I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious things like jewels and precious stones. I will be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world, and hold the most beautiful treasure the world has ever known."
The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on its way to the Ocean and said, "I want to be a strong sailing ship. I want to travel mighty waters and carry a powerful king. I will be the strongest ship in the world."
The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy people lived and worked in the small busy town and said, "I don't want to leave this mountain top at all! I want to grow so tall that when those people stop to look up at me they will raise their eyes to heaven and think of God. I will be the tallest and most famous tree in the world."
Years passed. The blessings of God's rain and sunshine came down upon them all and the three little trees grew tall.
One day, three woodcutters climbed the mountain. The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, "This tree is beautiful. It's perfect for me." With the swoop of his shining ax, the first tree fell. The first tree thought, "Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest and hold a great and wonderful treasure."
The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said, "This tree is strong. It's perfect for me." With the swoop of his shining ax, the second tree fell. The second tree thought, "Now I shall sail mighty waters. I shall be that strong ship fit for a king."
The third woodcutter looked at the third tree and, although the third tree's heart sank at the sight of the ax, he stood straight and tall pointing bravely to heaven. The third woodcutter never even looked up as he said, "Any kind of tree will do for me," and with a sweep of his ax the third tree fell to the ground. Now the third tree became very sad and could not understand why he would not be able to fulfill his dream for God.
Now, the first tree rejoiced when he was brought into the carpenter's shop. The busy carpenter was not thinking of treasure chests. Instead, his work-worn hands made the tree into a feeding box for animals. The once beautiful tree wasn't covered with gold or filled with treasure. He was covered in sawdust and filled with hay to feed animals.
The second tree smiled when he was taken into the shipyard, but to the tree's sadness, no mighty sailing ships were being made that day. Instead, the once strong tree was sawn and hammered into a small fishing boat too weak and small to ever sail the ocean or even a river. He was then taken to a little lake where he carried only fishermen and smelly, dead fish.
The third tree was confused when he was cut into two large beams and left in the lumber yard. "What's happened?" the once tall tree wondered. "All I ever wanted was to stay on the mountaintop and point to God."
Many, many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams, But God didn't. One night, a special star shone golden starlight upon the first tree as a mother placed her newborn baby in the feeding box. Her husband said, "I wish I could make a cradle of gold for him." She just squeezed his hand as the golden light of God shone down upon the smooth and sturdy wood. She said, "This manger is beautiful," and it was then that the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure of all in the world.
One evening several years later, a tired traveler and his followers crowded into a small fishing boat. The traveler fell asleep as the boat sailed onto the lake. Suddenly, a thundering and mighty rushing storm arose. The second tree shuddered. He knew he was not built strong enough to carry that many passengers safely through that kind of weather, wind, and rain. But, just before it was too late, the traveler was wakened by one of his followers. He stood up, stretched out his royal hands, and commanded the waters by saying, "Peace, be still," and the storm stopped as quickly as it had begun. Then suddenly, the second tree knew that he was the chosen vessel that was carrying the king of all heaven and earth!"
One Friday morning, the third tree was surprised when his beams were taken and he flinched as he was carried through streets crowded by angry, jeering mobs. He felt ugly, harsh, and cruel as an innocent man was nailed to his cross. But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose, the Son rose! The third tree then knew that God's love had changed everything, and by God's will, not only was the first tree made beautiful and the second tree strong, but the third tree also got his wish. Now, every time people think of the third tree they look up to the cross and heaven and think of God!
Often, we think we have our lives all figured out, but God knows our hearts' desires before we even think them out loud. Like the three little trees, God has already fulfilled our dreams beyond our very wildest expectations, and though we find that the outcome wasn't what we had in mind, we also find we couldn't wish for anything better if we'd done so from the very beginning.
JOHN 3:12 "I.O.U." CROSSWORD ~ JUMBLE PUZZLE
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