The Candid Cross - Part 2 - An Easter 2013 Life Letter
March 2013



“God can put up with just about everything but indifference.” - Philip Yancey

Hi Friends:

"Demand" . . . a simple six-letter English word that describes one who chooses "to give an insistent or urgent request". In economic terms, when a desirable good or service comes under increased "market demand", the corresponding shortage of such goods and services necessitates an escalating price. But what happens when "consumer" demand hits an all-time high and the resource so desperately desired can be found through only one vendor at one physical location? . . . then certainly the price would be so staggering that all who desperately need and desire it would be shut-out and turned-away . . . unless there was One who is not in need of the very same resource yet capable of underwriting it's entire cost.

Compelling Love

This is the story of Easter . . . one "Vendor", Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) . . . one location, the cross just outside Jerusalem (I Corinthians 1:23) . . . one resource needed by all mankind, restored relationship with a loving, holy, life-giving God (Romans 5:10) . . . one purchase price, the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God (I Peter 1:18-19) . . . such is the story of grace, God's candid yet compassionate grace.

It's God's grace that purchases what none other can earn or afford . . . and it is that same grace that brings a new candid "demand" . . . not a demand that affords one's salvation from an eternity apart from Him . . . but rather a demand of gratitude flowing from lives who have been set free from a self-serving agenda . . . lives set free from sin and death . . . lives who have been made pure . . . lives who have been made alive . . . lives who have become the very dwelling place for God Himself . . . lives purposed with one and only one purpose, to bring glory to the God in heaven who restores all that was lost and never lets go. In the Apostle Paul's own words,

"For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that One died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again."    -2 Corinthians 5:14-15

The eighteenth century English minister and song writer Isaac Watts was certainly confronted by the candid cross of Christ and at the same time so compelled by His Savior's love that he became a staunch opponent to grace-defying traditions of the Anglican Church. Though he could have easily had a life-long pity-party over denied access to the best educational schools (such was common to all 'Non-Conformists") . . . and over two incarcerations for his faith (along with subsequent life-long illness) . . . Watts would instead pour himself into preaching, mentoring other young ministers and amazingly would pen more than 750 hymns of the faith. Perhaps the "one" hymn which best defined his selfless drive for the gospel was "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross" . . . from which we receive these timeless words . . .

"Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all."

Kids Can Smell The Real Deal

One group of people has very little difficulty telling the difference between those who subtly orchestrate a "safe and successful" image for themselves versus those who "lose" themselves in the wholehearted faith-fueled cause of fostering purpose, hope and confidence in the lives of others . . . and "that" group would be teenagers . . . teenagers no different than the students of Marvin Ridge High School in Waxhaw, North Carolina . . . particularly the students who have the privilege of participating in and around the football program which falls under the dynamic direction of highly loved and respected Coach Scott Chadwick.

For Coach Chadwick, living "out" one's faith in Jesus Christ with selfless abandon has powerfully impacted young adults (on and off the football field) since he first began head coaching high school football in Maryland in 1998. In his fourteen completed seasons, he has led his teams to 6 conference titles and a combined 12-8 playoff record. Two separate teams account for his three state championship appearances and one state title . . . one of those schools had ten prior consecutive losing seasons and the other had not won a playoff game in 17 years. In the five years he has established and led the Mavericks program at Marvin Ridge, the combined team GPA is 3.37 while on the field his team is now averaging better than 9 wins a season.

The formula? Great conditioning, technique and game strategy? . . . Coach Chadwick is masterful on all these counts, but his real success is found in his willingness to invest his life into the lives of his students well beyond the game of football . . . much in the same way he invests into his twenty year marriage with his wife and best friend Beth and their three children: Tyler, Cody and Madison. In the words of former Marvin Ridge Athletic Director, Tony Guylitto, “Special people make a difference in the paths we choose – our parents, our teachers, our coaches. Clearly, this is true of Coach Chadwick. He exemplifies what high school athletics are supposed to be about . . . turning impressionable student-athletes into the leaders of the future.”

Career or Calling?

Coach Chadwick could have settled for fulfilling the ordinary demands of a public education "job", but passion for his Savior, his students and his community have consistently trumped self-serving protocol, "Our players sign 3-Point Code of Conduct contracts prior to every season to reinforce the expectations we have for how they conduct themselves in school, on the field, and in the community.” Excellence and discipline in the classroom, athletics and life is Coach's goal for all his students . . . and because he so generously pours himself into "his kids", they can't help but follow his example in and around the community in which they live . . . eagerly participating in coaching junior football and serving to support causes like Habitat for Humanity and the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

The "successes" on the scoreboard and in the community do not come without a cost for the likes of Coach Scott Chadwick. Engaged "not playing it safe" leadership necessitates two proven principles that will elicit the praise of many and sometimes the "ire" of many more. Those two key principles? . . . change and relationship . . . and both come at a price.

Change refuses to accept practices and patterns that undermine the success of a mission . . . and when executed . . . exposes those who are more married to their own ego, power and control than they are to the goal of a child's education. Relationship . . . relationship with students beyond just the practice field exposes insecure and jealous parents who preside over a dysfunctional family structure void of little if any parent/child relationship at all. But when a coach sees a man in the making beyond the shoulder pads and becomes accessible, available, interested . . . mentoring relationships form . . . relationships that acknowledge hopes and hurts . . . dreams and disappointments . . . abilities, fears and failure . . . and above all mentoring relationships form which message that your life matters, your future matters . . . and regardless of which direction you take, you . . . are loved.

When you just "teach" a student-athlete, you simply poke the untapped capacities and disciplines of their mind. When you seek to "lead" a student-athlete beyond their own world, you expand the reaches of their heart. But when teaching and leading are not enough . . . when you choose to love a student-athlete, you unleash the God-ordained purpose kept waiting in their soul . . . and when a student-athlete has an unleashed soul, don't be surprised if they also run faster, tackle harder and endure in a gridiron battle longer. This is the "substance" of Coach Chadwick's leadership . . . in fact, it is the only way he knows how to coach, because that is how he has been impacted by another Coach who refused to "play it safe".

Glorious Demands

Have you like Isaac Watts . . . like Coach Scott Chadwick . . . like countess other lives . . . have you been confronted by the candid cross? Perhaps in this Easter season . . . perhaps in this time of remembrance of the passion of Jesus Christ . . . perhaps in this moment . . . it will be the cross of Christ that messages for the first time to your soul that the holy God of heaven was under no obligation to intervene in the course of your spiritual destiny . . . yet He came . . . and He came in a kind of timeless candor that reminds us all that if there were even just one tiny, remote, rarely discovered yet nonetheless reliable route for mankind to find acceptance with a holy God by their own doing, the cross would not have been necessary . . . but no such "Plan B" ever has or ever will exist.

It is the cross of Christ that reveals God's unilateral rejection and condemnation of sin and evil . . . it is the cross of Christ that informs us we have more in common with the drug addict, the murderer, the thief and the terrorist than with anything that remotely pleases God . . . in fact, it is the cross of Christ that messages loud and clear that we are the addict, the murderer, the thief and the terrorist . . . it is at the cross where the Son found and experienced the utter dark and desperate separation from the Father we all deserve . . . it is the cross of Christ that reinforces Isaiah's words . . .

"We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind." - Isaiah 64:6

It is the cross of Christ that reminds us that we can't be comforted by the love of God nor irresistibly called to be a conduit of His grace . . . if we reject the candor of Christ like the self-made pharisees who had no use for the faith of a healed blind man . . .

“Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when He found him, He said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" "Who is he, sir?" the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him." Jesus said, "You have now seen Him; in fact, He is the one speaking with you." Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him. Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind." – John 9:35-39

It is also at the cross of Christ where we find the Kingdom of Heaven choosing to distance itself from the "community of the careful", from the "measured" life . . . in a world so full of rejection, the "all-in" love of God goes on full display at the cross of Christ, taking on the greatest form of rejection possible, so that the most grace-saturated form of acceptance can be offered. As Philip Yancey states, “Power, no matter how well-intentioned, tends to cause suffering. Love, being vulnerable, absorbs it. In a point of convergence on a hill called Calvary, God renounced the one for the sake of the other.”

Heaven's Coach came for you that first Easter and even now sees in you a man or woman in the making beyond the "uniform" of everything you desire and compete for . . He is accessible, available, interested . . . desiring for a relationship to form . . . a relationship that acknowledges your hopes and hurts . . . your dreams and disappointments . . . your abilities, fears and failure . . . and above all a relationship which messages that your life matters, your future matters . . . and regardless of which direction you have taken previously, you are loved . . . loved beyond your wildest imagination. Ready to to say "I'm all in" . . . "I'm not holding on or holding back" . . . ready to say"yes" to the glorious demands of . . .

. . . the candid cross?

 

"Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain." - I Corinthians 15:58


Artists' Corner

"Three Nails"
by Citipointe Live


Bruised and broken
Is what You were for me
On the cross You gave
Your life for all to see
A love so real a love for me

And You, You make me stronger
You take me over oh’ Lord
And You are my strong tower
You gave the power to be free, to be free

You set me free
Three nails and You rescued me
We’re breaking down these walls
It’s the sound of victory

The earth will shake
With the power of love with no mistakes
We’re breaking down these walls
Jesus our King

Hallelujah!


"This Is Amazing Grace"
by Jeremy Riddle & Bethel Music


Who breaks the power of sin and darkness
Whose love is mighty and so much stronger
The King of Glory, the King above all kings

Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder
Who leaves us breathless in awe and wonder
The King of Glory, the King above all kings

This is amazing grace, this is unfailing love
That You would take my place
That You would bear my cross
You would lay down Your life
That I would be set free
Jesus, I sing for all that You've done for me

Who brings our chaos back into order
Who makes the orphan a son and daughter
The King of Glory, the King above all kings

Who rules the nations with truth and justice
Shines like the sun in all of its brilliance
The King of Glory, the King above all kings

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Worthy is the King who conquered the grave
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain
Worthy is the King who conquered the grave


"Jesus, Only Jesus"
by Matt Redman

 


Who has the power to raise the dead?
And who can save us from our sin?
He is our Hope and Righteousness
Jesus, only Jesus

And who can make the blind to see?
Who holds the keys that set us free?
He paid it all to bring us peace
Jesus, only Jesus

Holy, King Almighty Lord
Saints and angels all adore
I join with them and bow before
Jesus, only Jesus

Who can command the highest praise?
Who has the name above all names?
You stand alone I stand amazed
Jesus, only Jesus

Holy, King Almighty Lord
Saints and angels all adore
I join with them and bow before
Jesus, only Jesus

You will command the highest praise
Yours is the name above all names
You stand alone I stand amazed
Jesus, only Jesus

Holy, King Almighty Lord
Saints and angels all adore
I join with them and bow before
Jesus, only Jesus

 

 


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