Sunday, August 22, 2010

Access

Access Denied, image courtesy of ainley.net

I remember the first time I was told I had NO ACCESS and the shame and disappointment I felt in being excluded. For a kid, it meant hating the lunch period because I didn’t have anything to eat. For us, money and food always seem to run out at the same time, before the end of the month. I can remember being told to leave a store if I didn’t have any money. I can remember having the utilities turned off because the bill was unpaid. No lights, no water, no heat; I know what it’s like when access is denied.

I was worshipping in church this morning and as I stood there thanking Jesus for taking my place, I began to see Him walking towards Golgotha, for me. He endured the beating, the mocking of those who watched and He endured the weight of that heavy cross; for me. Without realizing what I was doing, I began pounding on my chest, crying that Christ suffered for me.

Now I’ve always seen myself as a tough guy, I took pride that I grew up in the toughest part of Chicago; the West Side. Back in his day, Al Capone lived on the West Side; so there is that gangster history and mentality. Now I’m no gangster, but I understand the philosophy behind the use of the word as a verb. By that I mean I’ve had to gangster certain situations; to get my way. On the West Side, male punks are frowned upon, so we have this whole macho mentality thing going on.

Here I stood, a former citizen of Chicago, native West Sider, and a fully grown man. My grandmother used to have a saying, “I ain’t no play toy!” I’ve been shot at and to my regret as a young man (while in a gang), I've shot at other young men; I know what it must’ve been like for the Earp’s and the Clanton’s at O.K. Corral. And here I was, standing there crying uncontrollably; just bawling.

Why?

Thoughts of, What will people think of you crying? You’re gonna look like some kind of punk!

It didn’t matter. I didn’t even know who was around me or if anyone was watching because I was worshiping Christ. He took my place; willingly took my punishment!

That ain’t no punk!

That’s as tough as you can get. Christ willingly stepped in and took a bullet for me. As they say in the military, “He fell on my sword.

So yeah, I was crying like a baby, because of what Jesus did for me.

You ever get like that while you’re worshipping the Lord?

People and sounds just seem to fade out of your thoughts and it’s just you and Jesus. I’m not saying, “You gotta cry like a baby to truly worship Christ.” What I’m saying is that peripheral thoughts get muted and you’re alone in that place where in the Old Testament, only the high priest could enter; the Holy of Holies.

But Jesus gave me access and now I am the recipient of a much better covenant than the one given to Moses and Israel. It’s the very reason why the writer of Hebrews declares:

So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive His mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need.1

I realize that like the Jews of the Old Testament, I was fearful to get too close; preferring instead for someone else to enter into that place.

What I didn’t realize was that they were going in for themselves and not for me; I had to enter that place myself if I was ever going to really worship.

I had to offer up a sacrifice of praise to God; for me.

I had to offer up thanksgiving to God; for me.

But I don’t have to offer up atonement to God; Christ already did that, for me.

I know there might be some guys out there reading this post and you’re thinking you can handle yourself in a pinch; you’re not gonna be a pushover for anybody. Perhaps some of you women have tasted the sting of a male who has this image of a tough guy seared on his brain. You escaped him and you’ve decided that, you ain’t nobody’s play toy anymore. But like me, you’ve been letting someone else go into that place, thinking, I don’t need to go there.

But that’s where you’re wrong!

You need to walk in there, into the Holy of Holies and let it just be you and Jesus; so you can worship Him.

If you’ve never really experienced real worship, you won’t know what I’m talking about, but those of you who have, Know the freedom and joy that comes from worshipping Jesus Christ.

Aretha Franklin sang about a spirit in the dark but Jesus says,

God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.2

So we sing as we worship Jesus Christ, who declares,

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one come to the Father but through me.3

I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of light.4

Worshipping Christ illuminates my perspective; it gives me insight into my access to God. Without worshipping, I’m just in the dark…waiting for God to move in my life.

Praise God! I don’t have to wait anymore!

I’ve got access.

How about you? Do you have ACCESS?

Our Father in heaven,

I thank you that through Jesus, we have been given access to that most sacred and holy place. We can experience the joy of your presence and offer up true worship. No longer will I think it’s acceptable to remain on the outside. I will never come before Your throne while standing on the outside, assured that my pride remains intact. Take my pride Lord Jesus. It’s worth nothing but you can have it. Take my ego and my macho, tough guy attitude and nail it to the cross You hung on for me. I just want to stay in here and worship with You for as long as I can. Thank You Jesus that I have access. I praise Your Holy Name, the name of Jesus Christ. You are my Rock of Salvation, my Redeemer and Lord. I’ve got purpose now Lord Jesus and worshipping You is a big part of my purpose and priority.


Footnotes:
  1. Hebrews 4:16, Living New Testament
  2. John 4:24, NASB
  3. John 14:6, NASB
  4. John 8:12, NASB
References:
  1. The Layman's Parallel New Testament, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan
  2. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6


9 comments:

Sharon Kirby said...

Oh, MTJ -

Yes, there have been times when I felt overcome with gratitude for what Jesus did FOR ME!! I'm always grateful, but sometimes the knowledge of His gift pushes me to my knees - you know?!

I HAVE ACCESS!!

I was reminded of these verses - Mark 15:37-38:
"Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom."

These are the notes from my Life Application Bible:
"When Jesus died, the curtain was torn in two, showing that his death for our sins had OPENED UP THE WAY for us to approach our holy God."

Jesus "ain't nobody's play toy" - no sir...He's the mighty Savior, the One who gives us ACCESS!

Amen, friend!

Lloyd said...

Thank you so much for this post. Jesus did it all just so you and I could come face to face with the almighty God of the universe one of these days. Sometimes, like you, I get so over-whelmed just thinking of what Jesus had to go through just so I could have eternal life. God's blessings too you. Lloyd

lynnmosher said...

Oh, you precious man of God! I could barely finish reading your post as tears filled my eyes. I am so happy you are one with the Lord!

In the OT, to make a covenant with someone, animals were sacrificed, divided, and then they walked through the pieces of sacrifice, making an eternal, unbreakable commitment with each other.

You know that beautiful new covenant, as Jesus' body was sacrificed for you, and you now enter in through His flesh into His covenant with you.

“No one comes to the Father except through Me,” through His sacrifice of flesh, joining you, and the rest of us who believe, in that eternal oneness with Him.

May the Lord bless you, dear one, with whatever you need!

THE OLD GEEZER said...

Yes I have access through the Blood of Christ. Amen and Amen!

MTJ, isn't it wonderful how God takes a heart of stone and turns it into a heart of flesh? Jesus is truly the Great Physician.

~Ron

BTW, my dad was born and raised in Danville, Illinois. The last time I was there was in 1962.

Faith Imagined said...

Oh I love this line, "People and sounds just seem to fade out of your thoughts and it’s just you and Jesus." I would be crying like a baby also! I am so glad you honestly shared such an intimate moment with our God! I pray many men read this!

MTJ said...

Sharon: I'm so very thankful that through Jesus the curtain was torn, giving us open access. All we need do is walk in. Thank you my sister.

Lloyd: Thank you my brother for being an example to all men of what it means to live for Christ.

Lynn: The amazing thing for me is to discover the truth of those words of Christ..."No one comes to the Father except through Me" -- Because of Jesus, we have a more excellent covenant.

Alisa: For a long time, I allowed the syntax of words to intimidate me to live up to a certain kind of male image. Through Christ, I've discovered that shedding tears has nothing to do with how tough or weak I am. Being intimate with God or with family and friends doesn't have a negative impact on my identity; I seek to be open and transparent, relying upon God as the strength of my life.

MTJ said...

Ron: Every day I wake up to the newness of God's grace and I too am amazed at how wonderful it is to be in Christ. I've never been to Danville but I remember them winning a state basketball championship one year.

From The Heart Online said...

Woo! Excellent post! I pray with you, especially to "never come before Your throne while standing on the outside, assured that my pride remains intact."

God moves powerfully through your words. Thank you for seeking to be transparent for His glory!

MTJ said...

Kim: When the Holy Spirit showed me that while others freely entered the Holy of Holies, I simply stood outside and waited. I found this to be humbling and I am now committed to never stand on the outside again. Christ died so that I could enter in. God desires that I become transparent in my relationship with Him, it is my priority and desire to be transparent with Him and others.