Think On This…

Here’s the seed thought for this episode of Think On This

The first to speak in court sounds right—until the cross-examination begins. (Proverbs 18:17 NLT)

Think on this: What if we cross-examined what we heard before we accepted it as fact or repeated it to someone else?

Podcast: Leaders And Laughter

On this episode of “The Craig And Greg Show” we talk about: 

  • sometimes leaders and laughter don’t together, but sometimes humor can bring about the ice breaker that teams need
  • leaders need to practice laughter  
  • how Greg used to prepare himself for meetings while he was on the road
  • Craig says leaders need to lighten up before even in-office meetings
  • people want to follow leaders not just to win, but to have fun along the way too
  • how do leaders find the appropriate use of humor? Greg shares two important words to keep in mind
  • leaders need to get on the same page with their teammates, and the best way to do this is to laugh at ourselves
  • in a previous episode, we talked about love languages, which is also key in the appropriate use of humor 
  • laughing is good for your health—both physical health and emotional health
  • the guys wonder about the statute of limitations on some pranks with which they may have been involved
  • laughter triggers endorphins in us but also triggers the mirror neurons in others
  • the guys announce a really fun contest!

Check out this episode and subscribe on YouTube so you can watch all of the upcoming episodes. You can also listen to our podcast on Spotify and Apple.

“I Am Thirsty”

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

Jesus has just broken a 3-hour silence with His megaphone-voice cry: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Now His final three statements will follow in rather short order, beginning with, “I am thirsty.”

It might seem trivial that Jesus expressed His desire for a drink, especially since He also knew that there was no thirst-quenching water nearby. Far from being trivial, however, this was eternally important because it completed His mission. 

Before saying, “I am thirsty,” John tells us that Jesus knew “that all was now completed.” The Greek word for know is sometimes translated as “see” and sometimes “know.” When it’s “see” it’s always in the past tense—“saw” or “have seen.” Perhaps in His 3-hour silence, Jesus was reviewing His earthly life, looking back to see what He had accomplished. Make no mistake about it, Jesus was on-mission for all 30+ years of His life in Israel. 

But now that He has seen His life, He “knows.” This word is in the perfect tense. He’s seen it all and He knows He has accomplished all He set out to complete. As He had told His audience earlier in His life, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till ALL is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). 

In looking back on His life, Jesus saw one final thing: He needed to be given vinegar to drink just as David prophesied (Psalm 69:13-21). With that sour sip, ALL the Ts are crossed and ALL the Is are dotted! 

When John writes, “Knowing all was now completed, and so the Scripture would be fulfilled,” he uses the Greek word which means mission accomplished! 

Why did Jesus need to fulfill ALL the prophecies and complete ALL the law? Check out His earlier statement from the Amplified Bible: “For truly I tell you, until the sky and earth pass away and perish, not one smallest letter nor one little hook identifying certain Hebrew letters will pass from the Law until all things it FORESHADOWS are accomplished.” 

The law was just our temporary guardian and the temple practices were just a shadow of the realities of Heaven (see Galatians 3:23-25; Hebrews 10:1-10). ALL of them were merely pointing to Jesus, so Jesus made sure ALL of them were completed. 

His “I am thirsty” statement was really His “Amen” to His completed mission. 

Jesus fulfilled every Scripture so that we could stand on every promise! 

Check this out: “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through Him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to God” (2 Corinthians 1:20). 

The shadows of the law were turned into the substance on which we can come boldly before the throne of God’s grace! In just three words—“I am thirsty”—Jesus completed His mission for God’s glory and for our eternal help! 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series on the dying confessions of Jesus from the Cross, you can access the full list by clicking here.

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The Sin Of Man, The Salvation Of Jesus

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

“Jesus is risen indeed!” This is the glorious good news that Christians around the world celebrate. 

But good news is really only good news when you fully realize how bad the bad news was. Like when the doctor comes in to tell you, “You’re going to be fine,” and you breathe a sigh of relief. And then the doctor goes on to explain what your condition was and all of the heroic efforts that were undertaken on your behalf, and you realize how close to death you actually were that your sigh of relief turns into a shout of joy! 

The resurrection of Jesus is the good news that brings us eternal life. But instead of merely breathing a sigh of relief thinking, “I shall not perish but have everlasting life,” let’s take a look at how close we were to everlasting death. 

Our fourth foundational belief says: “Man was created good and upright…. However, man by voluntary transgression fell and thereby incurred not only physical death but also spiritual death, which is separation from God.” 

Adam and Eve were given a choice: they were able not to sin and they were able to sin. God gave them dominion over everything in His creation but themselves, and He made them to be personally and intimately connected with Himself. But satan tempted them to take dominion over themselves, saying that they would become like God.

They sinned. “And sure enough, they then had knowledge of good and evil, but it was from the standpoint of becoming evil and remembering how good they once were,” said Nancy Guthrie. Because they sinned, now all of us are unable not to sin. Why? Because no one has been able to demonstrate to us how to be able not to sin. 

Their sin had consequences for them that have extended to us:

  • they felt shame at their vulnerability before God
  • they were fearful to be in God’s presence 
  • they were separated from God  
  • and they doomed all of us to live an utterly meaningless existence forever! 

But Adam and Eve’s sin didn’t send God scrambling for a remedy. Our fifth foundational truth says: “Man’s only hope of redemption is through the shed blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God.” 

Jesus turned the absolutely worst news into the most eternally, overwhelmingly good news ever! 

Jesus was made the cure for sin from before the foundation of the world. God made Jesus to be our sin (not just to carry our sins). In order for this to happen, Jesus had to become human like us. That means that Jesus, like Adam and Eve, had the same choice to sin or to not sin but He did not sin. This allowed Him to be our perfect sacrifice on the Cross. 

When He died on the Cross, Jesus removed the uncrossable abyss between us and God. Jesus made it possible once again for us to be able not to sin. Not only that, but Jesus covers the shame that would linger even after our sin is forgiven by clothing us in His own righteousness! 

(check out all of the biblical references for the above points by clicking here)

Sin had us doomed to not only a meaningless existence on earth, but also to an utterly meaningless existence for the eternity following death. Jesus became our sin to allow us to be reunited with God and reclothed in Christ’s righteousness. This is not just good news, it’s eternally, overwhelmingly good news! 

If you’ve missed the discussion of any of our other foundational truths, you may access the full list by clicking here.

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? ◀︎◀︎

“My God, My God”

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

Jesus has been hanging on the Cross silently for three hours. And now He gathers His strength for four final statements that all come in pretty close proximity. His first three dying declarations have been declarations of love:

But now comes a word of sheer, unparalleled agony. A word from a heart that is experiencing the depths of betrayal and pain that has never been known—or even approached—in all of human history: Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani! (Matthew 27:45-46; Mark 15:33-34)

Does this sound like a good Friday message: My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? 

This is the only one of the seven dying declarations of Jesus that Matthew and Mark record, and they do it nearly identically: 

  • It’s spoken in the everyday language of the people: Aramaic 
  • It’s translated into the worldwide language of business and literature: Greek 
  • It’s a direct quotation of Hebrew Scripture 

This is a word for everyone: Jews and Greek, nobles and commoners, religious people and pagans. 

This dying declaration comes from words taken directly from Psalm 22. David wrote this psalm 1000 years before the crucifixion of Jesus, but note the amazing accuracy in the despicable treatment of Jesus, gambling for Christ’s clothes, even the crucifixion itself (which was unknown in David’s time), and then there’s the heart-wrenching cry My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?  

Matthew and Mark say Jesus “cried out.” This can mean a cry of joy or a cry of pain. They also record that He cried out with “a loud voice.” The Greek words here will sound very familiar even to English ears—“loud” is the word megas, and “voice” is the word phoné. Literally: Jesus raised a megaphone voice to make sure everyone heard His cry! 

Remember that cried out can either be a cry of joy or of pain? Which one was it? You could make the case that it is both of these meanings. But there is a third way of using this word: a cry for help. 

Jesus is about to take a plunge. He is about to descend deeper than anyone else ever has. He is about to voluntarily go into Hell itself. This megaphone cry is His battlecry before storming the gates of Hell! 

Christ’s megaphone battlecry was heard in Hell and in Heaven as Jesus descended to decisively defeat hell, death, and the grave! Make no mistake, Jesus undoubtedly won that battle! That same descriptive word megas is also used for… 

  • …the stone in front of His grave is a megas stone 
  • …the earthquake that rolled away that stone on Resurrection morning was a megas earthquake 
  • …the joy of Christ’s friends at seeing the tomb empty was a megas joy 
  • …the trumpet sound at Christ’s Second Coming when He returns to earth as the Conquering King will be a megas blast, and His shout a megaphone cry (Matthew 24:31; 1 Thessalonians 4:16)! 

Jesus went to the deepest depths to take us to the highest heights! 

His megaphone declaration from the Cross on Good Friday was a cry of pain over our sin, a battlecry as He stormed the gates of Hell, and a cry of joy over His coming victory! 

So now we can say, “Where, O Death, is your victory? Oh yeah, you don’t have one because my Savior has totally defeated you!” 

If you’ve missed any of the other dying declarations of Jesus from the Cross, you may access the full list by clicking here.

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? ◀︎◀︎

Podcast: Apathy Vs. Passion

On this episode of “The Craig And Greg Show” we talk about: 

  • the first in our series of leadership builders and killers
  • Craig goes negative right away!  
  • the danger with apathy is that you don’t know that you don’t care—Greg says apathy is a nebulizer
  • the value of an honest, loving friend
  • it takes a lot more energy to get to a boiling point than it does to keep your passion at the boiling point  
  • apathy is “have to” but passion is “get to”
  • Greg likes to exchange heartstorming for brainstorming
  • Craig talks about the warning signs for leaders, and how to build passion-fueling activities into our daily agendas 
  • good feelings follow good actions
  • leaders need to be the thermostats for their team

Check out this episode and subscribe on YouTube so you can watch all of the upcoming episodes. You can also listen to our podcast on Spotify and Apple.

“Today You Will Be With Me In Paradise”

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

Dying declarations are powerful statements!

As Jesus was nailed to the Cross, His first dying declaration prompted such a change of heart in a hardened criminal that the criminal’s own dying declaration caused Jesus to say, “Amen!” The story is found in Luke 23:32-43.

But first, we need to ask, why were criminals crucified alongside Jesus? An obvious answer is that it fulfilled a First Testament prophecy—He poured out His life unto death, and He let Himself be regarded as a criminal and be numbered with the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12). 

How did this come about? Maybe…

  • Pilate was trying to justify his actions? 
  • the Sanhedrin had used these criminals as “evidence” that Jesus was stirring up a rebellion against the crown? 
  • a Roman centurion suggested, “Let’s kill three birds with one stone”? 

Whatever the case, they couldn’t have been very happy about this, especially since Barabbas (a fellow criminal) had just been released. They probably blamed Jesus for their awful predicament, so they naturally joined in the mockery. 

And what cruel mockery it was! 

  • the people stood watching these crucifixions and, since Luke uses the word for a sports spectator, it appears they were cheering the bloodshed they were observing
  • the Pharisees and Sadducees derided Jesus
  • the Roman soldiers continued the inhuman mockery and abuse that they had begun hours before 
  • the criminals crucified on either side of Jesus blasphemed Him 

Luke kindly records that only one criminal was hurling insults at Jesus, but Matthew and Mark make it clear that both criminals were blaspheming Jesus (Matthew 27:44; Mark 15:32). 

It appears that one criminal, although at first a blasphemer, had a change of heart. 

Perhaps it was because He heard this Jesus, who was being so horribly mistreated, ask His Father to forgive His tormentors instead of asking for retribution. The apostle Peter says that when we follow Christ’s example in this it can actually make people become ashamed of their slander against us (1 Peter 2:23; 3:14, 16). 

Or perhaps this criminal had been in the crowd earlier that week on Monday when Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God all day. If he was, he would have heard Jesus talk about the rewards for the righteous and the punishment for the wicked, and he would have heard Jesus talk about how even criminals like himself could be allowed into God’s Kingdom (Matthew 21:28-32). 

All of this was working on him until his own slander against Jesus stuck in his throat and he rebuked his companion for his blasphemy. He said, “We are guilty and deserve this death sentence. But this Man is totally innocent!” 

Then turning to Jesus, he delivers his faith-filled declaration, “LORD Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” He called Him Lord, asked for a reward, and acknowledged that Christ’s Kingdom was not of this earth. This dying declaration was more faith-filled than even the disciples of Jesus could make, since all but one of them had fled in fear!

Jesus is so moved by this man’s declaration that His first word to him is Amen: “I tell you the truth [literally: Amen!], today you will be with Me in paradise. 

King David taught us that the sacrifice that God accepts is a broken heart, and the apostle Paul agrees by saying that it is the heart change and the confession of our mouth that brings our salvation (Psalm 51:16-17; Romans 10:4-11). 

My friend, Jesus has opened the way to Paradise for you by His death on the Cross. When our humbled hearts speak the truth about God’s Kingdom, Jesus says, “Amen!” and God welcomes us into His presence for ever and ever! Don’t wait another day, but cry out to Jesus today: tell Him that you are guilty, but you believe He has paid for your sins. He will then say the same word to your heart: “Amen! You will spend eternity in Paradise with Me!” 

If you would like to follow along as we look at all seven of the dying declarations Jesus made from the Cross, please click here. 

►► Would you please prayerfully consider supporting this ministry? ◀︎◀︎

A Persistent Mother

I love this mother! She exemplifies persistence and insistence in prayer.

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to Him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”

Jesus did not answer a word. So His disciples came to Him and urged Him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

The woman came and knelt before Him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”

“Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that hour. (Matthew 15:21-28)

Podcast: What’s New, Leadercat?

On this episode of “The Craig And Greg Show” we talk about: 

  • the challenge for leaders when things are changing
  • too many leaders get comfortable with the status quo 
  • leaders need to adopt a growth mindset
  • what if we changed “what’s the worst that could happen?” to “what’s the best that could happen?”
  • Craig references John Maxwell’s helpful book Sometimes You Win—Sometimes You Learn  
  • Greg cautions that either we address change or we avoid change, but if we avoid changing, our group may move on without us
  • just because we are changing doesn’t mean we are growing
  • Greg offers counsel on what leaders need to evaluate when considering changes
  • “unhealthy leaders change things to gain more control; healthy leaders change things to help the whole team get better,” Greg says
  • we don’t grow in areas of comfort: we learn most of our lessons moving forward, but we learn very few lessons sitting still
  • good leaders reassure other leaders to make thoughtful changes
  • the right way for leaders to partner with their team to effect positive changes

Check out this episode and subscribe on YouTube so you can watch all of the upcoming episodes. You can also listen to our podcast on Spotify and Apple.

“Father, Forgive Them”

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

In our system of law, special attention is given to someone’s dying declaration. If our legal system gives such weight to the last words of an imperfect man, it seems to me that we should take special note of the dying declarations of the only truly innocent Man who ever walked this earth: Jesus Christ. 

After being nailed to the Cross, the first dying declaration from Jesus was: Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34). 

Let’s say that Billy is dying on a hospital bed after being fatally shot, and all he can muster the strength to do is point at Johnny and whisper, “He… shot… me….” We would know who the “he” was in that situation, but who exactly is the “them” in this declaration of Jesus? 

Who offended Jesus? Who mortally wounded Him? Who caused Him such anguish? Maybe it was…

  • His disciples who couldn’t stay awake to pray with Him 
  • Judas who betrayed Him with a kiss 
  • the nine disciples who ran away 
  • Peter who denied three times that he knew Jesus 
  • the false witnesses in Caiaphas’ house
  • the members of the Sanhedrin who hit Him and spit on Him 
  • the members of the Sanhedrin who were silent 
  • the temple guards who mocked Him 
  • those who spewed lies when Jesus stood before Pilate
  • those who lied about Jesus when He stood before Herod 
  • Herod and his soldiers who mocked Him 
  • the Roman soldiers who abused Him 
  • the Roman soldiers who stripped Him naked and crucified Him 

To all of the above, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them”!  

Listen to how Peter described the response of Jesus to all of this: When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats… (1 Peter 2:23). That word for insults means to heap abuse on Him or to pile on. This was a fulfillment of a 700-year-old prophecy: He was oppressed and afflicted… (Isaiah 53:7). Isaiah uses similar words, where oppressed means tyrannized, and afflicted means a humiliating, painful loss of dignity. 

Christ’s own disciples afflicted Him, and so did the temple guards, and Pilate, and King Herod, and the Roman soldiers… and you and me. All of this mistreatment and humiliation and tyrannizing was handed out by us too (see Isaiah 53:6; 1 Peter 2:24-25). That’s why His arms were spread so wide when He said, “Father, forgive them,” because there were so many that needed forgiveness! 

When Jesus said forgive, He was asking His Father to take away our guilt that kept us out of God’s presence. Think of a courtroom scene where God the Father is the Judge, satan is the prosecutor, Jesus is the victim, and I am the defendant. The evidence is overwhelming and incontrovertible, and I am pronounced guilty. My punishment is a death sentence. When Jesus says, “Father, forgive him,” He is taking the death penalty in my place! 

In another beautiful fulfillment of an Old Testament practice, Jesus became both our sin offering and our scapegoat, making atonement for us at the mercyseat in the Most Holy Place, and allowing us to be welcomed into God’s holy presence (Leviticus 16:15-16, 20-22; Hebrews 9:12-14). 

When Jesus said, “Father, forgive them,” He was saying, “Father, bring them into Your presence!” 

You and I need to accept by faith the atoning work done on the Cross, the forgiveness of sins that was purchased for us. Jesus didn’t come to condemn us, but to lovingly restore us, and for that we are eternally and humbly grateful. 

Please don’t miss out on any of these dying declarations from Jesus. You can find my thoughts on all of the confessions of this dying Man by clicking here.

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