Tuesday, August 23, 2016

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It was a spiritual what they used to call "Kodak moment." That's what the closing night of our Warrior Leadership Summit was that summer. It was our privilege, as it is every summer, to bring together Native young people, representing scores and scores of Indian nations across North America. When you realize that only an estimated 4% of Native people know Christ after 500 years of mission work to reach them, this conference is almost historic. The mission each year is to help Native young people choose Christ, follow Christ and be a warrior for Christ in some very difficult places. That Kodak moment came when twenty young people, representing some twenty Indian nations, each stood to declare their commitment to go back to reach their people for Christ. Then they bowed at the foot of the old rugged cross at the front.

Then, as hundreds of Native young people began to sing "Our God Is an Awesome God," those twenty young warriors lifted the cross above their heads. Then they reverently carried it through the audience and out the door to a world whose only hope is that cross. It was a powerful moment. A few minutes after the meeting ended, a leader came to me and said, "There's something beautiful going on out in front of the auditorium. Those young warriors don't want to leave the cross."

I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Staying Close To the Cross."

I haven't been able to get those words out of my mind, "They don't want to leave the cross." What a powerful way to prioritize your life; staying close to the cross where Jesus gave His life to save yours. That cross should be the centerpiece of what matters to me, what I love, what I hate, what I spend on, what I do with my life. It's the centerpiece of the plan of God for this whole planet and for your life.

The sacrifice of countless lambs to atone for the sins of God's people pointed to the one ultimate sin sacrifice-the Lamb of God, God's Lamb, on the cross. Jesus continually called His death on that cross "the hour for which I have come." And the constant song of heaven for all eternity is, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain." They're always celebrating the cross. Shouldn't we be doing the same thing on this side of heaven? Without that cross, we have no life; we have no hope.

A few years ago, I was stunned when my name was announced at a conference as the winner of an alumni award. I felt like I was in a daze as I walked up to the platform to accept the award. When they asked me to say something, and you're going to find this hard to believe, I was speechless. All I could finally say was a Bible verse, and it's our word for today from the Word of God in Galatians 6:14. In the New Living Translation it says, "May I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in the world has been crucified, and the world's interest in me has also died."

Let the price that Jesus paid for you define your priorities. Live for the One who loves you the most, who gave His life for you. Don't let anyone or anything push Him to the edge of your life. Let the cross inspire your humility, no matter how successful, how applauded and how appreciated you may be. Don't ever forget you're nothing except for that cross. Let the cross help you say no to sin. Jesus died for that sin! And let the cross be your message. Don't just talk generally about God or "your faith." Talk about that cross. Charles Spurgeon said that whenever he preached he made "a straight pathway to the cross." He called the cross "God's magnificent magnet." Whenever you have an opportunity to say something about your Lord, don't be ashamed of the cross. Take people there and show them how much Jesus loves them.

The old hymn says it pretty well: "Jesus, keep me near the cross." Carry His cross to a world around you whose only hope is what Jesus did there. Begin your days remembering that cross. May it be said of you, "He doesn't/she doesn't want to leave that cross."