“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
The Pole Vault, by Randall D. Kittle


I had an interesting encounter with God while I was watching the Olympics. My wife and I were waiting to see Michael Phelps swim for the USA swim team when what sport should come on but pole-vaulting. Now I'm certain pole-vaulting is a great spectator sport for some, but it is not one of my all-time favorite Olympic sports to watch on television. To make things worse, we soon discovered that there were four Americans competing in the event, which meant it was going to be on for quite some time. As I picked up my remote control to change channels, I felt the resistance of the Holy Spirit. It was as if He was saying to my spirit, “Don’t touch that dial.” Suddenly I could feel the presence of the Lord with me, and He said, “Don’t change the channel, I want to teach you something important about the kingdom of God.”

Lessons From A Pole-Vaulter
So I sat back to watch pole-vaulting and see what the Lord would reveal to me. As I watched, the next participant covered his hands in rosin to protect his palms from becoming sweaty which would hinder him from keeping a good grip on the pole. Then he rotated his hands around the pole till they became locked in a tight grip. As he stood there holding that pole for all he was worth, I could see the muscles he had spent years developing bulging forth in his shoulders and biceps. Looking more closely, I could see muscles tensed and quivering even in his forearms and neck. And then the Lord declared, “That’s what the Church needs. It needs to get a grip on and lay hold of the Cross of Jesus Christ. Not to just know about it, but to really lay hold of it.” Now the Lord really had my attention as I thought to myself, “I think watching pole-vaulting tonight is going to be pretty good.”

Next, the man took the pole and in one, smooth stroke he lifted it straight up in the air. For what seemed like quite a while he stood in the middle of the field with everyone’s eyes upon him just holding the pole above him. And the Lord said to me,
“That’s what the Church needs to do. It needs to lift high the Cross. It needs to lift high the finished work that Jesus did upon the Cross because the finished work of the Cross will draw all people.”

Suddenly the pole-vaulter began running like a cheetah as fast as he could down this narrow runway. The Lord then said,
“That is what I want the Church to do. I want them to run with the message of the Cross. I want them to take the message of the Cross. I want them to lay hold of it, to lift it up, and then run with it for all their worth, taking it out to the world.”

As this athlete ran as fast as he could carrying the pole, it began to fall. Just as I started to think he was in trouble, I could tell that the pole wasn’t actually falling, he was guiding the end of it toward the middle of the track ahead of him. While running as fast as he could, he stuck the pole into a little hole that had been designed right in the center of the track. And again the Lord spoke, saying,
“I want the Cross to be at the center of all things. That is where I have designed the Cross to be placed in the Church.”

After the end of the pole was placed in the hole in the center of the track, the pole started to bend. As the guy continued to hang onto the pole, something interesting started to happen. The man's feet began to go up in the air. He sprang into the air with his feet first and his head down. Then the Lord said,
“That is how it works with the Cross. It is only in humility with heads bowed down that you really can lay hold of the Cross and the Cross can move in your life.”

With the full spring of the pole the pole-vaulter was catapulted through the air and easily sailed over the bar. And the Lord said,
“When the Church does all this — when they take My Cross, run with it for all their worth, and allow it to take the position I have created for it — they will go to new heights in Me and they will be My champions.”

The Importance Of The Cross
Somehow the Church has failed to truly see the great marvel and wonder of the Cross of Jesus Christ. If you were looking for the one thing that was the most monumental in all time from the very beginning to when time ends, only one thing would be noticed above all the great events in history — greater than any conquest, more powerful than any catastrophe, more life-changing than any discovery. The one thing to which everything else in history pales in comparison is the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Cross is the single most important event in all of history. Nothing else is like it in all of time. From the beginning of time until the very end, the cross of Jesus Christ stands high above everything else.

God is wanting His Church to allow the Cross of Jesus Christ to have its rightful place in the Church. For the Church, the Cross is vitally important and yet do we in the Church in America really give it the attention we should? As a symbol it is everywhere in the Church. It is on our steeples, embossed on our Bibles, and printed on our letterhead and business cards. But is it declared from our pulpits? Is it not only remembered and rejoiced in, but, more importantly, applied completely and fully to our lives?

David Wilkerson has said that
“The cross — including its demands and hopes — are the very heart of the gospel. And … anything calling itself church is blatant idolatry if the cross is not at its center.” It is time for the Church to return to the ancient paths that have made us strong and given us victory. In Galatians 6:14 Paul declares that the Cross is the one thing worth not only proclaiming, but boasting about. “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Listen to these words from the Hymn: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross, by Isaac Watts:

When I survey the wondrous cross, On Which the Prince of Glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss, And pour contempt on all my pride,

Forbid it Lord, that I should boast, Save in the death of Christ, my God …

The Power of God
Why is the Cross so important? It tells us in 1 Corinthians 1:18,
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” We dare not forget to give the Cross the place it should have in the Church, for it is the very power of God. Think of that, the all-powerful God declares that the Cross is His power! Now that must be something very powerful. Let’s look at the results from the Cross: “the power of God.”

• Jesus’ death on the Cross paid the price of redemption to purchase men for God!

• Jesus’ death on the Cross broke the power of sin, so we could no longer be slaves of sin.

• On the Cross Jesus gained victory over death, hell, and the grave.

• On the Cross Jesus died for all, and because of this, all believers can become a new creation. Not “cleaned up" or "improved” — NEW!

• The Cross is the drawing point of the Gospel, the drawing point to the kingdom. It declares, “Jesus is the Messiah.”

• Jesus took our shame upon Himself when He went to the Cross, for He went to the Cross
“despising the shame” (Hebrews 12:2). Your shame died 2,000 years ago!

• On the Cross the power of the curse upon Adam was broken.

• It is the finished work of the Cross that freed us from walking by a religion of rules, and brought us into the new and living way of the Spirit.

• Jesus’ work on the Cross broke down the wall of separation and created one new man out of Jew and Gentile.

• On the Cross, God made peace with man so that we can truly be both His friends and His family.

Let us heed the Word of the Lord and lay hold of the Cross anew in our lives and in our churches. Lord, help us to lift the Cross high and give it the place of honor You have afforded to it. Restore our wonder of the marvelous work You did upon the Cross. Lord, we ask for the power that was released because of the finished work of the Cross to permeate our lives and bring You glory in and through Your Church. Amen.

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