Take Up The Cross And Follow Him:
Good Morning Friends! It’s a bittersweet day here at CLMNWA HQ. It’s bitter because our little Lizzie is starting pre-school today, but it’s sweet because she was so excited about going to school. It’s also sweet because it gives me a couple of days a week to be able to focus on fulfilling my calling, and walking in the vocation in which God’s called me to walk in as the pastor of Christlike Ministries NWA.
So, here is the first message I’ve been led to write on Lizzie’s first day of school, and I believe it’s going to be a good one. It’s also my first side-journey message here in a long while, and I’m excited to be able to spend some time doing what God has called me to do without worrying about what Lizzie is getting into. I have been blessed to spend almost every day of the last two and a half years with her, and I don’t regret a moment of it…other than to say that as hard as I tried not to take my time with her for granted as I listen to the silence of the house today I realize I still took her for granted.
But, there’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, Amen!?! I think that no matter what I was going to sit here today thinking that I could’ve spent a little more time with her and a little less time doing things that took my attention away from her. Now, it’s time to take up my cross once again, and get back to following Jesus…and it’s time to get into this message.
“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” – Luke 9:23-24 NKJV
For a little over four years now, I’ve come to understand the cost of following Jesus, and if I had to do it all over again I would’ve started following Jesus sooner. I’ve been saved and sanctified for quite a while, but I never fully entered into the vocation in which He called me to until February of 2012. Since then, I’ve lost countless friends, I’ve gone from being employed to being a stay at home parent and pastor of an online community, and I’ve come to realize that there really isn’t anything more important than intimacy with the Father and taking time to sit at the feet of the Master.
Since around Thanksgiving I’ve been talking about how Mary found that one needful thing, and I’ve known since then that this was going to be a year of learning to get back to the basics. Because it’s in the presence of Jesus at His feet where we are able to learn to listen to Him, and we can also get to know Him. I often talk about how God spoke to me about slowing down, enjoying life, and adjusting my priorities when my daughter was born. All of that is really part of learning to take up our cross, and following His lead.
Over the last few years I’ve seen God draw a line of demarcation around me separating me unto Himself. I’ve watched Him remove people and things that were hindering my walk with Him, and I’ve also watched Him help me develop as a writer. I have lost my life for God’s sake, and the results have been pretty spectacular to be quite honest with you. It hasn’t always been easy, but we all know anything that’s really worth pursuing doesn’t always come easy. There really is sacrifice that comes along with discipleship, and in total honesty there’s nothing that I’ve had to sacrifice that is worth losing my life and my relationship with Jesus over. All of the things that have gone by the wayside I don’t miss because they’ve been filled by the things of God.
I wrote something the other day, and I’m going to try to find it so I can link it to this message, and then I believe I’ll be able to wrap this message up.
I don’t really care about being relevant today…because being relevant and honoring God quite often requires a choice between being relevant and honoring God…and my hope and prayer is that I make more choices that honor God.
The truth is I don’t want to be relevant today if it’s going to cost me to be accepted by the world, and rejected by God. This is part of taking up our crosses and following Jesus. This is part of sacrificing what we want for what He wants, and the continued crucifixion of ourselves, our flesh, and our desires. I don’t have a problem with people enjoying television shows I have a few that I like to watch myself, but when people are more passionate about watching a television show then they are about fulfilling the great commission…that’s not okay. This is what makes me uncool by societies standards, but I don’t care about that anymore. In truth, I never really have cared about being cool and being relevant because I’ve never really fit in with the world, and I know that the reason for that is because I’m not meant to fit in. I am to be in the world and not of it…and if that makes me uncool then I am okay with that.
Following Jesus requires a decision to willingly lay down our dreams, our goals, our desires, our wants, and asking Him what His desires are and how we can fulfill them with the gifts, talents, and abilities He has placed inside of each and every one of us. There are some Christians that are comfortable just sitting in the pews going about their daily lives never really learning the value of sitting at the feet of the Master…but not me. I’ve put my hand to the plow, and there’s no looking back for me.
So…if I could give y’all some unsolicited advice it would be this: Trust the Lord, pick up your cross, and follow Him where ever He leads.
Blessings & Grace ~ Pastor B