Ramblings of a Wimpy Christian

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I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23 NLT

In Jesus’ time and place, people picked up their cross just like Jesus did to go and die. Jesus said this must be done every day. Years later He told the Church of Smyrna

But if you remain faithful even when facing death, I will give you the crown of life. Revelation 2:10 NLT

I have to wonder if people fully grasp what Jesus meant by, “take up your cross daily” and “remain faithful even when facing death.” I fear I live in an age with a very shallow concept of faithfulness. Athletes change teams as easily as changing underwear. People promise at the altar to love until death, but disappear when the next flirt comes along. Today’s employers don’t even want faithful long term employees, because they don’t want to pay anyone enough to be faithful to their company.

I fear we live in an age where everything is supposed to be convenient. Suffering long simply means waiting a couple seconds for a webpage to download. When was the last time you heard baptismal vows read before a baptism? How many know what baptismal vows are? Its easy to be faithful when there is no standard to be faithful to. God said, “Let us Create man in our own image” and for the last six thousand years, we have been saying, “No! Let’s create God in our own image.” Its easier to be faithful when we are the ones who make the rules.

Recently, while reading The Great Controversy, I understood the importance of everyone worshiping according to their own convictions. But how many times do we call it conviction when it is actually personal taste? There is a difference between following your personal convictions, and just following your personal desires.

Occasionally, I get a call from someone, telling me they were sorry they missed church, but they had a really hard week. What I don’t tell them is, millions attended church that weekend, who also had a really hard week.

Families will tell me its hard to get out to midweek service, with school and homework and all. Really? Did school and homework just begin around 2014? Millions of folks have been attending midweek services for ages now, and I am quite sure they had kids in school too. Homework is nothing new.

Yet in an age of shallow faithfulness and outright selfishness, John see that God has produced a special people like no other people before.

They have kept themselves as pure as virgins, following the Lamb wherever he goes. Revelation 14:4 NLT

The Lamb went to the cross and gave up His life. Am I right in assuming this is included in “Following the Lamb wherever He goes?”

Now, while I’m whining and even meddling, about people not understanding what it means to be faithful, there are people dying for their faith around the world in the face of terrorism. While I look around and question if others are living up to their conscience and convictions, God is tapping my shoulder and telling me, “Why are you so worried about everyone else? William, you are not exactly the best Christian I have on earth right now. Not even close. I have seven thousand who have never bowed the knee to Baal, and to be honest William, you are not one of them! Why don’t you pray for yourself while praying for everyone else?”

There are people in every church from Adventist to Catholic, and every church in between who know what it means to take up their cross and be faithful, even in the face of death. And here I am sitting in my cozy house on my nice comfy chair with my laptop just typing about it. What a wimp I am! And to think I’m the one wondering if everyone else knows what it means to be faithful! I think I still have a few things to learn about sacrifice and faithfulness. How about you?

You may study this week’s SS lesson here.

Luke 9; Take up Your Cross Daily

Merry Christmas from beautiful Tampa Bay!

Luke 9:23 And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 

While reading this text this morning, I realize that when Jesus said. “take up your cross,” He was not merely talking about bearing a burden or a trial or temptation as is so often the reference today. In Roman times a man took up a cross for one reason only and that was to go die. That is what happens on crosses, death, not burdens, trials or temptations but death.

So as I read this morning, Jesus is telling me to take my cross and go die to self. I notice in this verse he includes the word “daily”. I remember a friend telling me about his flight back to Tampa from Chicago. He had been in Chicago all week on business. It was Friday afternoon and he was ready for a relaxing and quiet flight back home. It never happened. A group of women got on the flight apparently having some celebration and they partied all the way to Tampa on that plane. My friend told me, he just smiled and thought to himself, “Today is just not about me.” That was several years ago, and the other day when I mentioned that story to my friend, he said he had forgotten all about it, but that phrase has always stuck in my head. When I am tempted to be selfish, or think of myself above others, I just pick up my cross, put a smile on my face and think to myself, “Today is just not about me.”

Mark 8; The Cross Before The Throne

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Mark 8 :29 And he saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter answereth and saith unto him, Thou art the Christ. 

 8:30       And he charged them that they should tell no man of him. 

 8:31       And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and [of] the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 

 8:32       And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. 

 8:33       But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. 

 8:34       And when he had called the people [unto him] with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. 

 8:35       For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. 

 8:36       For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? 

 8:37       Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 

 8:38       Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. 

Peter could not comprehend or imagine Jesus being crucified. I think this is why Peter was so sure of himself, when later he swore he would never deny Jesus. I think he made that promise while only thinking of Jesus upon a throne, never dreaming Jesus would be crucified on a cross. Jesus rebuked Peter, because Peter was telling Him he did not need to die to self on the cross. Jesus at once recognized this as a message from Satan. Earlier Satan had told Jesus He would not have to die if He would just worship him. If he would, then Satan would give Jesus the world back without Him needing to die. Long before this, Satan spoke through false prophets in the Old Testament, prophesying smooth things that kings longed to hear. The kings would get upset when a real prophet would prophesy about death and destruction, because they did not want to hear it. Peter did not want to hear it either. Peter only wanted smooth things prophesied to him. Jesus, the King of Kings had to overcome where the former kings failed, and be willing to accept a prophecy of death and loss.  Jesus gives Peter a further rebuke, when he tells him that if he is ashamed of these words about the cross, then Jesus would also be ashamed of Him when He comes in glory. Peter, who at the time could only imagine a throne and glory, finally found that glory-in the cross. He who loses his life finds it. Jesus was glorified after he was crucified. Do you want glory and honor and a throne too? Then pick up your cross and follow Jesus in death to self. Find the glory that many Old Testament kings greatly desired, but were never willing to die to self for.