Take up Your Cross?

Being a real disciple, fully committing your life to Christ can only be done by laying down your life first, something very few, quite frankly, are willing to do.

Why woJesus-Freakuld you not want to live fully in the plan that God has for your life?

Because we know that to truly do that, we have to take up our cross. We have to die to self. And even as miserable as “self” might be, as unfulfilled and unsatisfied as self may be with all that we can give it—we like self. Self is all we have—all, that is, except for Jesus.


24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 2For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. 26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Mat 16

Jesus wasn’t talking about some burden, some annoyance, that must be put up with, the way the world has come to use the term, “Well, that’s my cross to bear!” Jesus was talking about dying.

In his day the cross wasn’t a religious symbol in any way, it didn’t represent an annoyance or a burden, it represented one thing and one thing onlydeath. To carry one’s cross meant you were carrying your own method of execution to the spot where you would be left to slowly but surely die.


So when Jesus talked about taking up the cross It was not a pretty image to consider, but one that surely got the point across—‘if you want to follow me, you have to be willing to give up everything, to die to self, give up your pride, your treasure, your dignity, position, your future, your plans—everything— even life itself, and follow me.’

Sounds like a no win propositWooden crossion, who would do that? But he doesn’t stop there, he then adds, “for whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”

To have a new life you must be willing to give up the old. To be reborn you must die, to live in his plan you must give up your own, and that is really, really hard.

To have a new life you must be willing to give up the old. To be reborn you must die, to live in his plan you must give up your own, and that is really, really hard.


I am a dreamer, I have, and have had, many plans. Some I have fulfilled, many not, some fit the Lord’s plan for me, many not. It’s a daily struggle and a challenge to keep following because one thing about following, you can’t follow a stationary object, Jesus is always moving so you have to pay attention.

I can think of story after story as to how I have had to give up something, lay down a plan or part of my life to follow Jesus, but it is not usually a hard decision anymore because I have experienced suc

h incredible feelings of joy and fulfillment, of wonderment and awe at how the Lord has used me and orchestrated my life to bless both him and me. I figured out long ago that my own plans, or lack thereof, for my life, only lead to heartache and disappointment.

When I was a young man I planned to just work hard and party hard, live for no one but myself and my buddies; fish, hunt, backpack, stay stoned and stay free. I was accomplishing it too. But, as I realized that the more I lived for myself, the more miserable I was, not to mention the less free, I finally decided to trust Jesus, I mean, not just say the sinners prayer, ‘thanks Lord for saving me, see you in heaven’, but I mean really trust him, lay down my right to get drunk and stoned at will, lay down my right to do what I want when I want and actually stay sober long enough to hear his voice—and then obey.

Long story short—when I gave up and gave in he revealed to me his love and grace in a very real and overwhelming way. I was delivered from addictions and stupidity in an instant. But I discovered that there

was more to this following and trusting Jesus. I decided to be a pastor— right now— because the Lord called me—no, it wasn’t time yet. I decided that maybe it was okay to be single because I wasn’t finding a wife, oh wait, there she is. And by the way, here’s three kids and a ranch—no more spending every weekend in the mountains for you.

Cool, I’ll just raise kids, cattle and hay. Green acres is the place for me… ‘Just give me a spud bar and a few hundred acres of fence to fix, a field full of hay to mow, a few dozen cows to care for and I’ll be happy.’

Nope, now it’s time to be a pastor.

Fine, I’ll be the best children’s pastor Billings has ever seen and I’ll stay at Hope Center till I retire; nope, it’s time to start your own church. Great, I’ll go to a big city where I can build a big church and have a big office and a full time salary. Nope, you’re going to Red Lodge.

You get the gist. Each one of those represents days, months and even years of wrestling with the Lord, the flesh trying to overcome the Spirit. Self not wanting to die and the cross looking frightening and wrongFather if you are willing, take this cup away… yet in the end I had to say, needed to say, and am glad I did; not my will but yours be done. And in each instance the blessings that came far outstripped anything I gave up.

Then there are the seemingly little day to day decisions that decide who is going to win the day, the flesh or the spirit, whether we take up the cross or run from it. What we watch, read or think, how we react to things and people, how we treat our spouse and who we put first in our lives—ourselves or others.

Being serious about following Jesus isn’t sitting around reading the bible and praying all day, it’s living and implementing the things we get out of our bibles and time spent with the Lord, it’s real adventures in a real world in the real power of  a real God.

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