Leave It at the Cross

Religion  266

“You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross.” – MercyMe, Dear Younger Me

This line strikes home for me every time I hear it. Because I look back at things that I know I shouldn’t have carried beyond the cross and see the pain it brought and the problems it caused.

I think to some extent all of us have things that we try to carry beyond the cross.

We talk about turning things over to Jesus. We nod confidently and agree there is nothing that He can’t carry for us.

But still there are things we try to carry ourselves.  We plant our feet firmly, heave it up on our shoulders, and trudge forward, one laborious step at a time.

Maybe it’s because we feel like it’s not something that’s worthy of turning over to God – it’s too trivial to bother Him with.

Or maybe it’s too ugly and we don’t want to expose it to our relationship with Him – like somehow revealing the thing (which He already knows about) will somehow taint His impression of us.

Or maybe someone has convinced us that God’s grace doesn’t quite cover that.

But Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

He didn’t say “all who labor and are heavy laden with big things.” Or “all who labor and are heavy laden unless your burden crosses this line.” He said “all.”

So no matter the size, shape, appearance, or form of your burden, bring it to Him. You were never meant to carry it beyond the cross.

Alcoholism? Bring it. Pornography? Bring it. Unwanted homosexual desires? Bring it. Bad temper? Bring it. Guilt from a painful past? Bring it. Hurt caused by someone else? Bring it. Drug problems, gambling addictions, trust issues, gossip, hate, lying, cheating, jealousy, judgmentalism – whatever form your flaw or your struggle takes…bring it to His cross.

And leave it there. Don’t carry it one step further.

When we try to carry it ourselves, bigger problems result. Struggles become addictions. Secrets become complex networks of deceit. Angry outbursts become abusive behavior. One more compulsive bet becomes financial ruin.

The scenarios are exhaustive (and exhausting!).

Trust me, carrying whatever it is ourselves and trying to keep it stuffed inside only leads to more (and deeper) hurt. I know. I’ve been there.

So make the commitment now to leave everything at the foot of the cross. Everything…and live free!

p.s. – since I mentioned it, take a listen to this song if you have time. It’s worth it.

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Trust Me

Level of transparency – this is something that I have debated internally many times.

It’s a valid debate. Lack of transparency inhibits being there for those that need to hear that they are not alone in their struggles. Too much transparency becomes counterproductive as we expose loved ones to unnecessary hurt, and risk inadvertently encouraging others to stay in their brokenness (“Well at least I’ve never done anything as bad as him”).

Recently, as I prepared for a church presentation which called for openness about my personal struggles, I trudged through this internal argument once again. And as it transpired, I slowly came to realize that the issue was a matter of trust.

“Can I trust people with my revelations?”

“Can I trust that they will not react harshly?”

“Can I trust that they will continue to love me and support me?”

“Can I trust that they will not jump to conclusions?”

I concluded that no matter what arguments I made regarding why I should or shouldn’t be transparent, and to what extent, underlying it all was this issue of trust. I just wasn’t sure I could fully trust everyone in my listening audience.

Then I heard it.  So subtle that I almost missed it, yet so profound that I was certain it could only be the voice of God.

I’m not asking you to trust them. I’m asking you to trust Me.”

You see, God isn’t looking for us to obey because we trust that it will sit well with other people.

He’s not asking us to do what He has called us to do because we can trust that others will support us and not judge us.

He’s asking us to serve Him because we can trust HIM to carry us through whatever comes.

Look at scripture.

In Acts 9, God calls a man named Ananias to go heal Saul of Tarsus, and Ananias essentially says “Lord, that is the craziest idea I’ve ever heard! Don’t you know that guy’s killing Christians?!” But God says “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine to carry My name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel” (v 15, ESV).

God was telling Ananias “Don’t trust Paul, trust Me.”

In Exodus 4, Moses is arguing with God saying “They [the people of Israel] will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say ‘The Lord did not appear to you'” (v 1). God then proceeds to instruct him regarding a series of miracles (turning Moses’ staff into a snake, making Moses’ hand turn leprous, turning water into blood), and God says “When they see these things, they’ll believe I sent you.”

God was telling Moses “Don’t trust the Isrealites, trust Me.”

There are other examples throughout scripture and history. We don’t have time for all of them here. But believe this – God is trustworthy, and He is asking you to put your trust in Him…and not anyone else.

“So we can confidently say,’The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?'” (Hebrews 13:6)

Birthright

Castles 044A whole new aspect of the term ‘born again’ occurred to me recently. Maybe it’s nothing new to you, but it was for me.

When someone is born into money or royalty, they typically don’t go around trying to prove they are worthy of their social status. Instead, they generally have this confidence about them that says they don’t have to prove anything or earn their place. There’s this inner security that it is theirs by birth, and will be theirs until the day they die. It’s often not a conscious thought, but it underlies everything they do.

When you think about it, it would be silly for a prince to go about trying to earn the right to be called a prince when he has people who wait on him hand and foot and a crowd automatically comes to attention when he enters a room.  

It would seem ridiculous for an heiress to spend her days trying to prove she’s somebody when her wardrobe knows no bounds and the mere mention of a day on the water sets in motion a personal assistant, a limo driver, and a yacht crew.

So why do we feel when we’re born into the family of God, we suddenly have to start being good enough to belong?  Like we have to earn our sonship or daughtership?  Our heavenly Father would send scores of heavenly beings to our aid if necessary, and even tells us that someday we’ll judge angels (see 1 Cor 6:3). Our status is far greater than any heir to human fortune or throne.

Look at these verses:

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13 NASB)

“to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” (Galatians 4:5, 7 NIV)

See also Romans 8:15 and Ephesians 1:5.

We’re told in these passages that God declares us to be sons (and daughters).  And so just like it would be silly for a royal heir to spend their time trying to earn their royalty, it is silly for us as children of the living God to spend our time trying to earn our place in His family.  We already have it!

Trying to earn that which we already possess is self-imposed slavery.  

We try to do good things in order to please Him. But if you’re born again He’s already pleased with you – so pleased that He calls you His daughter or son. Not a potential son, not a future daughter, but His child today. Our place in His family is secured, but not on our merits. It is secure because according to John 1:13 it’s born of God. It’s based on the promises of the One who does not lie (Titus 1:2) and does not change His mind (1 Samuel 15:29, Malachi 3:6, James 1:17).

So today, don’t go about as if you are trying to prove to the world that you deserve to be His child.  Go about knowing you are His child, and let your actions flow out of that base assumption.

Living In The Now

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[15] The eyes of the Lord  are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry. [16] The face of the Lord  is against those who do evil, To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. -Psalm 34:15-16

I remember a while back when I was in a time of meditation and ‘listening’ prayer, and God whispered “Psalm 34”.

I opened my Bible and began to read that passage.  When I got to the verses above, I at first kept on reading for a line or two.  Then suddenly I was struck with the realization that when I had read verses 15 and 16, my mind had automatically and imperceptibly categorized me in verse 16 because of my past.  Subconsciously, I’d read “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous…” and thought ‘that’s nice.’  Then, subconsciously again, I’d read “The face of the Lord is against those who do evil” and thought ‘okay, that’s me.’  And I moved on.  But God brought me back to it.  

And then came an even greater realization.  I am not one of “those who do evil.” I had done evil, yes.  But what I did didn’t carry over to what I do, and subsequently what I am.  This was a freedom-generating concept. God had revealed to me a deep-seated, faulty thought pattern.

It’s too easy to get caught up in what we did, and then classify ourselves as evildoers because of that dark stain on our past.  But that’s a lie of the devil and it smells like smoke, as a pastor friend of mine is fond of saying.  If you are redeemed and living in freedom and victory, you may be an evil-did-er, but you are not an evil-do-er.

God has freed us from our past.  We are renewed.  That doesn’t mean the old nature doesn’t creep in.  But it does mean that we are transformed…because He says so.  

We are “a new creation; old things have passed away; behold all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).  

We are “a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).  

It is to us that John says, “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4), and Paul, “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

So don’t you dare allow the devil, the world, or that incorrigible inner voice to tell you that you are an evildoer.  Verse 15 was meant for us as redeemed believers dwelling in Christ.  

“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry.”

Read it again.  Let it sink in.  He is watching over you, believer.  He is our righteousness, and so we are verse 15.