But there is always a deeper death to die and a greater Life to come forth from death, so I find the process must be constantly repeated.
A ministry (or more importantly, the minister) will pass through many seasons of death, burial, and resurrection. But even in this I see that He does not turn “taking up the Cross” into a work of the flesh, and does not reject our feeble attempts to do what we think is right, even when we are wholly or partially motivated by flesh.
God had to bear with Abraham when he laughed in unbelief; God had to bear with Abraham when he sought refuge in Egypt and lied about Sarah; God had to bear with Abraham when he took Hagar as his wife and sired Ishmael. All these, we would say, prove that Abraham was not a man of faith or a man of the Cross, that Self was alive, because look at all these examples of failure. Yet God is longsuffering, and drew Abraham out and further along and eventually brought him to the place he needed to be.
I almost wonder if we glorify ourselves even in our ability to deny ourselves… judging Self in ourselves and others and taking a little pride that we are not as Self-centered as the rest, when the whole time it is God Who must bear us and them along with great patience and love until He brings us under the Cross, progressively, daily, over many seasons.
There is only One Begotten Son Who lived in perfect obedience; the rest of us are in need of so much grace. And if Abraham really is the father of all who believe, it is an encouragement as well as an acknowledgement that we, like him, are fleshly creatures who are daily coming under the government of the Holy Spirit, and not without a lot of failures along the way.
Now, the Cross is extreme all on its own. It is the basis for everything else. I’m not going to stop proclaiming it just because some people misrepresent it. Some people are gluttons, but that won’t stop me from eating. Some people have died from fasting too long, but that won’t stop me from fasting. Paul said, “I know how to be full, and how to be empty; how to abound, and how to suffer need. I can do all things through my union with Christ.” THERE’S your balance. Now where people go astray is focusing more on “I can” than on “through Christ.”
Some people just don’t get it, and that’s why God is calling “us” (me at least) back to the Cross. You will be accused of being imbalanced if you teach it long enough. Jesus said the people of His (and our) generation were like children sitting in the marketplace, complaining, “We played the pipe for you, and you wouldn’t dance. So we sang a dirge, but you wouldn’t mourn.” When John came in rough clothing and with fasting, “He has a demon,” they said. Jesus came eating and drinking, and they said, “He is a winebibber and a glutton, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” In other words, it doesn’t matter whether you play a happy tune on the flute or sing the blues, people are going to accuse you of being imbalanced. John was too hard on himself; Jesus was too “easy” on Himself.
You can’t satisfy people. They will tell you, “the Cross is not the way, Jesus is the Way.” As if you don’t know this. You know they say the same thing about the Bible now? “The Bible is not the answer, Jesus is the Answer.” As if you don’t know this. I believe some people think their whole calling from God is to be the devil’s advocate in every situation and be the “yeah, but…” of the Body of Christ. They seem to be on a perpetual mission to keep everything balanced and they’re always checking the scale to make sure it’s not tilting too far in either direction.
I figured out not long ago that no matter what I taught or did, someone would accuse me of being unbalanced. If I spoke, they would say I was a know-it-all. If I remained silent, they would accuse me of false humility. So I realized that if I was going to be criticized no matter what I did, I wanted to be criticized for something that was important so there would be some kind of blessing in it. I searched high and low to find something that was worth being misunderstood and persecuted for. The Cross is the only thing worth being attacked over.
Even the name “Jesus” has been so watered-down that His Name is no longer that offensive – the WWJD fad, for instance. Jesus: the most popular guy of the 20th century. That kind of Jesus is “cool.” But the Jesus that says, “If you don’t take up your Cross daily and follow Me, you cannot be My disciple” THAT Jesus is unpopular. So the Cross is the perfect thing to be “imbalanced” over. Wonderful, blessed imbalance. I’m going to take the Cross and make it THE MESSAGE because it’s the only thing worth getting persecuted for. It divides the multitudes of followers into the committed and the not-so-committed like nothing you’ve ever seen or ever will see. The Cross is an offense, a stumbling block, and foolishness. Properly understood and applied, it is radical, crazy, and imbalanced.
What is the worst thing that can happen to someone who takes the Cross and becomes “unbalanced” with it? He might damage his precious self-esteem, or become “too” humble and meek. Well, that kind of imbalance we need more of.
Some people would deny that a loving God would allow His Son to die on the cross for sins He didn’t commit. We know better, don’t we? That may be some people’s way of seeing love, but we who know the Cross see Love differently. The principle of the Cross shows us that God’s Love WILL allow us to suffer and even die in order to demonstrate a depth of Love that we cannot comprehend. This Love does not keep us from suffering, but uses the suffering to achieve a higher good that we certainly cannot fathom and don’t even appreciate when we are going through it. The point is that all suffering has a purpose, it is not merely punitive, but redemptive and part of an overall plan.
My crusading days are all but gone. There is only one thing worth talking about, one thing worth preaching, one thing worth living, one thing worth crusading for and that is the power of the Cross of Jesus Christ to change a man.
I am resolving to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified. To hell with the rest – it is all dung, manure, refuse, crap.
I heard truth spoken today: if we all preached the same thing (the Cross of Christ as the power of God to change men from sinner to saved, soulish to spiritual, self-centered to Christ-centered, etc.) we would not be divided, everyone trying to do their own thing, everyone promoting their own little agendas in competition for ministry support and followers. If we all preached Christ, no one could say that they are more important than the other, doing a “grand” work or a “foundational” work as if the others are superfluous. To live we must die; to be great we must be made low; to be strong we must be made weak; to enter in we must be straitened; to receive all things we must give up all things. This is the Cross. It is foolishness to man, but it is the power of God.
I heard a disciple of the Lord say today, “The Christian who lives for this very hour, to die to himself, is not open to false comfort and cannot be swayed no matter what you do. He cannot be moved.”
If I am going to be persecuted, I don’t want to suffer for defending my religious opinions and doctrines on prophetic ministry, renewal, true and false movements, and what’s wrong with the Church. What’s wrong with the Church is that Christ is not preached, the Cross is not taken up, and the Self has not died. So if I am to suffer, let me suffer for preaching the foolishness of the Cross, not my idiotic opinions and teachings – what are they worth? Paul said I knew NOTHING among you, but Christ and Him crucified. This cuts all the dead weight away from our spirit. To only know Christ! To be free to say, “I don’t know, and I don’t care to know. All I know is Christ.”
Less of me, and more of Him!