Blessed… He Never Promised You a Rose Garden

“Don’t think that I’ve come to bring peace to the earth. I haven’t come to bring peace but a sword. I’ve come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. People’s enemies are members of their own households. “Those who love father or mother more than me aren’t worthy of me. Those who love son or daughter more than me aren’t worthy of me. Those who don’t pick up their crosses and follow me aren’t worthy of me. Those who find their lives will lose them, and those who lose their lives because of me will find them. (Matthew 10:3-39, Common English Bible).

Since I was a kid I have enjoyed the old Lynn Anderson crossover hit “Rose Garden.” I think about the song, really just the chorus of the song, often when I look at Scriptures that talk about difficulty in life. Wednesday night at Bible Study we talked about just that. One of the other participants in the class quoted the song.

I thought about it again when I read today’s lesson. The whole I idea of picking up one’s cross and losing one’s life point to the difficulty that can come in living out the Christian life. Take a look at the lyrics to the song’s chorus:

I beg your pardon I never promised you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine there’s gotta be a little rain sometime
I beg your pardon I never promised you a rose garden

The words of our lesson are some tough words. “I’ve come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. People’s enemies are members of their own households.” These words are some tough stuff. Is Jesus actually saying here to fight with our family? Are we to fight with our parents and our siblings?

I think the key comes in the next line. “Those who love father or mother more than me aren’t worthy of me. Those who love son or daughter more than me aren’t worthy of me.” When we love the members of our family more than we love God, God is not primary or central. Jesus said that he came not to replace the old covenant but to fulfill it. One of the Ten Commandments says, “Honor your father and mother…” Dividing and battling with them is not honoring them. Still, to place them first, to place them central, is to make them the god of our lives.

When I look at the end of the lesson, “Those who don’t pick up their crosses and follow me aren’t worthy of me. Those who find their lives will lose them, and those who lose their lives because of me will find them,” I think of Peter’s denial of Jesus the night Jesus was arrested. That is far from picking up a cross.

Tradition holds that later, after The Ascension, Peter had a dream where he was under persecution. He ran away from Rome to escape the time of trial (again, not picking up a cross). He had an encounter with Jesus during his escape. Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus’ response was, “To Rome to be crucified again.” With that Peter did pick up his cross and never feared again. This is tradition, not Scripture. Tradition further holds, not only did Peter pick up his cross, he carried it to his crucifixion where he was crucified upside down because he was unworthy of being crucified in the same manner as Jesus.

The words of the lesson are tough words. Put Jesus first. Pick up our crosses. Lose our lives. But, if we do those things, we will find ourselves with even more life, life eternal with Jesus Christ our Lord.

What does it mean for you to pick up your cross?

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy, Peace and Thanksgiving,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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