Posted in cull, east greenwich ri, end time, prophecy, wayside cross

The Wayside Cross of East Greenwich RI

East Greenwich, Rhode Island is an old New England town, founded in 1677. Many of the original colonial homes are still standing and inhabited, and the town is quaint beyond belief. It is also my home town.

I grew up near the corner of four streets intersecting, where a charming cemetery is located on one corner. A brook runs through the cemetery, and a beautiful stone bridge serves as the entry to it. I used to play there frequently, as the property abutted our home and the hills are perfect for bike-riding, the brook contained tadpoles, and the leafy quietude was a huge draw for this shy child.

In the middle of the crossroads of this intersection was a Wayside Cross. It stood on a triangular island and the redwood crucifix with little roof had nailed to it a little plaque. The cross was put up in 1922, and its construction was noted in the St. Andrews Cross newsletter of October 1922; They wrote:

“THE first wayside cross to be erected in Rhode Island, if not in New England, was recently set up on a triangular piece of ground in East Greenwich. This cross is in memory of Dr. James H. Eldredge, a life-long resident of East Greenwich and at one time president of the Town Council. It is the gift of his granddaughters, one of whom is Mrs. Henry M. Saville, wife of the Rev. H. M. Saville, rector of St. Mary’s Church, East Providence. The cross was formally presented to the town by the Rev. Mr. Saville, and Bishop Perry conducted a simple ceremony of dedication in the presence of about one hundred people, including twenty-five school children of the nearby district school, who are pledged to watch the cross and see that no harm comes to it. Members of St. Luke’s choir led in the singing of several hymns, the Rev. J. M. Hunter leading in the Lord’s Prayer. The cross was accepted by the president of the Town Council. The inscription on the cross reads: ‘In Memory of James Henry Eldredge, Physician, Lover of God and Man, Who for fifty years traveled these roads to visit the sick and suffering. Died February 20, 1891.’ Since its erection, hundreds passing have stopped to observe the cross and to read the inscription, and those who placed this beautiful memorial to an exemplary life feel that it will indeed be a light by the way and a guide post to Heaven.” (photo from 1922 newsletter)”

St. Mary’s in our town is the Catholic Church. Though these stations by the road are called ‘Wayside Cross’ they are actually a crucifix. A hanging Jesus is attached to the crossbars.

One of the local elementary schools is named after Dr. Eldredge, I attended as a child.  You can see by the fact that the cross was erected and the lengthy newsletter article, in those days (1922- a hundred years ago!), a Wayside Cross was something to be proud of (even if it was a crucifix). Ceremonies were held when they were erected, and volunteers lovingly and diligently maintained them.

That was then.

Growing up, before I left the town in 1978 for college, my atheist father used to complain about that cross. It had been erected in the middle of the intersection. I suppose it could be seen as a road hazard to drivers. But that was not why my father hated it.

He hated driving past it. He railed and groused and gritted his teeth. More than once I heard him mention it, and not in glowing terms either. He used to say it had no place on town property. Well, someone else felt that way too, because during the week of November 28, 1986, Steven Brown, executive director of the Rhode Island affiliate of the ACLU, wrote to Town Manager Robert T. Tempest that the ACLU had received a complaint about the Wayside Cross, which sits on public land on the island at the intersection. Brown asked the town to move the crucifix to private land on behalf of Peter A. Marks of Middle Rd., who had lived in the town for just about a year. Thus began a fight that lasted two years, made national headlines, and caused a good young man to be arrested.

New resident Marks wanted the cross to come down. “I find it offensive” Marks said. He avoided driving past it because of his conviction that it made non-Christians feel unwelcome. This is 1986 now. He didn’t know, as many still do not, that the crucifix isn’t a Christian symbol. It’s an idol which means nothing. But anyway,

Very public legal wrangling ensued. This wrangling so upset teenager Laurence Moulton, that he sawed the cross off at the base and hid it, hoping to defuse the controversy. The climate between the religious and the ACLU in RI was already heightened by an enormous then-recent lawsuit (1984) when in a very famous case, the ACLU sued the city of Pawtucket for having a Christmas creche. The case challenging the legality of holiday decorations on town property made it to the Supreme Court of the United States. (Lawsuit here)

The ACLU lost the Christmas Creche suit but undaunted, again picked up the banner of separation of church and state a year later with the East Greenwich Wayside Cross issue. The controversy immediately re-ignited, having not yet died down from the Supreme Court creche suit. This bickering bothered young Mr. Moulton tremendously, and in his teenager-addled brain, he thought if he sawed off the cross that would settle the issue. He was eventually sentenced to one year probation.

Why am I writing all this? I’m old and nostalgic. I was googling around google street view to look at photos of my old town. I spent a long time doing this. It is a beautiful town and not much has changed. I started thinking of that cross, nearly across from my driveway, and how it was a historic landmark for me and an emotional one too. As a kid, when I saw it I knew I was almost to my house.

My childhood was atheist dominated with overtones of apathy and occasional spurts of Unitarianism. I really had no religious upbringing and that state of affairs continued into college and young adulthood. I lived in RI for 17 years, and then Maine for 30 years, both states in the bottom ten for citizens NOT going to church. In Maine, only 27% of adults attend church weekly or nearly weekly, a dismal statistic surpassed only by two other states, both neighbors of Maine: NH and VT. For 44 years I lived in an environmental desert of atheism and agnosticism and indifference. How, may I just please ask HOW, does an adult in middle age suddenly claim Jesus as savior?

His grace, that’s how. He sent the Holy Spirit to convict me, and my unhardened heart allowed the conviction. Increasingly for the Christian, there is no remedy for our offense. The true cross is deemed frivolous and no-account, dead wrong, “offensive” and we are marginalized for wanting to retain the right to display our faith in public.

These arguments about separation of church and state hurt us: just ask young Mr Moulton who was tormented by adult wrangling over-the-top over-reaching on the part of those who want to wipe the entire nation and earth of any Christian display. In 1922 the Wayside Crucifix was a place where it was hoped that many would be comforted, its construction a moment of celebration. In 1988 it was a point of state-wide controversy and bitter anger. In 2022 is the wayside station at the junction of 4 roads even remembered? It has by now been moved to the nearby cemetery, a fitting place for it. Such is our prophesied trajectory away from Our Lord.

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

The cross was eventually moved from the middle of the intersection to just inside the cemetery. it’s a more appropriate place safety-wise and location wise.
Posted in theology

Do we understand how MUCH of an offense the cross was?

By Elizabeth Prata

But as for me, brothers and sisters, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been eliminated. (Galatians 5:11)

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

Some translations of the Galatians 5 verse say the cross is an ‘offense’.

We understand that point, that the cross is an offense. Likely because we have heard sermons (especially on Easter) that the cross was a horrible offense, it was disgraceful, punitive in the extreme, etc. Most likely we’d have heard sermons or read essays about how the flesh of Jesus was tortured, scourged, and how He bled.

But I don’t think we realize HOW MUCH of an offense the cross was to first century Romans, Jews, and others.

Continue reading “Do we understand how MUCH of an offense the cross was?”
Posted in theology

What a horror the cross was to the Romans

By Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo

In 70 BC, Publius Gavius spoke out against a corrupt Roman governor in charge of Sicily, named Verres. Verres then arrested Gavius in trumped up charges of espionage. He put Gavius in chains without a trial. Law and Order was very important to the Romans. They constantly referred to all other tribes as “barbarians”. They believed themselves to the best of the best, civilized and civilizing the entire world. Their view of the law and the refining influence of scrupulously adhering to it was one of the reasons for their cultural pride.

The Romans’ distaste for crucifixion is extreme.

The invented it, but even mentioning this type of execution was seen as rude, especially if the company was mixed. Cicero said that crucifixion was, “a most cruel and disgusting punishment”. He exhorted that “the very mention of the cross should be far removed not only from a Roman citizen’s body, but from his mind, his eyes, his ears.” (Cicero, Pro Rabirio Perduellionis Reo 5.16).

Sicily is that large island just off the ‘toe’ of the Italian peninsula. The strait of Messina separates the island from the mainland. It looks like the toe of Italy’s boot is kicking Messina, Sicily. The city is only 1.9 miles from the mainland at the narrowest part of the strait.

Verres decided to flog Gavius for his indiscretion of calling out the corruption in Verres’ governorship. Gavius was shocked, and insisted on his rights as a Roman Citizen. Romans did not put each other in chains. Nevertheless, Verres kept the chains on Gavius and continued with the flogging, and in public no less. Not one word was heard from Gavius except at each lash of the whip, he said “I am a Roman Citizen!”

Gavius’ continued cry for proper justice so incensed Verres that after the flogging, he decided to crucify Gavius.

Insert collective gasp here.

Further, Verres was so angry that he not only erected a cross on the Island for the very first time, but deliberately placed it high on the hill overlooking the Italian mainland so that Italy could look upon its disgraced son Gavius and Gavius could only mourn the closeness of his beloved homeland as citizen as he writhed in agony and expired.

Google map

Cicero was incensed. Cicero at the time was stationed on Sicily as a quaestor, a sort of manager/auditor/administrator for a designated region. Cicero had not attained his fame yet as orator, but sought this low-level administrative elected position as an entry level to politics, as most aspiring politically oriented Romans did. His populace loved him and Cicero did an excellent job.

After Gavius’ death, a collective of people on Sicily asked Cicero to represent them in a kind of civil tort claim against Verres. They’d had enough of Verres’ corruption as a mini-tyrant on the island. I say ‘island’ because geographically it was, but Sicily was the breadbasket of Rome and had power and pull that most islands didn’t. Cicero’s series of orations during the trial of Verres was collected and is now known as “Against Verres”. These orations were the major milestones launching Cicero into history as noted orator and eventually Statesman extraordinaire.

Cicero so hated crucifixion as a disgusting activity against Roman citizens (it was a method of execution reserved for slaves and basest criminals) he said the crime was not just against Gavius but a blot against all Romans. He expounded:

“Here was reared that cross, to which he attached a Roman citizen, in the presence of numerous spectators, which he would not have dared to put up any where, except in the city of those who were the accomplices of his thefts and crimes.”

“O judges, that cross, for the first time since the foundation of Messina, was erected in that place. A spot commanding a view of Italy was picked out by that man, for the express purpose that the wretched man who was dying in agony and torture might see that the rights of liberty and of slavery were only separated by a very narrow strait, and that Italy might behold her son murdered by the most miserable and most painful punishment appropriate to slaves alone.”

I cannot state enough how much of a horror the cross was to all civilized people. Cicero said,

“To put a Roman citizen in chains is a wrong. To flog him is a crime. To execute him is almost parricide. And what shall I call crucifixion? So guilty an action cannot by any possibility be adequately expressed by any name bad enough for it.”

The cross, which was apparently still standing, should be thrown into the deep ocean, Cicero said. The spot where the cross was should be purified! The cross was an emblem of agony, conflict not of peace, and a disgusting sight to all who pass!

“With what insolence have you conducted yourselves in the eyes of the Roman people? Have you not yet removed that cross, nor committed it to the deep, which stood at your city harbour, stained with the blood of a Roman citizen? Have you not purified the spot before you entered Rome, and this seat of judgment? A monument of the cruelty of Verres is erected in a territory at peace, and in alliance with the republic is your city fixed upon as the place, where those who cross from Italy should meet the crucifix of a Roman, before he sees a friend of the republic?”

How dare he? How dare Verres conduct himself in such a manner?! Setting aside the rights of a Roman citizen in fact infringes on the rights of ALL Romans, if Verres’ act not be corrected, no Roman’s rights shall stand securely! They were ALL at risk! Cicero said-

“It was not Gavius, not one obscure man, whom you nailed upon that cross of agony : it was the universal principle that Romans are free men.—Nay, do but mark the villain’s shamelessness! And you point out that cross to the people of Regium, whose citizen rights you envy them, and to the Roman citizens that live among you, bidding them think less proudly of themselves and less disdainfully of you : for behold, Roman citizenship has not saved its possessor from such a penalty as this.”

Cicero, Palazzo di Giustizia. Creative Commons, free to use

Here Cicero wails against the vaunted laws of Rome having been abrogated in Verres’ pursuit of vengeance against a fellow Roman. Having done this heinous thing, Cicero says, crucifixion should be reserved for Verres himself, so heinous was his act. THAT’S how horrible the cross was-

“And since those whom I am in fact addressing are senators of Rome, main pillars of our laws and our law-courts and our civic rights, I may rest assured that Verres will be pronounced the one Roman citizen for whom that cross would be a fitting punishment, and no others deserving, even in the smallest degree, of being treated thus.”

Cicero said that the anger of the populace for Verres having committed this disgusting act, Cicero chose not to press this point in his first oration during the trial, so tumultuous were the flames of the people against Verres. Cicero explained,

“O the sweet name of liberty! O the admirable privileges of our citizenship! O Porcian law! O Sempronian laws! O power of the tribunes, bitterly regretted by, and at last restored to the Roman people! Have all our rights fallen so far, that in a province of the Roman people,—in a town of our confederate allies,—a Roman citizen should be bound in the forum, and beaten with rods by a man who only had the fasces and the axes through the kindness of the Roman people? What shall I say? When fire, and red-hot plates and other instruments of torture were employed? It the bitter entreaties and the miserable cries of that man had no power to restrain you, were you not moved even by the weeping and loud groans of the Roman citizens who were present at that time? Did you dare to drag any one to the cross who said that he was a Roman citizen? I was unwilling, O judges, to press this point so strongly at the former pleading; I was unwilling to do so. For you saw how the feelings of the multitude were excited against him with indignation, and hatred, and fear of their common danger. I, at that time, fixed a limit to my oration, and checked the eagerness of Caius Numitorius a Roman knight, a man of the highest character, one of my witnesses. And I rejoiced that Glabrio had acted (and he had acted most wisely) as he did in dismissing that witness immediately, in the middle of the discussion. In fact he was afraid that the Roman people might seem to have inflicted that punishment on Verres by tumultuary violence, which he was anxious he should only suffer according to the laws and by your judicial sentence.”

“~The Orations of Marcus Tullius Cicero, literally translated by C. D. Yonge. London. George Bell & Sons. 1903.

I hope that these snippets of Cicero’s famous first oration supplied you with some background to both the importance of citizenship in the Roman Empire, and the disgust sensible people felt about the cross used as a barbaric method of execution for its citizens. As mentioned, it was all right to execute criminals and slaves using the cross, but even then, such things were not discussed in polite company.

The Latin phrase cīvis rōmānus sum (“I am (a) Roman citizen”) is a phrase used in Cicero’s In Verrem as a plea for the legal rights of a Roman citizen. When travelling across the Roman Empire, safety was said to be guaranteed to anyone who declared, “civis romanus sum”.

Paul capitalized on this as mentioned twice in scripture. (Acts 16:37-38Acts 22:25-28). Paul said further that he didn’t buy his citizenship nor was it conferred to him, but he was born a Roman citizen. When “The officers reported these words to the chief magistrates. And they became fearful when they heard that they were Romans,” verse 28. They had reason to be fearful. Citizenship was a highly protected right. Severe penalties ensued against those infringed upon those rights.

And now perhaps we can understand the horror the disciples felt when they heard the verdict “crucify Him!” And the disgust mingled with fear they’d felt. Peter certainly suffered, denying Christ three times. We can see why so many of them abandoned the place of execution and hid, except for the women.

And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8).

Our savior died an ignominious death, naked and bleeding, scoffed at and mocked, beaten and spat upon, the worst death devised in all of the civilized world. For us. For you. For me.

Posted in theology

Was Jesus’ death on the cross “cosmic child abuse”?

By Elizabeth Prata

Detractors of Christianity will say anything to cast aspersions onto the beauty, glory, and mystery of the atonement. One of the more popular riffs I’ve heard lately is that Father God putting Jesus the Son on the cross and killing him was “cosmic child abuse”.

It wasn’t.

Now that the flat denial and total rebuttal of that notion is out of the way, let’s take a look at why Jesus’ death on the cross was necessary and good.

The mystery of the atonement and all its attendant doctrines is something that has been written about for centuries and by better theologians than myself! I will not be adding anything new. However, my church’s Sunday School lesson taught through the scriptures related to the justification of saints through the atonement, and my brain is afire with thoughts.

As a side note, one way I can affirm the Spirit is alive in me, is His work in my mind when I study or I’m being taught by my pastor-teachers. The scriptures do say He transforms the mind. (Ephesians 4:23, Romans 12:2). My brain fairly sizzles with thoughts, connections, remnants of previous lessons unearthed from my memory to see the light of day and attach to the new information. I’ve got arrows, lines, writing sideways, lol. My brain comes alive when I sit under good teaching. Here is an example of my notes->

I’ll start where my teachers started: Romans 3:21-26,

Justification by Faith: But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. [underline mine]

God is just. He performs perfect justice. Being just is one of His attributes. He cannot be anything else but perfect in all ways, including being just. He dispenses His justice as the Just One.

He is also the justifier. No human can forgive unto justification of another human’s sin, (Mark 2:7). We are on equal par, having equal authority. Someone higher than ourselves needs to administer justice. Can I send so-and-so to jail for a five year term for his crime? No, I have no authority. A duly sworn Judge can, though. With the crime of sin, God as the higher up and person distinct from ourselves is the Judge. Secondly, all humans sin, so we need someone outside of humanity to forgive, otherwise it’s just the blind leading the blind. Because God is perfect and holy, He can forgive. Therefore, He is also the Justifer.

Why does there have to be blood, a cross? Because simply to pass His hand over sins and forgive would compromise His holy character and make it seem that the sinful dishonoring of Him trillions of times would not be that big of a deal, said my teacher. As RC Sproul said, sin is “cosmic treason”. For a holy God to overlook treason by His enemies would make God a patsy, not an authoritative King over all!

Another reason the Son’s death on the cross was not ‘cosmic child abuse’ was that Jesus willingly submitted to the Father’s plan. John 10:18 says,

No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it back. This commandment I received from My Father.

Jesus was not a victim. Claiming that He was a victim of abuse would introduce a split between the will and desires and plan among the Persons of the trinity. It is just not so. Jesus is the perfect image of the Father, of the same essence. (Colossians 1:15, 2 Corinthians 4:4). He came to do the will of the Father, (John 6:38) not be a hapless victim of a plan gone wrong.

Continuing with reasons Jesus was not a victim of cosmic child abuse, we have to know that God did not have to save anyone. The amazing part of grace is not that He saved some, but that He saved any. He extended His hand and plucked some from the fires of His wrath and He chose to do so with this plan of the life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of His Son. This is a Plan the Son agreed to.

The fact that when the angels sinned God chose not to save them (2 Peter 2:4) shows His great mercy and grace upon His elect humans. “This magnifies God’s grace powerfully” said my teacher.

Finally, I ask detractors to think of the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus asked the Father to let this cup [of wrath] pass from Him, if there be another way, yet, His will be done. (Matthew 26:39, 42, 44). Jesus told his companions, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” (Matthew 26:38). He shared with them that He was grieved! Afflicted to the point of death! He sweat great drops of blood! Yet no one stayed awake with Him. He was alone. he pleaded to the Father in honesty but also in submission to the end of the great plan. Jesus asked the Father THREE TIMES.

If the Father had thought of another way, but did not use it, THAT would be child abuse. If the Father had held a different plan in reserve in His mind, and ignored the pitiful pleas from the Man of Sorrows in the Garden, how abusive that would be! If there had been a different way but God killed Jesus anyway, that would be abuse. But no, there was not another way.

Jesus must live the perfect life pleasing to God. This Lamb must be sacrificed in blood, because in the blood there is the life. (Leviticus 17:11). Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22) He must die, and be buried. He rose again, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father. The Trinity is united in their desire to administer both justice and grace upon those whom they will administer justice and grace.

Remember, the shocking thing is not that God doesn’t save all. It is that He saves any.

Posted in theology, worship

Is your church a spectacle in the right way or the wrong way?

By Elizabeth Prata

Where are your eyes looking? What’s claiming your attention?


The church was the one institution whose mission depended on galvanizing attention; through its daily and weekly offices, as well as its sometimes central role in education, that is exactly what it managed to do. At the dawn of the attention industries, then, religion was still, in a very real sense, the incumbent operation, the only large-scale endeavor designed to capture attention and use it. ~Tim Wu: The Attention Merchants

These days there are competing operations, all vying for our attention.

For politics, power, war, sex, sports, social media, gaming, or entertainment the best spectacles grab mass attention. Our culture is no longer banded together by shared beliefs; it’s drawn together by shared spectacles. ~Tony Reinke, Competing Spectacles

If  culture is no longer banded together through shared beliefs but by shared spectacles, what of the church, where we’re supposed to be banded by beliefs but now share only spectacles? Woe!

Hopefully your church hasn’t sunk into the idea that maintaining a spectacle is the only way to capture a person’s attention. It’s our beliefs that unite us, with that three-fold cord not easily broken.

When a preacher lifts up Christ crucified, it is the premier spectacle that captures us, the doctrines around that cross are the only draw that holds us together. Not concerts or hot dog barbecues or revival extravaganzas. Those spectacles hold attention only for a moment. Just the preaching of Christ and Him crucified is the pivotal sight before our eyes.

I pray your Lord’s Day is filled with the Word, song, prayer, fellowship, and the saturation of the shared belief that sustains and nurtures our souls.


Posted in theology

I Surrender All (Or Do I?)

By Elizabeth Prata

I do hope your faith is growing and your trust in Jesus is too. He is so magnificent. Daily I’m awed by His sweetness, perfection, and power. I wrote on this blog a while ago about how the Spirit sometimes leads me through listening to hymns, and one example blessed me. I like the traditional hymns because they either directly quote scripture, or closely paraphrase Bible verses. This morning I awoke humming “I Surrender All.”

So that got me thinking on the word surrender. I was wondering, what IS surrender, exactly. How does one surrender? What does one surrender? I know we “surrender” because it’s a war between the flesh and the Holy Spirit who draws us. Even after conversion with the Spirit in us, we still struggle against the flesh. Our carnal nature still seeks to gain territory within us, making us less effective for Christ.

Self-surrender is defined in Galatians 2:20: Paul saying, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Curious, I looked up the word surrender in the biblical encyclopedia. It’s defined as “the struggle between the natural human impulses of self-seeking, self-defence and the like, on the one hand, and the struggle toward self-denial, self-surrender, on the other. The Scriptures represent self-surrender as among the noblest of human virtues.” The following is an excerpt on surrender. Go to this link to read the short paragraph.

Some examples given in the Old Testament are Adam and Eve, In the Old Testament self-surrender is taught in the early account of the first pair. Each was to be given to the other (Genesis 2:24; Genesis 3:16) and both were to be surrendered to God in perfect obedience (Genesis 3:1-15).”

Also the faithful ones like Abraham are characterized by self-surrender. Abraham abandons friends and native country to go to a land unknown to him, because God called him to do so (Genesis 12:1). He would give up all his cherished hopes in his only son Isaac, at the voice of God (Genesis 22:1-18). Moses, at the call of Yahweh, surrenders self, and undertakes the deliverance of his fellow-Hebrews (Exodus 3:1-4:13). The prophets are good examples of self-surrender.

The International Bible Encyclopedia defines self-surrender as,

In the New Testament self-surrender is still more clearly set forth. Christ above all men was the prime example of self-surrender to the Father’s will. Christ’s teachings and example as presented in the Gospels, give to it special emphasis. It is a prime requisite for becoming His disciple (Matthew 10:38; Matthew 16:24 Luke 9:23, 24, 59; Luke 14:27, 33). When certain of the disciples were called they left all and followed (Matthew 4:20; Matthew 9:9, Mark 2:14, Luke 5:27 f). His followers must so completely surrender self, as that father, mother, kindred, and one’s own life must be, as it were, hated for His sake (Luke 14:26).

Do we surrender? As saved sheep of the Shepherd, we have been called to surrender our ego, our desires, our souls to Him, and we continue striving to do so. But how much territory does Satan gain back? He cannot take all of it because we are sealed for Christ and we’re His for certain. But satan can tempt us. I read recently that all one needs to do to conform to a secular world view, is nothing. We must work against the current and continue to swim upstream, every day. Part of that struggle involves surrendering ourselves to the cross every day. (Luke 9:23).

Meanwhile, I sing “I Surrender All” and consider it a privilege to ask the Spirit to guide me into ever deeper submission to His will. It is a good Will, working for the good of all those who love Him.


Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Lift high the cross

Part of this essay appeared on The End Time in 2010.

The Wayside Cross is a huge tradition in Canada and Europe, where it has abounded for over a thousand years. “In Quebec, and Europe, a wayside cross marks a place where the members of a community gather to meet and pray, and often commemorates an important moment in their communal history.” Charles Bourget reports that there are 3000 wayside shrines dotting the countryside in Quebec, however, many of them are falling into disrepair because the tradition is waning. I wrote at one time about the fate of one American Wayside Cross in East Greenwich RI.

Below, a wayside crucifix in Europe

In America, the tradition never really caught on. If one does stumble upon a wayside cross, they are usually a cricifix- which represents an entirely different religion. They are seen occasionally, especially in central rural Wisconsin. Wayside crosses dot the landscape there. In Bedford NY, one was erected in 1936 and it was hoped that the sight of it would invite the prayers of the passersby. In 1922 East Greenwich, it was hoped by “those who placed this beautiful memorial to an exemplary life feel that it will indeed be a light by the way and a guide post to Heaven.” By and large wayside crosses are not seen much and those that do exist are under increasing challenge.

The point of the cross in public life is that it would point the way to Jesus. That upon seeing it, thoughts of Him and the Good News would ruminate in the mind, and through the strength of the Holy Spirit, those thoughts would germinate. For people seeing such displays, who have already heard the Good News, perhaps its sight would loosen the bonds around the heartstrings and their conviction would grow, as in the allegorical depiction of Christian at the Wayside Cross.

A wayside cross was a pivotal point in the very famous book Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, published in 1678 and has remained on the ‘bestseller list’ ever since, never having been out of print. The passage is below:

“He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending, and upon that place stood a cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as Christian came up with the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble, and so continued to do, till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more. Then was Christian glad and lightsome, and said, with a merry heart, ‘He hath given me rest by his sorrow, and life by his death.’ Then he stood still awhile to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him, that the sight of the cross should thus ease him of his burden. He looked therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks. Now, as he stood looking and weeping, behold three Shining Ones came to him and saluted him with Peace be unto thee. So the first said to him, Thy sins be forgiven thee;”

It is amazing that the sight of the cross should ease a person’s burdens, but it does, for the person who is ready to receive grace. For every individual on the planet, there comes that critical moment, upon which the eye falls to the cross and a decision is made either aye or nay. The cross to the unsaved does make one’s soul burn, satan would have it so. But in the process of that the soul-singe the cross is emblazoned on the mind and heart and soul, thereafter to linger as a brand. It stays there, to rankle. Opponents of Christ do not want that rankle, and therefore strive to remove the cross from all areas of life except homes and churches.

This article from 2011 by John Witte Jr., Director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., is interesting: Lift High the Cross? Religion In Public Spaces

It made 6 points about court challenges to religious symbols in public spaces:

While not entirely convergent in their religious symbolism cases, the American and European high courts now hold six teachings in common.

  • First, tradition counts in these cases
  • Second, religious symbols often have redeeming cultural value
  • Third, local values deserve some deference.
  • Fourth, religious freedom does not require the secularization of society.
  • Fifth, religious freedom does not give a minority a heckler’s veto over majoritarian policies
  • Finally, religious symbolism cases are serious business. 

Lift high the cross. Value it, present it, wear it, but above all, cherish it and obey it. We can and should beautify the Gospel that the cross stands for by our obedient and gentle adornment of obedient behavior because of it.

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Don’t leave the Baby in the manger or the Man on the cross

When Christmas comes around, everyone loves the thought of the baby in the manger. The story is so precious, and the swaddling cloths, and the animals milling around, and the Shepherds who came to see…

So cute!

But not cute.

This Grace To You essay brings the point home.

What do you think about when you see a nativity scene? We might recognize the baby in the manger as God in flesh. But seeing Christ as a helpless and vulnerable infant can delude us into thinking that the humility of the incarnation was not isolated to His physical form—that somehow, His deity was also diminished.
And it’s easy to read the birth narratives in the gospel accounts without gaining a full sense of Christ’s eternal glory and supremacy. Those attributes figure more prominently at the end of His earthly sojourn rather than the beginning.

Where can we see that glory and supremacy? Is it on the cross? The Man-God hung on that tree, He was perfect in every way yet absorbing all God’s wrath for sin, separated from His eternal father for agonizing hours. He was the suffering servant, bleeding and wounded and humble, and scorned and rejected. He hung there…

But He is not still there.

We look to Jesus when we want to praise or seek comfort, and we often think of the cross. The cross is the symbol of death, new life, eternity. We respect the cross as the execution method of what Jesus suffered for us in obedience to the Father. The cross is everything to us, but it is not all.

Because Jesus rose.

So the bloody, unrecognizable fleshly Man is not still on the cross. He is in heaven, robed majestically, at the right hand of the Father, ministering as KING OF THE UNIVERSE!

12Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. (Revelation 1:12-16)

Don’t leave the baby in the manger or the man upon the cross. When you think of Jesus daily, remember Him as He is now.


Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

Our precious Jesus, His cross, and the ‘accusation’

Jesus died on the cross. When He was nailed to the tree, the soldiers an ‘accusation’ placed above His head.

And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” (Matthew 27:37.)

The other three Gospels also note that an ‘accusation’ was placed over His head, each Gospel stating that Jesus is King of the Jews. Mark 15:26, Luke 23:38, John 19:19.

Jesus was ‘tried’ in two different courts. He had a religious Jewish trial and a secular Roman trial. Since each kind of trial had three phases, Jesus was involved in 6 different legal proceedings. In none of them was a sinful accusation leveled at Him. The sign above His head did not say thief. Nor did it charge Him with being a blasphemer. Nor a rebel. Nor a usurper.

The only ‘accusation’ above the head of Jesus as He expired on the cross was THE TRUTH. No blot was above His precious head. Only the truth that Jesus was, and is, and is to come as King of the Jews.

Now note the Christmas story. Wise Men from the East arrived at Jerusalem. They sought the babe whose star had led them to the city. The men went to Herod and asked about this Messiah. They asked,

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:1-2).

Tremendous truth-



Eventually, His kingship will be over the entire earth and all its people. Hallelujah!

On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 19:16)