Sunday, May 25, 2008


I'm leaving tomorrow morning for my summer mission field in Waterville, Minnesota where I'll be a camp counselor at Camp Omega. I'll be back, and the blog will resume after August 22. Have a great summer!! :)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Take Up Your Cross...

Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.'
-Matthew 16:24

Jesus' words were unmistakable--and brutal--to His disciples. They knew what crosses were. No, they weren't silver charms worn on necklaces. They weren't the designs in tattoo parlors. The cross was an instrument of execution, one of the most violent and horrible ever invented by evil men. I can imagine the disciples gasping when Jesus uttered those words. If we fully comprehend them, well will gasp, too.

But before we get to the cross, let's understand some things. Jesus begins this statement with a tiny but important word: if. He doesn't take it for granted that you and I will be willing to follow Him along His path of radical obedience to the Father. Jesus is no bully. He doesn't try to get us to pack our bags for a guilt trip. No, He simply offers that path with all its hardships and joys, and says, "If you want the greatest adventure life has to offer, here's what the ticket will cost you." Quite frankly, the vast majority of Christians look at the brochure and say, "No thanks. The price is too high. I'll settle for something else." Only a few are willing to say, "Yes, Jesus. I want to go wherever you go." Fewer still stay on board for the whole journey. Jesus makes the offer, and He leads each of us in deciding what we want to do. The question isn't "Do you do what you want to do?" but "Do you do what He wants you to do?" In this lies the opportunity to die.
A few months later, the disciples understood what Jesus meant. At that time, the perfect Son of God, the sinless messiah, willingly "endured the cross, scorning its shame" (Heb. 12:2) in obedience to the Father. He prayed so hard that blood vessels in his forehead burst from the strain. Drops of blood fell on the ground where he agonized with his Father about dying such a horrible death. But His commitment to obey the Father was greater than His desire for comfort and approval. So He went to the cross.
That's what it means for you and me, too: to obey God no matter what He asks us to do and no matter how much we don't want to do it. On a daily basis, we are to say "Yes!" to God by:
  • Valuing what God says is important, and blowing off the things that aren't
  • Being loyal to the Father at all costs because He is worth of our love
  • Obeying Him wherever, whenever, and however He leads
So "taking up our crosses" means to value God above all else, to serve instead of demand our rights, and to be humble instead of proud--to the point of death.
The rewards are great, but so is the cost. It costs us everything. Like the hymn says, "I surrender all," not "I surrender 10%." No one will tell you that it's an easy road. Jesus himself faced hardship on the cross. He wept. He sweat. He asked his friends to pray. The result of his obedience was that God is exalted above all and Christ became the way for you and I to be forgiven. You and I will face excruciating moments, too, when it seems like God is asking too much and nobody is there for us. Those are the most painful, and the most important, times in our journey. We will feel alone, but we aren't. God is with us, and He has not forsaken us, especially in those times of need.
[taken from A Call To Die by David Nasser]

Monday, May 12, 2008

Footprints In The Sand...

So I know that this poem isn't one that hasn't been heard multiple times before. Odds are one has heard or read the poem at least once in their lifetime. But for me, this poem was one of those things where I had read it as a child being that it was printed on a magnet on our refrigerator, but the reality of what it spoke of didn't come to me until I read it again when I was older. So often, especially in the hardest times of our lives we feel as though God is no longer in control of us and that He's slowly letting us slip away from His grasp. But we're wrong. It's in those very times where He is closest :)

"One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was
walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the
sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he
noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one
belonging to him, and the other to the Lord. When
the last scene of his life flashed before him, he
looked back at the footprints in the sand. He
noticed that many times along the path of his life
there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed
that it happened at the very lowest and saddest
times in his life. This really bothered him and he
questioned the Lord about it. "Lord, You said that
once I decided to follow you, You'd walk with me all
the way. But I have noticed that during the most
troublesome times in my life, there is only one set
of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed
you most you would leave me." The Lord replied,
"My son, My precious child, I love you and I would
never leave you. During your times of trial and
suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it
was then that I Carried You." "
--Mary Stevenson