"What does it actually mean to take up the cross?"

The last thing I would want to do is play a game of dice or hide-and-seek Christianity and be mediocre all my life, living a life of compromise. God has called me to do something else and I know by heart that no other power can be stronger than the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the life of every true believer. (At this point I ask myself: Am I true believer, dear God?)

I must confess that there were moments when I doubted if God really existed - if He, indeed, doesn't show favoritism but I would wake up 'each new day' thankful that He gave me another chance to submit to Him and walk with Him every step along the way.

I am not my own, God bought me for a price. He would always remind me of this, especially on those days when I felt like disappearing into thin air, like never having been born would be a whole lot better than 'pressing on.' Tsk, tsk.

The price that God "paid" for my salvation comes easy to everyone yet it is never cheap. I know, by faith, He doesn't want any distractions - and neither do I. As I am a WIP (work-in-progress), I endeavor to cut off any and all things, activities or relationships which may hinder me from moving forward with Jesus, the Lover of my soul.

Luke 14:27 reads, "27And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." (NKJV). Now, what does it actually mean to bear one's cross"? The way I undertand it, taking up the cross is dying to oneself and putting God's purpose ahead of everything else -- even when it hurts. It's actually a question that's been on my mind for quite some time and just a few minutes ago, I 'stumbled' upon the answer in Part Ten of 'A Comprehensive Course in Effective Counseling' from the Advanced Training Institute International. Believe it or not, I found such material in the NXTGen stockroom when I did some cleaning a few months back, and it was included in the many bunches of paper for disposal. Truly, nothing is ever wasted in God's Kingdom -- He made sure that one of His children finds it and makes good use of it. So, here, I am sharing it with anyone who may have been wondering if he/she has been taking up his/her cross the way God has intended it to be:

... to shoulder a burden that will be the means of our death
... expending energy that we know is not sufficient for the task
... full submission to the human authorities our Heavenly Father places over us
... following directions given to us, rather than choosing our own way
... unavoidable exposure to public ridicule and mocking
... misunderstanding and rejection by those we love and serve
... quiet endurance of false accusations
... the pain of hunger and thirst in place of self-indulgence
... intense grief and sorrow for those who reject God and His ways
... carrying the responsibility of our aging parents until their death
... having our personal possessions taken from us and given to others
... crying out to God in personal agony
... having our words distorted and thrown back at us in derision
... loss of our privacy and having our lives open before a scrutinizing world
... being associated with people who are despised by the world
... going through experiences in which we feel that God has forsaken us
... looking beyond present circumstances to future rewards
... having our most trusted friends join with our enemies
... having our appearances damaged by cruel abuse
... providing an example that will impact the city, nation and world

There comes a point in every believer's life when he must choose to die to himself and take up his 'cross,' or else he will not be able to withstand the pressures and temptations that will certainly come into his life. This point of no return, this embracing of a 'productive death,' is a prerequisite to understanding our life calling. It not only provides the power of God but is also the basis of conquering Satan. 'And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.' (Revelation 12:11)"

"And He said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Luke 9:23

The true cost of discipleship is the message of the cross. Do you serve to be served in return or for recognition and appreciation or because you love the only One who makes every serving opportunity possible? God knows the motives behind each and every act of kindness, good deed and 'obedience.' At the end of your life, when He examines your heart, would He be telling you without a doubt, "Well done, my good and faithful servant," or would He be telling you, "I do not know you"?

I still have a looong way to go to be assured of a "Well done..." but one thing I'm sure of is this: a true Christian loves UNCONDITIONALLY, seeks to serve and not to be served and thinks of OTHERS FIRST rather than oneself.

Challenged? Don't be. I challenge no one but myself.


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