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#take up the cross

24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
26 For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?
27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
28 Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.
Matthew 16:24-28 | King James Version (KJV)
The King James Version of the Holy Bible is in the public domain.

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And anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  (Matthew 10:38)

The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. (Acts 5:41)

“Take his cross” – it sounds ominous. This does not sound like something that goes with faith. Victory, blessing, peace – these are things which make you happy. But struggle, the cross, suffering, these have such a negative sound to them.

Yet Christians who have endured suffering, often consider it an honor to have been counted worthy to take part in Christ’s suffering.

A twenty-one year old Chinese woman from Guangzhou told us openly about the many chances she had in China to be a witness for Christ. “Aren’t you persecuted then?” she was asked.  “Yes,” she answered, “but that does not matter. It’s the way of the cross.”

We are not asked to seek persecution and suffering. We are called to take up our cross.  Whoever has to carry such a cross, will be given sufficient strength to do just that.

“But rejoice” … yes, it really is written there. “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13).

Copyright [C] 1995 Open Doors International. Used by permission.

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The way we respond to desperate circumstances often clarifies what gives us hope. Jesus’ followers faced the very real threat of death by choosing to follow Him—something He warns them about: “And summoning the crowd together with his disciples, he said to them, ‘If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life on account of me and of the gospel will save it’ ” (Mark 8:34–35).
In Jesus’ time, “taking up the cross” would have been associated with a shameful death at the hands of the ruling Roman powers. To risk suffering this type of shameful death required more than lukewarm commitment.
Jesus doesn’t limit this calling to His disciples; anyone who “wants to come after” faces this uncertainty and must hold a faith that displays this loyalty. For some Christians today, following Jesus means opposition and death. For most of us, it doesn’t. Yet Jesus goes on to show that this type of devotion is still relevant today: “For whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:36–38).
Many of our lives reflect a lax neutrality—a purposeless ease that avoids conflict and commitment. We might shy away from bold claims. We might fade into the wallpaper in an attempt to fit in. We might show reluctance to declare Christ’s name.
What does commitment look like for you? Are you following Jesus with this type of devotion? Or do you hesitate to share the good news?

How are you taking up your cross?

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11. And when she had brought them unto him to eat, he took hold of her, and said unto here, “Come lie with me, my sister.”

12. And she answered him, ‘Nay, my brother, do not force me; for no such thing ought to be done in Israel; do not thou this folly.

13. And I, whither shall I cause my shame to go? And as for thee, thou shalt be as one of the fools in Israel, Now, therefore, I pray thee, speak unto the king, for he will not withhold me from thee.’

14. Howbeit he would not harken to her voice: but, being stronger than she, forced her and lay with her.

15. Then Amnon hated her exceedingly; so that the hatred wherewith he loved her was greater than the love wherewith he had loved her. And Amnon said unto her, arise and be gone.

II Samuel 13:11-15

(I know it’s a bit early in the week to be writing about incestuous rape, but bear with me…)

So what’s happened here is that one of David’s sons, Amnon, lusted after his (half?) sister, Tamar. So his friend devised a plot to get her alone with him so he could sleep with her. The plan works, and when she refuses to sleep with him, he rapes her. After that, he decides he hates her, and throws her out. Later in the chapter, another of David’s sons, Absalom, takes revenge for Tamar by having Amnon assassinated.

The other morning, an elder in my church took the service. He preached on the following chapter, but out of habit, I read the chapter before as well, and came across this. I had read this before a couple of months ago, and I think it teaches us some things about human nature, especially these verses.

1. People always want what they can’t have. Amnon couldn’t just go and sleep with his sister. Pretty obvious, that one. But the same applies to a lot of things. When we’re told we can’t have something, we want it more. Most people at some point have felt like this, whether its wanting to use your mother’s expensive perfume when you were little or eating something unhealthy when you’re on a diet. You may not even like that perfume, but because you’re not supposed to have it, you want it anyway.

2. Our selfish desires can get people hurt. To rape his sister wasn’t just a bad thing for Amnon to do. He did it to her. Someone who is a victim of abuse can not only be hurt physically, but suffer from severe mental trauma, like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which can completely destroy their lives, all because another person could not restrain their lust and sinned. I’m not saying that every time you sin you’re going to hurt someone this badly, but it shouldn’t matter how badly they’re hurt; they are still getting hurt, and that isn’t worth it. You can probably think of a couple of things that you think don’t hurt people, but they actually hurt you. Like unforgiveness. You may think ‘this person doesn’t care if I don’t forgive them’, and you may be right, but that bitterness can build up in you and cause you a lot of unhappiness. ‘Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die.’ Words to live by. When we want something, we have to think thoroughly about whether giving in to that desire will hurt anyone else. A lot of the laws and commandments exist to give guidelines about what things are likely to get people (including yourself) hurt, so if a desire you have goes against one, you can almost guarantee that there is a risk of somebody getting hurt.

3. We often just want to take what we want, instead of asking for it. This point is the one I really want to talk about, because it’s the lesson God finished showing me after I read this chapter the other day, but I’ll get to that in a bit. So, when Amnon makes his advances on Tamar and she rejects him, she suggests that he does the more honourable thing and ask their father, King David, to marry her, saying (and this is the important bit) ‘for he will not withhold me from thee’. What she was saying was that he could have her honestly and legally if he simply asked her father. It sounds like it would be preferable to do that, it sounds pretty ideal really. But that was not enough for Amnon, he wanted her on his terms, and didn’t wait to seek his father’s permission to marry Tamar, so he did it his way. This is an extreme version of this, but we all do it. We want things, and we can have them if we ask for them. But we don’t want to humble ourselves to that level and ask for things. A lot of the time, we’re just too proud. If we want something and ask God for it, He’ll give it to us IF it’s good for us and WHEN it’s good for us, but a lot of the time we’re inpatient and set about getting it our own way. An example of this that I hear about a lot, as a teenage girl, is boyfriends. Personally, I haven’t had any trouble with this (thank you, God!), but I know several other Christians who are impatient for a relationship. Sometimes this leads to trying to ‘awaken love’ (Song of Solomon 8:4) by going after boys and dating anyone they choose, regardless of whether they are a Christian or are good for them, instead of waiting for the perfect person God chooses. At the end of the day, doing this only leads to unnecessary heartbreak for both people. It’s always better to just ask God for things and wait until He gives them. That way, it will always be the right thing at the right time, so why bother going to all the trouble of feebly trying to work out what’s best for us and how to get it? God’s offering us His perfect plan, there’s no reason to reject it in favour of saving a little shred of pride.

Now for my personal anecdote on this: I learnt most of these things a couple of months before this part of the Bible was the focus of the morning service this past Sabbath, but it was largely theory. However, about a month ago, I coveted something. I sit next to my father in church, and, odd as this may sound, I coveted his KJV Reference Bible (yes, I’m a bit of a Bible nerd and yes I do see the irony of coveting a Bible). Anyway, on this Sabbath day I decided that I earnestly wanted that Bible, and began thinking of ways to get it. I had asked my father for it before years ago, but he thought it was stupid because I had my own Bible, so there was no point in asking for it. I couldn’t think of anyway I could take it out of church (because the rest of my family leave their Bibles in the pew week after week). But then, before I could think of any other ideas, I remembered what I had learnt from this chapter about asking for things instead of taking them. So, instead of asking my earthly father, I asked my Heavenly One. I prayed for a Reference Bible, then completely forgot about the incident. However, after this message was preached this past Sabbath and my family got home, I began asking my father what he thought of the service, in my usual failed attempt to engage him in discussion about it. He brushed off my questions as usual, but this time by distracting me with the offer of a gift. He went to his room and came back out carrying a Bible, and gave it to me, muttering about how much all the bits of paper in my own Bible annoy him and that I should use this one. I opened it, and it was a KJV Reference Bible, exactly like the one in church, which my grandparents had given him when he married my mother. God’s promise of ‘ask and you shall receive’ in action. :)

4. Finally, when we go for things we want when we want them, we get bored of them quickly. At the end of this passage, Amnon changes his mind. He takes all the effort of making himself ill, getting Tamar alone with him and the pain he causes her for the sake of his selfishness, and suddenly is bored of her. In fact, not only because he’s bored of her, but he HATES her more than he ever loved her. Personally, I think this has a lot to do with guilt. At the beginning of this chapter, Amnon resists his feelings, because he knows that they’re wrong. It’s only when his friend gives him a plan that he actually attempts to act on those feelings. So clearly, he knew all along that what he was doing was wrong, but went through with it anyway. Most of the time, we can tell if something it wrong, but it doesn’t stop us. We get caught up in the moment, we get tempted and our sense of right and wrong gets overridden by our feelings and emotions. But when the excitement dies down, we are left with the consequences of what we’ve done, not just externally, but we also have to deal with our own guilt. Or, like Amnon, we can choose not to deal with it and distance ourselves from our problems or what we’ve done, which clearly is not a good solution. You reap what you sow, and if you don’t deal with your guilt, bury it underground and out of sight, you will reap trouble. Amnon did, and it got him killed, which again is an extreme example, but no sin goes unpunished. God’s mercy in providing Christ as a sacrifice to carry that punishment for us is wonderful, but we have to ask for it. This relates back to Number Three on this list, but the only way we can truly be absolved of our sins is to humble ourselves and ask God for mercy and forgiveness, and seek Christ as our Heavenly Advocate.

So why not put down our pathetic human pride and take up the Cross instead?

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‘Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.’ -Luke 9:23

It makes me think really hard. Of course as a believer I’m going to say YES!, but to break it apart. To give up your family and friends, the ones you love the most. To give up your job, your car, your money, and everything you own. Would you do it?

At this point in my life, I don’t think I could say yes and tell the truth, but Lord I want to get to the point where I would give up EVERYTHING to take up the cross and follow my Savior.

I know I haven’t been denying myself. I’ve been spoiling myself and being selfish. I know I haven’t been thinking about Christ with everything I do and I’m truly sorry to Him for that. Crazy Love has really made me want to have CRAZY LOVE FOR MY SAVIOR! But our society is so materialistic and kept to themselves, sadly I’ve fallen into it for many years. 

I pray the Lord will help me to deny myself and take up the cross, because when you have crazy love for Him, when you treat everyone as if they’re Him, you don’t have time to sin. I know I can’t do it alone and I can only do it with His help. Lord help me to be madly in love with you and make people wonder why I’m so contagiously happy!

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ASLKJFALJDF awww omgosh i hope you have fun with it!!! let me know how it goes! tLKJASDJF honestly a strange name but i guess that’s better than like friend dust…

ahhhh i never played stardew valley although my friends keep trying to convince me to play it!! but i keep joking that i’m not going to help with the farm and just date ALKJSDFLAS

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Last call - Extra DIYs

  • orange wall-mounted clock
  • peach wall x2
  • peach surprise box
  • cherry umbrella
  • kettlebell
  • light bamboo rug
  • steamer-basket set
  • traditional straw coat
  • bamboo-shoot lamp
  • clackercart
  • log bench
  • log stool
  • wooden simple bed
  • bonfire
  • large cardboard boxes
  • medium cardboard boxes
  • sandy-beach flooring
  • shell rug
  • birdhouse
  • gold-screen wall
  • lucky gold cat
  • fancy lily wreath

DM for dodo code!

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Sometimes, trusting someone doesn’t take years and years of small, slow steps. Sometimes, it just takes one moment. For Sylda, it was the moment Delver handed her back her book. She must have fallen asleep with it clutched to her chest. It was an old thing, but familiar, its leather cover cracked and weathered at the edges in patterns she could paint in her sleep. It fell during the night, and for the first time, Sylda was not the one to pick it up.

The way he did it could only be described as tender. Delver took it by its spine, gently lifting it until it rested in both hands, then paused. Just for a moment. Just to look at it. Just to trace a careful fingertip along the crease in the center of its cover. The movement was almost reverent, and even though the book was hers, Sylda actually felt like she was intruding on a something deeply personal. Something not meant for her eyes.

Then, he noticed her, and everything shifted. The calm broke and Delver returned to the man she knew - the one more comfortable clearing his throat and holding the book at arms length towards her. She’d lost her book, once. Let it be taken from her by a man who wanted to make sure remembered where her loyalties lay. She’d been a child. A fool. She’d promised herself, and in some ways her mother, that she would never let it happen again.

But then she looked at him. Truly looked at him, the book a dark shape between them, the room slowly filling with light from the rising dawn. She knew he’d wanted to open it. Wanted to desperately. But he hadn’t.

Slowly, she reached out… and pushed the book back towards him.

“Actually, Delver… I’ve always wanted to know what it says.”

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