A couple of months ago I was humbled to have been asked to review the first devotional DVD in Lisa Chan's True Beauty Series. The first DVD was called Be Still and I have been asked to review the 2nd installment Deny Yourself. Wife of well known (famous in my eyes!) pastor and church planter, Francis Chan, Lisa Chan is a true woman of un-dying faith who sets out to encourage other women in their walks towards sanctification and Christ like lives.
In each of the gospels, it is recorded that Jesus tells his friends and disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24). Deny myself? Those words sting deep like a fresh wound. In theory denying ourselves is an easy task. Praying those words of acceptance of Christ, promising to love and obey, to put others before you, to refrain from sin. But how many of us are truly denying ourselves in the eyes of the world in obedience to God? Lisa talks about how counter intuitive denying yourself is in our world today. We live in a world that craves attention, success, and self worth. We lift up greed and take care of ourselves first. Even modern Christian churches love talking about the love and forgiveness of God...but don't ever talk about taking up our cross and denying ourselves. We assume we are forgiven in Christ yet can't forgive others (see my posts on forgiveness, The Gift of Forgiveness and How to Forgive).
I had heard the term "to take up your cross" many times but it wasn't until a few years ago that I fully understood its true meaning, seriousness, and depth. Taking up our cross means to load up the pain, brokenness, and sin in our lives and walk towards Jesus. That very sin that was paid for on the cross by the precious blood of Christ. Your pain and past doesn't have to own you but take it to Jesus. Our biggest struggle as believers is truly submitting ourselves to the will of God. We steer away, resist, and keep ourselves from Him with our own choices and sin. It's not always going to be the easy way out but denying ourselves and following Him will fill us up with so much joy and help us recognize the true freedom we are given through salvation.
I have been a Christian almost my entire life but I can honestly say that it wasn't until a few years ago that I truly believed in the words of Matthew 16:25..."For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. ". In Christ, I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Are you ready to deny yourself and the ways of the world, take up your cross and follow Christ?