Jesus, Obedience, Uncategorized

Take Up Your Cross

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Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”

Matthew 16:24 

 

The cross means freedom to me. Jesus paid my sin debt in full. It is finished. I am free. My home is in heaven, because of the cross. I have full access to God, because of the cross. I have hope, because of the cross. I am forgiven, because of the cross. Jesus’ perfect work on the cross brought the end to death, sin, and shame.

A Roman cross means one thing, death. When Jesus tells us to take up our cross we are to die to self. The NIV, NASB, HCB and several other translations say, “he must deny himself.” We must. That is not a suggestion. That implies it is required, shouldn’t be missed. I can ignore Jesus’ words and go my own way and never pick up my cross. Then it’s all about me. Jesus won’t let me stay there. Everything changed when Jesus became my Lord and Savior. He’s calling me to something different.

Jesus saving me was the easy part. I like the saved from Hell part. But what about the cost? There is a cost to following to Jesus. Do I let it cost me? Do I stay comfortable? Am I willing to lose family, friends, comfort, reputation, and security for the sake of following Jesus? What about my life?

25 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25, NASB)

Taking up our cross does not mean:

I am poverty stricken, that’s my cross.

I am stuck in a dreadful job, that’s my cross.

I am in a bad marriage, that’s my cross.

Taking up our cross daily means death to our own selfish desires. Following Jesus no matter the cost to us. It’s about obedience and surrender to the King of Kings.

26 “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26, NASB)

Nothing in this life is worth keeping if it means losing your soul for all eternity. The cost is great on this side of heaven to follow Jesus. Are you willing to pay the price? Some are not. They aren’t convinced. The price is too high. Jesus paid our sin debt in full with his shed blood. He asks for us to surrender fully to Him, no matter the cost. But, there are rewards waiting in heaven.

27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.” (Matthew 16:27, NIV)

What if you gained every single thing the world has to offer? Money, fame, houses, vacations, and any material object you could want. Yet when you die you go to Hell because you rejected Jesus. Our souls are at stake. Life is short. Eternity cannot be measured or even grasped. Let’s make our lives count.

We are to daily take up our cross. Every single day we are to die to self. We have a choice to make. For the Christian, to surrender fully to Jesus and follow Him. For the non-believer, it’s time to make a choice. Please don’t forfeit your soul for the temporary. You can choose Jesus today. He already chose you.

The cross was a humiliating, painful means to death. As Christ followers we must daily take up our cross and follow Jesus. The cost to us is everything. We give Jesus all of who we are and all that we have. I struggle with this. I want to get to full surrender. I have moments, but they are rare. I want my comfort. I want what I think is best. I don’t want to let go. Jesus is loving, and patient. He knows what I need and He knows what is best.

May we all take up our cross daily and follow Jesus.

Love you all,

Meghan

 

 

Lord,

Thank you Jesus for saving us on the cross. Please help all of us who follow you to take up our crosses daily. It is not easy and we need your help to live surrendered lives. Equip us to do your will. We want to serve you and make a difference for your Kingdom. I lift up any non-believers reading this. You love them so much Lord. Draw them to you.

Amen

 

 

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

 

 

Faith, God, Jesus, Joey Flynn's Extraordinary Tale, Obedience, Uncategorized

Why Did I Write A Children’s Book?

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That’s an excellent question. I’ve asked myself the same question a few times since my book was published in April. In honor of my first book signing tomorrow, I thought I would answer this. The reason I wrote a kid’s book is very simple; God. I never wanted to be a writer. I never dreamed about it. Writing was nowhere on my radar.

It all began with a character my husband created many years ago. We were newlyweds, and Tom showed me his drawing of this character, and shared his dream of creating a children’s picture book. I thought it was a really cool idea and encouraged him to make it happen. I was excited for him to pursue his dream and happy to help. My role, or so I thought, was being the good, supportive wife. I was clueless that God had other plans.

Tom and I would talk about his book, and character, and dream of “someday” as life was happening. Our first house was a fixer upper, so that took lots of our time and energy, yet we still dreamed of “the story”. Then our first baby arrived, and eventually Tom went back to school. Life and all of it’s pressures, and responsibilities, took priority over any frivolous dreaming. I just couldn’t shake it though. This idea of some story coming to fruition never left my head. Tom’s character  needed to come alive, but how?

One day, while praying about Tom’s book idea, God said, “Just write the story.” I thought there is no way that was God talking to me. That was one of the craziest things I’d heard. I decided to forget it and move on. Well, the next day, I was praying again and heard, “Just write the story.” Now things were getting really weird. “Just write the story,” was repeated to me many times, over several days. I didn’t know what to do with those words. I wasn’t even sure they were God’s words to me. I decided to file those words away and I didn’t tell anyone. That was just crazy talk. It couldn’t have been God. Why would He want me of all people, to write? Nope. It didn’t happen. Move on, and so I did.

God has a funny way of getting our attention when He has called us to do something for Him. I thought I could disregard any bizarre notions of writing a book for children. I mean, come on, that was Tom’s dream, not mine. The notion never went away. When I woke up, it was there. When I went about my day, it was there. I could not get rid of this constant nagging feeling that I indeed was supposed to write this story. Every time I would try to ignore what I was supposed to do, God would speak to me through a circumstance or even my children to remind me to write this story. He even gave me a couple of dreams/visions that shook me to my core, in a good way. His message to me consistently was, “write the story.”

This all probably sounds pretty strange, and I would agree with you. I did not understand why God would tell someone like me to write. It made no sense. This wasn’t my dream. Why not ask me to do something I was good at, or at least enjoyed. Please don’t have me write. And not fiction. After years of me questioning God, I was convinced I had to accomplish this task. I knew I could not live with myself if I never even attempted to do what He was so clearly calling me to.  I wanted to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Summer 2010, my writing journey began. I’ve homeschooled for years, and knew summer break was going to be the only way any writing was going to take place. The thought of typing everything out on a computer sounded dreadful, so I grabbed a spiral notebook and sat on the living room couch. I said, “What do I write? I don’t even know where to start.” He gently told me, “Just write.” I put pen to paper and words started coming out. It was the beginning of a story. I was so excited. I could not believe there was something there. Right away I saw that this little story was not meant to be an illustrated children’s book. It was going to be a middle grade novel. And here’s another crazy thing that happened; I was having these amazing spiritual highs like I’ve never had before. It was the most exciting thing I’d ever done. I was doing the thing God asked of me, and I needed Him to accomplish it. I felt so close to God as I wrote. He was doing it all through me.

Of course there was opposition. When you pursue God’s dream for you the attacks come. The enemy would do everything in his power to stop me from writing. Sometimes, his tactics worked. But, he lost. God’s plan for me has prevailed. It has been one of the hardest things I’ve done. I’m not a natural writer, and children’s fiction has been a huge challenge for me. And my story is a Christian story, so that has it’s challenges as well.

My writing journey has been long. It took over seven years, writing mostly during the summer, to complete my little book. I was juggling many other things, like most people. Writing is hard! I had to fully rely on God to give me every character, every word, everything! He did! God is faithful! Only God would take a nobody like me, and write a book for kid’s with His message. He gets all the glory.

There are lots of other pieces that God took care of along the way. Like editing, publishing, and all the other details in the journey of a completed book. Every time I would come to a place of not knowing how to get to the next step, He took care of it. Like blessing me with a beautiful cover by a very talented artist, and friend, Nick. I could go on and on, but I’ll save some of that for another time.

I still don’t know where this is all going, but I don’t care anymore. I am running after God’s plan for me instead of running from it. Every day, there’s a new opportunity to promote my book, or step out in some way, and I’m taking those steps. Sometimes, I feel pretty foolish. Especially when I put myself out there with little to no results. I think, “God, why did you have me do this? I don’t get it.” My Heavenly Father reminds me of His plan and tells me to trust Him. If I fall flat on my face, it’s OK. He’ll pick me up. And I’ll keep running my race.

What hard thing is God asking you to do? Have you been running from Him, like I did for years? Stop running from Him. Go for what He is asking you to do. It will be hard. You will be uncomfortable and you will have to rely on Him to accomplish it. There are rewards waiting for you unlike anything you’ve experienced. I’m not talking material things. I’m talking spiritual. Those are the ones that last.

Maybe you are already pursuing His calling for you and are discouraged. Keep going! We’ve got Kingdom work to accomplish! We are to spur one another on. Maybe you don’t know what God wants you to do. Ask Him. He will reveal it to you. The God dreams are from Him. It’s not the stuff you and I think up. The things He calls us to require Him to achieve them.

God is asking for your willingness and obedience. You don’t have to have it all figured it out. He will equip you and do marvelous things through you, if you let Him.

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21, NIV)

Lord,

Thank you for who you are. Perfect. Holy God. You are sure. Reliable. Constant. The Rock. Thank you that we get the joy of being involved in your work. I lift up all those who know what you have called them to, but they’ve been avoiding it, like I did. Give them courage to pursue the God sized dreams you gave them. For those who don’t know what to do reveal your plan to them. And for those who are discouraged in their call, bring encouragement, strength, and a new perspective to keep going.

In Jesus name,

Amen

 

Love you all,

Meghan

Faith, God, Obedience, Uncategorized

Cast Your Cares On Him

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Anxiety. Depression. Fear. Worry. I see the same issues over, and over again on social media, and all over the internet. Friends and family are struggling with these things too. I’ve had my own issues with worry over the years. I am quite good at it at times. We are all dealing with problems. As Christians we are not immune from trouble. Jesus tells us we will have trouble in this world, but to be encouraged since He has overcome the world (John 16:33). The trouble will come. I know that sounds like bad news. It is the reality of living in a fallen world. So how do we deal with the anxiety and worry about our struggles?

Psalm 55:22 “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.”

Cast in Hebrew is from the root word shalak, and it means to throw, cast, hurl, fling. This changed everything for me years ago when I understood what cast really meant. This was a new revelation for me from the Holy Spirit. I had read this verse so many times over the years. Now, it has taken on a whole new meaning. If I throw, hurl, or fling my cares on the Lord I don’t have them anymore. He’s got them. And, even better, He will take care of me and won’t let me fall. But first, I have to throw my stress and worry on Him. This is not a question, or a suggestion. This is a command.

1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

Cast in Greek is epiripto. It’s definition is to throw upon, cast upon. Same meaning as the Hebrew word for cast. In the New Testament, the message repeats itself. Again, this is not a question, or a suggestion. This is a command. The verse just before this tells us to humble ourselves first, and that God will lift us up in due time (1 Peter 5:6). So an important part of throwing, or casting our anxiety on the Lord is humbling ourselves. It takes humility to let go of our fears and give them to God. This act means we are trusting Him to handle our anxiety His way. This can be scary.

Do I trust God to sustain me? His word is clear that He will never let the righteous fall, yet I hold on to my cares and burdens. For me, it’s about control and letting go. I want God to answer my prayers exactly how, and when I say. I have been a Christian long enough to know that it doesn’t work this way. I have to fully surrender to His plan every day. His plan for me is for good, and He always takes care of me. Always.

This is why it is so important to be in the word of God daily. Feelings and emotions can trick us into thinking God has abandon us. That is a lie. God is perfect. He will never let the righteous fall. We have to cast our cares and anxieties on Him. In fact, He tells us to do so. Throw, hurl, toss your cares on the Lord today! Now that’s a sort of shocking image. Tossing and hurling our troubles on the Lord. Once we cast our cares on Him they are His. Wow! God loves us that much! He is unbelievably good! Praise Him!

Now, I know this can be difficult to do. I can cast my cares on Him and then moments later take them right back. There is no limit to how many times we are to cast our cares on the Lord. If we have to cast our anxiety on Him every moment because the burden is heavy and the pain is so deep, then do it. No one on this earth can care for you the way God can. He’s telling us to throw our burdens on Him. Let’s take Him at His word, and do it!

Love you all,

Meghan