Thursday, April 22, 2010


Although I was too young to recall, Momma enjoys recounting this story about me:
I was about 4 when I came running into the kitchen excitedly announcing, “Mommy, I want to die!” Shocked by my declaration and bewildered by my excitement about it, she responded, “Bonnie Joann, why on earth would you say a thing like that?” “Well, don’t I have to die in order to be with Jesus,” I questioned. “Weeell, yeees,” she responded hesitantly. “Then, I want to die,” I proclaimed. “Don’t you want to be with Jesus, Mommy? I queried. “Sure, I do,” she replied. “Well, then don’t you want to die?” I continued to question. “Well, I don’t think God is done with me quite yet. There are things He wants for me to do before I die.” Displeased with her answer, I exited the room determinedly exclaiming, “Well, I want to be with Jesus. So, I want to die now!”
Momma stood in silence, bewildered by my lack of fear of death and my intent to be with Jesus.

I have since learned that physical death is not necessary to enjoy the presence of Jesus. Paul warned the Romans [8:13], “If you live in accordance with the natural realm, you are destined to die, but if you put the actions of the body to death by the Spirit, you will live.”

Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to follow me, that person will have to utterly deny themselves, and take up their cross and follow me. The person who wants to preserve their life will lose it, but whoever lets go of their life for my sake will find it.” [Matthew 16:24-25].

We cannot enjoy the blessings of the Spirit’s presence
we are willing to cease making self
the object of our lives and actions.

“Taking up one’s cross” is a willingness to die to all selfish:
• ambitions to rise above others
• behaviors to get what we want when we want it
• attitudes of caring only for our own interests
• desires to put our personal needs before those of others.

Deny means, “Don’t feed it!” We must starve our prideful nature which is often manifested in addictions: food, work, spending, entertainment, gossiping, lying, people-pleasing, sex and more.

All of these may bring temporary satisfaction. However, “What good will it do someone if they gain the whole world and lose their own life? What will a person give in exchange for their very life?” [Matthew 16:26] Is another evening of masturbation worth forfeiting your eternal life? What about another piece of cake or video game? The only power that temptation has is our longing to say “Yes” to our selfish desires. In doing so, we are saying “No” to Jesus.

Many fear that God wants to “ruin all our fun.” However, it isn’t our enjoyment that He aspires to destroy. He’s determined to demolish our pride.

He desires that we enjoy the freedom true life brings:
• enjoying intimacy with His Body, the Church.
• hearing His voice
• sensing His presence
• seeing Him work in and through us
• having insight into His will and the strength to do it

Saying that we believe in Jesus is not enough. Jesus says, “anyone who does not take up His cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” [Matthew 10:38] Yet, overcoming selfish ambitions is not easy! Where do we find such strength? Jesus set the example for us when He said, “Not My will, but Yours be done.” Desiring the Father’s will more than our own is the only way to enjoy the Whole-Hearted Life which He has prepared for us and … it is the only way to life with Jesus for eternity.

Living for Jesus, wherever I am,
Doing each duty in His holy Name;
Willing to suffer affliction and loss,
Deeming each trial a part of my cross.

O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to Thee,
For Thou, in Thy atonement, didst give Thyself for me.
I own no other Master, my heart shall be Thy throne.
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for Thee alone.
- Thomas O. Chisholm

My heart hasn’t changed much since I was four. My greatest desire is still to be with Jesus! Yet … I must pray daily that my prideful, selfish flesh will be crucified in order that I might know Him with my whole heart. Even today, “I want to die now!”


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