“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Friday, August 15, 2014


Jesus said "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and  follow me. (Luke 9.23) 

In some areas of the world taking up one's cross is following Jesus, and it may cost them their lives. Taking up one's cross may be less dramatic than literally laying down your life for Christ, but it always involves suffering and self denial. Everyone must take up a cross of one sort or another. 

Sometimes it is obvious to other people and sometimes it is not. But each of us is called to take up our cross and follow Jesus. In his classic Christian book The Imitation of Christ, the fifteenth century priest Thomas à Kempis wrote about the universal calling of taking up one’s cross: “No man’s heart can experience what Christ endured in His passion except the man who suffered as he did. ... The cross is, therefore, always in readiness for you and everywhere awaits you. Wherever you choose to run you will not escape it because you always take yourself with you and you will always find yourself.”

Taking up your cross will surely turn you toward your interior self because taking up your cross involves the essential work of Christian growth. The daily struggle and suffering encountered under the weight of your cross is where personal purification occurs. Bearing the cross requires you to chastise your will and body and bring them into subjection of God. It is not easy but it is necessary. It is a critically important decision you must make every day. Like I say, it requires work and suffering.

Some people will refuse the cross ― but they can not escape it. As Thomas à Kempis reminds us, the cross is always before us and waiting because we cannot escape ourselves.

The sick or disabled must face and accept their affliction as a divine tool for spiritual growth. The lonely must face and accept their loneliness; their cross may change it to sweet solitude.  The addict must face his addiction demons. Depending on the extent of his addiction, he may even have to decide every hour to take up his cross. Bearing the cross may be different for each person, but they are called  to face it, take it up and follow Christ. 

What is your cross? Don’t be surprised that it requires suffering (emotional, spiritual or physical). Suffering can have a refining effect as with gold in fire. 

Saint Paul said in his letter to the Romans that he considered the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” Later, in 2 Corinthians, he reflected, 

 "For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.”

For those who allow the cross to conform them to Christ crucified, they will find it is the way that leads to the Kingdom of God. 

A consolation of the cross you take up is that Christ will travel with you under its weight, if you allow him. Your individual cross – no matter how onerous or burdensome it may be – is never heavier that the cross Christ endured. Remember that you are not alone. Christ is there just as He has been with millions of Christians throughout history who took up their crosses.

If we unite our lesser sufferings with Christ’s Passion, crucifixion and Resurrection, we will discover a strange yet wonderful internal transformation beginning to occur to make us fit for heaven in Christ-likeness.

[Click image below or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZsalHQB7aM For the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir sing "Take Up Your Cross"]

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