temptation + trust + turkeys.

the cross of Christ
has challenged, changed, confronted and captivated me

our response to the cross
is a reflection of our relationship with God

to put Jesus at the centre of our lives
is a daily decision
that’s what taking up our cross
is all about
a daily taking up
note the upwards language
the cross takes us beyond ourselves
to a higher form of Love
a Love that is not self-seeking
a Love that is sacrificial at it’s core
this Love changes how we respond the cross

here we move from seeing the cross
as an instrument of torture
to one of instrumental transformation

the notion of “take up your Cross
comes from a verse in Luke 9 and Matthew 16

Jesus’ says: 
“if anyone would come after me –
let him deny himself and take up
his cross daily and follow me”.

there are three key things here:
first, that we are to deny ourselves.
second, that we are to take up our cross daily.
last, that we are to follow him.

i have been reflecting on three T’s:
temptation, trust and turkeys.

let me explain.

in my last post
~the art of repentance~
i addressed the battle of desire
our need to say “no”
to actively turn from sin
to repent

this is hard
especially in the face of temptation
Jesus also was tempted

he was in the desert
for forty days
it was then
in that vulnerable state
when the Tempter came to Him
three times
Satan tempted Him
seeking to compromise
His filial attitude toward God
(see Matthew 4:1-11)

i find this fascinating in light of Lent
the Lenten period is forty days
in the lead up to Easter

during this time, many will fast alike Jesus
because this is a time for reflection and preparation

as a kid,
i would usually give up chocolate for Lent
that always made Easter more exciting

but as i grew older,
i started to reflect on some of the things
that distract me
and some of the things
that tempt me to compromise
my kingdom attitude
for a worldly attitude

this year,
i have chosen to give up alcohol

i give some context in my instagram post here

but essentially,
i realised that alcohol is a dangerous drug
additive in its depressant and stimulant abilities
offering the seduction of numbing
yet also having the ability
to enhance
the very feelings
you may want to escape from

i realised that my relationship with alcohol
was compromising my relationship with Jesus

my dependance on alcohol to avoid feelings
was preventing me from bringing those feelings to Jesus

i realised my need to deny myself
to learn more about the art of Sacrifice

i also realised my need to come to Jesus
with my feelings
instead of depending on alcohol
to deny my feelings

to depend on anything other than God
is a sign of trust issues
and while there is temptation
to run away
this denial of feelings
is not the denial Jesus refers to when he says
let him deny himself

i realised i had started depending on other things
instead of God
distrusting and doubting
that i could depend on God to deliver

it is a part of these survival instincts in us
as we try to avoid and escape and run away
from pain and suffering
but the scary thing about the cross
is that there is this invitation into pain and suffering

the call to take up our cross and follow Jesus
is a call to walk and not to walk away

we cannot walk away from the brokenness
both in the world and in ourselves

we need to follow Jesus

i know there are a few things in my life
that i try not to follow
{ like my feelings }
but when i focussed on not following feelings
it led me to start filling that void with other things
so i would stop feeling
it distracted me
from being a follower of Jesus
so that is why
i said
to temptation
to trust

to prioritise trusting and following Jesus in this season
i have gone cold-turkey on a few things;
& all other liquids apart apart from h20 for wateraid’s water challenge
~dating apps~
~peanut butter~

you might think that is an absurd list
because, i guess it it
no judgement please

in hindsight,
i would not recommend the cold-turkey approach.
the withdrawals are …. not easy
deathly, even

i’m speaking mainly of the coffee
let’s be real

i don’t think many of us
will admit our need for self-denial

there are a lot of subtle strongholds in our lives,
areas of dependance

i had not realised just how dependant
my body and biological functioning
was on coffee
until i deprived myself of it
the migraines,
the dizzy spells,
the fatigue,
the water weight gain;
none of these
were welcome
or expected
parts of denial

but these were necessary steps,
i needed to persist,
to perseverance through the pain,
to discover that denial means discomfort,
but that it also means freedom.

denial is a deprivation of little d dependants in our lives
so that we might see our capital D need to Depend on God.

we cannot come to the cross,
we cannot take hold of that which Christ has set before us,
we cannot take up our cross,
and we cannot follow Christ,
if we are carrying and holding onto anything else.

we simply cannot have it all

if we come to Jesus under the weight of all our other dependencies
we will see the task of taking up our cross daily as burdensome

if we are unable to detach ourselves from our dependencies
we will begin to distance ourself from Jesus


if we are able to deny ourselves, to let go of our dependencies,
then we can step into the freedom and weightlessness of the cross
in light of Christs sacrifice

when we take up our cross
we do not take up our sin

Christ has done that for us,
he has done away with that.

this is the
tragedy and triumph
of the cross:
though we were enemies of the cross,
and enemies of God,
we are delivered from divine wrath
into his miraculous grace.
we are helpless and condemned,
separated from Christ
and without God in the world

(Eph. 2:12)
but Christ acts on our behalf,
going where we cannot go,
doing in our place what we cannot do.
He is the atonement for our sins,
that we might receive adoption
into God’s family,
our inheritance in the kingdom of God.

so when we come to the cross,
we come in surrender.

as i have shared in a past blog,
is a form of upwards falling.

as we deny ourselves,
we do so by lifting up our dependencies to God.

this is why taking up our cross
is an declarative act,
as we decide to follow Jesus,
to dedicate our lives to walking as he walked.

when we carry this cross,
it is a daily decision
that says to the world:

“look, i can carry this, not by my strength,
but by the strength of Christ in me.

look, i can walk free of my sin,
not because of what i’ve done, but
of what Christ has done for me at the cross.”

i wonder if that is why
Paul speaks of boasting in nothing but the cross of Christ
we can boast in carrying our cross
because it is not a curse!
it is a reminder of our redemption

and as i reflect on the price of our redemption
i realise that giving up my dependencies
my beloved coffee and peanut butter and spritz and g&t’s
are nothing in comparison to the cost Jesus paid at the cross

this is the narrow road,
to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus.

so on my journey with the three T’s:
temptation, trust, and turkeys
it is early days

Easter is coming,
but i’m going to commit to the daily,
where denial, the cross, and Jesus meet.

a prayer of temptation, trust and turkeys:
‘Lord, we trust you, you have authority to pardon and bring peace, to welcome and release us from the sins that cling so tight, the struggles that we can often feel we are drowning in, the desires that are at war within us. We thank you for Jesus. We thank you that he died and rose again. That he was the lamb who was for sinners slain. It is in his name we ask that you would be preparing our hearts and minds, that you would help us to see where we may be holding on to things that are not good for us. Please show us if there are things we need to release, and help us to trust you even more. Strengthen us by your Spirit to love you with our whole selves. In Jesus name, amen.’ 

Respond from the Heart