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Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Shape of the Soul | Day Seven | Crosses


“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” (Mark 8:34) The cross, while certainly a symbol of Jesus’ suffering and sacrifice for us, is also a symbol of his utterly selfless love and his promise to us that, by following him, we may enjoy eternal life. The cross serves as a compass, ever and always leading us to love.

the world; helping the weak, tending the sick, feeding the poor, loving and forgiving our enemies. This is the central message we are given from Jesus by which to live. Simple, but not always easy. “...if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27)

Jesus instructs us that, to be his followers, we cannot be led by self-interest. We must put others before ourselves and Jesus above all. This is an enormous and ongoing commitment, requiring a continual setting aside of selfishness and taking onto our shoulders the burdens of Jesus instructs us not only to love others, but to show our love to the world through our actions, by which we praise God and declare our commitment to Christ to the world. “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act.” (Matthew 7:16) 

We enter Heaven not by thinking or talking, but by doing. By sharing in others’ suffering we are opening ourselves up to Jesus’ love and to God’s grace.

Jesus knows we are not perfect, but that our intentions should be to active for the greater good. He tells us that when we love and serve others, we are also loving and serving him. See Christ in others and no one is a stranger. “Love each other...your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:34-35) 

The only true kindness is one that cannot be repaid.




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If you'd like to share your art journal pages, please comment below with a link to your image.

Journaling Prompts:

Do I behave in ways that don’t seem self-serving at first glance but, upon deeper examination, surprisingly reveal a selfishness I did not previously recognize? There are the obvious missed opportunities to love others: not volunteering to serve in the soup kitchen to sleep in on Saturday mornings, avoiding the gaze of the homeless person on the street who could have a hot meal with dollars in my wallet. The discomfort we feel in these situations is because we are essentially turning away from Jesus at these times.

Then there are other ways we might be putting our interests above others: Do we monopolize the conversation or insist on being the center of attention in every social situation? Do we treat everything as a competition? Selfishness can be subtle, but still lead us off of the path of Christian love. “Deliberately invest in people on your path.” (Heather Holleman)

“To respond as Jesus responded suddenly floods into being as the illuminating purpose that gives everything in life definition and meaning...We are not seeking to say it...we are seeking
to do it.” (Michael Phillips)

“Christ’s outstretched arms on the Cross are God’s answer to our childlike question: ‘How much do you love me?’’This much!’ How big is that stretch? It is the distance between Heaven and earth... The Cross is the ‘operative definition’ of love. It is what happens when perfect love meets the fallen world.” (Peter Keeft, The Philosophy of Jesus)

We must choose again and again, continuously, to take up our cross and follow Jesus, “The
cross is a moment-by-moment way of life.” (Michael Phillips)

Jesus’ instructions for how we should live our lives is simple, “...Follow me,” (Matthew 4:19) which may require us to, “...abandon all candy-coated versions of the gospel in order to experience the real gospel...go beyond admiring Jesus, even beyond praising Jesus, in order to resemble Jesus.” (Bishop William C. Frey)

“...this is a very dangerous thing, this loving-thing. It changes you. It changes your life. It’s as objectively real as a large, hot rock thrown in your face. It’s not just a thought or feeling inside you; it really happens. We unite with what we love. We become what we love...The more you love Christ, the more Christlike you become.” (Peter Keeft, The Philosophy of Jesus)

Thank you for joining me this week. I hope you continue your bible study and use your art journal as a visual diary of your faith.

Blessings,

Becky


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Additional Journaling prompts :

“...times of solitude can help create the right atmosphere for God’s work.” ~ Amy Simpson

“God will give you the right words at the right time.” (Matthew 10:19-20)

“...God does not discover truth, as we do. He decrees it, He creates it. We do this too, partially, in the creative arts. There we make truth...” (Peter Keeft, The Philosophy of Jesus)
“...with God everything is possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

“...it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your
heart...you can pray for anything and, if you believe that you‘ve received it, it will be yours.”
(Mark 11:23-24)

“...Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be open to you. For everyone who seeks, finds.
And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10)

“Your Father already knows all of your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and
he will give you everything you need.” (Luke 12:30-31)

“To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given.” (Luke 18:27)

“Start with the soul and perhaps the temporal gifts I want to exercise will have their chance... God must be in all my work.” (Flannery O’Connor)

“Christ actively liberates by truth, as God does. Christ is not a scientist but an artist.” (Peter Keeft, The Philosophy of Jesus)

Jesus assures us, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)