Friday, August 10, 2007

Christian Rituals - The Real Deal

When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. 2 Chronicles 7:1

And he said to them all, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Luke 9:23

I am reminded once again that without sacrifice there is no fire. If we want fire in our hearts, the zeal of God, we must put something on the altar and walk away, allowing Him to consume that very thing.

Once again I remember that without the cross there is no death; we are not giving our very lives without that daily cross. If there is no denial of self, He is not enthroned.

It's pretty simple to understand. It's just not easy to do.

But if we want fire in our hearts, the consuming fire of God, a zeal for Him that leaves all other passions laying in the dust behind us, we must present sacrifice. If we want His life in us, if we want to follow after Him in all His ways, we must choose the cross, the way of death. Daily.

Sometimes it sounds like such a supreme endeavor, so noble and all. After all, it is hard to do. But as a friend of mine once said, "What's the big deal? 'Oh, I'm giving up my life and everything I hold dear.' Let's be real - we're giving up sin and brokenness - our drugs and cigarettes, our vain ideas, our shallow dreams."

Yeah - we're giving Him so much. How noble.

But flesh is flesh, and death is death, and flesh doesn't readily welcome death. We don't embrace it easily. And yet, it is the way to life. It brings the consuming fire of God which ushers in His presence in our lives.

It is the only way to live with His glory shining through and His zeal consuming our hearts. It is the only way to truly follow after Him. He gave no other.

"Oh, Lord, let me choose your ways today. Help me to let go of all that You would require of me. Let me lay it on the altar freely. Let me take up that cross and all it represents: death to my ways, desires, will, and dreams. Only You. Only You. Amen."


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