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Deny Me Not

Then he called his disciples and the crowds to come over and listen. "If any of you wants to be my follower," he told them, "you must put aside your own pleasures and shoulder your cross, and follow me closely. If you insist on saving your life, you will lose it. Only those who throw away their lives for my sake and for the sake of the Good News will ever know what it means to really live.

"And how does a man benefit if he gains the whole world and loses his soul in the process? For is anything worth more than his soul? And anyone who is ashamed of me and my message in these days of unbelief and sin, I, the Messiah, will be ashamed of him when I return in the glory of my Father, with the holy angels. Mark 8:34-38 (TLB)

Emily Marszalek lives in Idaho. Preparing to meet her former boyfriend Mike's friends for the first time, he advised her to hide her cross tattoo adorned with "Christ is King." His friends, he warned, were atheists and welcomed opportunities to confront and mock people of faith. While Emily would love to say that she did not follow Mike's recommendation, she did. Bundling up in the July heat, Emily ensured her tattoo was concealed. And when the subject of God came up, not only did Emily refrain from voicing her conviction and proclaiming how Christ changed her life, she remained silent altogether. Although Emily didn't hear a rooster crow as Peter did, she felt sick. Through her embarrassed silence, she denied Christ.

Jesus advised that following him would not be easy, that we must deny ourselves, take up our cross daily, follow him, and be prepared to be criticized, hated, and persecuted because of him.

As we encounter those who may doubt, hate, or criticize us for our beliefs, let us never be ashamed of Jesus. Instead, may we remain steadfast, seizing every opportunity to share our faith and the love and forgiveness of Christ with a world hungry for hope.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, help us to courageously profess and embody your message of hope, forgiveness, and love. We pray in Your precious name. Amen.


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