Tag Archives: Amanda Cook

A Closer Walk: Renunciation and Following Jesus

I have thought on the word “discipleship” a great deal in recent years.

If I had to describe, in one word, this journey of mine it has all come down to the word: RENUNCIATION.

The dictionary gives this simple definition of renunciation: abnegation, denial, forsaking, giving up, self-abnegation, self-denial, self-renunciation.

Tough words. Sometimes painful. Always challenging.

I smile when someone refers to a Christian as “wimpy.” (Truly, they haven’t got a clue!) Of all things required to pull-off a set of words like the above? Wimpy is certainly not one of them.

obedienceFollowing Jesus is definitely not for wimps!

Discipleship is the act of daily “laying your life down,” sometimes literally, as we have seen in our news headlines, but always, always, in absolute fidelity.

And here is where the struggle comes in—at least for me.

Perhaps there are those who joyfully follow wherever Christ points without the slightest questioning. For me—there has always been the struggle—especially when it is something that seems unfair, unjust, or illogical.

And, I suspect all the talk about the many folks going out the back doors of our churches confirms, I am not alone.

For a dedicated disciple of Jesus, life will come down to obedience—always.

American ChristianityFollowing Christ is choosing to obey Him in ALL THINGS.

We don’t pick or choose.

We don’t get a vote.

We are required to sacrifice anything and everything—if He wills it. We renounce our rights to ourselves, and renunciation, is where many walk away believing the price is just too high.

Discipleship means tough choices and giving up our right to any refusal (perhaps this is the toughest choice of all,) but that is why Jesus said to us, “Count the cost.”

Discipleship is very costly at times.

I imagine Non-Christians wonder, “Why would anyone choose this?”

For myself, I had to think hard to know how to answer that question:

I suppose, first, it is the JOY of learning that you are thoroughly LOVEDjust as you are.

All the broken, unworthy stuff, forgiven because He wants us; just as He finds us; in spite of all our mess.

Then, there is the PEACE He gives.

A peace that will overcome and rule any situation. (How could you possibly put a price on that?) He is the Prince of Peace, and when He comes to dwell in a heart He brings His peace with Him.

There is escaping hell and it’s judgement. (No explanation necessary here.)

There is His STRENGTH and the HOPE He gives.

There are all the PROMISES that He absolutely makes good on, either now or in the life to come, because He is completely TRUSTWORTHY.

He never lies. Never betrays. Never abandons.

daily renunciationHe is a King.

This world belongs to Him.

Make no mistake about it, He will never ask your permission.

He is a ruler.

He is: The Ruler.

(Something this world will soon discover!)

He will not spare for our crying, yet He will always acknowledge our suffering, for no one is more compassionate, or kind.

No one is more forgiving. But—He is laser-focused and unrelenting in His goals for our lives!

Does following Christ make you a wimp?

My answer—try it—see for yourself.

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ONLY WE TWO

We are going somewhere, you and I!

This, all of this, will be transformed into glory.

Remember? I give grace and glory.

(This we have talked about many times.)

Ah, but the cost we rarely speak of.

So today, let’s speak of it.

This chafing you feel? This constant, dragging, irritation? This is from Me. The things you think you cannot bear? The things that try your nerves, and scrape, and grate, on your soul? From Me—all from Me.

(How long?)

Just a little more.

Just until your nerves don’t grate and your heart can bear.

(Oh, that look!)

“Never.” you say?

(Oh, I don’t know about that!)

My child, I don’t smile at your discomfort. I smile because I see what you are becoming. I see the seeds of glory beginning to sprout.

(Ha, I knew it!)

Soon, you will be a luscious garden of graces, filled with the fruits of My Spirit. All this grating, chafing, misery, will dwarf in comparison.

As you begin to fulfill your destiny?

Oh, the healing that will flow from those lips; from your heart. Your life will burst into bloom and blossom and the world will marvel at what you have become.

Only we two will know what it has cost you—what you laid down and sacrificed to bear this fruit for others.

Only we two.

a closer walk“After you have suffered a little while, our God, who is full of kindness through Christ, will give you his eternal glory.”

1 Peter 5:101 Peter 5:10
English: World English Bible - WEB

10 But may the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.

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A Closer Walk: Getting To Know Someone

I knew “the basics” about Someone called The Holy Spirit: Comforter, Teacher, Guide. The Third Person of the Trinity. I knew, too, that He would “whisper” to me on occasion. The Still Small Voice mentioned in the Bible, 1 Kings 19.

faint whispers of The Holy Spirit

I would hear these faint whispers from time to time, usually while I was reading my Bible, but, a full-on conversation? No. My life was normally crammed with lots of activity and noise. To sit completely still in total silence? This was something new and foreign to me.

And I confess, I didn’t like it much.

I was addicted to activity. Nevertheless, here I was, feet nailed to the floor. My illness, and the resulting accident had left me injured and so weak, I couldn’t walk across a room without steadying myself against a wall. My legs were again beginning to feel like they belonged to my body, and my hands were becoming steadier, but my headaches were constant and excruciating. I spoke as little as possible, because the vibration of my own vocal cords, made my head feel as if it would explode!

For these reasons my daily routine changed to one of complete stillness and quiet, and it was from this enforced quietness, a couple of realities soon became apparent.

He is A PersonFirst, I realized in a startling and fresh way, that The Holy Spirit is indeed, A Person. He is not some weird abstraction. He is a someone we can speak our hearts to. Someone who listens to our innermost thoughts. He will respond to us, if we will allow Him, and enter into the still quiet that is necessary for us to hear Him speak.

Secondly, because of the headaches, I had difficulty focusing my eyes on a page. Even journaling was difficult. Consequently, these “conversations” at times will sound a bit one sided, but that’s because I would “think” my responses, more than write them. (I apologize for this resulting economy of words.) Since The Holy Spirit is our “inside God” He would speak to my slightest disbelief, disagreement, or doubts, and I would journal what He said, not what I thought. (Though I hope my thoughts seem obvious.) This way of “conversing” felt very strange at first, but as these encounters became daily, I would simply listen, and then journal what I heard.

By My Spirit

One more thing—and this is BIG.

Let me say for the record, if you “hear” a voice, but you have no personal relationship with Jesus Christ as your Savior? If you have not professed your own desperate need of a Savior, confessed your helplessness and hopelessness without Him, and asked Him to come into your heart, and change your life? Whatever “voice” you may be hearing, it is NOT, The Holy Spirit.

Today, The Holy Spirit is the promised gift, given only to those who have come to FAITH in Jesus Christ, and have given over ownership and control of their lives to Him. If you have not done this? You need to. Now. Today. The Bible tells us, tomorrow is promised to no one.

Today is the day of salvation

This is so simple.

Jesus Christ will forgive and cleanse all sin to any who sincerely ask Him. The Holy Spirit will come with new power and strength, as He makes your heart His home. Your faith is now in Him for everything, and as I was learning anew, faith is the key to all powerful believing.

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THE FUEL

“What is faith?” Hebrews 11:1Hebrews 11:1
English: World English Bible - WEB

11 1 Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen.

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It’s a good question isn’t it?

My children have examined and re-examined this question, but what do you say My dear friend?

(It is Power child.)

Corrie Ten Boom

That is why the enemy of men’s souls works night and day to destroy their faith ~ your faith.

(He knows.)

Now you know, too.

Faith is the steam that drives your engine. It is the stuff; the fuel that fires your life! You can’t go anywhere, do anything without it.

And, without it?

I said, “…without it, it is impossible to please Me!”

Now, next question.

Where does it come from?

(Ah, another good question—where indeed?)

So Will IIf you said, “From Me…” you are half right, but only half. Actually it is born. It is created in the TIME we spend together. The more time together ~ the more faith. The less?

Well, you see My point. If you want to move mountains you must generate Holy Steam.

Power!

(And, for Power you must spend time with Me.)

The days you do these little “hit-and-runs”?

Well, you see the results. No Steam. No Power. Your mountains tend to fall on you, rather than getting out of your way.

(Just an observation.)

Maybe the next time you’re tempted to tell Me, “Later.” I should ask you…

“What is faith?”

(Just a thought.)

power from on high

What do you think?

(Me, too.)

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To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One.

 Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in POWER; not one faileth.   Isaiah 40:25, 26Isaiah 40:25, 26
English: World English Bible - WEB

25 To whom then will you liken me, that I should be equal to him? says the Holy One. 26 Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these, who brings out their army by number; he calls them all by name; by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power, not one is lacking.

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A Closer Walk: God Never Plays Games With Us

God never plays games with us. He never lies to us. He always shoots straight with us.

I believe that is why Jesus plainly said,

“And no one can be my disciple who does not carry his own cross and follow me. But DON’T BEGIN until you count the cost…” Luke 14:27-28Luke 14:27-28
English: World English Bible - WEB

27 Whoever doesn’t bear his own cross, and come after me, can’t be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and count the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?

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What could be plainer than that statement?

So, why don’t we believe Him?

God demands everything

Why do we play games?

(Because we do.)

In the Western Church we act like this “discipleship-thing” is some sort of a democratic club. We sing that God is supreme. We say that Jesus is our King. But, if things don’t go well? If we don’t get to have our say, or have our way? We bail out—plain and simple.

The sad truth most church statisticians agree upon.

We hate to be inconvenienced, and because of that, there are as many people going out the back door of our churches as are coming in the front door!

If we don’t get what we want, and by that I mean, the pastor’s length of sermon, the style of music, the style of service, a good parking spot, or our favorite seat—we find a way to say, “Bye-bye.” Suffering—REAL suffering—is definitely not on our agendas.

And that was me!

I was seriously thinking of bailing—and here was God—painting a picture of greater suffering?

I had lost my health, my job, and with it, all of my income, my good credit, my freedom and choice of movement, my church, all my church “friends” and now God was saying, “…things could get worse.”

Worse?

You bet I was re-thinking my discipleship!

I was raised in the democratic Church in the West.

We vote on everything and I wanted a VOTE on this kind of agenda!

All InIt’s all well and good to be sitting on my nice clean cushioned-seat, in my lovely safe air-conditioned church building, singing sweet songs about how much I love Jesus.

BUT, it was quite another to contemplate things getting much worse—while I was occupying my own personal ash pile!

What was I really signing up for?

Did I want this dream I had asked God to give me?

I mean, did I really want it—at any cost?

faith or control?God was using words like “danger” and “hardship” with no apologies for either, you bet I was thinking long and hard.

Did I love Jesus as much as I claimed?

His words, “… don’t begin until you count the cost.” was certainly clear enough.

It was time to decide.

I know it looked crazy, (It probably sounds crazy too.) but my answer was, “Yes.”

I said, “LORD, I don’t have any idea where the two of us are headed, but I’ve come too far to turn back now.”

I was scared.

Life already looked plenty grim.

But regardless—I decided—I was all-in.

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WHY DO YOU WEAR THAT FUNNY LOOK?

So you have chosen. Good. Good!

No turning back.

I AM glad you have chosen to  go on.

It had to be your decision.

You are surprised?

upgrade your faithHave I not chosen to bind Myself by men’s free will? What kind of relationship would choose to hog-tie the other’s free will? That is not friendship, that is slavery!

I AM no slaver!

I AM the Divine Lover.

I never force.

(No, it is not My way.)

I do want you to come away with Me—with all My heart I want this. I AM so jealous when you choose “another love” instead of Me.

I freely admit it  I AM crazy about you!

Why do you wear that funny look?

Had you not figured it out by now?

Did I not tell you?

I would move stars and planets for you!

I would make the sun stand still for you!

I would follow you to the deepest, darkest cave, to win your love!

(This you know is true.)

Let Me shout it, “I LOVE YOU BELOVED!”

Let Me whisper it, “I love you.”

I love you with an intensity you will never understand!

When you choose Me—freely choose Me—no matter the cost? When you lay your life down as you have chosen to do?

My Spirit soars!

You are My passion Sweetheart. I wanted you to know it now, and for all time…

I love you.

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“But we have never turned our backs on God…”

Hebrews 10:39Hebrews 10:39
English: World English Bible - WEB

39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the saving of the soul.

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