“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”Luke 9:23
Warmest summer greetings, to our friends and beloved co-laborers in Christ….
Anastasia joins me in praying for your spiritual prosperity, particularly that the unfathomable love of our Lord Jesus Christ is causing you to be living in the fruit of His garden—growing prodigiously into His likeness.
We often hear about the compromising life of believers who have become ensnared by the perverseness of our culture instead of living in the power of Christ and the manifestation of His glory. How does this happen? Why are so many Christians wasting their lives by flirting with darkness? Why is it that we have prayed hundreds of times, repeatedly making vows in the process, only to find ourselves swimming upstream in worldly pursuits?
The answer to these questions is quite simply, self. Jesus clearly states that if anyone desires to be one of His followers that he/she must first “deny himself.” We are confronted with two lives: the self-life or the Christ-life. To live triumphantly I must participate in my own funeral—dying to my own agenda, yielding my interests to Christ; renouncing my own works of righteousness; denying myself the pleasures and profits of this world when they are in competition with Christ and surrendering the totality of my being to the One who regenerated my life with the new birth—Jesus of Nazareth.
The second part of the above verse “…and take up his cross daily….” speaks likewise to death but also to affliction/trials. Self never wants to die, so daily it must be crucified in order to follow our Master unencumbered. Invariably, God leads us through places we’ve never been and sometimes to places where we never wanted to go. But by His abounding grace and enabling power we can cheerfully receive and bear patiently with every affliction—however painful it may be—knowing that “all of our days have been ordained for us before one of them came to be” and that “His mighty right hand will hold us fast as He guides us” to our Heavenly Home. Knowing these truths constrains us to pray…
I yield myself, Almighty God,
To seek Your will alone,
To serve Your glorious majesty
And make my heart Your throne.
My precious bride continues to amaze me with her contentment in the midst of her circumstances. As you know, she has been diagnosed with FTD (Frontotemporal Degeneration) and is a resident in a local assisted living facility, a “place we’ve never been and where we never wanted to go.” But by the sovereign guidance and grace of God, He carries her from day to day with a peace that goes beyond all human comprehension. This can only be explained by years of her personal and intimate communion with Christ Jesus.
Just this evening, as she slipped between the sheets preparing for the night, I asked her what was the highlight of her day, and her response was, “Right where I am, the Sweet Spot.” This precipitated a conversation about her illness, where she would like to finish her days, about her coming home or remaining where she is, loneliness, and a lot of other personal issues that we have. And when we were all finished, I asked, “Are you contented this evening?” Her response: “Yes, my dear; very contented.”
Now, I know that many of you reading this have had to endure much greater tribulation, suffering and affliction than we will probably ever experience in our lifetimes, but this is all new to us. We’ve never been here before. So when I see my wife modeling a lifestyle day after day of peace, satisfaction and contentment, in her condition, I take special notice. Jonathan Edwards wrote in his dissertation, “The End for Which God Created the World,”
that “God’s ultimate purpose is the manifestation of His glory in the highest happiness of His creatures.” He further suggests that as the creature (i.e. believer) “increases in his/her knowledge of God, love to Him and joy in Him the more that believer comes nearer and nearer to an identity with that which is in God.” Pastor John Piper explores this thought in detail in his excellent work, “God’s Passion for His Glory,” and concludes that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” This explains what I see in Anastasia; her satisfaction in Him, (i.e. her years of accumulating knowledge of God, her love to Him and joy in Him) causes God to be most glorified in her… in spite of her disease. Of course this is possible for any believer who puts to death the self-life and yields to the Christ-life as a way of life.
I hope to grow up to be like my bride. 🙂
Anastasia’s book of poems has recently been put to music and has possibly created a new opportunity for proclaiming of the Gospel. Presently, we are seeking God’s direction on how to approach the music industry. Also, since we have purchased and acquired all rights to our two books (“Developing Your Secret Closet of Prayer” and “Praying Your Prodigal Home”), and with my health improving, we want to return to our writing by doing an “updated and revised” edition of both books. God willing, hopefully this can be initiated in the coming weeks after my having cataract surgery in September.
Speaking of my health, it continues to improve weekly (apart from a relapse of my breathing/lung issues in late June) due to physical therapy, the prayers of God’s people and the grace of His healing touch. I have returned to my cycling in modest form but hopefully will be increasing the intensity thereof as I regain strength in my legs. Much more could be said but you get the picture of this 82 year “old goat” attempting to retrieve his physical condition of decades ago. Ain’t ‘gonna happen, but it’s worth a shot.
In closing, we are so mindful of the greatness of God’s faithfulness. For morning by morning new mercies we see, and all we have needed His hand has provided…and yes, through the generosity of many friends like thee. Thank you for your unceasing prayers, notes, calls and support!!!
To Him be all praise and glory,
Richard A. Burr