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She looked at me with a pinched face and said “I really didn’t get much out of the service today!” She had that disapproving look that said “and it’s your fault!” Imagine her surprise when I told her sincerely “well dear, that’s OK. We weren’t doing the worship for you anyway!”

And yes, that didn’t make her happy either.

But think about it. Getting what you need from worship isn’t based on focusing on yourself, but finally focusing only on Christ. The miracle is when I finally do that, He meets my needs. It really is the mystery of what our Gospel Lesson talks about today.

Look at this: The Lord said to his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”

There is always a threefold path to finally escaping the prison of “Me, My, and Mine” but it will take learning how to consistently embrace and apply the three disciplines of true disciples of Jesus Christ: Deny yourself, Shoulder your Cross, and Follow Christ. This threefold rhythm of spiritual discipline is the time honored way we Orthodox make mature Christians. It is the path of the Fathers. It is the path of the Saints. It is the path of the Faith.

growit is also the path of truth, and truth has a way of making me both healthy and uncomfortable. But embracing this path and accepting that my discomfort reveals my deep need, allows me to learn to actually be thankful for hearing truth that even makes me squirm!

Today, are you willing to pass through the discomfort phase of hearing truth to finally arrive at the whole place of true discipleship? Are you finally ready to abandon the pattern of selfish focus to grow into a mature follower of Jesus Christ? If so, then square your shoulders to take your focus off yourself, bend down and lift your cross, and follow Him through the suffering to the glory!

P.S. Don’t forget to tell your friends about this Sunday’s Faith Encouraged LIVE program. We are going to discuss Spiritual Warfare and just what is this unseen world anyway! That’s this Sunday at 8 PM on

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