Quotes: Deny Yourself

Quotefancy-217426-3840x2160Matthew 16:24-26, Mark 8:34-37, and Luke 9:23-25 (NRSV)
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

Self-denial is not a mask for self-contempt, but the necessary means for achieving self-mastery; for self-mastery makes possible our self-giving and self-fulfillment. Sin is not wanting too much, but settling for too little. It’s settling for self-gratification rather than self-fulfillment. -Scott Hahn

You will soon be asked to let go of some part of your false self, which you foolishly thought was permanent, important, and essential! You know God is doing this in you and with you when you can somehow smile and trust that what you lost was something you did not need anyway. In fact, it got in the way of what was real. – Richard Rohr 

Follow me. One of the most compelling sentences in the Bible. Two words, when spoken by Jesus, create a sense of power and mystery and awe. To follow is to enter into the unknown, to give your life over to another. We rarely want to do this. Yet at the same time it is exactly what we desire: to be led into a better place, a better world, a better life. – Daniel Wolpert, Leading a Life with God

Following Jesus does not mean imitating Jesus, copying his way of doing things. If we imitate someone, we are not developing an intimate relationship with that person. Instead, following Jesus means to give our own unique form, our own unique incarnation, to God’s love. To follow Jesus means to live our lives as authentically as he lived his. It means to give away our ego and follow the God of love as Jesus shows us how to do it. – Henri J. M. Nouwen, A Spirituality of Homecoming

The point of following Jesus isn’t simply so that we can be sure of going to a better place than this after we die. Our future beyond death is extremely important, but the nature of the Christian hope is such that it plays back into the present life.
~ N. T. Wright, Simply Christian

Lord, spare me from my wishes, that I may be free for you.
Spare me from my little self, that I may be my divine self.
Spare me from my life, that, dying, I may become yours.
– Excerpt of a prayer entitled Spare Me by Steve Garnaas-Holmes. For more on the ideas of denying our “little self”, ego, and false-self click over to another reflection by Steve Garnaas-Holmes entitled Deny Yourself

“Denying yourself” in its Jewish context means resting in the righteousness of Jesus and denying yourself of the righteousness that comes from performance of the law.
– Simon Yap, What is the meaning of “denying yourself”? 

Yap invites us to consider Leviticus 16:29; Numbers 29:7; Leviticus 23:32; Leviticus 23:27; Leviticus 16:31.

What we are all searching for is Someone to surrender to, something we can prefer to life itself. Well here is the wonderful surprise: God is the only one we can surrender to without losing ourselves! The irony is that we actually find ourselves, but now in a whole new and much larger field of meaning. – Richard Rohr

In the spiritual life, the word ‘discipline’ means ‘the effort to create some space in which God can act’. Discipline means to prevent everything in your life from being filled up. Discipline means that somewhere you’re not occupied, and certainly not preoccupied… to create that space in which something can happen that you hadn’t planned or counted on. -Henri Nouwen

Extended Quote from Steve Garnaas Holmes
To deny yourself is not to punish yourself, or to take on misery. It’s not to live in denial, to turn your back on who you are, but the opposite. We falsely see ourselves as finite, discreet individuals, separate from the world, in danger at any moment of disappearing back into the abyss. It’s not the real truth, but an image of our “self” that the ego uses to manage our consciousness. And we believe it. We spend our lives—mostly unconsciously— protecting that little “self,” and in particular its power, security and esteem. (Hence Jesus’ temptations in the desert.) It’s what St. Paul calls “the flesh.” He doesn’t mean our body; he means something even smaller, contained within our body, limited by our fears and appetites.

But we aren’t such little “selves.” We are part of something infinite. By the life of Holy Spirit in us we are members of the infinite Body of God, who dwells in us and we in God. We are sustained not by our own protection of our little lives but by the life-giving fountain of grace welling up within us to eternal life, flowing with perfect, infinite compassion.

To “deny ourselves” is to deny whatever fears keep us from loving fully. It is let go of our self-centeredness, to say no the illusion, to transcend our ego, to abandon our little skull-caged, death-leashed bit of fear and desire and instead become the infinitely alive and loving children of God we truly are. As those who embody God’s love we give of our lives for love; we are not afraid even of death, because we trust that with love and grace God overabundantly renews life in us. So we follow Jesus out of our selves and into infinite life: without fear we take up our cross, practice compassionate self-giving and join Jesus in loving the world into its newness. You are love; you are Beloved. Deny anything less, and love without limit.

Extended Quote from Nadia Bolz-Weber
Sermon on Losing Your Life and How Jesus Isn’t Your Magical Puppy

This saying of Jesus that we are to deny the self and lose our life to gain it has been abused and perverted. Perverted into messages like “If you want to be a follower of Jesus you must deny your Queerness, pick up your cross of heterosexuality and follow him.” Or “deny your dignity and pick up your cross of continued domestic abuse and follow him.” Or “deny your experience and pick up your cross of trusting religious authorities to tell you what to believe.”

I wanted to convince you that when Jesus says deny yourself, that maybe it’s really denying the self that wants to see itself as separate from God and others. Deny the self that believes that spirituality is a suffering avoidance program. Deny the self that does not feel worthy of God’s love. Deny the self that thinks it is more worthy of God’s love than it’s enemy is. Deny the self that thinks it can do itself. Deny the self that is turned in on the self.

Because I really want you to know that dying to that false self no matter how painful, will bring you real life.

Click here for another incredibly honest and faithful sermon on the “deny yourself, take up your cross” passage by Nadia Bolz-Weber, entitled “A Sermon on Addiction and the Problem with our Me-based Solutions.”

Click here for a reflection on how denying yourself intersects with social justice by Steve Garnaas Holmes.

For quotes on “taking up your cross”, click here

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Like our sister Mary, a Christmas Affirmation


Like our sister Mary, we say yes

Yes to your favor
Your presence
Your blessing

Yes that we are enough just as we are
Where we are

Yes to your calling
and the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon us to fulfill it

Yes to bearing and birthing
Your Word and your Promises and your Kingdom
in this time and place

Yes to all things being possible with you

Like our sister Mary we say
Here I am, the Lord’s humble servant
As you have said, let it be done to me
in me
through me

Like our sister Mary we sing and celebrate you
Our God, Our Liberator
For though we are your humble servants
You have noticed us

This affirmation is offered for all, but especially for those who lead God’s people during the holy-days of Christmas. It can be an weary and stressful time. It’s easy to miss the wonder and grace of God’s intimate presence with so much responsibility. The stakes feel sky high. Breathe, trust, receive brothers and sisters. The promises are for you as well.

Happy Advent and Merry Christmas! – Lisa <><

Like our Sister Mary © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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Based on Luke 1:26-48, The Voice translation

Honorable, a prayer based on Romans 12.16-18.

broken mended pot bowlBased on Romans 12:16-18, The Voice Translation 

Heavenly Father, I am unworthy of the grace and favor you extend. Yet, you name me and move in me so I may be all you aspire. My heart and hands are open to receive and be.

Finish your work in me. Create in me an honorable soul- honest, principled, generous, virtuous, noble.

Bring together this failed clay in integrity, able to hold together harmony and peace in our broken world. Make me whole, able to bear your will and truth and mercy. Re-member me, now a surer vessel of your Spirit, surrendered to your every hope and purpose.

Hallelujah, to the One who heals!
Hallelujah, to the One who redeems!
Hallelujah, Amen!

Honorable, a prayer based on Romans 12:16-18  © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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Focus Me, a prayer based on Philippians 4

philippians4-8thinkontheseBased on Philippians 4:6-9

Almighty God,
Most powerful, most near, most good
I surrender my worries to you
I have asked, you will supply
I have made my needs and desires known
You will bring goodness and mercy

Thank you for your steadfast love and faithfulness
Thank you for your saving power
Thank you for grace upon grace

Your peace surpasses all need and understanding
Guard my heart with your peace
Guard my mind with your peace
Guard me now and always in Christ Jesus my Lord, the Prince of Peace.

Focus my attention and hope on your goodness, your truth, your honor, your justice. All are at work in your world.

Focus my attention and hope on your goodness, your purity, your delight, your commending. All are at work in your world.

Focus my attention and hope on your goodness, your excellence, your praise. All are it work in your world.

All are at work in me, my situation, this very moment.

Focus my attention, my power, my resources to keep doing all you show me to be right, for you are with me, God of Peace and Hope.

Focus me on your promises that I may persevere, no matter the season or situation, for the building of your kingdom and the glory of your name. Amen.

Focus Me © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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Prayer: O Lord, My Heart is Not Proud

Sunrise over sea
O Lord, my heart is not proud
I trust you and need you and honor your blessed presence

Cleanse and nurture my soul
that I may rejoice in what delights you,
see as you see, love as you love

Cleanse and nurture my soul
so my thoughts are as yours,
so I am quick to respond to your bidding

Cleanse and nurture my soul
so that I may leave this world more as you intend it to be

I place myself honestly and humbly into your care,
for you know me truly and love me completely

O Lord, My Heart is Not Proud © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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My time, my talents, my calling- a prayer of surrender

srrrender quoteLord, the opportunities of the world stretch before me. Many are good but only a few are best. Many could be my path in you, but far fewer actually are.

My time is a gift from you
My time is precious
My time is short

My talents are a gift from you
They can only bless and influence
when focused and deployed with purpose

My calling is a gift from you
I cannot do all things
Save me from wanting to
and trying to

I surrender it all to you
I trust you

Focus my time and talents and calling for your greatest glory. I am at peace confident in your best purposes for me. Grant me courage to step forward faithfully and leave behind faithfully. Amen

My time, my talents, my calling- a prayer of surrender © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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A prayer for those who have much, based on Matthew 19.23-30

i need you

Based on Matthew 19:23-30

Merciful Jesus, I recognize I have so much. In this place and time I am one of the first. Yes there’s always someone who has more, but free me from justifying with true perspective. I am one of the first – access to wealth, belongings, influence, work, medical care, food, water, education, credit, safety…

I hear your words… The first will be last, the last will be first…. It is so hard for those with much to enter the kingdom of heaven.

It is hard. It is hard for me to not miss you. So much comfort, apathy, distraction, self fulfillment. It is so easy to think I don’t need saving. It is so easy to care for only me and mine.

It is a good life now, a blessed life, but not eternal. I have so much but I need so much. I need you and your salvation. I need your truth, your way, your eternal life. I need others. Show me what to leave to have you and family 100-fold, for now and forever.

Speak Lord, I am listening…

A Prayer for Those Who Have Much © 2017 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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