The Demand of Jesus: we must die in order to live

Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:37-39)

Jesus demands our first love and allegiance. He has not come to be one among many loves, but first over all loves. Even our familial ties—the closest of our relationships—must fall lower in priority than Jesus, who is Lord. It is not that Jesus wants to decrease our other loves, but that He wants them to find their right place in relation to the primacy of our love for Him. It is only in light of Jesus and our love for Him that all other people and things find their right place and our love for them is set in order.

Who or what do we love most in our lives? If the decision was before us and we had to choose between that person or thing and Jesus, which would we really choose? We may readily say it would be our Savior, but does our daily life, use of time and money, and all other pursuits show that to be true? Do the inner dialogues of our life reveal something to us about our love?

Jesus calls us to a sacrificial life in pursuit of Him. While this may sound counter-intuitive to the good life, sacrifice is essential to what is good. We all know this from our various life experiences. We know that pursuing a goal requires sacrifice. We know that loving another person requires sacrifice. Why would this be different in spiritual matters? The good life spiritually is one that is marked by Jesus’ Cross. It calls for sacrifice at the center of our being, a sort of death to self, which serves as a gate into the real, abundant life with God. As Jesus said, “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39). What we often call “life” is not truly life. It will not bring what we hope it will or, at times, what it promises to bring to us. And so, Jesus must be the touchstone of all existence for us, which requires first a dying to self and then a living in Him. When Jesus is that touchstone, we will begin to see what true life and love is all about.

Are we willing to “die” as we turn toward Jesus? What do we still grasp for desperately that we need to release so we can live in Him?

A Prayer of Adoration in the Morning

“O LORD my God, I cried unto you, and you have made me whole.” (Psalm 30:2)

Early in the morning I draw near to You
to pray, to worship, to be still.

Like the disciples who gathered after Your resurrection
to meet with You again in Galilee,
I bow in worship for You are my Lord and my God,
yet I also hesitate because of myself.
I bring my real self—imperfect and broken,
sinful and self-focused—to You.
Heal me, help me, forgive me, deliver me,
and make me whole in You.

Set me free on the pathway of this day
and walk with me as You show me the road to take.
All my life is Yours for You are worthy of it.
All my minutes are Yours for You reign over them all.

You, God, are my God, my Savior, my King,
my Healer, my Deliverer, and the Lover of my soul.
In the stillness of this early hour I marvel at You—
Your majestic power and Your tender love,
Your steadfast righteousness and Your pervasive justice,
Your unflinching faithfulness and humble holiness.

You, God, are my God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—
and I worship You with my restored life today.

What Does It Look Like to Rest in God?: insights about the easy yoke from Dallas Willard

Renovation of the Heart

One of the most striking aspects of the writing and teaching of Dallas Willard is his ability to open up with fresh perspective what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. One of Willard’s most powerful contributions to disciple is found in his explanation of Jesus’ well-known invitation:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Willard refers to our discipleship response to this invitation as living in “the secret of the easy yoke” in his book The Spirit of the Disciplines. As I recently re-read Renovation of the Heart, I came across this basic description of what Willard sees as the essence of discipleship in the easy yoke of Jesus. I hope it speaks to you as much as it did to me.

Jesus heard the soul’s cries from the wearied humanity he saw around him. He saw the soul’s desperate need in those who struggled with the overwhelming tasks of their life. Such weariness and endless labor was, to him, a sure sign of a sou not properly rooted in God—a soul, in effect, on its own. He saw the multitudes around him, and it tore his heart, for they were ‘distressed and downcast’ like ‘sheep without a shepherd’ (Matthew 9:36). And he invited such people to come and become his students (‘learn of me’) by yoking themselves to him—that is, letting him show them how he would pull their load. He is not ‘above’ this, as earthly ‘great ones’ are, for he is meek and lowly of heart (Matthew 11:28-30).

His own greatness of soul made meekness and lowliness the natural way for him to be (Philippians 2:3-11). Being in his yoke is not a matter of taking on additional labor to crush us all the more, but a matter of learning how to use his strength and ours together to bear our load  and his. We will find his yoke an easy one and his burden a light one because, in learning from him, we have found rest to our soul. What we have learned is, primarily, to rest our soul in God. Rest to our soul is rest in God. My soul is at peace only when it is with God, as a child with its mother.

What we most learn in his yoke, beyond acting with him, is to abandon outcomes to God, accepting that we do not have in ourselves—in our own ‘heart, soul, mind, and strength’—the wherewithal to make this come out right, whatever ‘this’ is. Even if we ‘suffer according to the will of God,’ we simple ‘entrust our souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right’ (1 Peter 4:19). Now, this is a major part of that meekness and lowliness of heart that we also learn in his yoke. And what rest comes with it!

[From Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2002), 209.]

Stewards of the Kingdom

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we continued our new series entitled “The Beginning of the End.” This series explores the resurrection of Jesus in tandem with some of Jesus’ teaching about the fall of Jerusalem and the end of all time. This weekend Gabriel Douglas preached from Matthew 25:14-30, the parable of the talents.

This message is from the tenth and final part of our longer journey through the Gospel of Matthew, which includes “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” “Stories of the Kingdom,” “Who Do You Say I Am?“, “‘Tis the Reason,” “Jesus Said What?!“, and “Scandalous Jesus.

You can find the message video and the sermon outline plus discussion questions below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day or the hour.” (Matthew 25:13)

  1. Be excited about Jesus’ Return
  2. Know what Jesus teaches by reading His word
  3. You cannot live off of someone else’s talents
  4. Surrender your talents to Christ and be ready for Him

Discussion questions

  1. When you think of Jesus’ return, what emotions do you feel?
  2. What talents and abilities do you know that God has given you?
  3. Are there times where you have used those abilities for your own gain?
  4. What servant do you resonate with? The one who returned on investment or the one who kept the talent for themselves?
  5. Read Hebrews 12:2, what does it mean to you that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith?
  6. What is one way this week you can honor God with what He has given you?

Eastbrook at Home – May 15, 2022

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Join us for worship with Eastbrook Church through Eastbrook at Home at 8, 9:30, and 11 AM.

This weekend we continue our celebration of Jesus’ Resurrection and our series on the Gospel of Matthew entitled “The Beginning of the End.”

Here is a prayer for the fifth Sunday of Easter from The Book of Common Prayer:

Almighty God, whom truly to know is everlasting life: Grant us so perfectly to know your Son Jesus Christ to be the way, the truth, and the life, that we may steadfastly follow his steps in the way that leads to eternal glory; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

If you are able to do so, let me encourage you to join us for in-person services at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 AM this weekend at the Eastbrook Campus.

If you are new to Eastbrook, we want to welcome you to worship and would ask you to text EBCnew to 94000 as a first step into community here at Eastbrook.

Each Sunday at 8, 9:30, and 11 AM, you can participate with our weekly worship service at home with your small group, family, or friends. This service will then be available during the week until the next Sunday’s service starts. You can also access the service directly via Vimeo, the Eastbrook app, or Facebook.

If you are not signed up for our church emailing list, please sign up here. Also, please remember that during this time financial support for the church is critical as we continue minister within our congregation and reach out to our neighborhood, city, and the world at this challenging time. Please give online or send in your tithes and offerings to support the ministry of Eastbrook Church.