Growing up I was surrounded by many godly influences and some great examples of taking up the cross daily. One of the biggest influences in my life has been, and continues to be my father, who chose to leave what was familiar to him and go to share Jesus with those who had not heard. I watched him live a lifestyle that honors and glorifies God. It’s not surprising that my Dad would challenge me to do the same.

My dad has given me two challenges; first to seek joy, and secondly to find something worth dying for and then live for that. Dad helped me to realize that as a child of God I have access to the greatest gift in the world. Why would I ever settle for less by pursuing empty fulfillment in shallow places?

I don’t know of anything that’s worth dying for that isn’t about bringing glory to God. If I am able to fulfill this challenge, then in the end, if I die young or live to be a hundred, people will see that I lived a life worth living.

Our friend Samuel is a great example of living with joy and being willing to die for Christ’s purposes. As a young man Sam became a follower of Jesus in the midst of a nation that opposes Christianity. Because of his decision to follow Christ, Samuel’s friends reported him in to the authorities and had him arrested.

While Samuel was in prison he experienced extreme persecution including physical and sexual abuse because of his faith in Jesus. Samuels imprisonment was a horrible situation, but because of the way that he handled it and used it to glorify God, it became an encouragement and further challenge as I was able to see the example set by Sam of having found something worth dying for and living for it in great hardship. Through severe persecution Samuel grew stronger in his faith in Jesus when he could have easily denied Christ in order to get a quick release from prison.

After several months Samuel was released and was whisked out of the country to safety. While in exile he spent a lot of time in prayer, trying to work through what he should do. In the end Samuel decided that he should go back to his home country to share the good news of Jesus with his people. Samuel knew full well that he could be killed or imprisoned once again. Our friend decided that taking the Gospel back home was worth even his life. So he made a choice to go back for the honor and glory of God.

Samuel found something worth dying for and decided to live his life for that. Will you commit your life to something worth dying for?

24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save their life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?

Matthew 16:24-26 (NIV)