Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Surrender

I had a chance to share a song with the church this last Sunday.  You can hear the song Undone by the group FFH here.  The song spoke to me the first time I heard it.  Surrender is not something that we typically focus on in our lives.  It runs against the grain of our natural humanity.  It is taken as a weakness to the natural man.  Spiritually though surrender is strength.  This truth is Spiritually discerned.  That is to say that it can only be understood with the aid of God's Holy Spirit.  It goes something like this. 


There once was a man that was angry.  He had a hard life.  He was not very popular growing up.  He was socially awkward and did not have any close friends.  He was often the target of taunts.  He even was assaulted at times by other boys that disrespected him.   The physical aspect of the assaults were not nearly as bad as the emotional damage.  He learned to hate people.  People are not to be trusted under any circumstance what so ever.  He lived his life not trusting people beyond what it took to get his basic needs met in this life.  His anger and bitterness grew with every passing year. 

In time he met a woman.  She was very outgoing.  You have heard that opposites attract well in this case you could not come up with a greater opposite than this.  He was shocked at first that someone so out going would even take an interest in him (a recluse).  They met in a coffee shop.  He was sitting working on his laptop finishing up some last minute changes for a presentation he was going to do later that day.  She saw him there typing away and decided to walk over to him.  She asked him what he was doing.  I am not sure if he was distracted with his work so his guard was down, but he talked with her when normally he would have chased her off with a gruff answer as if to say, "leave me alone." 

They hit it off and became good friends.  They would regularly meet at the coffee shop they met in.  As he let his guard down he found himself becoming more and more fond of her.  She also like him.  She would always say, "You make me think.  So many people just want to talk about the weather or sports, but when I am with you I feel like I can talk about anything."  As time passed their relationship became romantic.  He overcame his awkwardness with a deep sincerity that the woman had never known.  Everything was perfect. 

This story does not have a Hollywood ending though.  After a year of dating the man asked his girlfriend to marry.  She accepted.  They wanted to get married soon, but there was many plans to be made.  After what seemed to be an eternity (but was only 6 months) the day was quickly approaching.  The following week they were to be married and start their lives together. 

He got the call about 11:30 that evening.  "We have to talk" a shaky voice said on the other end of the line. 

"Is everything OK?"

"No it is not OK, but I don't want to tell you over the phone.  Can you meet me now?"

They set up a meeting at the coffee shop.  Unfortunately the shop was closed.  Just as well for what happened next. 

As he sat in the car with her his head was swimming with what could possibly be so wrong.  He greatest fear was that she was going to say that she did not want to get married.  He did not understand.

She said, "This is the hardest thing I have ever had to say.  You are the sweetest man on the whole earth and you deserve to have someone much better than me?"

"No that is not true.  Just tell me I am sure we can work through anything."

"I'm pregnant." 

At that moment his body became flush with a rush of adrenaline.  The kind of rush that makes the world go silent.  She had much more to say, but he could not hear her.  It was as if someone had plugged his ears and he could only see her mouth move.  After a few moments of this he could not even focus on her face as his world felt like a spinning merry go round.  Only in this case he could not get off the ride.  He knew she had been with another man.  They agreed to be old fashioned and not have sex until they were married.  And now she was pregnant.  He was snapped back into reality with, "... and that is why I have decided we cannot get married, I am sorry."  He just sat there with a swirl of emotions that cannot be adequately described by words.  He was silent. 

"I am going to go now.  I am so sorry.  I know you will make someone happy someday."

Alone, hurt, devastated, he began to weep.  His weeping turned to bitterness and anger.  He said to himself, "Once again it goes to show you that people are not to be trusted.  How could I have been such a fool.   Never again.  Never again will I let someone hurt me that way."

He spent the next 10 years alone.  He did not mind that much.  He found some companionship with a German Shepard that he rescued from the pound.  Not a day went by though that he did not think about how people had let him down.  His bitterness consumed him.  He was angry and contentious.  No one wanted to be around him and he was OK with that.  He wondered if that was all there was to life.  Let down your guard only to be devastated.  He began to wrestle within himself to find a way out of his mean life.  He tried many things, but to no avail.  Everything seemed meaningless.  He would on occasion remember that year with his girlfriend.  He recalled the good times they had which would make his pain all the more unbearable. 

Then one afternoon at that same coffee shop a young woman walked up to him.  She must have been in her early 20s he guessed.  He was much older than her so he did not see her as a threat.  He talked with her and thought to himself, "She seems so lively and upbeat, clearly she has not experience real life yet."  Then he grew tired of the conversation and spoke in a manner he had many times before to end the conversation.  "Life is only pain, misery, and suffering.  I ought to know I am the most miserable person on the earth."  Usually people would say a few more polite cliches  and then walk away.  He had expected her to do the same.  But she did not.

"What horrible thing must have happened to you to come up with such a hopeless philosophy in life?"

"You would not understand."

"Yeah your probably right, but I would like to hear about it just the same."

He told her the whole story of growing up, falling in love, and being betrayed.  "So you see there is nothing really good in this life."

"You need to surrender" She replied. 

"What?"

"You need to surrender your life."

He thought that this must be some kind of scene out of the twilight zone.  Or some bizarre nightmare that he would wake up from at any minute.  "No offence honey, but that has to be one of the dumbest things I have ever heard in my life."

"Yeah, I used to think the same as you.  It seemed pretty stupid to me also at first."  She went on to share how she had been horribly abused as a child and how her anger consumed her to the point she contemplated suicide. 

"What changed?"  He asked

"I surrendered." 

"I don't get it."

"I surrendered all my sorrows, anger, desires for revenge, the need to see justice done.  I put them all on the Cross of Jesus Christ." 

"Great" He thought, "She is one of those religious nut jobs."

"I figured that as long as I was holding on to my sorrow, anger, right to justice and revenge I was making my spirit sick.  I had a spiritual sickness that made me bitter and hateful toward the world.  To be honest I was even angry with God." 

He was unsure of what to say.  She had just described him perfectly. 

"Hey even our meeting here today was not an accident.  I was praying that God would give me someone to encourage and then I saw you here and now--  Well God want you to know that he loves you and cares for you.  He is ready to take your burdens once you are willing to surrender them.  He did for me I am sure he could do it for you."

I wonder is there anyone out there that would read this that needs to surrender?  Is there some anger, bitterness, addiction, broken relationship, secret sin, fear, painful memory and so on that needs to be given up.  Maybe holding on to it has made your "spirit sick."  God is there for you.  Not to rescue out of the brokenness, but through it.  Surrender is the strongest thing you can do!

God Bless You

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

What is missing? The Blessing!

Lightning is a highly visible form of energy t...

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I had often fallen into a view of God more like Zeus than YWVH of the Bible.  A god in the sky with a large lightning bolt waiting to throw it at me as a result of some personal shortcoming.  As I have matured in the Faith though I have seen that God is more interested in Blessing us than in punishing us.  Punishment is reserved for those whose heart is continually bent toward rebellion against God who refuse His offer of grace and mercy. For the believer God offers a path of blessing!

The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, serving in the household of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made everything he did successful, Joseph found favor in his master's sight and became his personal attendant. Potiphar also put him in charge of his household and placed all that he owned under his authority. From the time that he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house because of Joseph. The Lord's blessing was on all that he owned, in his house and in his fields.
Genesis 39:2-5 (HCSB)

"The Lord was with�"  Strange to think that the Lord was with a man whose brothers ploted to kill him, chose instead to beat him up and leave him in a pit, decided instead to make a profit by selling him to slavery, then after getting the servant job with Potiphar was falsely accused of making sexual advances on Potiphar's wife (by his wife because he would not), Thrown in jail, and forgotten by one he helped in jail.  I think if we had caught Joseph at any one of these moments we might have concluded that God was angry with Joseph.  Not true though God was with him.  What then are we to make of God being with him? 

The blessing of God is not so much a promise for bad things to not happen to you (avoidance of consequences of living in a fallen world) as it is a promise to see you through it.  Joseph for his part walked a life of integrity.  He may not have been perfect, but trusted in God's mercy and grace in spite of his circumstances.  God was with him blessing him in all that he did no matter what station of life he possessed. 

"and he became a successful man."  The blessing of God was in the successes not in the challenges.  The challenges are opportunities for success.  We often squander these opportunities by having a pity party or by losing our integrity.  Either way we end up blocking God's desire to pour blessing into our lives.  Note also that success was not his place in the social class.  From slave (Gen 39:2), to prisoner (Gen 39:21), to prophet (Gen 41:28), to prime minster of Egypt (Gen 41:38-40) God was with Joseph and he was successful! 

"The Lord blessed the Egyptians house because of Joseph."  The blessing of God spills out into the lives of others when we live in this manner.  We have a favorable influence on others and when others are favorable to us then they are blessed of God.  Interesting this blessing is because of the believer and will be extended to unbelievers.  This is in great contrast to the image of a God ready to send a bolt of lightning to pushed some ingratitude or offence. 

So what is missing?  People who are willing to stand in a place of integrity and to allow God to be with them and to not stand in the way of His blessing by bemoaning their circumstance or losing their faith.  What is missing is God's Blessing

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Stop Expecting and Start Living

So often we get hung up when things turn out unexpectedly or against our wishes.  For example I expected that I would do a few posts a week on this blog.  I see now it has been over a month since my last post.  Life has a way of getting in the way of living.  Usually though it is the expectations that make us feel miserable.

This is why I tell you: Don't worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn't life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the sky: They don't sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don't labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! If that's how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won't He do much more for you-you of little faith? So don't worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don't worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:25-34 (HCSB)

Your marriage is not what you thought it would be?  Start loving your spouse.  Your kids are rebellious and do not listen to you; Start getting involved in their lives and work to understand their hearts.  Your job is unsatisfactory?  Stop working and start serving.  Your life is not what you want?  Stop expecting and start living.  The kingdom of God is established in the hearts of people.  Are you seeking to reveal God to others that they may also have the heart of God?  Seek Him, the rest is details that do not change with our expectations.  Only living can change the heart.  Live well, Love well, Serve well,  and you will have His Righteousness. 

Bless you all!

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