Five Foundational Truths of Surrender: Truth #5

There are five foundational truths of surrender;

  1. God is good.
  2. God is in control.
  3. God knows more than we know.
  4. God can do more with what we have that we can.
  5. Everybody surrenders to something. Even the most independent, rebellious people in the world surrenders to something….why not make it God? Everything God does is to provide for you and protect you.

Five Foundational Truths of Surrender: Truth #4

There are five foundational truths of surrender;

  1. God is good.
  2. God is in control.
  3. God knows more than we know.
  4. God can do more with what we have that we can. God doesn’t need your stuff, He wants you. He wants all of you, and He realizes that many times our stuff come between Him and us. We have a tendency to seek our stuff first….but as we seek God first He will manage all of our details (Matt 6:33).

 

Some Bullet Point Thoughts about the School Shooting in Parkland, Florida

• Don’t just share the hashtag #PrayForParklandFlorida., or type “prayers sent”, etc. Actually, stop and pray for the families involved, the school staff, and the churches in the area as they help one another.

• Are we so self-absorbed (in the best possible usage of the term) that we really don’t care enough to begin praying bold heartfelt prayers, having meaningful conversations, and making a difference where we live?

• Don’t make this a conversation about needing more laws or more gun control. Laws do not change a heart. Laws do not fix mental illness or evil. Regardless of where you stand politically, this is not a gun issue.

• For me, the conversation is about how do we handle mental illness and the ever-increasing spiritual darkness in our nation. Like, if Jesus was here in the flesh right now, would he call that mental illness or would He cast out a demon? If we see a homeless guy running around a cemetery naked and wild (Luke 8:26-39), we would call that mental illness, but Jesus called it demonic. I’m not saying we should blame everything on a demon, and I don’t think a prayer fixes all mental illness issues, but I do believe it is both are issues, not one or the other.

• It bothers me that this type of tragedy has become common enough that we seem to have developed a numbness to it. It is “just had another school shooting”. We get more outraged over common things that happen like someone cutting us off in traffic, or our “fries being cold again” when we go through the drive-through. We get more brokenhearted over what happened on “This is Us” or when a favorite musician dies of a drug overdose.

• It bothers me that we get more vocal and passionate about the political conversations surrounding a tragedy rather than the spiritual conversations that need to be happening.

• At the end of the day, we need Jesus. Evil will always be present and active, but the spiritual apathy of supposed Christ-followers and our churches, only allows the darkness to spread. We are called to be light in the darkness. Light and darkness cannot co-exist. As light increases, darkness decreases.

“All it takes for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing”. Apathy is killing us. Fear of offending someone is killing us. The “It’s not my problem” attitude is killing us.

 

 

Five Foundational Truths of Surrender: Truth #3

There are five foundational truths of surrender;

  1. God is good.
  2. God is in control.
  3. God knows more than we know. Don’t feel bad…..He is God for heaven sakes! The wisest, most highly educated person has a limit to their knowledge. But God’s wisdom and understanding are without measure or limitation.

…to be continued

Five Foundational Truths of Surrender: Truth #2

There are five foundational truths of surrender;

  1. God is good. God is always good. Sure bad things happen. Life is tough. Some days even seem impossible to survive. Yet God promises to never leave us or forsake us. He doesn’t promise there will not be those impossible days, but He does promise to walk through them with us.
  2. God is in control. Life happens. When it is bad we want to blame God. But God loved you so much He gave us the ability to choose. We can choose disobedience, etc…and reap the consequences of our choices. Sometimes things that are completely out of our control happen….but don’t be confused, God was not caught by surprise. God is in your tomorrow already.

…to be continued

 

 

 

 

Five Foundational Truths of Surrender: Truth #1

Though surrender may not be a very popular topic, when it comes to Christ-following it is an absolute necessity. Jesus is the perfect example of surrender. In Philippians 2:5-8 Paul challenged us to make our “attitudes the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in the appearance of a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death….even death on a cross.”

The phrase that stands out to me is “did not see equality with God as something to be grasped”. That pretty much sums up surrender. Willful disobedience is our way of saying that we have a right to disagree, debate, and disobey God. Surrender is how we rightly align our heart, mind, attitudes, and behaviors with God. Even the most compliant of us have a tendency to struggle with complete surrender to God. Though surrender is never easy, it does become easier once we understand some basic principles of surrender.

There are five foundational truths of surrender;

  1. God is good. God is always good. Sure bad things happen. Life is tough. Some days even seem impossible to survive. Yet God promises to never leave us or forsake us. He doesn’t promise there will not be those impossible days, but He does promise to walk through them with us.

…to be continued

The Power of Perspective During Tough Times

“Dear Mom and Dad, I’m sorry to be so long in writing. Unfortunately, all my stationery was destroyed the night our dorm was set on fire by the demonstrators. I’m out of the hospital now, and the doctors say my eyesight should return; sooner or later. The wonderful boy, Bill, who rescued me from the fire, kindly offered to share his little apartment with me until the dorm is rebuilt. He comes from a good family so you won’t be surprised when I tell you we’re going to be married. In fact, since you’ve always wanted a grandchild, you’ll be glad to know that you’ll be grandparents next month.”

“P.S. Please disregard the above practice for my class in English Composition. There was no fire, I haven’t been in the hospital, I’m not pregnant and I don’t even have a steady boyfriend. But I did get a D in French and an F in Chemistry, and I just wanted to be sure you received this news in the proper perspective.”

Your perspective makes all the difference in the world, and it influences how you respond to problems at work, problems at home, problems with your health. Paul says that as Christians we can rejoice even in tough times because we have hope and because we know that God is working in our lives. “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance.” (Romans 5:3)

Believe it or not, suffering can be productive! It does accomplish something. Problems have a purpose. Your trials and difficulties have value. Just as in childbirth so it is in other areas of life, it is easier to handle suffering when you know there is a purpose in it, and that it is not just in vain.

Now, what exactly does our suffering produce? First, Paul says our suffering produces perseverance (Romans 5:3). The Greek word for perseverance literally means “the ability to handle pressure.” That’s what perseverance is — the ability to handle pressure, to hang in there, to never give up but to keep on keeping on. When we make it through a difficult time without giving up, our character and confidence are strengthened, enabling us to handle even more pressure when it comes in the future.

Next, Paul says perseverance produces character (Romans 5:4). This word occurs only a few times in the Bible, and it means “proven reliable.” God uses the problems in your life to produce perseverance and character. And internal character, not circumstances, produces joy. Then, Paul says, character produces hope (Romans 5:4). Remember, in the Bible, the word hope doesn’t mean “I wish” or “I want.” It means confidence in Christ’s power. Instead of destroying our hope, problems are designed to increase our hope!

Problems don’t automatically produce perseverance and character and hope. Some people go through tough times, and all that happens to them is they become bitter, angry and uptight.  Perseverance, character, and hope are produced in us only when we choose the right attitude.

And what is the right attitude? Joy is the right attitude. James echoes Paul’s teaching on this subject: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance” (James 1:2-3). Notice again, joy comes “because you know.” It’s always a matter of perspective. James continues, “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (v. 4).

Religious, Spiritual, or a Follower of Christ?

I had a person say to me, “I’m spiritual, but not religious”. I think they thought I’d argue with them about that statement, but I agreed with them, “Yep, me too.” They looked at me so funny. They meant, “I don’t attend church, am frustrated with church, etc”. I meant, “Jesus hated structured religion that was empty of spiritual power, and so do I.”

It’s not about being religious or spiritual; it’s about actually following Christ. Being deeply religious or deeply spiritual without the life transforming work of the Holy Spirit in your life will give you the same results. Hell will be full of deeply religious and deeply spiritual people. Satan himself is spiritual and believes in God. He has just made a decision to not surrender to God. Many religious or spiritual people are in the exact same boat today; they believe, but are not willing to surrender.

Surrender is the single biggest issue we face as followers of Christ. If we can get the surrender issue resolved, everything else falls into place. Jesus revealed the primary way we prove our love in John 14 when He “If you love me, you will obey me”. But I would say that our biggest issue with consistent obedience is surrender.

So, obedience is the primary way we prove our love for Jesus to Jesus. If Jesus was with you right now (and He is in the person of the Holy Spirit) and He asked you, “Do you love me?” Now, before we are too quick to say a resounding “YES!” let me ask you another question. Is there something He is asking you to do or to not do that you have not surrendered to yet?

If God is asking you to respond to Him in some area of obedience, your dialogue with Him would be much like that Peter had with Him in John 21 when He said, “Peter, do you truly love me?” After Peter said “Yes, you know I do Lord”. Jesus replied, “Feed my sheep.” In other words, do what I am asking you to do…prove your love for me through your willingness to obey me.

If Jesus asked me, “Tim, do you love me?” Of course I would say “Yes!”, but I must also be prepared for Him to say, “Then obey me in this specific area of your life”. That is the moment when we really find out whether I truly love Jesus or not. Any answer other than, “Absolutely” only proves that I love myself more than I love Christ.

I am convinced that many folks who claim to love Christ may truly want to love Him, but when it comes down to proving their love through their obedience they fail to make a compelling case. What about you? Does your level of surrender and obedience give evidence of the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in your life or not?

I have Bad News for the Alt-Right Crowd

I have bad news for alt-right racists.

“If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar. For whoever does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” — 1 John 4:20.

And if they do make it to heaven based on God's grace (we ALL need that, none of us are worthy), then based on scripture's description below, they will absolutely HATE it. Haahhahaa

“After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb! ” Revelation 7:9-10

God is not a racist. Torch-wielding white nationalists and white supremacists marching through Charlottesville, Virginia, Friday night and rallying again Saturday are clearly in conflict with scripture, as well as the nature & character of God.

As followers of Christ our number one responsibility is to be an ever increasing better reflection of Jesus.

Don't get sucked into stupid controversies and arguments, but don't be afraid to reflect Jesus either. The darkness around you simply cannot put out the light within you that shines through you. Be light in the darkness!

Six Observations about Loving God

I would like to make six observations about loving God using the story of the “sinful” woman who anointed Jesus’ feet with very expensive perfume in Luke 7:36-50.

  1. Being deeply in love with God is a choice (v.37-38). This “sinful” woman made an extravagant choice to pour perfume costing perhaps one year’s wages on Jesus’ feet. When was the last time we made a choice to follow-through with an extravagant act of obedience and sacrifice as a demonstration of our love for Christ?
  2. Loving God can be costly (v.37-38). To God, it isn’t about the “cost” it is about the heart. God does not need our “stuff”; He wants us. All that we are; our personhood, our hopes, our dreams, our victories, and our defeats. God’s bottom line is that He wants “no other God’s before Him”.
  3. There will always be a Pharisee around to judge (v.39). The religious leaders of the day were always at odds with Jesus. Religious folks today still and always will find themselves at odds with Jesus; especially when it comes to the application of biblical Christ-following and change. Remember, it is about a personal relationship with God through Jesus enabled by the work of the Holy Spirit, which is proven and demonstrated through consistent, willful obedience, not a religious belief system or checklist. In the story the Pharisee was too caught up in his judgmental attitude to recognize the bigger picture of God’s grace, mercy, and power to change a person’s life.
  4. Your level of gratitude determines your level of love (v.40-48). The “sinful” woman’s weeping as she publicly used her hair to humbly wipe and then kiss Jesus’ feet reveals her brokenness over her sin and her gratitude for Jesus’ willingness to forgive and restore her. What a perfect picture of repentance and gratitude!
  5. Focus enables love (v.38). What we focus on is what captures our attention. Outside of a church service, how much time to we spend focused on God? Focus on Him. Let Him capture your attention, then He will capture your heart. Then you will never be the same!
  6. Loving God will change your life (v.47-48, 50). “Loving” implies action. Our love is proven through our obedience. God hears what you say; but also knows what you do, your choices, your thoughts, your motives, etc, and “God will not be mocked” (Gal. 6:7).