Category: daily surrender


recently i heard someone talking about their involvement in a small group.  this group is a kind of disconnected gathering of Christians, some of whom don’t have a church home.  so this small group is, for some, the only connection to church-life they have.  and for the record, scripture is pretty clear on our need to be with one another & lean on one another.

within the group there are some that have decided that the group isn’t exactly what they’re looking for, it’s not quite the right atmosphere.

now to be fair, i didn’t talk with this couple & there could be a pile of reasons they’re disconnecting from the group; so i’m certainly not going to speculate on any of that.  but it did cause some other thoughts to rise up in me.

this approach to our relationship with others [disconnecting] can be fatal to our health in Christ for a number of reasons…

supermarket Christianity

we have become so comfortable in our lives with that ability to shop around & find the best deal on a car, tv, etc. that we end up doing this very thing in our church lives as well.  “this isn’t quite meeting my needs so we’re going to hit the road.  let’s be clear: this is different than having a philosophical difference in ministry or theology that cannot allow us to stay.  this is more about our fickle attitudes toward life in general.

hubris

i think there’s this thing that runs inside us from time to time & that is that ‘we know better. ‘   ‘don’t try & tell me how me how to do it or how it should happen, i’ve got this.’  we have a very great belief in ourselves, even when it comes to our walk with Christ.  i think that sometimes we’re not really even sure we can trust what the bible says, & we’re definitely not sure we can trust those around us.  so we disengage believing that we’re right.  this ends up being a sad choice because weather we’re right or wrong in our choices we’re alone.

lack of accountability

this is perhaps the most damaging one.  when we don’t have anyone to hold us accountable we end up running off the rails.  within the community of Christ there should be this strong sense of shared trust.  the kind of trust that gives us freedom to share life with one another.

so just to make sure i’m not talking out of my ear & here’s some biblical substance:

ephesians 5:21   “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

romans 12:10  “be devoted to one another in love. honor one another above yourselves.”

these verses intimate  a close connectedness to one another through Christ.  and that really is the key.  if we’re just gathering because we like each other or have certain things in common, or we’re searching out that place of perfect relationship & content/teaching we may never get to the place of truly finding the community we’re looking for.  and that really is the truth, we’re on the hunt for community; searching it out, desiring to belong.

a quote i recently heard on espn radio was this; “if you’re waiting around for perfection you’ll be waiting forever.”

so may our fickle attitudes, our hubris, our searching for perfection not become a stumbling block to what God is trying to do in us through community.

 find a place, join up, share deeply & live life with others.

the fallow ground

so last week i just finished teaching on some of the dominant metaphors in the bible.  we talked about 4 pictures; sheep, the harvest, milk & honey & the last piece was the vineyard.

within that final chapter of the series there was something powerful that occurred to me, something that i haven’t been able to get away from this week; and that was the part about fallow ground.  that is, ground that hasn’t been planted for a season, giving it time to rest.

when the ground has been able to rest it experiences a sort of rejuvenation, nutrients are able to recover & the health of the next planting is that much greater.

wow, does that speak to me!

this fall has been a series of races from one thing/place/event to another.  with kids involved in sports & extra-curricula’rs it can be hard to make space to rest & be still; and yet that’s exactly what is needed.

when i find myself with little-to-no down time everything suffers.  sure, i may be able to accomplish a lot & be in many places, but the quality of those “things done” suffers.  so it becomes important to say “no” to the right things.  this quickly becomes an issue of self-discipline & an awareness of life to gauge the things that are most important.

it’s also about realizing that life is lived in seasons…

i know right now, as i have one in high school & one nearing jr.high, that my time needs to be spent investing in their lives.  meaning they get the best of my attention & time.  that means some days are long & many miles are logged.  and if you’ve already been through this stage of life you’ve experiences the phrase “you can rest when you’re dead!”   it truly feels that way some days.

what i think i’m realizing is that within this “seasonal living” approach is that there are some things in my life

[things i would choose to do with my saturday]

& in ministry life

[things i want to see happen within the church that i need to lead]

may have to wait…wait for a change of season.

if i’ve learned anything in my years of parenting it’s that the kids don’t say little for long.   their seasons keep changing too.

so in  the midst of my ever changing seasons as a father & pastor & the busyness of a packed schedule it’s easy to forget about times to rest & be still.  even it that just means insisting on closing the curtains & shutting off the phone for a few hours, being still & let God speak to us in the absence of sound & busyness.

getting past GOOD ENOUGH

recently, as i was thinking about what it means to give our best [our best time, energy, effort, money…] there was a question that rose up within me.

“what is the most detrimental thing to us giving our best?”

i think it may be the idea that it’s good enough, that it’s just enough to get by & even make it [whatever it is we’re doing] look pretty good.  and so this is the problem: when we do something & didn’t give out best effort, presence, time, energy; and it still comes off as “well, there were some problems, but that was pretty good” that has a carry-over into other areas.  that feeling of good enough’s stick with us, and becomes hard to shake.

there is a great deal of intention-ality in breaking free from the good enough’s.  and quite honestly, as churches, we’re not always real good at breaking free of things that we’ve always done; even the good enough’s.  there has to be a good deal of conversation & question asking, questions like: are we doing this because we really feel like this is the best use of our resources? [tough question because it requires us to examine why we’re doing what we’re doing] –  is this event, effort, service/worship gathering meeting the needs of those we’re trying to reach?  or are we just trying to make the givers of the church happy? [this was an actual conversation i witnessed with church leaders] – is this thing we’re spending money on, asking volunteers to spend time on reflective of the mission we’re pursuing? [sadly, many organizations/churches don’t know what their mission is & never ask this kind of question]

reasons why the good enough has a hold…

maybe we’re addicted to our free time & what we want to do.  & to raise the bar, do it better, put forth greater effort requires more work than we’ve been willing to give in the past.

maybe we don’t want to give up the little more money it would require to do “it” better.  this can be a tough one for us to hear; and this one comes from both the leadership of an organization right on down to our personal finances.  for many of us giving money toward something that directly benefits us, even if it’s a significant amount of money, is something that we just do.  some of us don’t even think about it…i know i don’t.  but when we’re confronted with things or options that seem a little more abstract or stretch us into places we’ve not been, our grip gets a little tighter.

the truth of this is that it begins with us.  we cannot expect that our church or organization will simply change if we are unwilling; weather we see ourselves as leaders or not.  the next time i’m confronted with an option of joining something or giving more of myself to something, a thing i believe in & want to be a part of, i’m praying that i might be reminded of God’s request for our very best.  when 1st century jews made sacrifices to God it was to be the best they had.  didn’t have to be the biggest in the neighborhood, didn’t have to be the world’s most valuable commodity it simply had to be the best that family had to offer.  it was a trust that God would provide in the future for what the family needed.  it meant that we believed that God had our best in mind no matter the circumstances.

working to get past the good enough’s

a lacking…

are there times in your history, if we can be honest with ourselves, that we exhibited a lack of faith?  i mean if we can really be honest with ourselves…

as we look backward & see clearly that we should have done this or gone there but it was a lacking in our belief that God was handling all the details.  and some of this is reflected in our prayer life.  i’ve come to realize that there are some significant things that happen when we begin to pray…really pray fervently for what GOD wants, not just our wish list of what would be best for us & our lives.

     WHEN WE PRAY WE ENTRUST A COUPLE OF THINGS:

we entrust ourselves to God – and we entrust others to God

ENTRUSTING OURSELVES:  when we truly do this it removes our need to worry & fret over what may come tomorrow.  when we stop worrying about tomorrow we’re able to live in today, to be present.  present with God & present with others.

ENTRUSTING OTHERS:  when we entrust others to God it removes our desire to control the action & activity of those around us.  let’s be honest here [if we can].  when we see someone that we love doing something that we don’t agree with [lifestyle choice, friendship decision, etc.] we want to change that.  because, after all, we usually believe that we know what’s best.  as a parent i hope i do know what’s best for my kids & i do want to control their activity.  but when they become adults, and even before then, my control over what they do will become more and more limited.  ultimately i have to come to the realization that i can’t control all they do & that God is supreme over all things.  even the bad choices that my kids may make.

so when we entrust ourselves & others to God, through the way we pray things can begin to happen in our lives.  we begin to behave differently & our faith is expressed in new ways.  we are less inclined to use phrases like:

we’re just not ready.

i don’t know if we have enough?

when we’ve paid that off, then we’ll do…

when God invites us to do something, shift a thing that’s been in place for a long time, make a change [significant or small] we need to remember that He isn’t asking us to hold the whole thing on our own.  He’s inviting us to join Him in something He’s already doing.

[reference to this kind of life can be found in matthew 6 & 7]

so, a couple of questions before you go:

what excuses have you made for a lack of faith?

can we even admit our lack of faith?

what might God be inviting you into that you’ve been putting off?

recently i’ve been drawn back to something that was handed me several months ago.  it was a lengthy excerpt from an article posted on a web site.  the article, in great length, draws out the idea that sin isn’t a problem for the experienced/veteran Christian.  sin is something that someone willfully does that’s in violation of God’s laws.  willfully being the key there.  the article then talks about the “mistakes or errors” of the Christian that “are a result of human weakness, faulty judgement…”

the problem with  this approach is huge!

if it’s true that when once we’re a Christian, we’ve given our lives over to Christ, that we no longer sin, one domino simply knocks another.

if we don’t sin, we simply make mistakes or stumble, when does confession enter the family?  of course other than the heathen, outright sinner who has not given his/her life to God?  when do we confess?

if we don’t sin how does humility become a part of the body?

if we all we do is stumble does mercy & grace become irrelevant to the already saved?

does then the attitude of judgementalism &  a lack of forgiveness become epic?

what happens to pauls words in romans 7:14-25?  “what i want to do i don’t do…i know that nothing good lives in me…”

those are present tense verbs, that’s the here & now.

what about the very big & toxic sin of pride becoming so large that we can’t see anything except our own greatness – false as it is?!

______________

each day, through the YouVersion of the bible [availble on-line through a smart phone – brilliant tool!!] there’s a daily verse that pops up & today i was taken to ps.51:1 & was reminded to be aware of my sin/transgression.

so, can i be aware of myself enough to admit that i do, in fact sin?

do i belong to a community of Christ that engages all of scripture?  not just the parts that prop us up in the hopes of attaining something that we build on our own?

one of the problems that emerges is the gospel of salvation that ends up taking a back seat to this idea: “i don’t have to worry about sin once i’m saved.”  that kind of message has trouble all day long!