Daily Surrender

Last week at our Men’s Theology group I shared my story and how I came to faith in Jesus. Part of that story was me arriving at my lowest after many failed attempts at success and fulfillment. Exhausted and drained I had a conversation with God about my desire to try him, to give over myself to his way and purpose.

This morning I was reflecting back on that story and the ride it has been since. But I was stirred to think about that act of surrender some 15+ years ago and how following Jesus has been a consistent invitation back to that posture, surrendering myself to Christ. Surrendering the idols I still wrestle with. Surrendering aspirations to greatness and popularity. Surrendering the ways I have have elevated self over others and God.

Each and every day discipleship with Jesus is saying “I am relying on you again, I give myself over to your way and purpose.”

As I was reflecting I found myself surrendering again not to gain grace but because Jesus has already poured out his grace upon me. For all of life. May we endeavor to live daily surrender for the glory of Christ!

Being Warmed by the Light

I have a vivid memory of being cold in Nebraska. I know that sounds weird, but I can remember as if it is happening, driving my little Volkswagen GTI down 48th Avenue turning on to Saddle Creek Road and then Leavenworth on my way to school (Omaha people might enjoy the geography). It was freezing. Surely in the single digits and the car’s heater was not much help. I was convinced that I needed to change my mind about the temperature, I had to change my mind to be warm.

There I was, I can still see in my mind the fog on the window, dreaming of being on a beach basking in the heat of the day. I remember imagining my attire and the breeze rustling the leaves of a palm tree. And I remember the warmth I felt from the light of the sun. It sent a warmth through my body. Was it real? It is possible that there were residual chemicals in my body from the night before that had me hallucinating… but I can remember the sense that I really was warmer just from thinking about it.

I am sure there is science about this. It happens. Maybe not all the time but what we consider certainly affects our reality. Thankfully I no longer have to suffer longer Nebraska winters and if I get a chill I can go to the actual beach and sit in the sun any of the 350 days we have gorgeous weather in San Diego.

Apart from the weather and chills however I have been reflecting on how in my faith, reflecting on the work of Jesus to secure my salvation, grant me forgiveness and give me new life actually changes circumstances and enables me to cling onto the joy that God has promised those that believe in Christ.

Now I am not suggesting some hocus-pocus conjuring of prosperity or even an elevation out of suffering but instead a firmer grasp of just how firmly Christ holds us. When that reality is deepened I find trust coming easier, I find sharing the good news of forgiveness coming quicker, and I find the sense of the warmth of Jesus’ sovereign care for me.

Why not spend some time thinking about Jesus. His work, his claim over you, his acceptance and approval of you. Why not hear God says “you are mine” as you go through your day. Are things cooling? Are you needing relief from the attempts to prove yourself or earn you place in society or eternity? Think of Jesus. You salvation. Believe in him and be warmed by his light. I am praying that you will feel his care and gladness over you.

“Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God’s house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” (Hebrews 3:1-6 ESV)

The Significance of the Gospel Proclaimed

As we prepare to move from Portland and a church we love to pursue ministry and new community in the Tri-Cities, I have been reflecting on out time at Door of Hope and the commitment to preach the gospel to a city. Tonight was a reminder of the glory of that commitment and gospel.

We have just begun a month-long series on the gospel covering the reality of God, man’s rebellion in sin, the arrival of Christ and his sacrifice for us and the restoration of we have in Christ. Tonight while working through the reality of a God that created us and who we are accountable to, Josh (our pastor) gave a clear presentation of the true gospel. This is the provision of Christ as our sacrifice and new life.

At the end of the service as I praying with people, I met Nick. It was his first time in a church, and more importantly, his first time hearing the gospel. In that moment Nick recognized the worked of Christ and accepted that love. He is now a believer and is in the process of figuring out what is next. Both Josh and I encouraged Nick to read the book of John (Josh even gave Nick his bible) and continue to get plugged in to community. I introduced Nick to our discipleship leader who will pair him with another guy to meet with weekly to discuss the basic of the faith and I think he will be baptized at the end of the month.

Nick is no longer the guy he was yesterday. He has new life and a new perspective in Christ. This is beautiful and it reflects the power of the gospel. It is significant that we preach the gospel. It is the good news that defines us and is our only purpose. I am so thankful that I have the honor of meeting and praying with people like Nick. This is what it is all about. Restoration to the Father.

The Ultimate Family Reunion

This weekend I was lucky to be part of my wife’s family reunion. It centered around a core group of siblings ranging in age from 89 to 70 (my wife’s Grandmother is 86.) There was lots of eating and story telling but a great moment for me was during a family prayer time. Each member of the older generation shared a verse from the bible and implored the younger generations to seek God in prayer and right living. It was a picture of a Godly heritage, scared and tried, that will prayerfully continue to be handed down through the generations.

Looking at this family, I was drawn to reflect on identity and how we allow who we think we are to shape our lives. For some of us we are defined by our work, some our experience, and others our family. The is so much that can shape our identity but most of it is wrong and misplaced.

John 1 provides the starting point for Christian in the formation of their identity.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
(John 1:12-13 ESV)

This is the adoption of believers into God’s family. our identity as Christians is in Christ alone, that is how we are to be known and how we should know ourselves. Our enemy attempts to deceive us into believing that our identity is something different but we can rest in the knowledge that we are children of God. Our identity stops there – of God.

I know that I often need to be reminded what my identity is. Having a career in communications, I have spent a decade defining and giving identity to issues and campaigns to make them look appealing to the public. In that expertise I would turn on myself and present a facade of my identity. But this was all fluff and even when culture would argue that my identity should be defined by some other characteristic, I have to return and embrace my identity in Christ.

To that end Revelation give us a reminder and something to look forward to. As Jesus is giving instruction to the seven established churches he reveals a moment I greatly look forward to.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’ (Revelation 2:17 ESV)

This moment we are given a new name, one defined by our heritage in Christ, will be unlike any other. The hope that is in that little white stone should drive us to “conquer.” If we need our true identity and hope for that new name, we can have it today. Jesus came to a broken and sinful humanity as a sacrifice for us, a way to a new identity. If we repent of our sin against God – our pride, our idolatry – and believe that Jesus is who he said he was – God among us, a sacrifice for us and a resurrected Lord- we are part of this family. I pray that today you have to confidence of adoption of God.

This family is huge and diverse but I promise we will one day have the ultimate family reunion!