Art of Surrender

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Only God deserves absolute surrender because only God can offer absolutely dependable love. The citations in his blog post have been taken from “Surrender to Love” by David Benner.

Our Creator desires the submission of our heart, not simply outward compliance. What gives Him this right? Everything about our earthly existence suggests that to survive we must hold on, cling to, and strive towards something. If we simply ‘gave up,’ we wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning, eat, or build any sort of meaningful life. So what’s with this incessant invitation to do just that?

When we are confronted with various forms of authority, we must choose. Usually we think of this in terms of obedience and disobedience. Yet, when we peel back the layers, what we’re really faced with is something much deeper and more difficult than a simple outward act. Do we trust this authority? Can we trust it? We begin to mitigate ways, based on our levels of trust, to conform without losing a sense of control. If we have little trust in the character of the authority, whether parent, teacher or president, we’ll navigate our obedience in such a way to preserve our self-will, our innate sense of self-determination.

Like soldiers captured by enemy in a time of war, we may lay down our weapons but we maintain our loyalties if the captor is evil. However, if our captor is more trustworthy and good, we will find that in actuality our surrender is a place of liberation. Through surrender inwardly, we are freed from the grips of our true bondage.

To rely on the will for Christian obedience is to reinforce our natural willful self-determination.

Surrender involves much more than an outward willful action. It’s about letting go, ceasing from continuous self-preservation as we learn to rest into something better – the essence of a loving relationship!

We’ve been raising 8 children; four now young adults. It’s amazing how easy it is to manipulate younger toddlers towards outward obedience. So many tools at our disposal from fear of punishment, promise of rewards and other enticements. We’ve practiced them al. Yet as they grow in self-autonomy, the situation begins to change. The child becomes aware of their own individual wants, their preferences, their fears. What worked before to secure outward obedience stops working. Something deeper, more motivational and beautiful must take place – a relationship of trust.

Like our children entering the adolescence phase, a connection of heart must take place that goes beyond the mere requests for outward conformity. A relationship is based on a mutual acknowledgement of the other person. On the part of the child, a surrendered trust towards the dependability of one in authority is needed. This is an inward surrender, the antithesis of clinging, a letting go. One cannot, nor should not, surrender in heart to those proven untrustworthy for such a daring action.

Our family – As parents, we start with outward obedience & move towards inward trust and surrender. The family is God’s design, an imperfect reflection of His own Perfect loving Tri-union.

We are thankful for the grace God has allowed us to experience personally as parents, which has helped us navigate our emerging friendships with our young adults. We have navigated from the earlier stages of outward conformity towards a deeper mutual respect. It is not easy for either parent or child! It has required an increasing trust, and a proving of our trustworthiness and sacrificial love along the way. I know my relationship with my adult children will grow deeper as I experience, and become shaped by, God’s love even more. That excites me. No matter where we are in our relationship with our children, if we go back to experiencing God’s love personally, things have the best opportunity to improve.

As parents, we are imperfect reflections of the Father heart of God. The Father, however, wants us to trust Him – enough to let go, enough to truly surrender. Our obedience will then take the form of a reflective gratitude, more than a proving or striving. If God simply wanted outward obedience, like that which we contrive among our own kids, do you not think He could have accomplished that? We can tend to think God parents us like we do our little kids. Jesus reveals something much more daring, deep, and destructive to our self wills. Like Peter, asking to step out of the boat, we find out that this invitation is much more than simply forcing our foot onto the water. When we begin our relationship with Jesus, we’re faced with the sheer abandonment into the trustworthiness of the Person – lose sight of this and we’re thrashing about in the waves of self will and religion.

God wants our heart, not just our will.

Surrender is existential; it’s beyond simple frontal cortex, logical thinking. So much of our Western process of thought, our books, our preaching, focuses on a Christ following of striving mentally. The truth is, we can have obedience without surrender. We can’t, however, have true surrender without an embracing of His will in obedience.

Our natural instincts are to survive; we naturally protest surrender. We know what surrender is. We even long for it – that place of finally surrendering to a trustworthy authority. For some of us, this is terrifying. We’ve had harmful experiences after trusting the wrong people, and rightly walk cautiously in relationships because of this. Yet, our Creator comes to us with the only relationship He’s interested in – one of love, because He is love and what our hearts truly long for. He’s just and loving to require surrender, as only He satisfies. Love demands implicit trust and a letting go, a “not my will, but yours be done,” from the inside out kind of faith. God knows to what or to whom we are ultimately clinging. He moves towards us in Jesus, inviting surrender, and challenging us in the tiring misery of our self will.

Apart from such surrender, we remain self-preoccupied as our willful attempts to stay in control cut us off from life itself.

Finally, St. Ignatius of Loyola states ,“Sin is unwillingness to trust that what God wants is our deepest happiness.” Benner says that until we are convinced of this absolutely, we will do everything we can to keep our hands on the controls of our lives (at least to some degree), because we think we know better than God what we need for our fulfillment.

Do I implicitly trust God enough to surrender my past, present, and future? Do I embrace Jesus as the ultimate expression of sacrificial, trustworthy love? Do I dare receive His uncompromising love and relinquish control of my life, taking up His will as my own?

Take a moment to consider loving, mutual surrender within the very nature of God!

Self-surrender is at the very heart of God and is at the very heart of all his attitudes and actions. When He asks us to surrender ourselves He is asking us to fulfill the deepest thing in Himself and the deepest thing in us. E. Stanley Jones

The Father surrenders to the Son. The Spirit is continually looking to bring honor, not to himself, but to the Father and Son. Is there even such a thing as love outside of a surrendered will toward the flourishing of the other? As love, the three Persons of the Godhead are in continual open, mutual submission to each other. We can trust God in personal surrender because He Himself practices this within Himself. Jesus knew that in surrendering His own life, humanity would become the beneficiaries of the Father’s love and compelled through the Gospel to enter it.

God’s amazing love displayed in Christ and on Calvary is “no arbitrary expression of the nature of God; this is what the life of the Trinity is, translated to the world.” – Seamands

Consider the words of the Apostle Paul, and think upon His love for you!

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?…

Romans 8:31-39 (NIV)

I’m taking time today to consider not just the areas of my life that I’m wrestling into surrender, but the very nature of my holistic surrender. A surrender that doesn’t strive, but releases and lets go – into the loving arms of my Savior.

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Посылающая природа Бога

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Миссия берет своё начало в сердце Бога. Бог – это источник посылающей любви. Это и есть глубочайший источник миссии. – Дэвид Бош

Latin: missio, missionis

Определение:

  1. Роспуск, увольнение, отставка (солдат)
  2. Миссия, послание, посылание, поручение

Наш Творец – отправитель, посылатель. В наше время миссионерский фокус, как на бумаге, так и на практике, сосредоточен на верующем. Миссионеры пакуют свои чемоданы и «отправляются» (либо же «их отправляют») в определенное место, чтобы делиться благой вестью о Христе Иисусе. Однако исторически этот фокус на миссии был вовсе не на том, как в человеке отзывается Евангелие, а на самой отправляющей (посылающей) природе Бога.

Нам необходимо вернуть концепцию посылания и следования обратно к её миссийным корням, к сердцу Творца.
Рекомендую вам как следует покопаться в Библии, проследить эту тему и обнаружить, что она является общей и ключевой темой, которая всплывает в контексте Творца в творении. Бог вступает в бой, Он планирует, выполняет, посылает и получает, как Генерал в битве вселенского масштаба.

Давайте рассмотрим повествование Писания и его основных героев:

  • Пророк Илия (4 Цар. 2:11-12)
    • ПОСЛАН от Бога
    • снова будет ПОСЛАН перед пришествием Мессии (Мал. 4:6)
  • Иоанн Креститель (Мф. 17:3, 10-13)
    • ПОСЛАН от Бога
    • по словам Иисуса и был Илья (Дух)
  • Иисус, Сын Божий (Ин. 5:23-24, 37, 38, 11:42, 12:44-45)
    • ПОСЛАН от Отц
  • Иисус пообещал, что ПОШЛЕТ Святого Духа (Ин. 14:26, 15:26-27, 16:7, 17:8)
    • ПОСЛАН на Пятидесятницу (Деян. 2)
  • Посылает учеников (Ин. 17:18-21, Мф. 28)
    • ПОСЛАНЫ, чтобы участвовать и расширять служение Иисуса на земле, как люди завета.

О чём вообще это «посылание»? Если вы проследите эту тему в Евангелиях, то обнаружите, что это ключевая тема жизни и слов Иисуса. И я лично задаюсь вопросом, как же так получилось, что бОльшую часть жизни я проходил мимо безошибочной реальности страниц Писания?

«Я в них, и Ты во Мне; да будут совершены воедино, и да познает мир, что Ты послал Меня и возлюбил их, как возлюбил Меня». Иисус из Назарета (Ин.17:23)

Миссия Творца должна была прийти к Его творению в качестве Личности – в Иисусе. «Верить» означает не просто признавать существование Иисуса, или даже что Он умер на кресте, но постичь верой то, что Иисус был ПОСЛАН самой ПРИРОДОЙ Отца. Верите ли вы, знаете ли вы лично, что Бог вочеловечился – невидимый вечный Бог вселенной оделся в плоть (Кол.1:15) – был ПОСЛАН, чтобы открыть, разъяснить и дать форму самой природе Бога (Евр.1:1-3). Иисус, Тот самый Иисус, Который ходил по земле 2000 лет назад, существовал еще до творения, и через Него всё было создано (видимое и невидимое!).

Позволяете ли вы совершенному Божьему откровению в Сыне восторжествовать над всеми вашими религиозными верованиями и господствовать над вашими мыслями о Боге? Иногда мне доводится слушать верующих, которые представляют себе Бога, Который совершенно не похож на Иисуса из Писания. Свобода и освобождение, радостное (а не продиктованное страхом) подчинение приходят тогда, когда характер и личность Творца основана на неизменной и явной любви Христа. Бог пришёл, чтобы показать Свою природу, направленную на отношения; чтобы открыть Своё сердце, которое ищет ту самую одну потерянную овцу.

«Бог, которому поклоняются христиане, любит грешников, исправляет поломанных, наслаждается вторыми шансами и новыми началами, никогда не устает в поисках пропавшей овцы, ожидает блудных детей, либо спасает побитых жизнью и оставленных на её обочинах.» – Дэвид Бэннер

И наконец, в Деян.2:33 мы видим излияние Святого Духа, осуществление обещания Отца. Святой Дух представлен, как дар, ниспосланный от Бога. Этот проект посылания Бога-Творца на протяжении всей истории Писания не останавливается на посланном Христе, а уже на посланных людях. Чтобы приобщиться к сердцу Творца, жаждущему отправлять с миссией, мы должны получить Его дар: тот самый Дух триединого Бога. Без этого обещанного Помощника, пребывающего в нас, мы – «медь звенящая и кимвал звучащий». Мы должны познать Его любовь, чтобы быть способными её отдавать. Но в нас нужно сперва влить, чтобы из нас потом изливалось. Это приходит от веры в то, что Иисус был, есть и будет вовеки Божий посланный Сын.

Чтобы войти в союз любви Троицы, это и являлось посылающей целью Творца для Его творения на протяжении веков. Верующие – это те, кто не только признают чудо Божьего воплощения, но верой переживают эту любовь и сегодня.

Именно поэтому я #missiodei в социальных сетях. Это стало глубочайшим желанием моего сердца, моим мировоззрением, через призму которого я воспринимаю мир и взаимодействую с ним. Посылающее сердце Триединого Творца открывает Писание, находит наивысшее значение Сына, Который является славой Бога. Иисус открывает Бога иначе, нежели религия нашего времени. Бог не стоит за дверью истории человечества (что мы и видим в Иисусе), но Он активен, Он двигается, Он страстно изливает Свой Дух на всех, кто верит, что Он был послан от Отца.

И это, я верю, является самой хорошей новостью, которая у нас есть для этого мира. Все, кто верит, что Иисус пришел от Отца, познают сердце Творца, Его красоту, суть отношений в Троице, основанных на любви. Каким прекрасным Богом мы можем делиться с потерянным и поломанным человечеством вокруг нас! Это не набор доктрин, это сама природа Бога, которая открывается исключительно через посланного Сына. Получив посланный дар Духа сегодня, мы созидаемся, мы достигнуты, мы найдены!

«Сия же есть жизнь вечная, да знают Тебя, единого истинного Бога, и посланного Тобою Иисуса Христа.» Ин.17:3

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When the Created within Creation Groans

“For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.”

Romans 8:20-21 (NIV)

Mr. Calvin wrote, “there is no element and no part of the world which, being touched, as it were, with a sense of its present misery, does not intensely hope for a resurrection.” (Commentaries Chapter 8).

I started this morning with a devotion on the perfect law of liberty (James 1:25, 2:12). How did I end up with a passage on fallen creation? Coronavirus, that’s how! 🙂

Every religion attests that the world is not as it should be. We have that in common. Christianity suggests it is cursed (Genesis 3:17-19), broken, suffering and longing with all its brief generational inhabitants for a future deliverance. The ground is thick with thistles, the heart of humanity quarantined in it’s self idolatry, separately from meaningful fellowship with our Creator.

I’ve been watching World War II documentaries this past week. We have not been evolving as a species, at least not morally. While the beauty of original design shines through the cracks, the present reality of a creation departed from original design mutes us existentially from its potential fullness. We, along with the machinery of our present creation are drudging along in our self-imposed structures, living for meaning, meaning to live.

This is the worldview of Christ followers throughout history, before the internet, before print. Our alienation from God is the context for Jesus first coming 2,000 years ago. God is One and yet reveals Himself as three personalities. Like concepts of eternity, this is beyond our mortal framework but is nonetheless what we must grapple with. This God creates a world for his crown creation to inhabit. We’ve rejected Him and inherited a deserved judgment – isolation from Creator, cursed in isolation from our deepest longings and wrestling with this grinding inward knowledge that all is not well. It’s why we are never quite happy enough, contentment is illusive.

We strive for purpose, we’re fearful, anxious, suppressing these feelings as best we can on the hamster wheel of life.

Some of us do a really great job and have managed a sense of oblivion within our matrixed quarantine from God. Is that a word, ‘matrixed’? (Such a great movie that sums up the Christian world view so well in my opinion!)

God is not punishing us, not directly. Humanity created this by rejecting His authority from the start. This freedom in the system, the interactive cause-effect loops were embedded to maintain the essence of liberty and love. God’s freedom within Himself was impregnated within humanity, but we chose to worship creation instead of Creator. The wheels have been in motion ever since. History is ripe with famine, wars, natural disasters, and yes, viruses and plagues. Whether this Corona global situation proves to be an over reaction, or a warranted time of distress, there’s nothing new here besides the technology of a global world to share in the collective anxiety and potential suffering.

Our hope? Jesus. His first coming rescued us from the law of sin and death and replaced it with the law of liberty! We follow now not commands written on tablets, but the Truth, the Person – and Jesus invites us to abide/live/be in His loving union as Father, Son and Spirit NOW in partial liberation from this fallen system.

We who believe and know the loving presence of Jesus have a taste now of what’s to come, and it is so GOOD!

What about Jesus second coming? He promised final redemption, renewal of this entire created order – but we were not told when. With generations of believers gone before we are”eagerly awaiting” (vs 23) our adoption and restoration. In my lifetime? Hope so. Would be amazing to see – but either way, Jesus reaches through eternity back to us, He’s been there, both sides, hand stretched out, and I’m grabbing!

“For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope” – Rom 8:25

We take refuge not in quarantining ourselves, but by trusting Jesus is our life now and forever. He has rescued us from a fallen and cursed quarantined world, set us free to abide in His presence for comfort, within the plurality of Himself. The world doesn’t need a message of judgement, because Jesus Himself didn’t come to judge a world already lost in confused chaos. His coming was a message of hope, a rescue from judgement and isolation from our Creator. He pulls us out of the confusion, places the moorings of our being on His stable, eternal, unchanging self.

Finally, what about the Christian response? Let your light shine before humanity in such a way that they may see your good posts, comments and likes – said Jesus never. Good works, faith in action, let’s love and point to the One who loves and use whatever means at our disposal to enter the suffering of those around us – if they don’t know freedom in Jesus, they, like us before freedom, were already quarantined.

“The fact that God has become man, indeed flesh, proves that the redemption and resurrection of the entire earthly world is not just a possibility but a reality.” Irenaeus

Keep Jesus center. Live your life as if everything He said was true and His resurrection will become the rock from which you build your life and prepare for the next. Avoid listening to vain, ego-centered preachers and so-called prophets who claim to know more than you or have special access to God’s knowledge. God is wise, and hides the revelation and beauty of Jesus to the humble who would never suggest such an elite status. (This last paragraph for my kids, as this blog is primary for posterity).

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The Sending Nature of God

Latin: missio, missionis

Definitions:

  1. dismissal, discharge (of soldiers)
  2. mission, sending (away)

Our Creator is a sender. In modern times, the missionary focus both in writing and practice has been centered around the believer. Missionaries pack their bags and ‘go’ or are ‘sent’ to a particular place to share the good news of Jesus Christ. However, historically, this missional focus was not on the human response to the Gospel, but the sending nature of God.

We need to return the concept of sending and pursuing back to its missional roots within the heart of our Creator.

One need only poke around in their bibles with this theme to recognize a meta-narrative, a grand theme that emerges around the activity of Creator in creation. God is engaged, plans, executes, sends and receives, as a General in a cosmic battle.

Consider the Gospel narrative and it’s primary characters:

  • Elijah the Prophet (2 Kings 2:11-12)
    • SENT from God
    • Will SEND again before Messiah (Mal 4:6)
  • John the Baptist (Matt 17:3, 10-13)
    • SENT from God
    • Jesus says was Elijah (Spirit)
  • Jesus the Son of God (Jn 5:23-24, 37, 38, 11:42, 12:44-45)
    • SENT from the Father
  • Jesus promised will SEND Holy Spirit (Jn 14:26, 15:26-27, 16:7, 17:8)
    • SENT at Pentecost (Acts 2)
  • Sends Disciples (John 17:18-21, Matt 28)
    • SENT to participate and extend Jesus ministry on earth as a covenant people.

What’s with all this ‘sending’? Trace through the Gospels and you’ll find it’s a major theme of Jesus life and message. I’m wondering how on earth I spent most of my life wafting over the pages of scripture with this unmistakable realty?

“I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Jesus of Nazareth

Creators mission was to come to His creation, in the form of a Person – Jesus. To believe is not simply to acknowledge that Jesus existed, or even died on a Roman Cross, but to comprehend by faith that Jesus was SENT FROM the NATURE of the Father. Do you believe and personally know that God incarnate, the invisible eternal God of the universe wrapped in flesh (Col 1:15) was SENT to reveal, communicate and form the very nature of God (Heb 1:-1-3). Jesus, the same Jesus that walked on earth 2,000 years ago pre-existed creation and through Him all things were made (visible and invisible!).

Do you allow God’s perfect revelation in the Son to triumph over all your religious beliefs and take supremacy over your thoughts about God? Sometimes I read or listen to believers that paint a picture of God that looks nothing like Jesus from scripture. Freedom, liberation, and joyful (vs fearful) surrender comes when the character and personality of Creator is rooted in the steady, loving, unmistakable love of Christ. God has come to show his relational nature, His sending heart.

“The God Christians worship loves sinners, redeems failures, delights in second chances and fresh starts, and never tires of pursuing lost sheep, waiting for prodigal children, or rescuing those damaged by life and left on the sides of its paths.”

David Benner

Finally, in Acts 2:33 we see the Holy Spirit poured out, the promise of the Father fulfilled. The Holy Spirit is introduced as the gift sent from God. The sending enterprise of Creator God throughout the narrative of Scripture doesn’t stop with the Sent Christ, but a Sent people. To participate in Creator’s missio sending heart, we must receive His gift, the very Spirit of our Triune God. Without this abiding, promised Helper, we are clanging symbols in this world. We must know His love to give it. We must be poured into to participate in the pouring out. This comes from believing Jesus was, and is, and will be forever, God’s sent Son.

To enter Creator’s loving union in Himself, this was Creators sending purpose throughout the ages for creation. Believers are those who have not only acknowledged the miracle of God’s incarnation, but by faith are experiencing this love today.

This is why I #missiodei in social media. It’s become my hearts deepest cry, my worldview from which I perceive and interact with the world. The sending heart of the Triune Creator unlocks Scripture, finds highest meaning in the Son, who is the Glory of God. Jesus reveals a God much different than religion of our day. God, by evidence of Christ is not locked out of human history, but active, moving and passionately pouring out His Spirit upon all that believe He was sent from the Father.

This, I believe is the very good news we have for the world. All who believe Jesus came from the Father will know the heart of the Creator, that He is beauty and the essence of relational love within Himself. What a God we have to share to the lost and broken humanity around us! It’s not a set of doctrines to cognitively understood alone, it’s the very nature of God revealed exclusively through the sent Son, to be experienced! Receive the sent gift of the Spirit today, we have been created, pursued, found!

“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3

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