Surrender to Winner

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Normally when you think of surrender you think of losing, but the greatest victory in anyone’s life is when they surrender to the Lord. Pictured is “Surrender Field” in Yorktown, VA where British General Cornwallis surrendered in 1781; the surrender essentially ended the fighting in the colonies and peace negotiations soon followed and the rest is history, our nation was born.

Years ago Valerie and I had the privilege of visiting Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown Virginia. I loved every place we visited but my favorite stop was “Surrender Field.” It was chilling just trying to imagine the long line of over 7,000 British officers and men surrendering. When I think of that I can’t help but ask myself, “Am I fighting against the Lord and His will for my life?” The best thing I can do is stop fighting and start surrendering to the Lord. You know, no one ever loses when they surrender to the Lord. It’s a win every time!

The Lord won’t force us to surrender because He loves us that much, we are not puppets on a string, but He is worthy of our complete surrender and trust. The most rewarding and satisfying thing anyone will ever do is trust the Lord and completely surrender to Him. One of my favorite songs is “Hold Me Jesus” by Rich Mullins. My favorite part of the song is, “I”d rather fight you for something I don’t really want than take what you give that I need.” How true.

So let’s surrender our families, our jobs, our time, our money, our talents, our future, our lives, our all to Him…and we will be glad we did. I don’t know about you but ain’t it time we start winning? We win by surrender…surrender to the One who made us, the only One Who is worthy. We’ll be glad we did.

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Can You See?

Think about this with me: Jesus had just healed a man that was born blind by giving him sight (John 9). Yet there were those who did not like it because they had their way, their beliefs, and their religion. How dare this man named Jesus go against what they believed. Never mind the great news about a man who was now able to see for the first time in his life. It was a great story and you would think the religious leaders would have been happy, yet they were not because they were blinded to the truth. They did not want to see it because they wanted control and demanded their way even though it was contrary to God’s way. Here is what I want to emphasize, God was among them doing what only God could do, but they rejected because they had to have their way. Talk about being blind.

What must it had been like for this man to see for the first time? Can you imagine with me the scene as the healed man looked on his neighbors for the first time yet some of them could not believe their own eyes about him? What irony. Through God’s mercy and power the man who had been blind since birth could now see, yet the Pharisee’s questioned the man’s parents and kept pressing him because they wanted to discredit Jesus. His response was not what they were looking for because the fact was Jesus did what only God could do. They hated that. They rejected Jesus. They only wanted their way no matter what. So, even though Jesus had mercy on this man and caused him to be able to see, they kicked him out of the synagogue. The only thing the blind man knew was that he once was blind but now he could see.

I want to ask those of you who are Christians something right now: Are you open to what God wants or do you resist so that you may have “control” and have your way? If your prayers are more about explaining to God what you are doing instead of asking what God wants you to do, then you don’t understand what being a Christian is all about. We need to remember that He is God and we are not. Who are we to tell God how it is instead of seeking His will? We need to come to Him admitting that we don’t have all the answers, in fact, we should be in the habit of constantly being open to God’s way and willing to wait on whatever God leads us to do. My fear in 2019 is we are not really interested in anything except what our feelings tell us and what we want. If we do not seek God’s will and only want our will then we are literally asking God to come to us on our terms; we are basically saying “I want my way and I am not open to anything else. I am not going to let go of something that means so much to me, so God it would be nice if you bless what I am doing, but if you do not then I am doing it my way.” We are blind when we do not want to see anything but what we want, what we feel, or what we think. Sounds like the Pharisee’s resisting what God did to the blind man does it not?

Being a Christian means denying self (give up all rights), taking up our cross (includes death to self and suffering), and following Jesus (after we deny self and take up our cross); not demanding our way, taking the path of least resistance that our emotions sense, and then asking God to follow us (Luke 9:17). The truth is it is impossible to please God without faith. Denying self and letting go is tough, it requires faith, but if we want God to bless then we must come to Him on His terms even if that means letting go of our way. When was the last time you let go of your way and made changes because God led you in another direction?

The Pharisees missed the truth because they stubbornly demanded their way and resisted God’s way, and because of this, they kicked the blind man out of the synagogue. Please do not be guilty of kicking God’s way out because you are too stubborn to see things any other way. Don’t miss out on God’s blessings because you are demanding your way no matter what. A lot of times God’s way will be different from our way, and His ways are higher than our ways because He is God (Isaiah 55:8-9). He is the Creator and we are the created. He is perfect and we are not. He is unlimited are we are so limited. It is always best to seek the Lord and make sure our way is lining up to His instead of leaving God out and asking Him to line up with us.

After the man was kicked out of the synagogue, I love this, Jesus pursued him. There were those who had given up on him but Jesus was not one of them. Jesus went to him and did not waste time asking the most important question, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The man believed and he not only got physical sight but he also received spiritual sight through faith in Jesus. Of all the things that we do in life, the only thing that matters is what we do with Jesus. The Pharisees rejected and sadly, some 2,000 years later they are still suffering from their rejection and will continue to for all eternity. They are separated from God forever with no hope and no mercy. On the contrary, the man that received his sight, the one they kicked out of the synagogue, is in the presence of the One He believed in right now, and will be forever with the Lord in a perfect place called heaven. What about you? I pray that God will open the eyes of your heart. Believe on Him right now, and like the man that was able to see, you’ll be glad you did 2,000 years from now.

Lessons from Running

I began running in December of 2012 because I was 40 with high cholesterol, was overweight, and stressed. I told myself I need to do something! So I set out for the track to see if I could run a mile without stopping. I ran 3/4 of a mile and the journey began.

After running a mile my next goal was 3, and I kept increasing until I ran my first half marathon. Honestly I would have probably stopped after running 6 miles, but I saw the Maxey’s at my first official 5k race and they were so encouraging that they made me want to keep going forward. The Maxey’s introduced me to some great new friends that I never would have met were it not for running, I’m so thankful for all of them. Encouragement, support, and accountability are so important in running, but also in life. I hope you have friends that push you and bring out the best in you. Friends that are there no matter what, and have friends that have your best interest at heart. For obvious reasons I have found that I run better in groups than when I’m alone.

Just last summer I hadn’t ran as much because of the heat and humidity, but a lot in my group was training for a 15k run. I had conceded to just run the 5k yet those in my group encouraged me to run the 15k with them. I loved how they not only encouraged me but they said, “run with us.” In other words, we will be with you to support you and encourage you all the way. They talked me into it, and I ran the best in that 9 mile race than I did all summer in all my 3 mile runs! We are at our best when we have support and encouragement; we need support and we need encouragement.

Even though running in a group is great, there are times I chose to run alone because it’s great to get away to clear my heart and mind. How do you clear your heart and mind when you’re alone? My best friend is there. His name is Jesus. I can’t tell you how great it is to just pour my heart out to God while pounding the trail or the road! For me running is good therapy. It really is self care not only physically but mentally and spiritually.

You may not have an ounce of desire to get away and run, but you better take time to get away from the noise and clamor of this world. Always remember that intermittent stress is survivable, but constant stress is a killer. When was the last time you heard yourself breathe? More importantly, when was the last time you turned everything off and made time for the Lord? Tell him your fears, your questions, your trials…He already knows. It’s not to inform the Lord or for His benefit, it’s all for your benefit. God made you and knows you better than yourself and He wants to hear from you. He loves you and is waiting.

More than the support from true friends and time alone with God, running has taught me that you can’t go on feelings. Sometimes you feel great and sometimes you don’t. What do you do when you don’t feel like running? Just keep pressing on. What about that hill that’s coming? Just keep pressing on. What about that pain in your hip or knee? Just keep pressing on. What about that down hill? Now you’re talking! What about when it’s 65 and sunny outside? Oh yeah. What about when it’s 38 and raining or 95 and humid? Keep pressing on.

I don’t know where you are right now at this moment. Maybe climbing a tough hill or running down hill. Maybe it’s 38 and raining or 95 in the heat and humidity. Just keep pressing on. Don’t isolate yourself if the climb or the surroundings seem too tough. Call on a friend. Someone who you know will be there to push you every step of the way. Maybe you need some alone time. Take it. Just keep pressing on. Realize the great potential that is before you when you face the difficulty and keep pressing on. If you quit you’ll forfeit the powerful lesson that will come as a result of pressing on. Stay in the race. You’ll be glad you did. The path of greater resistance will teach us and equip us so much more than taking the path of least resistance. Keep pressing on.

Lord help me to see!

Been thinking about this a lot lately. It’s so easy for us to only focus on what our physical eyes can see, which can be really frustrating and overwhelming, instead of seeing God’s hand at work. In 2 Kings 6 when Elisha’s servant could only see the enemy surrounding them he was overwhelmed with fear, but Elisha wasn’t worried. Elisha saw something totally different.

So Elisha prayed for him to see through the eyes of faith that God was there, ready to fight on their behalf. God granted Elisha and his servant supernatural sight and hindered the enemy with supernatural blindness. God is faithful and able. How many times have I been blinded only to what my physical eyes see instead of allowing God to help me look through the eyes of faith? I’ve prayed so many times lately, “Lord help me to see!”

When we pray, God works through us and through the lives of others involved in the situation. We may not understand His timing or see how His execution fits our plan, but we must remember that the Lord’s thoughts are higher than our own. Ultimately, He is working all things out for our good and His glory. Prayer really does change our perspective regardless of if it changes our circumstances. Lord “help us to see it!”

SOTU: My Country ‘Tis of Thee

I thought the SOTU went really well last night. It was so nice hearing our President share that all human life, including the preborn, is valuable and created in the image of a Holy God. In this day of such division, it was so refreshing to hear the chant “USA, USA, USA!” The stories were really moving and I don’t guess I’ve ever heard “Happy Birthday” be sung at a SOTU. May we unite together as “one nation under God” and seek Divine wisdom!

The church across our land needs to impact our communities to be the hands and feet of Jesus so that our country will see our good work to glorify the Lord. Just like Vice President Pence shared at the Southern Baptist Convention last year in Dallas, “The truth is, no podium the President or I stand behind will be of greater consequence than the pulpits you stand behind every Sunday morning…no policy we make will ever be more meaningful or more powerful than your prayers.” Pastors, lets unite together to lead our churches across our land to be used of God by the life changing, powerful message of the gospel for the glory of God!

There is a God in heaven and He loves all mankind with a perfect love that is truly indescribable! If we who have experienced His love, grace, and forgiveness don’t share and reach out then who will? He is the answer! People need the Lord! In a world of chaos and hurt, lets stop stuttering and playing spiritual patty cakes and begin to impact lives for the glory of God. God help the church to help our country be what God commands us to be for His glory! Amen and amen!

Being Christlike

Being Christ like is indeed the greatest honor yet also is not easy. Even though salvation and being Christ like is a free gift, it isn’t cheap. The One Who took on your sin, Who was beaten beyond recognition, Who was totally innocent when we were the ones guilty, went all the way for you and paid it all in your place on the cross (the greatest injustice in the history of man). I know many claim to be Christ like, and would agree it is an honorable thing to want to be like Jesus, but do we take time to count the cost about what it really means to be Christ like? The One Who taught to turn the other cheek and then did just that time and time again; the One Who taught to forgive 70 x’s 7 times (infinite times), and did just that when He cried out on the cross dying for your sins and mine, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The One Who taught to deny self, and did just that when He cried out “not my will, but thine be done” the night before His arrest; the One who taught to take up your cross and did just that, even death on the cross. Paul shared what it included to be like Christ in Philippians 2:3-8.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

To be honest, that is tough and not something man naturally desires on his or her own, but if we’ve been made alive spiritually by God’s power when we placed our faith in Jesus it’s possible, and should be our desire since God Himself lives within us through the Holy Spirit.

Like many who stopped following Jesus when they found out what it really meant to follow Him (Luke 6:60-70), many today claim to be interested in following Jesus until they find out what is involved. As person after person walked away from Jesus, Jesus looked to his 12 closest followers and asked them if they too wanted to leave, Peter responded, “to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” What an answer! We truly have no one else to turn to. So yes, being Christlike is not easy, but really there is no one else to turn to for eternal life. So let’s be like Christ and let Christ be our reason to do what our Lord and Savior taught and even lived out Himself. Let’s make sure Christ is our example. Turn your eyes on the One Who gave His all so we could even have the honor of being like Him. He’s enough. He satisfies. If someone or something else is your focus then you’ll be disappointed. Let’s make sure that we are “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). It really is true that when our focus is on Jesus it changes everything. Lord help us. Time is running out and the only thing that matters is You are coming again and we all need to be ready. There is a chaotic world filled with people looking for real hope who desperately needs to see in Christ followers that Jesus truly is “the way, the truth, and the life.” I’m sure if you have read this thus far you probably feel like I do, I want to take as many with me to heaven as possible. Nothing else really matters.

Tell it to Jesus

Sometimes the text, post, tweet, message, or email is better off unsent, and then deleted. Sometimes the best word is unspoken. A word sent or spoken can’t be unsent or unspoken, and often times we are left with stressful damage control. Boy have I experienced this more times than I should have.

We can’t always trust ourselves, especially when it involves someone or something that we care so much about, because our feelings and emotions will blur our vision. Also “things are not always as they seem,” so what we need is a change of perspective and a clear vision. Prayer is always the way to get that different perspective and clear vision, but that requires faith in God over faith in ourselves. Really, when we pray we are essentially saying, “Lord I can’t, but I know you can.” That is not weakness, but strength which will lead to the power of prayer.

We can’t always trust our feelings and emotions but we can always trust the Lord. It’s always best to first tell it to Jesus, and then when our perspective changes we’ll then realize that it’s OK, and we don’t need to hit “send” or say a word. However, If we decide to hit “send” or speak we’ll be better for it because we prayed about it, and hopefully we’ll be following the Lord’s lead. That is so much better than the stresses of damage control. Prayer will lead to “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, (and) will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). Having the God of the universe guard our minds and hearts is a better way to live. I’m learning. We’re all are learning.