Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Joyous Surrender

You know what an oxymoron is, right? It's when two words of a common phrase can be seen as contradicting each other. For example:

  • Jumbo Shrimp
  • Civil War
  • Political Ethics

In the worship song, "Hear Our Song", Jadon Lavik, Marc Byrd, and Steve Hindalong have given us a two-word phrase that just may be asking for inclusion in that list: Joyous Surrender


joyous (joi-uhs)adj. 1. Having a happy nature or mood;  2. joyful  Synonyms: cheerful, ecstatic, exuberant, festive, jubilant, merry, upbeat

surrender (suh-ren-der) verb  1. to yield (something) to the possession or power of another; deliver up possession of on demand or under duress;  2. to give (oneself) up, as to the police;  3. to give up, abandon, or relinquish (comfort, hope, etc.)  Synonyms: abdication, capitulation, relinquishment, succumbing

And now...consider how the phrase is used in the song:

Truth is...while giving up seems like a negative thing that certainly wouldn't result in an abundance of joy, when a person stops fighting against God and instead trusts in His perfect love and says, with the Apostle Paul, "To live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21), there is a deep joy that surpasses the fleeting happiness of happenstance.

And so I joyously say...I surrender all. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

You Can't BE "Good Enough"

More from Watchman Nee's The Normal Christian Life:

God's way of deliverance is altogether different from man's way. Man's way is to try to suppress sin by seeking to overcome it; God's way is to remove the sinner. Many Christians mourn over their weakness, thinking that if only they were stronger all would be well. The idea that, because failure to lead a holy life is due to our impotence, something more is therefore demanded of us, leads naturally to this false conception of the way of deliverance. If we are preoccupied with the power of sin and with our inability to meet it, then we naturally conclude that to gain the victory over sin we must have more power. "If only I were stronger," we say, "I could overcome my violent outbursts of temper," and so we plead with the Lord to strengthen us that we may exercise more self-control.

But this is altogether a fallacy; it is not Christianity. God's means of delivering us from sin is not by making us stronger and stronger, but by making us weaker and weaker. That is surely rather a peculiar way of victory, you say; but it is the divine way. God sets us free from the dominion of sin, not by strengthening our old man but by crucifying him.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...There's not a thing you can do to gain forgiveness from your sins or deliverance from the power of Sin over you. Trying harder won't do it. Praying harder won't do it. Locking yourself in a tower or stranding yourself on a remote island won't do it. Only when you realize that it's not about what you do...but it's all about what Jesus did...only then will God's forgiveness and grace take its full effect in your soul.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Heavenly Stuff I'm Pretty Sure About

I certainly don't know all there is to know.

[I'll just wait here a little bit while the shock of that statement washes over you.]


There are a couple misconceptions about heaven I've heard recently that I'd like to clear up.

When we die, we do not become angels.

Angels are a separate category of created beings, not the souls of our dearly departed relatives. So...sorry...Uncle Billy is not your guardian angel and the attempt to comfort the grieving by saying "I guess God needed another angel, so He chose Uncle Billy" is just wrong-headed. Right-hearted, but wrong-headed. (In the same breath, I might as well burst the bubbles of those who think we all live in heaven until we are born.)

The main attraction in heaven will not be seeing all our loved ones who died before we did.

The big deal in heaven will be worshiping Jesus; seeing Him face-to-face. Do you really think we'll prefer sitting around talking to Uncle Billy over knowing Jesus fully, just as He fully knows us now? (I Corinthians 13:12)

Truth is...I could have titled this "Stuff We KNOW About Heaven" and left the page blank.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Watch My Knee!

I don't think very many people have the Chinese preacher, teacher, writer, Watchman Nee, on their personal radar. When I first heard about him, in my post-high school years, I didn't even understand his name...thought someone was telling me to be careful around their leg joint.

But he was pretty popular among my small group of radical, let's-create-a-Christian-coffeehouse, Jesus People wannabees. He spent the final 20 years of his life in a Chinese prison, dying at the age of 68 in 1972, but before that, he traveled extensively, telling anyone who would listen about Jesus Christ.

I hadn't heard ANYbody quote him or say anything about him for a long, long time until last week, when I heard him referenced two or three times within a couple days. "That tears it," I thought. "I need to dig out my old copy of The Normal Christian Life and read it again."

The Normal Christian Life is based on sermons and lessons originally given by Mr. Nee during and shortly after a visit to Europe in 1938-39. It was compiled and edited while Nee was in prison and first published in 1957. (I own the third revised edition, published in 1961.)

Even as old as it is...even as foreign as Watchman Nee's culture is to we Westerners...there is profound truth here, starting in Chapter One.

In the first section [of Romans 1-8] it is a question of the sins I have committed before God, which are many and can be enumerated, whereas in the second it is a question of sin as a principle working in me. No matter how many sins I commit, it is always the one sin-principle that leads to them. I need forgiveness for my sins, but I need also deliverance from the power of sin. The former touches my conscience, the latter my life. I may receive forgiveness for all my sins, but because of my sin I have, even then, no abiding peace of mind.

When God's light first shines into my heart my one cry is for forgiveness, for I realize I have committed sins before Him; but when once I have received forgiveness of sins I make a new discovery, namely, the discovery of sin, and I realize not only that I have committed sins before God but that there is something wrong within. I discover that I have the nature of a sinner. There is an inward inclination to sin, a power within that draws to sin. When that power breaks out I commit sins. I may seek and receive forgiveness, but then I sin once more. So life goes on in a vicious circle of sinning and being forgiven and then sinning again. I appreciate the blessed fact of God's forgiveness, but I want something more than that: I want deliverance. I need forgiveness for what I have done, but I need also deliverance from what I am.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Truth is...While it is accurate to say that I sin and therefore, I am a sinner, it is far more accurate to say that because I am a sinner, I commit sins. And...the greatest truth of all...Jesus both saves from sins and delivers from sin.