Turning What We Think About Submission Right Side Up, Part 5

  Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth. But avoid irreverent, empty speech, for this will produce an even greater measure of godlessness. 2 Timothy 2:15-16 It’s important to know what to say and what not to say. Restraint is as important as boldness. Both require submission and discernment. We need to understand pure submission, so we don’t confuse it with passivity or indifference.  With which do you struggle the most: restraint or boldness? How can submission help? Now every house is built by someone, but the One who built everything is God. Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s household, as a testimony to what would be said in the future. But Christ was faithful as a Son over His household. And we are that household if we hold on to the courage and the confidence of our hope. Hebrews 3:4-6 Seeking the definition and purpose of pure submission humbly seeks God’s authority. It is only when we begin to fathom His authority that we understand the purpose of submission. It’s never self-serving. It always keeps God’s purpose and plan at the forefront. Because He is sovereign, truthful, and trustworthy, we can step into submission without fear or hesitation. It is still difficult, as it always is to pry pride and control from our hands, but it is worth the journey and effort. What do you believe about God’s authority, and how have your beliefs changed over time? Have you noticed corresponding changes in your submission and humility? Moses said to...

Turning What We Think About Submission Right Side Up, Part 4

I have told you now before it happens so that when it does happen you may believe. John 14:29 Jesus repeatedly declares “so that you may believe.” He continually reminds us to submit. We choose to follow over and over again. We choose to believe Him over and over. We choose to trust Him over and over. Faith isn’t a one-time commitment. We don’t get to check the box and move on. Knowing the pure meaning of submission is important to our lives. It reflects the truth. It makes a way in and for life. It’s persistent, just like God Himself. On a regular basis, do you fully take advantage of Jesus’ reminders to believe? How well do you listen to what He has told you? What then? Are we any better? Not at all! For we have previously charged that both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin. Romans 3:9 Submission positions us to see the truth alongside hope. We don’t arrogantly claim we’ve received, accepted, or achieved something others haven’t. Humility prompts us to want what we have for others. If we ever point out a lacking, it is only because we see our own and can encourage someone. We can help them see the possible hope. But the moment we let pride taint our attitudes or efforts, we weaken. Submission strengthens us. When have you thought yourself better than someone else, particularly in faith? How did you move on, or how can you now? Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We...

Turning What We Think About Submission Right Side Up -Part 3

Pure Submission: Turning What We Think About Submission Right Side Up is now available at Amazon and PurePurpose.org, but we’re giving you a taste here at ICD! Through a series of posts, you’ll get several taste tests to whet your appetite for pure submission. Set the junk aside! Such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites. They deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting with smooth talk and flattering words. Romans 16:18 It’s easy to declare things about “such people.” We separate ourselves from them, because we can always find someone who does something more or less than we do: whichever we need in order to prove that at least we have not done that, gone that far, stooped that low! Only “such people” would do that. But we are such people. As soon as we think of ourselves as better than someone else, we let pride get a foothold. We can see people’s weaknesses with humility: wanting to help, being willing to pray, refusing to gossip or judge. If we don’t, we’ll be faced  with the reality that we are “such people” too. Lord, lead me in Your righteousness because of my adversaries; make Your way straight before me. Psalm 5:8 In our submission, we trust God to lead us well. We don’t insist that He lead us the way we want to go, the most convenient way, or anything else that places confines around the way He leads. After all, that’s not submission. Submission is trust in His authority, wisdom, and guidance. In what areas do you doubt God’s authority, wisdom, or guidance? What...

Turning What We Think About Submission Right Side Up, Part 2

Pure Submission: Turning What We Think About Submission Right Side Up is now available at Amazon and PurePurpose.org, but we’re giving you a taste here at ICD! Through a series of posts, you’ll get several taste tests to whet your appetite for pure submission. Set the junk aside! But when I hoped for good, evil came; when I looked for light, darkness came. Job 30:26 Life feels this way sometimes. What we expect seems to be the opposite of what we get, no matter if we start with light or darkness, good or bad, right-side up or upside down. Life seems unpredictable and confusing. And that comes as no surprise to God. He is consistent and dependable, but we don’t know everything He knows. We can’t fathom His purpose and sovereignty. Things look confusing to us some of the time. There are things we are fairly certain about, then something tosses our expectations upside down. That’s why we can’t always trust our feelings and expectations. Our personal perspective can’t be the foundation on which we build our faith. We need to trust God’s perspective, and He will often turn what we believe on its head, but in the process, He actually turns us right-side up. How thoroughly do you trust God to define everyday situations in your life? What percentage of the time would you say you filter your experiences, feelings, attitudes, and reactions through His truth and invite Him to correct you? So they said to one another, “Let’s appoint a leader and go back to Egypt.” Numbers 14:4 When things get frightening or discouraging, we often blame...

Turning What We Think About Submission Right Side Up, Part 1

Submission has become one of those words (and concept) we’d rather avoid. It brings up stories and experiences of mistreatment, disrespect, and abuse of power. The concept has been hijacked by authority who have only their own interests in mind and want everyone else to do it “my way.” We live in a culture and time of applauding “my way”—unless it bumps into our own way. Or, we try to generalize what submission means, isolating Scripture to support our assumptions or preferences. We use the concordance, search for “submit,” then declare the limited results are all God has to say about it. In reality, submission is scattered throughout the Bible. We have to humbly search and change if we want to truly know and live well in submission. Susan Lawrence went on a search to see what the Bible (in its entirety) has to say about submission. Pure Submission: Turning What We Think About Submission Right Side Up is now available at Amazon and PurePurpose.org, but we’re giving you a taste here at ICD! Through a series of posts, you’ll get several taste tests to whet your appetite for pure submission. Set the junk aside! Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 Submission can be a wonderful thing. It can also, when distorted, be disastrous. Perhaps that’s why we struggle so much to understand what pure submission might be. We have seen so many twists on it, including damage it causes, we just want to toss submission aside. But Jesus didn’t free us from submission....

Journey Through Israel

There are many ways to “see” Israel. Most people sign up for a trip to Israel because they want to “walk where Jesus walked.” They do…sort of. I’ve watched throngs of people get on and off buses, follow a guide who sometimes has to use a microphone to be heard. Where microphones aren’t allowed or available, people hear what they can as they trek from one stop to another. It can be a good experience, …but there’s a difference between touring and journeying. The trips I’ve led have been a little different. We try to combine touring certain “essential” locations with exploring some less familiar ones. We keep the group small, so we get to know each other well and can help one another with questions along the journey. After all, journeying through Israel isn’t about sites as much as about heart. It’s not about gaining head knowledge as much as inviting life change. We serve the people of Israel so that we’re invested in people of today. We might be drawn by the past of Israel, but we engage in the “now.” We look people in the eyes and serve with our hands. It’s not a perfect approach. I always long for more. As I connect one place with another, I wonder what it would be like to hike instead of drive. I savor conversations inside the hotels and at coffee shops, which makes me want to seek out and enjoy even more connections with people. During the adventure of daily itineraries, I wonder about the simplicity of routines. I come across the people living everyday lives and...

The Best You

“I am who I am. Deal with it.” “If God didn’t want me this way, He wouldn’t have made me this way.” “If you met my parents, you’d understand.” “I’ve always been this way, and it works for me. I have no reason to change.” We make and hear these claims all the time. Often, they’re in the context of an excuse or rationalization. We get defensive and we try to explain ourselves by putting our feet in concrete as if whomever we are right now will never change. And sometimes, we even throw God’s name into the mix, claiming He’s the one who created us. Who can argue with God and say He got something wrong in us? Therefore, we must be right. But no one stays the same. Everyone changes. We are not the same as we were a year ago, five years ago, and so on. We might see some changes for the better and some for the worse. We likely see some strings of continuity, but there are even subtle changes in the characteristics we’ve had for years, because we mature and grow…hopefully. We can’t claim God made us a certain way and determine we’ll stay the same without also asking who He intends for us to become so that we’re more like Him. How can we fully rely on Him to change us? Just because He used specific characteristics and strengths in us during one situation doesn’t mean He’ll always use that same approach and process. Just because the strengths He gave us for one season worked well doesn’t mean those same things won’t...

An Epic Life

  Epic wedding venues! Epic party! Epic dinner! Epic movie! Epic selfie! Epic worship! I see posts advertising something epic. I see posts claiming personal “epic” experiences. It’s a powerful word. It demands attention. After all, who wants to miss out on something that’s epic? Epic is grand, immense, and impressive. But life often isn’t epic, and that’s okay. We don’t have to inflate everything we do to impress others or ourselves. We don’t have to constantly compare our experiences with others and build one experience up so that it towers over another. We can find purpose and significance in the mundane and routine. We can find joy in the details. We can appreciate the un-epic-ness of life. When we look for and expect the epic in everyday experiences, we’re disappointed by anything less. We watch for God to impress us with the big stuff (and He sometimes does); He often speaks and shows up in the small stuff. He Himself is big, but He bends to listen to us (Psalm 116:2). He has humbled Himself to reach us (Philippians 2:8). He has sacrificed Himself to save us (Galatians 1:4). It seems like an upside-down economy for an Almighty God. Perhaps it is. We lose our lives to gain it (Luke 17:33). The last will be first, and the first will be last (Matthew 20:16). Perhaps we need to let God change our idea of epic and shift from pursuing grand experiences to pursuing an Almighty...

960 Minutes Today

Days often seem to fly by, especially when we have a lot scheduled. We want to use every moment well, but once we fit in nonnegotiable responsibilities, unplanned delays, and distractions–some that we must attend to but others we welcome for the mindless activity that helps us avoid everything else scheduled for the day, at least for a several minutes or so–we glance at the clock and wonder, “Where did my day go?” On average, we have 960 waking minutes in a day. That sounds like enough. And if we’re honest, it is. Maybe it’s not enough if we try to cram too much into the day. Maybe it’s not enough if we have a rigid idea of what our day is supposed to look like, or if we define a successful, productive day with any distortion of what those words truly represent. Maybe it’s not enough if we begin to idle away a minute or two at a time with mindless activity…or if we refuse to intentionally rest our minds to approach the next moment with renewed focus. Maybe it’s not enough if we try to push out the things we should do with things that are less important. Maybe it’s not enough if we don’t take responsibility for our schedules and choices with a humility that acknowledges we aren’t in control. We aren’t victims of our busy schedules. Sifting through what we can and can’t, should and shouldn’t can be tough, but we’re capable. We need to make some of those tough decisions if we want to fully live the 960 minutes we have each day. Acknowledging...

Becoming a Wise Guy/Girl

Who has been a role model of wisdom in your life? Who has encouraged you, not simply with affirmation, but with challenging accountability to seek God’s truth and have the courage to follow Him? How can you ever become as wise as someone you believe to be wise? When you look at people who seem to seep God’s Word, can you even hope to become like them? How can you be wise in a world that offers instant information through an app or online search? There’s a difference between being satisfied with a quick answer and longing for the search that involves a relationship, trust, and doubts. Wisdom isn’t simply gathering experiences and information to set aside in a treasure pile. It’s living among the treasures, getting to know them so well that you can spot anything that doesn’t fit among them. It’s knowing the source of the treasures and having a relationship with Him despite the frustrations, doubts, struggles, disappointments, and burdens you experience. Godly, wise people don’t get there in an instant. In most cases, many people who are considered to be godly and wise wouldn’t label themselves that way. They might admit they are on the path to becoming godly and wise, but that it’s a longing more than a destination, and the more they know — the closer they get to God — the more they realize how much they do not know. And there is a contentment that comes with not knowing it all. There’s a trust that God knows and gives us what we need to know–and more important, Who we need to...