Surrender

The Parable of the Highway Director

by Andy Wood on May 15, 2017

in LV Cycle, LV Stories

A Reverent Retelling of a Familiar Story

Snowstorm Traffic

A Colorado highway director went out to see firsthand the aftermath of a sudden blizzard that struck just at the start of a holiday weekend.

Some vehicles had slid off the road into a ditch or snow bank. Without help they were powerless to move.

Other cars were on the shoulder. Their engines were still running for the time being, but they were not moving forward at all.

Some cars were in the slow lane, cautiously moving forward, but at a pace that made timely arrival at their destination virtually impossible.

Still other vehicles were equipped to drive in the fast lane – some going steadily, some quickly, some dangerously fast, but all headed for their destination.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

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Hear now the parable of the Highway Director. [click to continue…]

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A.W. Tozer, in commenting on the difference between a yesterday and a today faith, wrote this:

We habitually stand in our now and look back by faith to see the past filled with God. We look forward and see Him inhabiting our future; but our now is uninhabited except for ourselves. Thus we are guilty of a kind of [temporary] atheism which leaves us alone in the universe while, for the time, God is not. We talk of Him much and loudly, but we secretly think of Him as being absent, and we think of ourselves as inhabiting a parenthetic interval between the God who was and the God who will be. And we are lonely with an ancient and cosmic loneliness.

Your capacity to believe God is the gateway to a life of power, usefulness, and joy. And yet during his earthly ministry, nothing caught Jesus by surprise more than the “people of God” or so-called “believers” not believing – living with that cosmic loneliness that Tozer wrote about.

“Where is your faith?” He would ask. [click to continue…]

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Broken Bread

Imagine with me.

You’re an actor, and your dream is to land a role on the Ultimate Stage – a place where your talent can be on display for the entire world to sit up and take notice. A role that can lead to even bigger and better things. You don’t have to be the star. You just want to be able to show your star power.

The script: Interesting. It’s a modern retelling of a famous scene from the Bible – the time when Jesus fed about 4,000 people with seven loaves of bread and a few fish.

You’ve been summoned to a callback audition and informed you have a spot in the play. That’s all you know.

Can you imagine the excitement? The anticipation you’re feeling? This is what you have dreamed for, wished for, prayed for, and endured a lot of questions and unhelpful go-be-a-teacher suggestions for.

You. Are. Going. To. Broadway. [click to continue…]

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Praying at sunrise

Cesar Malan was a famous minister from Geneva.  He showed genuine interest in the spiritual welfare of anyone he met. And get this!  He would actually ask them about it!

Once Malan asked a woman he had just met about her relationship with God.  Caught off guard, and somewhat annoyed by his question, she curtly said she didn’t care to discuss the matter.

Apparently this wasn’t the first time Cesar had faced such a response.  The minister kindly assured her that he would be praying for her salvation.

It wasn’t long before circumstances brought the two together again.  As they talked, it became apparent to Pastor Malan that the Lord was responding to his prayers.  The once-antagonistic woman had recognized her spiritual need.  Now she was asking him what was required to become a follower of Christ.

The preacher replied, “Come to Him just as you are.” [click to continue…]

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(Part 1)

Abandoned Boat

There come those times in the life of every Christ follower when we are faced with a set of choices.  These aren’t salvation issues – far from it. But they are faith issues.  Growth issues.  Issues of maturity and usefulness and power.

One of those choices has to do with your strengths, or areas of confidence.  It has to do with whether you will acknowledge that even in the places where you’re an outright genius, God may have a better idea.  That maybe – just maybe – He’s even smarter than you are.

Another has to do with just the opposite – your areas of fear or insecurity.  Will you be willing to leave the predictable, the safe, and the orderly to do something completely unprecedented if Jesus calls you there?  Even if the people closest to you are telling you you’re a complete fool?

Still another has to do with having courage in the wake of failure.  Will you believe the testimony of grace that Jesus declares over you, or will you give failure the final say in your life?

It all comes down, friends, to what you do with your boat. [click to continue…]

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inflated gloveThe stress you feel is proportional to the amount of control you have over a situation.

That sounds very intuitive, but there’s a spiritual contradiction to that.  More on that in a minute.

Here’s an example of how that idea works out in the natural.  A month ago I go to the doctor and he says my lipid levels are high.  I roll my eyes and say, “same old same old.” I don’t get stressed about it because there is something I can do to correct it.  Anyway, I’ve been hearing that for 30 years.

When he sends me for another test and I find out my heart calcium score is high, almost in the danger zone, again, the first thing I do is look for something I can do about it, because I have a steadfast belief that I can do something about it.  So I’m motivated, but not stressed.

Same thing goes, even when I’m told I’m a Type II diabetic because of my lifestyle choices in the past.  Well, crud.  But I can do something about that by making different choices (and by the way I am making different choices and seeing wonderful results).

But when the doctor says I have a narrowing in the arteries at the top of my heart and he “wants to take a look at it” with an angiogram, and oh, by the way, if there is a significant enough blockage he may put a stint in it, suddenly he has crossed the line of my control.

Hello stress. [click to continue…]

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LogjamSurrender to the lordship and authority of Christ isn’t the goal of the Christian life.

It’s the means to the goal.

And that’s the problem, because in many Evangelical circles we’ve made surrender the target.  In our audience-spectator-based worship services, we sing songs, give money, enjoy some fellowship, and hear a passionate call, all around the same theme – Jesus is Lord, and wants to be Lord of your life. Then we appeal to non-believers to surrender in faith to His Lordship for salvation, and to believers to surrender to His Lordship for sanctification.

Okay.  Now what? [click to continue…]

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worship surrender 2Raise your hand if you’ve ever stood in church and sung, “I surrender all.”

Raise your other hand if you were invited to “come to the altar and surrender all to Jesus.”

Both my hands are up. I’m typing with my toes.

Just two problems with that idea.  First, surrender isn’t something you do in church.  Second, surrender isn’t something you do at the end or the close of anything.

A few years ago I learned a new language – the language of surrender and freedom.  Inspired by someone’s idea of absolute commitment to Jesus expressed as, “I don’t have to survive,” I began a mental and spiritual journey of surrender.  What else can I let go of? How else can I be free?  And I began to make the list…

I don’t have to be successful…

I don’t have to get angry…

I don’t have to feel rejected…

I don’t have to be right…

You get the point.

Lately I’ve been revisiting that idea, for an important reason.  [click to continue…]

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IMG_7524I love photography for two reasons. First, I love capturing light and images and special moments that I can share and re-live. The one to the left is a recent sample.

Second, taking pictures puts me on the right side of the camera.  As long as I can stay away from that nosy lens, I can imagine that I actually look the way I do when I look at myself in the mirror.  No awkward angles. No unflattering poses. No ruthless inventory of how I really look.

The same kind of thing happens in the spiritual realm. There are plenty of ways to pose so that we get a flattering, but dishonest look at ourselves.  That’s unhealthy for two reasons. First, it can put us in denial of something that can really hurt us in the long run. Second, it can produce shame that blinds us to our great, great value to God and to the world.

How would you like a strategy for taking an honest inventory of your heart and soul?

Wait.

Maybe I should phrase that a different way…

Do you need a strategy for taking an honest inventory of your heart and soul? I don’t really care whether you want it or not.

Here are eight questions that can turn the lights on in your spiritual life.  They can be used alone or together. You can go through them in 15 minutes, or an hour, or an entire day. The questions are based on Paul’s energetic series of charges to the Thessalonians:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:16-22).

Take a few minutes or however long you can. Get alone with a journal, legal pad, or an electronic tablet and write down some notes based on your first response to these questions: [click to continue…]

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jackson swingIn a slumbering, snoring world, always far away in some other place…
Dreaming of another time like tomorrow or yesterday…
Can you be the one who stays awake
To the rhythms and breathing of the here and now?
Could you stay here in this moment?
Could you rest here in His love?

In a tenacious, tight-fisted tribe of self will run riot…
Demanding life on its own terms as if it were theirs to demand…
Can you be the one who joyfully lets go
And surrenders to the sweetness of His way and truth?
Could you stay here in this moment?
Could you rest here in His love? [click to continue…]

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