Tag Archives: God

Surrender

The following is taken from my new book, The Waiting Room, available for pre-order on Amazon. Only eBook is available for pre-order, but both eBook and paperback will be available for purchase when the book releases on June 18th.


“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be My disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.’” Matthew 16:24-45

I imagine the title alone may have sent waves of discomfort through you. It sure did to me for a number of years. As Christians, we like to sing about surrender, but walking that talk is a lot harder than it sounds on Sunday morning. If we look to Merriam-Webster to help us define surrender, we find the following:

“a: to yield to the power, control, or possession of another or b:to give up completely or agree to forgo especially in favor of another.”

When we surrender to God, we’re giving Him authority to exercise His sovereign judgment in our lives. To clarify, this isn’t God overruling our ability to have free will. It’s us giving to God what we think is best, in return for what He knows is best.

If you have kids, particularly teenagers, then you’re well aware of a thing I like to call the “Omni Effect.” The Omni Effect is the result of a child turning the age at which they know the answer to every question ever asked. They no longer need the wisdom of their parents because they’re smarter and far wiser in the ways of the world, despite experiencing only a fraction of what their parents have. They know what’s best, so they feel they should be able to do what they like. They believe the world has changed so dramatically, that we, as parents, couldn’t possibly be smart enough to guide and educate them.

Are you parents out there rolling your eyes yet? I thought so. This is a pretty easy concept for us to grasp, right? What if we applied this to our all-knowing God? News flash: we are those kids. We’re the ones who have experienced only a fraction of what God has. I don’t think we could even call it a fraction. That would be far too generous. He knows all because He created all. The Bible tells us every day was written before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16). He’s the only One able to provide perfect guidance in perfect timing.

Perhaps the greatest testimony of surrender happens when we, amidst the charge of the enemy, lay down our shield, get on our knees, and lift our hands. It’s not a white flag we hold, but the offering of our will to God, whatever the outcome may be. To give yourself wholly and completely to the will of God, without regard to your own personal desires, is the epitome of surrender.

It’s also terrifying.

Why is it so scary? Why is there fear in surrender? We fall into the trap of fear when one of two things happen. The first is we believe the lies of the enemy. Satan doesn’t want you to be close to God. In fact, he wants nothing but misery and death for you (John 10:10). He’s going to whisper lies into your ear about why what God wants for you isn’t going to make you happy. He’s going to stir confusion and doubt. There’s a way to combat that. Fall on the Word. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, love, and sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Search the Scriptures on what God has to say about your situation and who He created you to be.

The second reason we fall into fear is because we don’t know, or choose not to rely on, the character of our God. Do you know Him well enough to know He loves you beyond measure (Ephesians 3:17-19); that He, Himself is love (1 John 4:8)? Do you trust His heart enough to know He longs to bless you and give you every good thing (Psalm 37:4, Matthew 7:9-11)? It’s impossible for God to lie and it’s impossible for God to do anything outside the character of goodness. For these reasons, you can trust Him completely.

It’s a spiritual truth that you can never out-give God. If God’s asking you to give Him something, don’t place such a high value on it and cling to it for fear of losing the joy or security you think it brings. When you surrender it to God, you’ll find He returns something of even greater value. As I’ve often told my daughter, doing what’s asked of us isn’t the extent of obedience. God desires our right attitudes as well. The attitude of surrender should be one of prostration in the presence of an all-knowing God, comforted in the assurance that He knows what you don’t. He’ll only ask of you what He knows will ultimately lead to both your blessing and His glory. In keeping with our spiritual truth, God will never ask you for something and then return something less than you gave to Him.

Surrendering doesn’t make you weak. It’s what you do when you are weak, so God can be your strength. However difficult this may be for you, take your treasure – your money, time, job, relationship, food, home, hobbies, whatever He’s asking for – and lay it at His feet. He’ll return what you never thought possible, including freedom. Don’t be bound in slavery to the things you refuse to let go of out of fear. It’s keeping you from a greater blessing and a beautiful display of His Glory.

“Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

Be blessed,
C.K.

Forget the Former Things

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19

We all have expectations and desires for our tomorrows, but we sometimes allow our yesterdays to get in the way. No matter what your current situation in life, I pray this leaves you excited about the great things our God has waiting for you, as well as a changed perspective about where you’ve been. I’m excited to look with you in Isaiah, where we’ll learn about the amazing power of transformation available to us, and how God encourages us to keep our eye on the prize.

Visualize a wasteland. Webster defines this as “an ugly often devastated or barely inhabitable place or area.” Imagine what would happen if a stream of fresh, clean water is planted right in the middle of that wasteland. Over time, the ground around it begins to absorb the water. As the water spreads farther into the ground, it’s the catalyst for new life. Slowly, the seeds that once fell on hard and dry soil now have soft dirt to cultivate in. In a matter of time, what was once ugly and barren is full of lush, green life. When you choose to call God the Lord of your life, you are choosing life itself. You are allowing His living water to be deposited into the deepest part of you.

Let’s look to a common scientific principle – water was meant to flow. As you read His Word and spend time with Him, increasing your understanding of who God is and His will for you, that repository of water begins to flow, not only into every part of you but, into the lives of those around you. That water changes you. It changes your heart and transforms your mind (Romans 12:2). Transforming your mind and heart will transform your life. 

What prevents us from embracing the change and walking in transformation? Often times, it’s because we’re too busy dwelling on our past. You know the phrase, “the best predictor of the future is the past.” There’s usually no shortage of people reminding us of our mistakes and shortcomings. After hearing these messages enough times, we begin to believe the limitations others set for us.

God takes a different approach on things. He’s telling us to forget the former things. One of the amazing gifts afforded to us through our relationship with Christ is the ability to wipe our slates clean. If you’re in doubt, look at Paul’s story (Acts 9), and the amazing works he was able to do for Christ afterthe years he spent murdering Christians. I sometimes wonder what self-deprecating thoughts Paul had to overcome after his own transformation. How many times did he have to tell himself God was bigger than his murderous rampage of the brothers that were now his?

I’m not saying it’s easy to forget our past, but we must reconcile the misgiving that our failures make us unworthy. Sweet One, our being human makes us unworthy, but the power of Christ’s death and resurrection created a way for us to forget the former things and set ourselves on a new path.

Don’t let Satan use your past as a means to limit your future.

Understand our mistakes only serve to glorify the One who can make all things new (Romans 8:28-30). I believe this glory comes in two forms. The first is simple – Jesus saves. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done – there isn’t anything the cross didn’t overcome. When Jesus hung on that cross, bloody and beaten, he bore the pain and shame of every sin ever committed and yet to be committed. Nothing was forgotten. No one was forgotten.

The second form of glory is more subjective, but equally valuable – your story. Think of survivor stories and how individuals use those to inspire and motivate others. In our Christian walks, it’s vital for us to relate to others in a way that makes faith real and even tangible. We do this through sharing our stories and triumphs of overcoming sin and hardship. People need to know and believe we’ve walked in their shoes before they will trust what we say to them.

Being real about who we were before Christ transformed us, and the ways we fall on our face amidst our Christian walks today, serves to fortify the hope available for those who choose to believe.

Dwelling on your past will lead you back to a drought. Don’t forget the lessons in them, but don’t let your past limit your future. We serve an amazing God – able to do immeasurably more than we could possibly ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21). If God believes you can, shouldn’t you?

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? …. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 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.” Romans 8:31, 37-39

Be blessed,
C.K.

Exponential Impacts

Do you wonder what kind of an impact you’re making? Do you get discouraged when it seems like what’s going on around you might be taking you farther from the goal? When God’s in control, never underestimate the impacts. You may not see them right in front of you, but they are there. Let’s look at an incredible example of this – one that continually blows my mind every time I really think about it.

“…and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you. I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong.”

Romans 1:10-11

In 60 A.D., Rome was estimated to have more than four million people. In comparison, it would be like taking the city of Green Bay, WI and multiplying that forty times over. It would take fifty Lambeau Field stadiums to hold everyone! Paul had been hearing reports on the faith growing among the people and expressed his longing to visit them. Simply put, he was stoked to walk into this great imperial city and put on his preacher show at the Colosseum. It was the city center amphitheater which dreams were made of. Paul made it to Rome alright. But it wasn’t the colosseum he sat in. It was a prison cell. He landed himself on house arrest as a result of freeing a slave girl from a demon (Acts 16:16-24).

For the next two years, the only people Paul saw were the Roman guard and any visitors allowed to him. Can you imagine the discouragement he must have battled, feeling so far from the goal? Hardly a colosseum of people. But he made the most of his time preaching to his captive audience. He also did something quite extraordinary. During his time in prison, Paul wrote four books of the New Testament – Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. Now let’s get to the really cool part.

Statistically, the Bible is recorded to be the best selling book of all time, with over five billion Bibles in circulation. Combine this with all of the Bible apps, like YouVersion, that people can download for free. Now add in every person who’s ever listened to a message from one of these four books. I don’t know if I even know how to do the math correctly to come up with that number. All I know is, it’s staggering. That’s as scientific as I’ll get on one cup of coffee.

Paul expected to preach to a colosseum of people in Rome, but God had a much bigger plan in mind. The impact from the writings he did there were completely exponential to what he would have ever imagined, and those numbers grow daily! It’s mind blowing, really. Is Paul sitting in heaven feeling disappointed now? I think not.

If you’re working toward the things God laid on your heart, be confident the impacts will be both exponential and eternal, in His timing. If you expect Him to do immeasurably more (Ephesians 3:20), He’ll never disappoint you.

Be blessed,
C.K.

Sunrise

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23
British Virgin Islands

I’m an early riser. Always have been. Even in college I would sign up for early classes. I’d be up at the crack of dawn, exercise, get ready, and enjoy breakfast, long before I needed to walk to my 8am class. My college roommate, who wasn’t so fond of early mornings, imposed a rule on me. I couldn’t speak to her before 8am. I think she found my morning energy a bit, well, overwhelming. Through the years, I’ve held strong to my early morning routine. It makes me feel as though I’ve made the most of each day. One of the things about morning that never gets old to me is watching the sun rise. I find it spectacular and mysterious all rolled into one. I love the different colors and even the shapes those colors can take on. When I got up to pray this morning, it was still dark. I found myself about to thank God for the sunrise and changed my words to thank Him for the sunrise I knew would be coming soon. In that moment, God took an old concept and let it fall fresh on me.

When was the last time you found yourself wondering if the sun was really going to rise today? Since our earliest memories until this very morning, our sun has been in the sky waiting to say good morning, without fail. This is so meaningful because God shows us who He is in everything He makes (Romans 1:20). The sun that rises over us faithfully every day is a perpetual reminder of the presence of God in and over our lives. I understand it might be difficult at times to know God is there if you can’t see Him in the flesh. Be encouraged because, just like the sun in the sky, God will give you so many signs and wonders if your heart is actively seeking Him. If you don’t believe me, I’d challenge you to make it a priority to start each day on your knees and spend time with Him. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly that giant ball of gas rises up into the sky. As you spend time with Him, you might be surprised how quickly He “shows up.” 

Even the colors of a sunrise have a lesson for us. Sunlight is actually white. As it makes its way through the Earths atmosphere, it passes through gas molecules and drops of water, which cause the sunlight to change direction and scatter. This action is what changes the white light into different colors. Did you know pollution in the air causes those rays of light to scatter even more, making the colors of the sunrise less vibrant to our eyes? You can see the most beautiful sunrises in places like deserts and islands because pollution is minimal, and the light doesn’t scatter as much. I hope you just had the same cause for pause I did. I can’t help but think this is Gods tender way of telling us, the more pollution we have in our lives, the less visible He will be to us. I believe God meets us where we’re at, but I also believe if we continue to choose sin over Him, we will never see the vibrant colors of His love in and around us. If you’re struggling to “see” Him, try removing the things in your life that may be sinful, and I’m confident you’ll be able to have a more concentrated view of His splendor and His presence.

The picture above was taken last month, when Jim and I went on vacation to the British Virgin Islands. We were lucky enough to enjoy this beautiful place from a sailboat we chartered. I can’t tell you how happy it made my heart to get up each and every morning, sit on the bow of the boat, and watch His spectacular show. Even with the mountains in the way, it was still beautiful. Hey, that sounds like another lesson right there. We might have mountains in our view, but His faithfulness will shine through and over them. Let those who have eyes to see, see (Matthew 13:16).

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

Romans 1:20

Be blessed,
C.K.