Day 3…

As I read through today’s Draw The Circle devotional, Mark Batterson talked about consecration. Consecration, as he put it, is death of self. It is a lifelong journey of surrender in total dedication to God. It is the process of not holding anything back from God.

As Batterson puts it:

“I know there is a fear that if we give more of ourselves to God, there will be less of us less, but it’s the exact opposite. It’s not until we die to ourself that we truly come alive. The more we give to God, the more we have and the more we become. It’s only in losing our lives that we truly find them.”

He tells of great men God like Dwight L. Moody and Jonathan Edwards who, when fully dedicated to the Lord, did amazing things for God during their lives. He tells the story found in Joshua where the Lord tells the Israelites to “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.” (Joshua 3:5) They did; and the Lord did: He parted the Jordan River and crossed on dry ground.

But I found myself bristling against some of what he said. For instance, the very last sentence of today’s devotional reads:

“If we give more of ourselves to God, God will give more of Himself to us.”

God gave all of Himself when He gave His one and only son, that whosoever would believe in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) How much more can He give!?! It also sounds like a formula for performance. The more we give = the more we get. There’s something about that which is true. But there’s something that’s not quite right, too.

What about those that struggle? You and I have issues. Face it. We do. We all are sinners. Each day. Every day. I am desperately in need of God and His grace. With the formula above, I could easily believe that if I fail at giving God my all today, or if I give something to him one day in complete surrender and then take it back the next day, I’m a complete loser and a total failure. There are thousands of folks walking around believing that today. Thousands.

Because Jesus succeeded, we can fail.
Because Jesus surrendered, I can fall short in my surrender and not feel like a loser.
Because Jesus won, I’m free to lose.

When I fully grasp the freedom found in Jesus and what was accomplished on the Cross, I am humbly compelled to live my live wholly and completely for God. It’s isn’t a matter of me willingly surrendering. It’s not a matter of the will. It’s not about me. It’s about Jesus… and surrender just happens.

Yes, it is still a process. But, for me, it is not a process of surrender, it is a process of fully realizing the love God has for me in Christ Jesus. As I fully comprehend this complete, satisfying, all-encompassing love that heals all wounds and fills all voids, I find myself more and more completely consumed by His love… and more and more completely in love with Him.

I become more and more completely His. If that’s being consecrated, then so be it.

I hear You call my name…

I’m listening to a song by B.J. Putnam entitled “Here For You” and the “bridge” of the song is repeated over and over. It simply states:

“I hear You call my name.
I’ll never be the same”

If you ever had God call you (and most of you reading this have), you know this is true. Once you grasp the moment in front of you… once you heed His call and take His hand… once you give your life to Jesus, everything changes. You are never the same.

It’s not that you all of a sudden have to follow all the Christian rules. That would be religion. That’s not it. At all. It’s not that you have to stop cussing, or drinking, or smoking… or start giving to charities or helping little old ladies across the street. Again, if you’ve never heeded the call of God in your life, trust me… that’s not it either.

It is recognizing that your way isn’t the right way. It’s allowing God to wipe the slate clean by the blood of Jesus, giving you a fresh start and eternal life. It’s a refreshing freedom not found anywhere or in anything but Him. It is simply surrendering your life to God, moment by moment, more and more. Romans 12:1 in The Message paraphrase of the Bible really says it well:

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”

That’s what it means to embrace the call of God your life. That’s how you worship God everyday, moment-by-moment.

Beside the initial call that makes you come forward in a church service (or bow your heart somewhere/anywhere else) to accept the free gift that God offers, namely eternal life, there seems to be other opportunities to give more and more of yourself. Different doctrines call it different things: Consecration, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Entire Sanctification, and other terms. Different strokes for different strokes, I guess. However, for each denomination, it includes yielding… surrendering… submitting… to more of God’s leadership in your life.

B.J. Putnam talks about it in his own words in the video below. It’s the guitar tutorial of the song, but he also gives a brief backstory behind the song.

It is answering the call.

Here’s the lyrics of part the song:

“I am here for You…
To worship You.
This moment will not pass me by.
‘Cause I’m in love with You,
In awe of You,
I’m giving everything…
I’m giving everything away.

I hear You call my name.
I’ll never be the same.”

I hear Him. Do you?

What is He saying to you?

Surrendered to Love

I’ve been thinking about the term “Sanctification” recently. It’s term used by certain denominations within the Christian church which means, in essence, totally sold-out or surrendered to the Lordship of Christ in your life. It’s turning over the reins of all aspects of your life to God. It happens both in a moment in time and over a span of time. It is an instantaneous occurance and a process. It can be interchanged with the words or phrases “consecrated” and “baptized in the Holy Spirit”, depending on the denomination. I’m sure there’s other terms for it as well.

But I’ve come to understand it in a new way recently.

I used to believe that when I surrendered fully to God in my life, I was fully sanctified. I wanted to be his vessel to use as He wished. I still do. But it seemed like it depended on my degree of surrender. It seemed like it depended on me. It seemed like it depended on my effort.

We sing “I Surrender All” in our church services. In fact, we sang it yesterday. Surrender or yielding to God’s will and God’s ways certainly must happen. But what I don’t understand is how there can be differing degrees of surrender. Maybe some of you can chime in with your thoughts.

What I’ve been “yielding” to recently or “surrendering” to is God’s overwhelming love for me (and you). It is an amazing love that has nothing to do with you and me, because, I don’t know about you, but I can be quite un-loveable at times. It is a love that depends solely on the Lover. It is so irrational, so incomprehensible, and so amazing. Once I really understood and meditated on that kind of love… once I got that deep down inside me… and I mean DEEP down… it transformed me. And now it’s working its way out.

As I stated yesterday, I’ve re-discovered grace. I’ve found that I don’t have to “be a better Christian” to have God love me any more than He already does. I don’t have to do anything to have Him accept me more than He already does. I can rest. There is tremendous freedom in that.

The funny thing is: It doesn’t “free” me to live my life any “looser”. I don’t feel like I can get away with anything and then ask for God’s forgiveness. On the contrary, it is a freedom that compels me to live my life totally for Him. It makes me “sold-out” by default. There’s no effort involved. I just “am.” As you can tell, I almost can’t explain it.

One or more denominations refer to sanctification as a “second work of grace”. Well then, by definition, it is a gift. There is nothing I can do to earn it. It is a gift that God gives. The only thing I think I’m surrendered to is God’s unconditional acceptance of me and unbelieveable love for me.

If that makes me “sanctified”, then I need to go into Staples and hit the button that says, “That was easy!”