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Surrender as Victory

I sat quietly at my desk. The room was only half-lit. I was praying, frustrated and melancholic. “How can a person live a completely surrendered life?” The question sprang from a certain amount of accusation that had been circling my heart. I waited. I was seeking wisdom from above and I was not moving until I had something to go on. The answer came, but I have to tell you that this flesh of mine was not at all satisfied.

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

I wasn’t really asking how to live a surrendered life as much as how to win, but I didn’t realize that at first, until the Father gave me a gentle rebuke.

My flesh was not satisfied because my flesh has many demands. My ego demands that I win victory on my own so that I can take credit for it. My flesh wants to be in charge, in control of a situation to work things out the way that makes me look good–in charge. My flesh wants to be honored and coddled and attended.

The flesh exerts its will. The devil flings flaming arrows at me to weaken my resolve. The world squeezes, trying to fashion another empty, soulless robot to march according to it cadence. But the Spirit indwells me. He intercedes for me, as does the Son. I feel the conflict within.

Because I live by the Spirit, I want to crush the devil under my feet, cast off the shackles of the world system, and crucify the flesh. The subtle temptation is to try to do so prayerlessly, relying upon my own force of will, so that I might walk into the King’s presence to show him my victory. There is no victory without prayer, there is no victory without the Spirit, there is no victory without surrender.

Surrender is present in both failure and victory. Failure is tantamount to surrendering to the force of the flesh, to the force of the world system, or to the forceful temptation or attack of the devil. Failure (sin) is making friends with the world and living a laissez-faire lifestyle that assumes that it is the only option; the only way to get along. Failure is a surrender of self to someone else’s will, even if it is the “old man” that Paul writes about to the Roman believers.

Victory is a surrender to the will of God. Victory is a surrender of bragging rights, admitting that we are not able to bring a self-won victory into the throne room, not able to boast to God, “Look what I did. Aren’t you impressed?” Victory is approaching the throne of grace, humbly, offering ourselves to God as servants, as sons and daughters, as ones in need of grace.

This kind of victory rightly gives credit where credit is due: it is God who made us, who redeemed us from an empty way of life, who provides for us, who calls us, who empowers us, who gives us everything we need for life and godliness. It is God who makes any victory possible. It is God himself who gave the ultimate sacrifice that we might come to him. It is God who sought us out and offered us a second chance. It is God himself that enables us to stand, in grace.

Surrender begins with submission to God’s wishes. Submission is not a shameful condition. It merely acknowledges God’s rightful place as King of my life. He rules. Surrender then requires resisting the devil. He will flatter and deceive in order to get us to deviate from obedience. Surrender involves the deep desire of the heart, an act of will that accesses grace so that we can draw near. Without an active and accessed grace we cannot draw near to God. Surrender involves reducing our will to a single allegience: God. To purify essentially means to reduce to a single element. One. Not two. Not ten. One. Surrender involves a cessation of laughing at our sin and willful disobedience. Surrender results in the fulfillment of promise.

If we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. If we come humbly, He will exalt us. If we lay aside our will in lieu of His, He will give us Victory–victory over sin, victory over death, victory over the world.

Humility is one of our “secret” weapons in shaking the gates of hell–a weapon that the world, the flesh, and the devil would never think of using.

 

 

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Re-Post of Shake the Gates Daily Word Podcast Episode 19

Hi Friends,

Our former iteration of this website had some fatal flaws and required early retirement. Unfortunately, my podcasts were retired along with it. I’m reposting a few here for your benefit and will be rolling out a new set of podcast shows to inspire the listener to global and mission interest. Enjoy!

Episode 19 — He Is For You!

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July News and Opportunities

News

I have to tell you, friends, building a prayer and provision team has been a different experience this time around than it was when we first engaged in it back in the mid-90’s. The world has become a more complicated place in the last twenty years, especially in the realm of communication and expectations regarding communication. Twenty years ago it was pretty much a monthly newsletter to a small group, a quarterly to a larger group, and lots of phone calls and visits. Today the wide array of media outlets is dizzying. Facebook, Twitter, website, cell phone, texting, Youtube, Vimeo, Skype, email, Google Chat, LinkedIn, and Podcasting (iTunes being the most well known of the podcast services). I’m sure that I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg. They are all wonderfully useful in getting the word out, but, Oh! the massive amount of content that must be written, recorded, published, hosted, syndicated, distributed. Did I mention plain old fashioned paper, envelopes, and stamps?

Don’t interpret the previous comments as complaint as much as middle-aged observation. . . adjustment . . . entering the 21st century kicking and screaming. Something like that.Yet I thank God for the opportunities presented by these means; for outlet for my creative soul.

Part of my time in July has been given to such things. I’ve tried my hand at podcasting by producing a podcast entitled The Shake the Gates Daily Word podcast. So far, 19 episodes. Those episodes were hosted on the previous incarnation of www.shakethegates.org, which has been taken down to make room for this one. The only real reason I had to take down the other one, though is that the previous one sort of imploded one evening as a result of an “update”. Grrrrr . . . Blessing in disguise, let me tell you. We learned a lot on that first site and have made some awesome changes at this site to make it better, more useful, and more useful for your smart phone or tablet.

Building a prayer and provision team this time around has also been unique in regards to our understanding of God’s purposes for it. Clear to us is that the Father wants to show his majesty and that he answers prayer today. We came into July as financially strapped as we have ever been. On the horizon for us was taking Samuel to Missouri from Florida to get him settled in college, a trip further north, then Todd’s trip to the other side of the world for a month: very expensive ventures all. God has provided for each and every need without exception and without us needing to go into any kind of debt!!

Opportunity

He will do the same for you. Test him in this. I have an opportunity for you to test his willingness to answer your prayers. On the Resources page on this site I have placed a link to 40 Days to Freedom: A Prayer Guide. Download the prayer guide and begin praying with us, beginning August 11, for the upcoming trip to Papua New Guinea. Todd will be reconnecting with the Somau Garia people, will be preaching an evangelistic crusade in another area of the province, and making preparations for a planned 2014 move to PNG with the family.

Also, if you are interested in helping cover the expense of the ministry trip to Papua New Guinea, visit the donate page and choose the best option for your situation.

Thanks for visiting today!

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Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On . . .

At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicated the removing of what can be shaken–that is, created things–so that what cannot shaken may remain. Hebrews 12:26-27.

I can’t say that it has happened very many times in this life, but I was speechless. I could not speak for at least half an hour. One of my friends from Uria Village had come into town to let me know that the road leading into our village had been heavily damaged. I was nonplussed. I’d heard this one before. To myself I thought we’d get some guys together, spend a week or two with pick axes and shovels and have everything sort of put back together in short order. That’s what we’d always done before. Not this time.

The previous month we’d had to evacuate because of health issues with one of our kids. We’d gone into the provincial capital city to get medical help and were advised to stay for a while. While in town a close missionary friend died suddenly of a heart attack. Our community was reeling. A few weeks on and, like the messengers in Job, a friend came in from Uria to tell of the road destruction. With all the heavy stuff that we’d been through, I didn’t think a little road repair was a big deal. And then . . . I was speechless. Massive amounts of rain + periods of drying out + massive amounts of rain + earthquake = landslides, lots of landslides.

Our road skirted the waist of Mount Somau and crossed five streams (perhaps I should say that five streams crossed the road 🙂 ) For every stream that crossed the road now stood cataracts, ravines, and gorges. Road? No. Obstacles? Yes.

Destroyed Uria Road

Bush road leading to Uria village destroyed by landslides, 2005. The red line represents the original road bed, some 25 feet or more above the ravine created by the landslide.

Papua New Guinea has earthquakes on a weekly basis it seems. I’ve often felt the ground shake, watched the water in the tanks slosh around, seen fruit drop off the trees, heard glass pop and rattle as if slammed with a brick. Momentary observations were followed by laissez faire indifference. “Another earthquake.” Not this time. I was speechless. Extreme conditions produced extreme results.

Life tends to shake, too. It is useful to survey and assess the damage. This season of shaking has been longer than some. Hiking to the mountaintop in search for answers, gasping for air, drowning in my own sweat, I turn to take in the view behind me. What do see? The path I was regularly walking is now destroyed. I see pride leveled, piled in a heap like the lot of matchsticks that it is. I see self-reliance looks as if Paul Bunyan has just dragged his ax through it. The facade of unforgiveness is ripped from its foundations and tossed in a garbage hole. The forest known as fear, thick and overgrown and dark is now barren and desolate. Nothing stands. Only clay and mud and broken stone carried in the torrent.

Movement catches my eye. There are one . . . two . . . three. Yes, three. They are moving around their supplies: dynamite, dump trucks, front loaders, piles of gravel and sand and cement. Seriously? Look at the destruction. Do they seriously think they can build a new road here, one that won’t be swept away in the next disaster?

Hebrews tells us that these Three are indeed preparing for us a city, with foundations, of the sort of material that cannot be shaken. When the sky recedes and the earth trembles and all this goes up in smoke, what they build will not. It will stand.

What is God shaking in your life and why? What needs to be swept away? Are you building your life with materials that God supplies or are you building with heaps of dirt and foliage and hoping that your road will survive the elements?

Watching the destruction of what you’ve labored so long to build is painful. It will leave you speechless. It will leave you ripped and torn and in need of healing. Don’t shrink from the pain . . . it is worth it friends. It is worth it. You must be shaken to the core first and remade into a new creation in order to be able to shake the gates of hell. Let the Three-In-One do His work.

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil.   –Psalm 127:1-2, ESV

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July 25, 2013

If you have ever asked yourself whether or not God answers prayer today or cares to hear the cries of our heart, jump into something world-changing, do it in such a way that only He can get credit, get on your knees and pray, and watch what happens. It is definitely a tough row to hoe, but if you have the grit, you might just find yourself slack-jawed in amazement at His creativity and timing.

We’ve certainly found ourselves in that very condition lately! The last few months, all things considered, have looked rather financially impossible. Todd is due to travel to Papua New Guinea end of August for a month-long stay. We are taking our son, Samuel, 1,400 miles north (and west) to Bible college in mid-August, and we’ve just had the lowest salary we’ve had on record. (I mean l o w). The hand of God is not too weak to do the impossible!

Thank God:

  • for timely and generous provision for finances for the coming needs
  • for carrying us through trying, faith-stretching months
  • for showing Himself faithful

Ask God:

  • To grant much wisdom and discernment as we prepare to travel for the next few months, both overseas and domestically
  • To bless our vehicle for travel from Florida north into the Midwest
  • Prepare the ground for the coming  September ministry in Papua New Guinea