A Seaman's Quest

One man's search for truth

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Living in Surrender

In Control

When do we get to take charge? After we have been following the Lord for an a while, we begin to wonder when we get to take over. When will it be time that we can fully be in control? When are we licensed to operate independently?

There is something in each of us that longs to take over control of every aspect of our lives. We do not really like it when God directs our steps and messes in our business. It would be much better if he were to leave us alone until we call for an emergency rescue.

I'm on a personal journey of relinquishing control, methodically, systematically, and permanently. But no matter how much I think I have given up control, the Lord keeps touching areas that are still unyielded.

This is a painful process, but ultimately it results in complete freedom. The pain ends with the surrender of each area. But the freedom lasts forever, or at least until I reclaim the lost ground.

Yielding to God's will brings a peace of knowing that he is in complete control. It brings rest and healing. If he leads us and we can fully trust him, then we do not have any fear about the future.

Trying Harder

When it comes to loving God and others, trying harder does not get us any closer. I often view my attempts to become more loving as a gage for my rating with God. It is a fruitless ploy to try and earn approval from him. But he already loves me as much as he ever will. There is nothing that can be done to justify his love for me.

Sometimes I confuse my desire to love others with my own needs and agenda. I may feel better about myself when I am serving others. This can easily become the actual motivation for serving. The activity may be valid but the emotional motivation is not. If I am serving others for my own benefit then it is not really about true love.

This self-serving attitude just doesn't work. Doing holy activities for corrupted reasons ends up in religious bondage and hypocrisy. Instead I need the transformation of the Holy Spirit to give me a legitimate desire to love others more.

The key issue is not giving more but receiving more. I accept love, forgiveness, and nurture from God. These things change my capacity to give them away to others.

This is not simply a transaction motivated by self-interest. I don't try to love others to feel good and build self esteem. Instead, I accept his love freely. This produces a desire within to serve others.

This all begins by allowing God to impact my emotions with the full weight of his love. As I know him more, I will be changed into the person that he desires for me to be.

Lifestyle of Repentance

For followers of Christ, what we focus on is an issue that completely determines our destiny. Disciples must live by faith. This means that we see each situation as a opportunity to grow in our understanding of God's will for our lives.

Giving in to pessimism is called faithlessness. When we no longer seek out God's perspective on our life circumstances we are not walking in faith. We are turning away from his will and pursuing our own will instead.

Fortunately, the Spirit helps us to see that we need to turn around to find God's viewpoint once again. We tend to think about the cycles of turning away and back again as events lasting from weeks to years.

Why wait until your life is in shambles before surrendering your will again. Ask the Spirit to highlight some area where you have chosen to lose faith. Where is God's truth needed in your life right now? What lies have you chosen to embrace that are taking you off the path to your true destiny?

Peace with God

Life is really pretty pointless until we can find a power beyond ourselves. We can pursue many things to try to fulfill our deepest desires. But apart from having a relationship with God, nothing will ever satisfy us. Yielding control of our lives to God is an essential aspect of a rich life.

We humans have an amazing capacity for self-deception. We see things through a very distorted lens. We believe things because we want to, not because they are true. At some point in our lives we must embrace absolute truth. This is a simple acknowledgment of reality, rather than bending the truth to match how we think it should be.

One of the most fascinating things about the good news of reconciliation, is that when we admit the truth about ourselves we gain God's acceptance. When we acknowledge how hopeless life without God is, we receive his hope. With the understanding of our weakness we begin to rely on his strength. This begins a phenomenal process of transformation.

We receive the provisions of the Lord as a gift. As we understand this we can stop trying so hard to earn God's love. Nothing that we can do or be, is that great anyway. We gain his favor by seeking relationship with him, not by trying to do favors for him. This changes the nature of every facet of our lives.

When we spend time alone with God we find true peace. Opening ourselves to his presence is the only way to truly be at peace. This does not occur automatically. It happens when we consciously lay down our own plans and demands, and simply receive his love. This can be a hard thing for us since we live such busy lives. But is is well worth the effort.

Being Light

Turning on a light removes all the darkness. The only power that darkness has is to obscure, hide and deceive. When light comes darkness is completely removed.

God's truth is like that too. A situation that is murky and twisted, with layers of carefully constructed and protected lies can be cleared up in a moment. Evil requires secrecy to thrive. Truth by itself can destroy the power of evil.

As followers of Christ we reveal the true nature of God to the world around us. We have the privilege of providing light in dark situations. This will often put us in direct conflict with powerful people that do not want any part in truth.

We must be so motivated by love to be willing to speak out against deception regardless of the personal consequences that this might have. As we see things the way that God sees them, our only response is to muster our courage and speak out against injustice.

What area of your life needs this call to action? Where is the Spirit prompting you to get more involved in defending the defenseless?

Release Control

Many internal conflicts I experience are related to control. As God is molding me into his image, he is uncovering these issues. I need to embrace his work.

The issues of contentment, simplicity, and generosity are primarily about control. Contentment comes from relinquishing control of expectations. Simplicity is focusing only on essential things in order to eliminate everything else. Generosity is the natural consequence of a lifestyle that is open to others.

Each of these areas are interrelated and require a sacrifice of control. My life is not really about me. It is about bringing glory to the Creator of the Universe.

I continually struggle with performance. I have a deep emotional need to achieve. This becomes unhealthy when my performance is the basis for acceptance. This is just a control issue disguised as needing a sense of purpose.

What is motivating this drive? Is it a true desire to honor God, or do I believe that I can generate my own emotional feelings of self-worth?

Contentment in achievement is a major issue for me. My natural tendency is to ignore everything that has already been accomplished to reach for the next set of goals. Even the largest successes have an emotional half-life of a single day. If I were to win a Nobel Prize then after a week I start to wonder what I have done for the last week.

Simplicity means having smaller goals. I feel that each new goal has to be added onto all other existing goals. Every day I feel the burden of building this giant pyramid of interconnected goals. Simplicity is saying "No" to this self- inflicted disease.

Generosity is shifting the focus from meeting my need to those of someone else. Instead of doing tasks that meet my goals, I am focusing on things that serve the needs of others. Generosity is the natural behavior resulting from this transformation. Jesus gave freely to me so I can pass the blessing on.

All three of these areas touch me at a place of emotional neediness. I long for the Spirit of God to set me free from the unrealistic demands that tend to dominate my life. This is a essential transformation that will let me become what I was truly intended to be.

Mistakes or Sin?

A mistake is an error in our judgment that leads to a bad outcome. They happen because our thinking is flawed. It is unfortunate that they happen but they are not evil.

Sin is rebellion against God. It is very intentional and filled with malice. We reject God’s truth and refuse to follow his plans for our lives. From the smallest to the largest, all sin is built the same. It is a willful rebellion against the control of God over our lives.

The Bible talks a lot about the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven. This is about who is making the laws that you are following. Are you a loyal subject of the King or a would-be rebel lord seeking to gain the throne? The kingdom of self and the kingdom of God always oppose each other. Sin happens when we go over to the other side.

To fix a mistake we need better thinking. This can be done by applying more effort or training. Sin on the other hand is an intentional act of rebellion and can never be fixed by trying harder. Rebellion is fixed through surrender or victory over the reigning king.

God himself established a means of surrender that allows us to be fully restored to the kingdom of God. Rebels become family through the sacrifice that pays for the entire rebellion. Justice is done and the rebels are restored to good standing.

There is only one possible avenue of restoration. Repentance. There is no other way. If we call our rebellion a simple mistake then we will never repent. Mistakes do not need a savior. Confessing our sin makes us aware that we need a savior and that makes us willing to repent.

Without repentance we are deciding to live in the kingdom of self. We refuse to go through the door marked "Repentance" that is the only way to God’s kingdom.

This rhythm of confession and repentance should become a regular part of our everyday lives, not an exceptional thing we do occasionally.

Pick one area that you have been labeling “Mistake", that is really “Sin”. What will you do next to be fully restored?