A Sample of Pure Submission

Submission has become one of those words (and concept) we’d rather avoid. It brings up stories and experiences of mistreatment, disrespect, and abuse of power. The concept has been hijacked by authority who have only their own interests in mind and want everyone else to do it “my way.” We live in a culture and time of applauding “my way”—unless it bumps into our own way.

Or, we try to generalize what submission means, isolating Scripture to support our assumptions or preferences. We use the concordance, search for “submit,” then declare the limited results are all God has to say about it. In reality, submission is scattered throughout the Bible. We have to humbly search and change if we want to truly know and live well in submission.

I went on a search to see what the Bible (in its entirety) has to say about submission. Pure Submission: Turning What We Think About Submission Right Side Up is now available at Amazon and PurePurpose.org, but today, you can get a taste here to whet your appetite for pure submission. Set the junk aside!

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Then Solomon said: The Lord said He would dwell in thick darkness, but I have built an exalted temple for You, a place for Your residence forever. Then the king turned and blessed the entire congregation of Israel while they were standing. He said: May the Lord God of Israel be praised! He spoke directly to my father David, and He has fulfilled the promise by His power…Lord God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven or on earth, keeping His gracious covenant with Your servants who walk before You with their whole heart…Now, my God, please let Your eyes be open and Your ears attentive to the prayer of this place. (2 Chronicles 6:1-4,14,40)

Submission involves acknowledging God’s authority, knowing God’s promises, and claiming their truth and fulfillment. Submission is a position, response, and approach. We can’t isolate any one of the three and declare our submissiveness. It’s more than one thing, one reaction, one moment, one choice. It is our mindset and heart-set. It is a choice but it becomes a pattern and flows well through and from us. How will you submissively approach and communicate with God today?

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Humanity is brought low, man is humbled, and haughty eyes are humbled. But the Lord of Hosts is exalted by His justice, and the holy God is distinguished by righteousness. (Isaiah 5:15-16)

Submission is a reflection of reality. It’s not punishment or oppression. It’s position. It’s attitude. It’s humility. It’s willingness. And it’s all in the context of God’s perspective and provision. Yes, we can submit in wrong ways to wrong people, but that’s not God’s intentions with submission. It’s not reality. What we live becomes reality to us, but there is a greater reality that we need to seek and begin to override our assumptions and experiences. When we go our own way—whether it’s a merry way or a really tough way—we don’t make room for and trust God to work. He stills does. He doesn’t abandon us, but we don’t get the full effect of His justice and righteousness. Why miss out on all the benefits of His reality? What will you need to give up order to submit to God well? Are you willing?

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Available at Amazon and PurePurpose.org

Are You Getting Enough of God’s Word?

Many of us feel we get “enough” of the Bible. Sure, we could study more, ask more questions, and certainly know more about the Bible, but when will we fit it into our schedules? We’re overwhelmed the way it is. It’s not that we don’t want to know the Bible better; in fact, we plan on it…when things slow down. The problem is: Life doesn’t slow down on its own.
We’re not enslaved by a busy schedule. As much as we want to cry “I’m a victim and just have to do the things I do,” we have more choices than we care to admit. Such an admission puts some responsibility back on ourselves, and in the middle of that never-ending busy “season,” we just can’t handle the pressure and guilt of thinking we have more control than we want to take.

So, the cycle continues. We want to know the Bible better, but we just can’t seem to find the time. Plus, we get “enough.” After all, we go to church…fairly regularly. We follow popular Christian bloggers. We like and follow encouraging social media people who post verses and quotes that help us through the day.

But how do we know the truth and context of what is being posted if we’re not able to compare it to the truth of Scripture? Not that any pastor, teacher, blogger, or social media friend would intentionally steer us wrong, but each person is absolutely capable of misunderstanding and miscommunicating God’s Word. Or perhaps the timing we think is so perfect because of the comfort it gives us is, in reality, our misapplication of the truth someone else is sharing.

In order to identify something false, we have to know truth.

So, how do we do that when we’re so busy? How will we ever get to know everything we need to know in the Bible? We don’t have the time, energy, or money to get a degree in the Bible, so why not let the experts teach us what we need to know?

Because they can’t. First, even experts don’t know it all. Second, no one knows specifically what you need from God’s Word and when you need it…except God. He wants you to dig into His Word, not because He wants you to gain a boatload of information about Him, but because He wants you to know Him. The Bible isn’t a collection of information and stories. It’s one way He reveals Himself to us. We don’t read the Bible as a self-help book to cure all our woes; we explore it because we draw closer to God through it. His Spirit guides and pours into us as we interact with Him. He opens our eyes, ears, and hearts.

No matter where you are and how daunting God’s Word is to you, start somewhere in it today. While it’s certainly convenient to have a Bible app on your phone, use it for quick references when you’re on the go. For daily reading, if possible, use a printed Bible. You probably have one or more sitting around collecting dust. Start somewhere. Anywhere! Don’t get paralyzed by trying to figure out the perfect reading plan for you. Don’t get discouraged because you miss a day. Don’t give up because you don’t understand something or know how it might apply to life today. Keep reading. Interact with God. Take notes if questions and highlights come up. Pray when you feel challenged, nourished, or doubtful. Ask a friend to help you with accountability and encouragement as you develop a new habit of reading the Bible regularly.

You and only use are responsible for your relationship with God. You can’t complete a workbook , sermon series, or a class and check the box of “Bible study” as complete. You can’t have enough of God’s Word, because you can’t have enough of God. Not in this lifetime.

No more excuses. No more spiritual laziness. God already knows where you are and what you need. Let Him nourish you.

Start today.

A Sabbath Sigh

I needed rest. Not sleep. Sabbath rest.

It’s something I’ve been more diligent about in the last several years. It’s not about a lazy day. It’s an intentional pursuit of seeking God’s presence and peace. He recharges me. He challenges me. He prepares me for the week ahead. I often read, study, journal, and pray. I reflect and listen as I sit outside or walk.

And I look forward to it. I need it. Because I need Him.

Not long ago, as Sunday approached, I looked forward to it with a longing. It had been a challenging week. God had provided through it, but I needed to soak, steep in His presence for an extended period of time. I worshiped at church, then came home. About two hours into the afternoon, I heard myself sigh, not just a normal sigh but one of those deep, cleansing sighs.

It took me that long to unwind and relax in His presence. It was a sigh of relief and recognition.

It was a sweet, sweet day.

Why We Study God’s Word

Why do we do what we do? What’s our motivation?

We can study God’s Word to find self-help, cherry-picking what we think most helps and affirms us.

We can study God’s Word to check it off our legalistic faith checklist.

We can study God’s Word to alleviate our guilt or build our credibility.

We can study God’s Word for ammunition for what we what to prove or disprove.

Or we can study God’s Word to pursue God.

After all, His Word is a lot more about Him than us. He gifts us and reveals Himself through His Word.

Giving Up Hoops for Relationship

God didn’t create us to jump through hoops:

  • Attend church? Check.
  • Get an education? Check.
  • Be part of a family? Check.
  • Get a job? Check.

God created you for relationship. Relationship with others and relationship with Him. Unlike many teachers, coaches, and friends, God is not into favorites based on what you do, even if you’re doing it for Him. He emphasizes relationships, not accomplishments.

God will respond to you whether you’re in a relationship with Him or not. To be honest, we’re always in a relationship with Him. He’s our Creator, and we can’t get away from that no matter how much we deny it.

Instead of checking things off our lists, we can engage with and respond to Him personally. And that means we remain and grow in our relationship with Him. We don’t respond for a specific result or response. We can’t show compassion because it makes us feel good or exercise humility because it looks good on us. Living out God’s characteristics aren’t about getting a desired result or response but remaining and growing in relationship with God. To focus on a response and result is a futile use of our time and efforts. Staying in a relationship with God should always be our motivation and foundation.

The purpose of humility is to acknowledge God for who he is, establishing and maintaining a proper relationship with him. The result of humility is acknowledging God for who he is, establishing and maintaining a proper relationship with him. Humility is about our relationship with God. Obedience is about our relationship with God. So, really, we can minimize our checklist to one thing: our relationship with God.

Put it first, and it keeps everything else in perspective.

Click here to order your copy of the complete Pure Purpose Bible Study.

Invest In Your Legacy

“Here the saying is true, ‘One person plants, and another harvests.’ I sent you to harvest a crop that you did not work on. Others did the work, and you get to finish up their work.” Many of the Samaritans in that town believed in Jesus because of what the woman said: “He told me everything I ever did.” (John 4:37-39)

Bill Gaither wanted a piece of land to build a house in Alexandria, Indiana, the town where he had grown up. He noticed a piece south of town where cattle grazed and learned it belonged to a 92-year-old retired banker named Mr. Yule. Mr. Yule owned a lot of land in the area, but he wasn’t planning to sell any of it. Bill and his wife Gloria decided to personally visit him. Bill shares the story in I Almost Missed the Sunset.”

“He looked at us over the top of his bifocals. I introduced myself and told him we were interested in a piece of his land.

“Not selling,” he said pleasantly. “Promised it to a farmer for grazing.” Then he said, “What’d you say your name was?”

“Gaither. Bill Gaither.”

“Hmmm. Any relation to Grover Gaither?”

“Yes, sir. He was my granddad.”

Mr. Yule put down his paper and removed his glasses. “Interesting. Grover Gaither was the best worker I ever had on my farm. Full day’s work for a day’s pay. So honest. What’d you say you wanted?”

I told him again.

“Let me do some thinking on it, then come back and see me.”

I came back within the week, and Mr. Yule sold me the property.

Three decades later I said to my son Benjy, “You’ve had this wonderful place to grow up through nothing that you’ve done, but because of the good name of a great-granddad you never met.”

How did people who came before you prepare the way? Consider more than your biological family.

How are you preparing the way for those who come after you?

My parents grew up in a small farming community in central Illinois. They built relationships because people in the community relied on each other. They trusted each other, watched out for each other, and helped each other. They worked fields side-by-side, lent and borrowed equipment, and lived through trials and tragedies together.

When my parents had been married for 45 years, my sisters and I planned a surprise party. It was a wonderful party. They were thrilled to see so many friends from their decades together. They hadn’t seen some people in years. Others, they lived alongside daily. With each turn, as they looked around the room, they were greeted by another smiling face full of memories.

After the celebration had been going for a couple hours, a friend and I were talking. He and I had been friends since birth, because our parents were friends, as well as our grandparents. The family farms were only a couple miles from each other. We shared weddings, births and funerals. Looking around at the multitude of friends, circles overlapping circles, my friend reflected, “You know the sad thing is, we – our generation – probably will not get to experience this when we’re our parents’ age. We’re too busy to make the depth and extent of friendships they have.”

I’m not saying it’s impossible. In fact, if anyone will have a 45th anniversary celebration with extensive circles of friends, it will be this particular friend, but I completely understand what he was saying. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we often skirt around and skim over the importance of long-term relationship-building. Our relationships can use more intention and attention. Our relationships can be bumped up on the scale of priorities.

Who are you investing in, and who are you allowing – even inviting – to invest in you?

It’s not just about who you’ll call in the best and worst times of life. It’s about who you’ll call, drive to, sit with and sacrifice for during daily life.

Consider the people surrounding you.

Are you focused more on short-term benefits or long-term investment?

Are the people by your side going to be by your side in 10, 25, 50 years?

Life changes. People move. Interests change. Transitions are part of every person’s life. But you might see life as so transitory that you’ve become comfortable in the transition instead of investing in the long-term possibilities.

Many people avoid investing money because they’re overwhelmed with the amount they’ll need. They can’t fathom such a sacrifice.

Are you doing the same with relationships?

Investing even the smallest amounts of money will accumulate into a growing investment.

Surely, you have time, energy and resources to invest in growing relationships.

Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Pure Growth: Why Are You Standing Here?

Jesus said to them, “The Father is the only One who has the authority to decide dates and times. These things are not for you to know. But when the Holy Spirit comes to you, you will receive power. You will be my witnesses—in Jerusalem, in all of Judea, in Samaria, and in every part of the world.”

After he said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud hid him from their sight. As he was going, they were looking into the sky. Suddenly, two men wearing white clothes stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing here looking into the sky? Jesus, whom you saw taken up from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you saw him go. (Acts 1:7-11)

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment – or season. God gives us Scripture to reveal himself to us, teach us his principles, and equip us to live in his will. God speaks to us in many ways through his Word.

He gives us facts. The Father is the only One who has the authority to decide dates and times. These things are not for you to know. We can try to figure things out for ourselves. We can try to analyze the times and reasons for seasons and situations in our lives, but only God has the authority to decide such details. It’s clear we’re not to know everything that he knows. He gives us what we’re supposed to know. We should always be open to him giving us knowledge and wisdom and readily accept and apply what he gives us. What he doesn’t give us, we’re not supposed to have.

He gives us instruction. But when the Holy Spirit comes to you, you will receive power. You will be my witnesses—in Jerusalem, in all of Judea, in Samaria, and in every part of the world. God tells us what we’re supposed to do. He gives us direction in and toward our purpose. God wants our steps to fit into the ones he has planned for us. He wants us to desire his will so intently that we will look for the way he has prepared and be bold enough to follow regardless of our trepidation or preferences.

He gives us reassurance. After he said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud hid him from their sight. As he was going, they were looking into the sky. We’re not perfect, and God knows we need his reassurance in our humanness. He provided many accounts of people who have been deeply devoted to him but not always responded in model ways. The apostles knew Jesus personally as a flesh-and-blood man. Jesus looked into their eyes, touched their shoulders, and taught them with his words and actions. He told them multiple times what would happen to him, yet their focus wasn’t on what he had just directed them to do. Their focus was on the immediate. We can relate. We want to see and touch proof. We don’t want to feel isolated. God knew we’d need reassurance.

He gives us conviction. Suddenly, two men wearing white clothes stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing here looking into the sky?” God knows we need him to speak authority into our lives. Left to ourselves, we might think we can come to the right conclusions, but we’ll usually get off track, stay in one place, or run in circles. When God speaks through his Word, angels, visions, teaching, and prayers, he always speaks with authority. The Holy Spirit shares God’s truth with us. He speaks to us internally, so we don’t have to rely on external influences. He challenges us through difficult questions that help us realize where we are spiritually and what we need to do to grow into a better place. We can ignore the God’s voice, but we can never avoid his presence.

He gives us promise. Jesus, whom you saw taken up from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you saw him go. We can have hope because of God’s promises. We never need to doubt what God says will happen, because he doesn’t contradict what he says and what he does. God’s promises might not be fulfilled in exactly the way or time we expect and want, but our expectations don’t change God’s promises. God will do what he says he will do – every word and every detail. When we are faithful, we will see the fulfillment of God’s promises, either on earth or in eternity.

As we complete the Pure Growth study, let’s commit to inviting God to invade our lives with his facts, instruction, reassurance, conviction, and promise.

Consider and share your hopes to grow in one or more of these areas.

We need God to accept the spiritual seasons in our lives. Only God has the perspective to give us exactly what we need when we need it. Only God knows how our past season has prepared us for this one. Only God knows what’s necessary in our present season to prepare us for the next one. Only God knows the details of people’s lives who prepared a legacy for us and those for whom we’re preparing a legacy. Only God knows how the details we know of and those we don’t are weaving together for his purpose.

There’s much that only God can do and be, but there’s much expected of us as well. We must seek him. We must trust him. We must know him. We must accept his guidance. We must wisely use his provision. We must love as he loves. We must serve as he models. We must become less so he can become more in our lives. We must accept that our lives here on earth are brief, and they are pointless without a relationship with him.

It has been an honor to share this season of life with you. May you continue to recognize and accept your journey of God’s pure purpose. Jesus prayed for his followers before he was arrested and crucified for you and me. Let his words soak into you today. Let his words challenge you to live today giving all glory to God.

After Jesus said these things, he looked toward heaven and prayed, “Father, the time has come. Give glory to your Son so that the Son can give glory to you. You gave the Son power over all people so that the Son could give eternal life to all those you gave him. And this is eternal life: that people know you, the only true God, and that they know Jesus Christ, the One you sent. Having finished the work you gave me to do, I brought you glory on earth. And now, Father, give me glory with you; give me the glory I had with you before the world was made.

I showed what you are like to those you gave me from the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have obeyed your teaching. Now they know that everything you gave me comes from you. I gave them the teachings you gave me, and they accepted them. They knew that I truly came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for people in the world but for those you gave me, because they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And my glory is shown through them. I am coming to you; I will not stay in the world any longer. But they are still in the world. Holy Father, keep them safe by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they will be one, just as you and I are one. While I was with them, I kept them safe by the power of your name, the name you gave me. I protected them, and only one of them, the one worthy of destruction, was lost so that the Scripture would come true.

I am coming to you now. But I pray these things while I am still in the world so that these followers can have all of my joy in them. I have given them your teaching. And the world has hated them, because they don’t belong to the world, just as I don’t belong to the world. I am not asking you to take them out of the world but to keep them safe from the Evil One. They don’t belong to the world, just as I don’t belong to the world. Make them ready for your service through your truth; your teaching is truth. I have sent them into the world, just as you sent me into the world. For their sake, I am making myself ready to serve so that they can be ready for their service of the truth.

I pray for these followers, but I am also praying for all those who will believe in me because of their teaching. Father, I pray that they can be one. As you are in me and I am in you, I pray that they can also be one in us. Then the world will believe that you sent me. I have given these people the glory that you gave me so that they can be one, just as you and I are one. I will be in them and you will be in me so that they will be completely one. Then the world will know that you sent me and that you loved them just as much as you loved me.

Father, I want these people that you gave me to be with me where I am. I want them to see my glory, which you gave me because you loved me before the world was made. Father, you are the One who is good. The world does not know you, but I know you, and these people know you sent me. I showed them what you are like, and I will show them again. Then they will have the same love that you have for me, and I will live in them.” (John 17)