By: Kathryn Wenth
Surrender. The movie, Last of the Mohicans, has powerful imagery of this word that has stayed with me for years. There is a point where the French army defeats the English army and takes it hostage. The English, after raising the white flag of surrender, have everything taken from them. The French then choose to massacre them. Not only did the English surrender cost them the battle, it cost them everything!
Similarly, when we surrender to the enemy, Satan, he determines to massacre our identity, destiny, and take everything that is ours. In contrast, surrendering to the Army of God requires the same of us in that everything that we are and everything we have belongs to Him, but it is our choice to release and let go. The redemptive factor is that we get everything we need to live life in abundance, to thrive and walk in true freedom in this exchange.
I had a powerful encounter with God’s discipline that stopped me in my tracks. I was visiting a worship/prayer setting and one of the ladies who was there was praying into the mic. She is one that I’ve known and shared the ups and downs of doing life together. Her struggles have been the fruit of loss and disappointment, and she’s had numerous difficult battles to fight. Often times she’s come through the fire with the smell of smoke remaining on her. I found myself, in her moment of prayer leading, judging her mercilessly in my thoughts. These, and a million other thoughts, plagued my mind and heart. “Why can’t she get over it? Doesn’t she realize that she’s living in a place of poverty? She doesn’t need to be leading at all…..”
It was at that moment God flooded my mind and heart, halting my destructive spiral. He said to me, “Surrender to my love….” “Will you surrender your thoughts, opinions, and judgments to Me and choose to love her?” If Jesus had walked into the room and physically arrested me it would have had the same impact on me. He powerfully arrested my mind and heart with these questions and invited me to His throne of grace where I could receive from Him correction and change, a renewal.
Recently, Jesus has had me invite every part of my heart that struggles with judging others and wrestles with personal shortcomings and disappointments, to His banqueting feast. A feast set before me in the presence of even the internal enemies of my heart.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” Psalm 23:5
As I meditate on Psalm 23, I’m growing in the revelation of the value of choosing to feast over instant gratification. Oftentimes we choose to approach the Lord like a fast food drive thru instead of resting in the feast He has prepared before us. Do you feast in your time of connection to Jesus or do you “fast food” it? There’s a huge difference. One nurtures me, with His intentional preparation engaging my senses and nourishing my body, soul, and spirit, the other, “drive-thru connection”, provides an addictive fix that lessons the pain. There’s no community, interface, or rest in the latter. No place of connection or nutrition. Do you find yourself in a fast food drive thru state in relation to life? Or do you surrender your immediate needs to the love of the Father and receive true provision for your body, soul, and spirit?
I’ve noticed how entitled my believing and actions have become when I read the following verses out of Matthew 22. These verses are addressing the Jews not accepting God’s gift to them, Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but I think it can also be applied to us. We sometimes get trapped in our religion, living by our own government, that chooses according to our own ways rather than being surrendered as true disciples and followers of Jesus.
“Jesus also told them other parables. He said, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servants to notify those who were invited. But they all refused to come!
“So he sent other servants to tell them, ‘The feast has been prepared. The bulls and fattened cattle have been killed, and everything is ready. Come to the banquet!’ But the guests he had invited ignored them and went their own way, one to his farm, another to his business. Others seized his messengers and insulted them and killed them.
“The king was furious, and he sent out his army to destroy the murderers and burn their town. And he said to his servants, ‘The wedding feast is ready, and the guests I invited aren’t worthy of the honor. Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.’ So the servants brought in everyone they could find, good and bad alike, and the banquet hall was filled with guests.”
How many times has the kindness of God extended itself to you, giving you the grace to repent and let go of hate, bitterness, and resentment, and receive forgiveness and unfailing love? Of course you’re not guilty of killing the messenger like the guests in Matthew 22. But, how about rejecting the invite? How many times have you chosen to go your own way? The Jews are His chosen and we have been grafted into the family through our relationship to Jesus Christ. We are the guests that are invited… Do you enjoy the feast or continue to scramble for crumbs, living from a place of lack? What are some of the things that He invites you to feed on? Here are a two I’ve sensed strongly in my own life:
1. Truth- “Jesus said to the people who believed in him, ‘You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” Knowing the truth isn’t simply reading His word, it is meditating on it and welcoming Him to search your heart with it. It also means that we need to get really good at hearing the truth from those who are invested in our personal growth. Sometimes this can be painful but necessary for us to grow and move forward in our freedom journey.
2. Community - We’re created to do life together. This includes being transparent, which defeats shame. One of the greatest privileges that I’ve had in community is listening to others stories, pray for others and to have others pray for me. Standing shoulder to shoulder with others that are moving the same way is truly a beautiful thing!
Listen today to His voice. Is He inviting you to come feast in the presence of your enemies so that He can anoint you with oil that your cup would overflow? How different would your life be if you joined Him there regularly and received?
About the author // Kathryn Wenth is an associate pastor at New Life Family Church. Her favorite thing to do is to encourage others in the journey to grow in Jesus’ incomparable, unconditional love!
By: Chelsea Terry
Solitude. This word often evokes two different types of reactions. When you hear the word solitude, you might find yourself desperately seeking a moment of silence (shout out to all the moms out there), or maybe you hear the word and find yourself avoiding it at all cost. If you’re the latter, then you’re like me! And there is good news for us: in today’s society it is extremely hard to have any real solitude. Solitude is counterculture and completely goes again the norm. Even when we are alone, there is still television, email, text messaging, and good ‘ole Facebook. We are never truly alone. However, that is the problem; we are never truly alone. The Bible tells us that sometimes we need to embrace solitude. In fact, we are supposed to replicate the actions of Jesus Christ, and He was the master of Solitude.
Jesus modeled solitude before critical events in His ministry. He was secluded during the 40 days in the desert, “At once the Spirit sent [Jesus] out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.” -Mark 1:12-13. Also, the night before choosing the disciples: “Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them.” (Luke 6:12-13). And Luke 5:16 tells us: “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” We see throughout the Gospels that Jesus needed solitude to gain strength in order to accomplish the will of God.
Much like Jesus, we need solitude. A few years ago, I moved to Dallas, Texas after living in my hometown for 15 years where I had all of my important friendships. I was optimistic about moving as I knew I would make new friends, and thought we would spend all of our time together going to the movies, going out to eat, going to church, and loving Jesus. I was excited, but after the first month in Texas I found myself sad, lonely, and quite frankly, depressed. I would lie in bed all day staring at the ceiling, having no desire to do any of the things that I used to like. I didn’t understand what was going on with me; I prayed and asked God, “Why don’t I have any friends? What’s wrong with me?” Because that’s what we do sometimes when we find ourselves alone, we think there’s something wrong with us. People must not like me; I have some sort of flaw. I’m not funny enough; I’m not adventurous enough, I’m not pretty enough; however none of that is true. It was later that I felt God telling me, “Chelsea, my child, I want this time with you. Please spend this time with me”. God was calling me to a time of solitude. My flesh did not like this.
True solitude is being alone with God without an agenda. It was simply sitting in His presence, sometimes remaining completely silent, without asking anything of God other than time with Him. Being alone with God required no human interaction, and for someone who refreshes her Instagram every five minutes, this was a difficult task. However, it is so vital to our relationship with Christ to learn this discipline. Being in solitude is not isolating yourself from your family or friends. It’s an act of purposely taking time out of your day and quieting yourself before the Lord. It may look like putting on worship music and soaking in His presence, or meditating on a passage of scripture, or laying down and thanking Him for all He’s given you. James 4:8 tells us, "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you”.Creating an intimacy with God the Father will get you much further in life than having the most social media followers or binging on the latest show.
When an opportunity for solitude arises, I encourage you to take it. In fact, go a step further and start creating opportunities for solitude. I know that we all are busy women. We have houses to keep in order, families to care for, degrees to study for; let’s face it, we run the world! But, we also need to make time for the One who created the world. Don’t be afraid of solitude. Jesus gained strength from His solitude and so will you. If God calls you into a time of solitude embrace it and grow from it, for God has plans to accomplish through you. Jesus used His time of solitude to recharge and seek wisdom from the Lord. You might have a situation where you need to get away and have a time of solitude with the Lord. There you might find the answer, or you may simply remember that your God has everything under control.
About the Author:// Chelsea Terry is a part of the Beloved and Welcome Dream Teams at New Life Family Church. She lives in Bedford, TX. With a degree in Intercultural Studies from Messenger College, she is the assistant for the Pentecostal Church of God World Missions Department. She loves serving people all around the world!