Good Morning Brothers…
We ended last weeks devotional by announcing “surrendering ourselves” is the first step in building spears. This may seem obvious (and it should be) but have we ever really thought about “Why”? The term “surrender” is used all over the Church these days and we still aren’t building enough spears to change our culture. In fact, we could say that the spears being built by satan are being launched at a much higher rate than spears by the Church. Our culture continues to spiral downward while we stand around and talk about “surrender”. This term can be explained with analogies from every genre because every genre demands surrender. The greatest athletes are lauded for their devotion to the game. That’s surrender. The greatest composers are lauded for their single minded focus on creating the power an emotion within the symphony. That’s surrender. The most successful CEO’s have convinced their employees to buy in to a company first mentality. That’s surrender. I could go on…but I think we get the point. What is obvious in each of the examples above is focus. Focus is a big word with lots of layers underneath. It’s the layers under focus where “surrender” comes alive.
My daughter is involved with debate and forensics. Honestly…I think these activities are of the devil. She is convinced that we would have a better relationship if she was an athlete. This contention has resulted in some serious thinking and prayer on my part. The result of which has helped me understand the layers “under” focus a little better. Here’s my story: I asked her to write down the things that debate teaches and to write down all of the things that drive her crazy about football players. Interestingly enough, she answered both questions exactly like I thought (which confirmed that I wasn’t completely out of touch). She wrote, “Football players drive me crazy because they are arrogant, egotistical, and walk around like they are God’s gift to the school.” I nodded my head and asked her this question, “When do the coaches teach the players to be arrogant an egotistical. Do they coach that at practice or does it happen while they are watching film?” She just stared at me and didn’t know how to answer. I moved on to the next question and read back to her all of the things debate teaches; preparation, public speaking, research, etc. etc. I said to her, “None of these things drive me crazy about debate. The same thing that drives you crazy about football players is the same thing that drives me crazy about debate kids.”
“But Dad…we are not arrogant and walk around school…”
“I don’t mean that specifically but I mean that generally.”
“What?”, she responded.
The football players are not coached to be arrogant, they are formed that way because they “surrender” to the cause. Education is different than formation but they are both necessary to surrender. Debate kids are educated to ascertain facts and develop arguments ‘for’ and ‘against’. When they focus on that, surrender to it, they end being formed into young adults who think truth is relative (that’s why I think debate is of the devil). The layers “under” focus is where the valve is that transfers information from your head to your heart. Education is an external stimulus that we can take in…or reject. When we take it in, often times, it comes into a ‘screening’ area for processing. If it passes muster, which means “YES, I WANT THIS” then we begin to focus on it. At some point, we begin to ‘surrender’ to it and…WOOOOOSH…down the valve and into the heart it goes. Once ideals, information, convictions enter the heart area…they become foundational things we use to make decisions and a cadence that we march to. If this information is faulty, it becomes really hard to expunge it from the heart. In fact, the only one I know that can successfully roto-rooter a heart is the Holy Spirit.
For the Church to build Spears, we need ‘formation’ to occur. Education by itself does not work. This is why the early Church waited so long to baptize new adult converts. They wanted to give them some time to be formed by what they were hearing, to “count the cost” before making commitments. There are a lot of educationally smart ‘Christians’ walking around who make little difference for the Kingdom because their “surrender valve” remains closed. They enjoy their education, however, they do not WANT IT in full. That is always the key, WANT, we have to WANT IT. As an individual, or the institutional side of the Church, we must seek, and provide, education plus focus, plus worship, plus prayer, these will hold the “surrender valve” between the head and the heart open. There has to be a partnership between the individual and the institution. Meaning…both parties are praying for each other, both parties are worshiping together, both parties are focused on seeking the Lord together…one body, one hope, one faith. When that happens, surrender happens, when surrender happens, formation happens, when formation happens, spears are being built, when spears are being built the Holy Spirit is providing targets, when the Holy Spirit is providing targets the Church is readying the spears to launch, when the Church is readying the spears to launch…God’s will is getting done and the bride of Christ is about to do some damage to the plans of the adversary.
Amen – Amen…may we plug in and pray for surrender and formation that we may be launched at targets of the Spirit’s choosing. May the will of God be done within me, within you, and within the Church.