Thursday, October 12, 2006

come out with your hands up

A couple of weeks ago on the weekend, I talked about three levels of surrender: surrender for survival, surrender for service and then lastly--and this is the Big One--the surrender of self, or self-denial. I'm believing (er...hoping) that's a process.

I said:

This last deepest step is the third surrender step: self-denial. We die to ourselves. This, as Jesus said, is when we pick up our cross and follow Him. And remember, a guy on the cross isn’t planning his future. There are no five-year-plans, no options, no keep-the-motor-running…I-may-back-out. It's "Come and die with me."

Paul, the bull-headed, strong-willed, my-way-or-the-highway zealot who found himself knocked down by the power of God, would years later write about that process in himself when he said: I have been crucified with Christ: and I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the real life I now have within this body is a result of my trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 Living Bible).

Later in that same letter, he again reminds them what his game plan is: As for me, God forbid that I should boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in all the attractive things of the world was killed long ago, and the world’s interest in me is also long dead. (Galatians 6:14 Living Bible). That’s hefty. Paul is saying, "Not only do I not have any interest in this world, the world could care less about me. I’m a nobody…and I’m totally okay with that…because I’m dead. I’m only alive to Christ. I made the deepest surrender years ago."

If I would have had more time, I would have liked to unpack that a bit more personally. I don't feel like I'm anywhere near that...which is odd to say because if someone asked me if I was sold out to Jesus, I'd be quick to say "yes". But I'm not so sure. I still happen to care what people think of me. I still want to be noticed (in selective contexts!). I still want to be comfortable. In other words, I still have a long way to go.

But I'm afraid I even use that for an excuse.

Your thoughts?


  1. I love your brutal honesty. I am a Shareholder and although I am charged up and ready to answer God's call, I struggle daily with Him saying, "OK God...fine....take that part, too!".

  2. i feel the same way. sometimes i feel like i get caught up in my situation and become disconnected. but i am ready to answer Gods call with help from His strength.

  3. Dave,

    Great post... to go along with a great message (I mean, if nothing else... you jumped out of a plane... uhh WOW).

    What can be said about Paul's challenge that is not a giant cliche or superficial lie?

    What I mean is that anyone who has been around church for any amount of time knows what they are "expected" to say to God when they are challenged to "follow me".

    "Sure, where are we going?"

    If you don't you could end up the main character in an object lesson along with a camel and a needle's eye, right?

    So I find myself conditioned for a quick, appropriate "church" response, yet that type of response only feels good for a while.

    And then I am left with the truth, I too, am more tangled up with the approval of those I am challenged to introduce the good news to than I am tangled up with the One who is sending me with the news.

    And then the even more "hideous" truth that, at times, that is exactly what I want.

    At least until, like Paul, I realize that "the world could really care less about me".

    Then of course it seems much easier to forget the "attractive things of this world" and to focus on Christ.

    Unfortunately, I don't think that is what Paul was talking about.

    So I find myself with not only the challenge of giving up all the things the world holds for me, but also giving up the desire to want all those things.

    Yuck... life can be messy.

    The consilation? God in his great love for us allows Christ to cover our messiness with his perfection. And with our "put on" perfection... God can use us to touch people's lives... even change the world.


  4. Good use of the word "hideous", Chad. Powerful. By the way, there's a great C. S. Lewis fictional book call "That Hideous Strength". Worth the read...a psychological subplot is the desire for approval, to be in the inner circles of power and influence.

  5. I wanted to express my thanks for a church that is not affraid to be different. just alittle over a year ago I was without direction. i was for the pass many years walking away from God..going my own direction. I had lost my job my home many of my friends and I was living on the streets of Cincinnati. Having what I thought was no hope I crossed the Suspension Bridge to leap off and to stop this life of no hope once and for all. As i climbed the rail to jump I felt a presence, as i looked around I saw no one. I felt this presence again, but this time i heard a voice within say if you follow me I will give you peace and rest and a love you will not find in anything else. that started an incredible journey for me. I was led to go to those I had wronged and say I was sorry. One which was my first wife. I went to her and told her I was sorry for hurting her and our daughter. You see i felt called to the ministry at 19 years old and went to collge with this women to become a preacher. Somehow I got off course and got into Pronography and many other sinfull things. I distroyed our marraige. I did play in a Christian Band that toured but still didn't find what being a true servant was all about. Going through "The Call" and being involved in a men's small group God has spoken to me like never before. My first wife and I are back together after 25 years and are preparing ourselve to serve the Lord God. Thank you for all you have done and meant to us , and not even knowing ....God Bless you
    Charles York

  6. WOW Charles!!! That's the awesome God that we serve!!!! What an incredible real life story. I will keep you and your wife in my prayers!!!

  7. Dave,

    You are fabulously brave to have walked out - or should I say "jumped" out your surrender message...Talk about practicing what you preach! :)Thank you for that. I was asked to lead prayer at another church the day after this message and I found myself using the jump-master analogy and the words you quoted "just put your hands up and lean into me". What a great way to envision what God calls us to do.

    I'm not sure anyone except Jesus has fully lived out the complete surrender...Even when we're surrenduring we still talk alot about ourselves and our experiences...We live in our skin - it's hard not to be concerned with ourselves to some degree. In the end, I think God blesses our daily and moment-to-moment decision to follow His lead. And sometimes, for a few minutes we do experience that complete free-fall of 100% faith and surrender. WHAT A RIDE!!