How exactly does one surrender their mind to Christ?
Practicing 'Facade.' Actors in order of entrance: Rachel U., Constanza, Dani & Sophie, myself, Emma, and Jeff.
This week we went to YWAM Denver's Electric Mountain Lodge, way out in the middle of nowhere.
My New Jersey friend Rachel Wittel joined us for the week. She had just finished a two-week-long program with Summit Ministries in Colorado Springs, and was going to do her own YWAM DTS in Newcastle, Australia, in October.
Rachel, a fellow artist, and I painted this view together from Electric Mountain Lodge. Yes, we stuck a dead mosquito on the painting.
Thanks for coming Rachel! I can say for everyone that we loved having you. Seeing how much you appreciated all of us and YWAM in general helped us remember how amazing our DTS is for ourselves and how grateful we can be; it was a huge energy boost!
It was a 5-hour road trip until we finally arrived. Electric Mountain Lodge used to be a hunter's lodge, but had been repurposed into a base for schooling and retreats. Entire DTS's had been run here over the winter, when everyone would get around on snowmobiles or ATV's. Currently, however, EML is on the market. Unless things suddenly turn around, we were the last DTS to go there.
Saturday night, Jonathan, Rachel W. and I sat around a fire in deep conversation. We had been talking about personality types when we all drifted into silence, watching the embers crackle and pulse.
"How exactly does one surrender their mind to Christ?" I asked abruptly.
During the discussion of personality types, I had been pegged as having a dominant "thinking" function. After a few one-on-one conversations with speakers from past weeks, I had been encouraged to "surrender my mind and trust God" multiple times.
But if being a "thinker" is part of my identity - who God uniquely made me to be - how do I give that up?
And to make things more complicated, I now wanted to wrap my mind around this concept of surrendering my mind in order to make it tangible and applicable - which almost entirely defeats the purpose doesn't it?
The following morning, the question remained heavy on my mind. Yet this time, I wondered if it was something the Holy Spirit put on my heart.
What better week to go through these questions than on Wrap-Up Week! During this last lecture week of our DTS, we students had the opportunity to ask the director of YWAM Denver, Peter Warren, any questions we had. Then, Peter would organize the questions and cover them one-by-one throughout the week.
Here was my question come Monday morning:
Topic: "Hearing/discerning the voice of God (not necessarily the audible voice)"
Question: "What tips/suggestions do you have about surrendering your mind to Christ?"
Typical, unsatisfactory answer: "As you spend more time with God, you will 'just' come to know/recognize his voice."
Peter Warren teaching class.
I was really eager to hear what Peter had to say. Over the years he had compiled a personal concordance of all the biblical studies that he had done on particular topics. I can't recall a single question our DTS asked that he hadn't already studied. He also provided the references to almost every single point he made, and strongly encouraged us to study these things for ourselves.
Yet God wanted to speak to me through someone else.
SURRENDERING THE MIND
While eating lunch with my small group leader, Steve Castiaux, I rambled on about the question I had. Once I finally stopped talking, words of wisdom came flowing out of his mouth. I had to stop him mid-way to grab my notes and start writing things down.
"Not necessarily surrender, but to give preeminence. Surrender control to the process of absorbing, inviting him into the process, letting him dictate where that process goes, instead of letting myself think as I have been habitually.
For example, say something like, 'I am willing to receive your word through whatever medium of communication you would like to use,' or 'God, what do you think about this?'
Then patience, and trust. FIGHT the desire for instant gratification!
Don't fight your mind, surrender/invite God into your mind.
Sanctification - learning to do/think for God what we do for ourselves."
As simple as it sounds, realizing that my mind is not my enemy broke lies over my life. Of course my mind isn't my enemy! God gave it to me, and, as my friend Josh says, "It ticks in mysterious ways!"
Instead of wondering how in the world we are supposed to just stop thinking and 'listen,' we can simply articulate or even verbalize an invitation to God to join us in whatever we are thinking about. Forsaking my mind altogether simply isn't natural for me. Nor are we encouraged to test the spirits by our 'feelings,' but with the Truth (1 John 4), which for me, often involves serious contemplation.
All of this points back to God's beautiful design, reconciling our inner gifts in a way that opens up and deepens a lifestyle of abiding and communicating with him.
NOTES ON HEARING & DISCERNING THE VOICE OF GOD
Come Tuesday morning, Peter had a ton of notes and scripture to share about hearing from God. I will share with you what he shared with us.
We were created in God's image, not according to his perfect nature but according to his personality - Gen 1:26
God's personal attributes (i.e., personality)
God has a mind - Is 1:18
God has emotions - Gen 6:5-6
God has a will - Gen 1:26
We were made like God so we could have a relationship with him - an essential ingredient in every relationship is communication. God's desire is uninterrupted connectivity with us - 1 Thes 5:17
Some ways that God speaks - (Heb 1:1, many times and many ways)
*often requires further confirmation
1. Audible voice - 1 Sam 3
2. Dreams - Gen 37:1-11
3. Visions - Is 6:1-8; Joel 2:28
4. Pictures (an unmoving image)
5. Angels - Heb 13:2; Matt 1:20; Matt 2:13
-reading (something stands out)
-writing it down
-meditating (focusing on something)
-(Bible roulette not recommended)
7. *The inner voice
8. *Circumstances - things line up; ask, "Why is this door closed? Who closed it?"
9. Animals - Numbers 22:28
10. *Leaders - Acts 2:14-41
-long-term lack of provision might mean you're in the wrong place (excluding vow of poverty)
-short-term lack of provision might mean a test
12. Silence - typically means no, disobedience (didn't do the last thing he said), or wait
13. Music - 2 Kings 3:15; Ps 22:3
14. *Godly people (often for confirmation)
-through counseling - Prov 11:14
-gifts of the Holy Spirit - Heb 2:4
15. Ungodly people - 2 Sam 16:14
16. Children - Ps 8:2
17. "You just know" - a deposit of faith given by God - 1 Cor 12:9
18: Talking about it - thinking-out-loud types especially
19. Step out SLOWLY and let him lead you - Is 30:21; Prov 4:18
20. God says, "You choose"
-the more you walk with him, the more he gives this one.
-he loves it when we do what we already know brings him glory
21. Ask for a sign - Is 7:11; Judg 6:36-40; 2 Kings 20:6-11
23. Spiritual warfare - 1 Cor 16:9
25. Follow the desires of your heart after delighting yourself in him - Psalm 37:4
26. Visual arts
27. Creation - not just awe, he can use nature to confirm specific things too
...and the list goes on!
Walk of faith: God speaks, I obey, God brings understanding.
What we try to do: God speaks, God brings understanding, I obey. This is a walk of understanding/reason, not faith
1. Sometimes God says something you don't want to hear.
2. Sometimes God wants to get you halfway there - not the destination, just part of the journey.
3. Sometimes the word is for the future.
4. Sometimes the word is for someone else.
5. The how is as important as the what and the where.
6. God speaks the clearest when we need to hear him the most (thank you God!).
7. Test the word you think you received - God wants you to do that - it's not unbelief
a. Is it scriptural?
b. Do you have peace/faith/confidence about it? - Romans 14:14
c. Do others have peace about it?
d. Has there been any supernatural confirmation? - Heb 2:4
e. Is it the right time?
f. Are my motives pure?
g. Have I encountered spiritual warfare?
Hearing all of this gave me so much peace. In some ways, it was a confirmation to know that, through proper testing, we can hear God through anything really. Why limit him and his design?
It is so incredible to me how diversely God communicates to us. As I was writing down note after note, I began to see a common theme running throughout the mentioned ways which God speaks. He wants to be interacting with us in every aspect of our lives, just as he designed it to be.
Practicing 'Family.' Actors in order of entrance: Chris & Annissa, Michael, Sophie, Danni, Nikki, and Jonathan.