I’m going to stretch the definition of "classic" once again with a book that may well be at least a "modern classic." I’ve been re-reading The Holiness of God by R. C. Sproul, and this morning I was challenged by his thoughts in chapter 7 on Jacob wrestling with the angel of God in Genesis 32.
First, Sproul gives some cultural background that changed how I view this event:
"The discussion with the angel about names is significant. The angel demanded the name of Jacob. The demand for the name was similar to the custom we have today of indicating surrender by saying "uncle." For the combatant to yield his name meant that he was acknowledging the superiority of the other party. The yielding of the name was an act of submission. When Jacob surrendered his name, he surrendered his soul. He relinquished authority over his own life. With the surrender came a new name, a new identity, Israel."
The curious thing to me is that when the angel gave Jacob his new name, he said this: "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome." So it seems that the way Jacob prevailed with God was by yielding to Him. How typical of God to turn the world’s values upside down and say that victory comes through surrender!
A bit later, Sproul says this (boldfacing is mine):
"The Holy One cannot be defeated in personal combat. But there is some consolation here. Jacob wrestled with God and lived. He was left crippled, but he survived that battle. At least we can learn from this that God will engage us in our honest struggles. We may wrestle with the Holy One. Indeed, for the transforming power of God to change our lives, we must wrestle with Him. We must know what it means to fight with God all night if we are also to know what it means to experience the sweetness of the soul’s surrender."
God gives me permission to wrestle with Him! My natural tendency under pressure is to withdraw, but God would rather have me question Him or even express anger at Him than withdraw from Him. In fact, if Sproul is right (and I think he is), struggling with God is necessary to spiritual growth, because struggle leads to surrender, and surrender brings true victory.
Lots of advance planning goes into Keynote’s Summer Project. Students have been accepted for the project and are starting to raise their financial support for the summer. God has some very exciting things in store for this year:
- four Keynote student bands
- two student bands with Impact (see the post called Partnership in Ministry)
- one student band with Destino, the Campus Crusade ministry to U.S. Latinos (this is a new partnership for Keynote)
- two bands made up of Keynote staff touring New Zealand & Israel
- our first ever film track; students will produce short films designed to foster spiritual conversations
- our second media track; students will design promotional graphics, websites and videos
My role in all of this will be as teacher and communication coach, and I will also be one of two trainers for the other communication coaches.
Since 2005, Keynote has had a partnership with The Impact Movement, the Campus Crusade for Christ ministry to African American students. This year, Impact has five musicians here in Indy serving a one-year fellowship in a band called Infinit Impact. In February I coordinated two days of communication training for the band and did some teaching and communication coaching for them. The team just returned from their first tour and saw God work in powerful ways.
- Vocalist Angelique Lynch always hated public speaking, and felt she really didn’t have a “testimony.” But God showed her differently after she spoke at several concerts, including the ones at her alma mater and home church. Her inbox is now flooded with messages from friends and family who say they can relate to her story.
- Pianist Krystal Howard watched an audience of 500 rowdy middle school kids, and thought they weren’t listening to the concert at all. But the comment cards showed that many students related to Angelique’s story. Krystal said that showed her to walk by faith and not by sight!
- Two concerts at a sports academy lasted only 18 minutes each – game clock 18 minutes! Bass player Robert Hornberger had to find a short but clear way to communicate the gospel, and God gave him an analogy of God being the coach of life. At the second concert, a local church showed a video of Christ’s passion while the band sang “What A Man”. There were 28 decisions for Christ that night. God showed His power â€“ in 18 minutes!
All in all, Infinit Impact had 8 concerts before about 970 people (including leading praise and worship at 2 church services). 40 people indicated on comment cards they prayed to receive Christ at the concerts, and 19 indicated they wanted to talk to someone about knowing God personally.