Heart Work


A couple years ago, in the book Feed My Sheep, I came across the statement, “You don’t get a better Christ in Communion, but sometimes you get Christ better.”

Tonight at Communion as I was thinking about Jesus and his disciples, I thought soberly about God’s forgiveness.   Jesus knew what Peter would do, he knew of his coming denial, he knew of the abandonment of the rest, the betrayal by Judas, but he still ate with them. 

A couple weeks ago, my pastor asked a question for reflection, “Would God love me if he really knew me?”

Jesus really knew Peter.  Peter was about to curse and deny him.  But Jesus really loved Peter.  Jesus really loved his disciples.  Jesus really loves his disciples. 

Looking at this, can anything, as Paul asked, separate us from the love of God, the past or present, angels or demons, rulers, authorities or anything else in creation?

Run to God with your denial and fear and shame.

He already knows. 

Mark Driscoll has a short message on idolatry in America.  I’ve found it encouraging and a place for introspection to be done in my life.  In the video, an Indian woman, beside an altar to a chicken god, blasts America as the land where people build shrines to their sports teams and to their restaurants. 

Idolatry in my own life- I’ve always loved football growing up.  I felt God tug on my heart in college and barely watched football and specifically did not watch the Super Bowl in college.  Spending time with Jesus in the Word was better and that has not been taken away.  Many have much better examples and experiences, but I have found Jesus 10,000x better than the biggest sports game of the year.  May we continue to find Jesus better than sports or anything else. 

Idolatry to be done away- Driscoll hammers it with the restaurant and food illustrations.  Paul warns in Philippians 3, “many walk as enemies of the cross of Christ, their God is their belly, their end is destruction, with minds set on earthly things.”  It is a severe thing to seek first after food.  Where do I cross the lines in living to eat rather than eating to live?  I get up and am lethargic until I start to eat.  May I (and we) seek to eat to the glory of God (I Cor 10:31) with what he’s given, and not make an idol of food.

Today is my day in the collaborative 40 Day (Blog) Fast, round 2. If you’ve been following the fast, thanks for stopping in. I’m touched by the nature of changing the world this way. What a small thing it is for me to fast and pray for a day, yet collaboratively God may be pleased to use this in sweeping change in the world for his renown.

The ministry that shares the Gospel and cares for physical needs that I’d like to draw your attention to is the Christian Veterinary Mission USA. Now I have never been on a trip with them, or even been to a seminar or conference. But my father in law is a veterinarian and has made me aware of their work.

The exciting piece is that sustainable healthy living in 3rd world communities can be brought about in part through the foundation of healthy and productive livestock. In fact, Jared Diamond in his popular Guns, Germs, and Steel argues that the technological and political primacy of Europe during the last several centuries is directly related to available crops and domesticatable livestock being available to that region for the last several thousand years.
A sustained shift out of crippling poverty and famine in the third world through healthier livestock, in Jesus name – that’s a group we need to support.

CVMUSA

Alan

Want to listen in on the thoughts of a current missionary to one of the world’s largest unreached people groups? Now is your chance! Check out Alan’s blog here. Drop him an encouraging line while you’re at it – learning Japanese and communicating the Gospel cross-culturally is hard!

A group is doing it right now, here.  I’ve joined some friends who will be starting when the first group finishes.  Check it out and sign up here.

Read it.

The common joke goes something like that. But there is a grain of truth in it that motivates many commentators. In reading the introduction to D.A. Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies, 2nd Edition, I found some commentary that is helpful in the quest to allow seminary to be a spiritual green house, rather than a mortuary.

Carson describes the shift away from devotionally minded Bible reading into critical biblical study as experienced by a fictitious seminary student. Most seminarians probably come from just such a situation – fluent in their tradition’s interpretation and eager for devotional insights, yet unacquainted with critical issues in the text and variant theological perspectives. The jarring process the exegete undergoes in studying a text Carson describes as “distanciation.” (Both my computer dictionary and my old red Webster’s failed me on that one!) If you look up distanciation on the web, in English, you should find that it describes the process of being confronted with views that differ from your own, after which you must evaluate critically and reestablish your own view. This process of alienation must happen when we come to the biblical text, otherwise we are just reading our own views or our preferred tradition into the text.

It is clear how this could contribute to some negative effects in the lives of seminarians! Three responses Carson identifies are “a defensive pietism that boisterously denounces the arid intellectualism… all around” or “the vortex of a kind of intellectual commitment that squeezes out worship, prayer, witness, and meditative reading of Scripture” or one “may stagger along until he is rescued by graduation and returns to the real world.”(pg. 23)

Carson does not leave us with these three common responses, but suggests that we can enjoy the best of both worlds – intellectual and devotional satisfaction. “Work hard at incorporating your entire Christian walk (practical/devotional) and commitment (intellectual), and the topic of this study (exegesis, specifically pitfalls therein) will prove beneficial.(pg 24)” [parenthesis added by me.]

So, this post has three encouragements: 1. Wrestle with the text and embrace the shifts in your worldview on account of interacting with Scripture, to be more conformed to it. 2. There is in fact good stuff in the introductions to books! 3. Seminary need not be Cemetery!

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