When God Bypasses the Head

24 06 2008

I arrived to my office early this morning, long before anyone else had come.  It was 6am when I walked into our sanctuary and ministry center.  This is one of my favorite times of the week.  I love to get up early on Saturday mornings (a work day for me since we have a Saturday night service) and enter the darkened sanctuary with no else around.  My custom is to take my Bible, journal, and iPod and crank up the music and just walk around the ministry center and worship the Lord.  I enjoy singing along with the music as loud as I desire and knowing that no one will hear my off key, very bad voice.  At some point in my worship walk, I usually end up prostrate before God in prayer and petition.  It is a holy time.  It is also a time where I don’t study, exegete scripture, or even think about my sermon.  It’s a heart time with my Lord and Friend.

Today, as I sang myself through the lobby, I looked at hundreds of pictures of little kids that are plastered on the walls.  You see, we just finished our second extremely crowded and joyful week of Vacation Bible School.  Taped to walls all over the lobby are these photos of laughing, leaping in the air, smudge faced children who have just given their hearts to Jesus.  Hundreds of the over 950 children have said “yes” in their hearts to Christ!  It’s a heart time with Jesus for these precious children.

Once when Jesus was teaching, someone had the idea of bringing a bunch of little kids to Him for a blessing.  The disciples were not at all happy with this idea.  We really don’t know why but I would surmise that they felt Jesus’ time could be better spent.  Better spent teaching adults the great propositional and theological truths of the kingdom of God? Better spent healing the sick?  Better spent…? Just better spent.  But, Jesus said something really interesting.  Let’s pick up the story as Matthew describes it,

“Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.” (Matthew 19:13-15)

What does Jesus mean?  What is he saying here?  “little children…such is the kingdom of heaven?”  I’m no theologian, but I am pastor and a father (of seven children).  I have a hunch, an inkling, he is saying something like, “All you guys are so caught up in head games.  You are constantly asking me about what it is you should, could, or must do, to get into the kingdom of heaven.  You are giving me a headache.  If you are really that interested, and I doubt you are, but if you are, then quit thinking so much about it and look into your heart!  Look around you at your children.  They get it better than you do.  They live from their heart.  Find your heart guys.  The kingdom of God is a heart issue.”

The kingdom of God is a heart issue.  God often by-passes the head to get to our heart.  We believe with our heart. The head follows the heart.  It did when you fell in love with your wife (if you’re married).  It does when you go look at the puppies you’re thinking about surprising your child with.  The Bible says, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”  (Romans 10:9-10)  Confession is from the Greek word, homologeo, meaning to “agree” with God.  When we “believe” with our heart, we agree with God that He is God, that He loves us, that He lived, that He died, and that He rose again on the third day.  Children understand this quickly.  Children live from their hearts.  We adults have a real problem with living from our hearts.

God often by-passes the heads of adults to get to the hearts of children.  That’s what Jesus did in our story.  Just read the whole story in Matthew 19.  Jesus got tired of hanging out with a bunch of pseudo intellectuals and religious adults (and that includes his own disciples) and he just wanted to bless runny nosed, dirty faced, stringy haired, laughing, spontaneous kids.  And over the centuries, not a whole lot has changed. That’s what He did over the past two weeks at our Vacation Bible School.  We had 244 kids give their hearts to Jesus!

Jesus is still walking around.  Jesus is still looking for hearts that are open to Him.  Jesus shows up every day in our homes, our churches, our schools, and our barbecues and he’s looking for people, whatever the age, who will love Him with their hearts.  God often by-passes the head to get to our hearts.  The head always follows the heart.  So, passionately give your heart to Jesus in a fresh way.  Spend some time with your children today and ask God to give you a little bit of what they have.

Carpe Diem Gloriae Dei,

Pastor Steve





Heads and Hearts on Fire

12 06 2008

 

From time to time members of our church ask me about my thoughts and opinions on various topics…Bible stuff and theology.  Due to the fact that I was “born to talk,” as my mother once said, I find myself increasingly piping off to someone my “inkling” and viewpoint in a hallway or our lobby.  As Mountain Springs Church has grown larger, I am hearing the same query more often than I care to keep answering.  Thus it has come to my attention that I might consider writing some of these thoughts down into something of a regular “column” or, to use more modern language, a “blog.” (Whatever in the world that means.)

So, this is the first installment of my “inkling” on various topics that God is laying on my heart for our Mountain Springs Church family.  I have chosen the word “inkling” because I think the word befits the purpose.  “Inkling” in the Merriam Webster Dictionary means, “a slight knowledge or vague notion,” as in “he had not the faintest inkling what he was talking about.” And since that is often the case with me, I thought I might use this as the title for my column, blog, musings or whatever we call it. 

Now I must clarify that using this name has nothing to do with The Inklings of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien fame who were an informal literary group from the University of Oxford in England that met at the The Eagle and Child Pub weekly to discuss the literary works of several of the members.  No, I’m not an author and I’m not a literary critic, but I just like the meaning of the word and its apt description of my purpose.  So, enough on the disclaimer and introduction to my column.  Now to the subject for this first installment. 

Heads and Hearts on Fire

God wants all of us to have heads and hearts on fire for Him!  God doesn’t just want passion-filled hearts with a theological vacuum upstairs.  And God is even less interested in Bible-packed heads with no heartfelt intimacy for Him.  God wants both a theologically, biblically-grounded head and a passionate, loving heart for Him.  This is part and parcel with truly growing to know and  love  God.  You can’t love someone you don’t know and you can’t know someone deeply without loving them.  So, God desires passion from our heads and our hearts.

 The synergy of the head and heart is not easy to find in the body of Christ.  Among Charismatics, passionate exuberance is often emphasized to the detriment of good theology and deep biblical thinking.  On the flip side, among conservative evangelicals, rigorous Bible study has devalued heart-filled passion and zeal.  At times both sides are looking too askance at the other.  And both are missing the point.

At MSC I want us to keep striving to value what Jesus valued.  In being probed by a lawyer as to “which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus responded, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)  I suspect that this may be the most important, all-embracing passage in the Bible.  Jesus is saying very plainly that if you want to get it right with your whole life—meaning everything—then you must start with love, love for the Lord that includes your heart and your head.  Not either or, but both.

So what does this kind of radical love look like?  Jesus clearly indicates that loving Him fully with our heart and head means that we love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  I have an inkling that this just might be the greatest outward sign of a true head and heart on fire for God—loving others as much as we love ourselves. 

Now this is pretty revolutionary stuff if you ask me.  The meaning is clear.  Jesus is saying, “If you are loving God with all of your head and your heart, then you will love your neighbor as much as you love yourself!” I don’t do that very often!  But Jesus says that this is the “greatest commandment.”  And Jesus even goes further in another place where He says, “whoever desires to be great in God’s kingdom, become a servant.” (Matt 20:26)  I have a sneaking suspicion that He means be a servant to PEOPLE.  Sounds a lot like the above passage?  I’m getting uncomfortable.

So, it seems that Jesus is saying that if we are delving into the Law and the Prophets with a head on fire for the Scriptures, and if we are worshipping and loving Him with our hearts aflame, then we will naturally be loving and caring for our fellow man.  Now this only works if you really want to follow the “first and great commandment.”  I think this was why Jesus was always so ticked off with the Pharisees and Scribes—they knew the scriptures but totally missed the love of God, and thus missed the real purpose of following Him—loving others as a result.  But, I suspect that Jesus could also get pretty frustrated with His twelve disciples too—for they loved Him but they were still fighting all the time about who was the greatest.  A little ego problem there?

So, bottom line is that God wants your head and your heart, and nothing less will suffice.  And if you are asking the right question, “Does He really have my head and heart?” then the answer lies in…yes, you guessed it, what are you doing with your “neighbor?”  Are you loving people?  Maybe the better question is “Are you really loving God?”  For it is in loving God with our full head and our full heart that we will begin to love people fully!  And I want a church like that!  How about you?  

Carpe Diem Gloriae Dei,

Pastor Steve