As I Go…

Sept. 29Oct. 7, I participated in the American Revival Heritage Tour led by the Sentinel Group, a ministry focused on equipping believers to pray for transforming revival in our communities.  

This experience–a prayer journey immersed in church history–was life changing.

Among many takeaways, I was impressed with a sense of responsibility to steward what’s been entrusted to us by those who’ve gone on before.  With the Spirit’s help, I committed to obey Jesus by applying what He taught me. Over the next weeks, I’d also like to share with you some of what we discovered.  I’d be honored if you would take this journey with me…

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The morning I left for the Milwaukee airport (9/29), I woke up with a phrase in my mind and a song in my heart.

The prophetic song was the classic by Don Moen, “Thank You, Lord.”

I come before You today
And there’s just one thing that I want to say
Thank You, Lord, thank You, Lord
For all You’ve given to me
For all the blessings that I cannot see
Thank You, Lord, thank You, Lord…

The phrase was “As I Go…”

Although I’ve already returned, that phrase birthed this post, compiled from audio recordings as I drove (I’ll omit the Google Maps directions).

As I go… I go as a student of church history, asking questions to learn from heroes of the faith.  

I take a problem-centered approach to historical theology, which acknowledges we each come to the table with specific questions and issues we’re looking to answer.  In this case, our communities are desperate for revival and God’s transforming nearness.

I seek to respect characters from history as “voices with whom we enter into theological conversation,” Colin Gunton’s phrase.  This space at the table allows us to chat on common ground and dialogue about differences.

As I go… I go as a systematician.  Say what?  

I employ the systematic sense of a scientist, asking questions and hearing whatever answers may come.  I seek to do this removed from bias, to learn with a humble and open heart from the data that stories of the past offer us.  We all get off the plane with biases from our upbringing, our spiritual experiences, and what we’ve heard in the past.

My goal is to be aware of my own history but not allow it to discolor the new stories I’ll hear.  Behind our tour guides, we’ll hear voices, who like Abel, through their faith still speak (Heb. 11:4).  This is the great cloud of witnesses, gone on ahead, and I couldn’t be more excited to learn from their perspectives (Heb. 12:1).

As I go… I go as a person of prayer.  

I so love being in relationship with Jesus!  Since prayer is the primary avenue He has graced us with for connecting with Him, I love prayer too!  Prayer is also the most powerful way His people change the world.

A friend prayed with me over the phone the day before my trip: “LORD, give him eyes to see the things that only You can help him see!”  What expectancy a faith-filled prayer like that stirs in my heart!  It sets my spirit ready to be watchful (1 Cor. 16:13; 1 Pet. 5:8).  I’m on the edge of my seat excited for all He will reveal.

As I go… I go as a friend of Jesus.  

This means I’m a disciple who obeys my Master and shares what He teaches me with others.  Jesus said we show our love for Him by obeying Him (Jn. 14:15).  In His final commission, Jesus calls us to teach others “to obey” all the commands He’s given us (Mt. 28:17-20).  We pass on what He shares with us, inflow-outflow personal conversations.

This means… I go as a disciple-making disciple, seeking to equip, encourage, and impart to others even as I receive life myself.  It’s never a stagnant swamp that ends with me but always a living channel, an ever-flowing river.

As I go… He’s with me (Mt. 28:20).  

And we go with others.  I’m not alone.  Though I haven’t yet met them, I go with brothers and sisters from various streams in the Body of Christ with similar hearts for revival and prayer, for learning from our Lord Jesus and the voices of the past.  I’m sure we’ll become fast friends.

May all the streams flow as one river…
~to wash away our brokenness
~to heal our land (2 Chr. 7:14)

Revive us again, LORD, for the glory of Your Name!  We ask for awakening, transforming revival, and reformation in the wonderful Name of Jesus.

I’d love to hear from you!

What have you been praying for your community lately?

Head & Heart – Soulmates

“Would you quit your whimpering?!? I’m trying to think,” Mind growled with an intellectual indifference.

“I can’t help it. This is just so moving!” His companion, Heart, emotionally retorted, sniffling and wiping away tears.
 
I promise, my head and heart don’t have audible conversations within my soul; however, I’ve learned there must be peaceful balance between them. As a follower of Christ, I’m called to think and feel as the Lord Jesus does.
 
I remember learning in a worship music class in Bible college, about the balance between head and heart. Our music professor taught that the arts diverge into two branches: classic, which is orderly and logical, and romantic, which is free and more emotional. Head and heart have arm-wrestled throughout music history. Isn’t this the balance we seek in worship ministry today too?
 
In a preaching class, our professor taught that ministering the Word is both a science, involving mental discipline, and an art, requiring the Holy Spirit’s influence on the speaker’s heart. Head and heart must cooperate under the unction of the Holy Spirit to deliver an effective message.
 
John 1:12 speaks of both receiving Jesus and believing in His Name. The Lord, through John, explains there’s an experiential and an intellectual component to becoming born again as a child of God through Jesus Christ (Jn. 3). We believe the truth of the Gospel and turn from lawbreaking to follow Christ.
 
I was baptized as an infant and grew up in a church where I learned about the Bible. My head was full of knowledge, but I hadn’t encountered the Risen Christ. My heart hadn’t yet been pricked with a godly sorrow that brings repentance (2 Cor. 7:10). When I heard the Gospel call to repent and be saved, the Holy Spirit brought conviction of sin and my need for Jesus. I received and believed.
 
I heard Apologist Josh McDowell explain on the radio once that it was not just intellectual doubt that kept him from faith. Deep emotional wounds from his earthly father hindered his heart from believing in the Heavenly Father. He was convinced an Almighty Father would only cause him more pain. The Holy Spirit used both the love and the intellectual evidence of those who witnessed to McDowell to draw him to Jesus.
 
Everything done well in this life must involve a redeemed head and heart. When we act only from the head, we cause pain. When we’re simply moved by the heart, we cause trouble.
Everything done well in this life must involve a redeemed head and heart. When we act only from the head, we cause pain. When we’re simply moved by the heart, we cause trouble. The unregenerate “heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked” and the mind must be renewed (Jer. 17:9; Rom. 12:2).
 
Neither emotion nor reason is inherently evil. They are gifts of God, evidence that people are handcrafted in His Image. There’s an element of reason and emotion required for every wise decision, drawing from Scriptural principles and listening for the Holy Spirit’s still, small voice.
 
This balance between head and heart isn’t something I usually dwell on or am overly introspective about. Instead, we listen to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to convict us of any unconfessed sin. When we act unwisely or uncaringly, He graciously convicts. He wants us to be free (2 Cor. 3:17). When He puts His gentle finger on a specific sin, we turn from the sin toward Jesus and move forward in the freedom of His Spirit.
 
Will Head and Heart ever get along? Through the cleansing Blood of Jesus, they sure can. Let’s eagerly desire both Christ-like thinking and feeling. The head and the heart are, after all, soulmates.

What does this balancing act between intellect and emotion look like in your life and work?