“The Power of Pictures and Pithy Paradigms”-10
“The Power of Pictures and Pithy Paradigms” is a series of timeless truths—each of which will serve to reinforce the Feast of the Heart Vision, Mission, and the main motivation for my own life in Christ and love for those He places in my life.
Everyone reformed, revived, a constructive revolutionary!
Feast of the Heart exists to help bring about Christ-centered “reformation, revival, and constructive revolution” (Francis Schaeffer, Death in the City) so that God will be glorified and people blessed.
- Reformation…we seek to abide by and serve up the true truth of the Bible.
- Revival…we seek to model biblical Christians living in word and deed.
- Constructive Revolution…we seek to spread the true gospel right where God has planted us with urgency, compassion, and radical self-abandonment.
Fellowship: A Feast of the Heart
Welcome back to the fellowship of the Saints at the table, Brothers and Sisters! I dearly hope and pray that the race you’ve been running—the marathon in, for, by and through Christ—since we last supped together has been a glory to God and a blessing to you and to others as well.
As promised from last week’s feast at The Training Table, following is the menu for today’s banquet of God’s perspective on fellowship. If you missed the prior feasts on the topic:
Today’s Menu: It’s Compelling: A Perfect Platform
1) Fellowship: A Feast of the HEART
As an appetizer, if there’s one “gift of the spirit” I excel in it’s the gift of pedanticism:
Def, “tends toward being overly concerned with minute details or formalisms, especially in teaching.” Being didactic, doctrinaire or, dare I go so far as to say, “fussy” about certain things is a very good thing; but made the ONLY thing can be a very bad thing, right? Truth seasoned with love honors The Way, Truth, and Life, our Lord Jesus.
But it’s also fair to say this: Being passionate about doctrine, or True Truth, in a culture of rampant relativism [even in the church] will always be met with “hurt feelings” and accusations of various and often-exaggerated kinds. I get that… So I’ll aim to be pedantic yet loving and repeat a truism I’ve reminded you feasting marathoners for Christ at The Training Table of on many, many occasions:
The Heart of the Matter is a Matter of the Heart.
All things related to how God’s Plan of Redemption works for the wholesale dilemma of human fallenness begins at the level of the HEART: “… I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh…” (Ezekiel 11:19). This is far, far more incredible than we can fathom…
This God-the-Father [I will… Ezk 11:19a] ordained, God-the-Spirit initiated, and God-the-Son guaranteed act occurs FIRST at our conversion and THEREAFTER in our sanctification—or conformation as we’re being made holy and transformed more and more into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
Has your heart been touched by the Spirit FIRST so that you even had the capability of recognizing your sinfulness, your need of repentance, and your life-and-death need for a Savior and Lord in the God-Man Jesus Christ? There is a First Cause in the faith and it’s supernaturally done by the Holy Spirit hovering, “fluttering” (Genesis 1:2; Titus 3:5) over our spiritually dead-as-dead, flinty-hard heart, Beloved. Only then are we capable of seeing the reality of our heart condition:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9).
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind (Ephesians 2:1-3).
So fellowship FIRST with God and THEN with His disciples is indeed a “Feast of the Heart”: It sustains our life as food and drink does the very same! It is the predicate from which all other propositions derive; it is the wellspring from which all life flows; it is the safekeeping of our core values, our worldview, our beliefs, our non-negotiables, and our daydreams when no one else is looking; and it is—don’t miss this—the place from which our “emotional homeostasis” is governed from.
This is why God’s Bible so highly recommends we take great care of our heart, Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23).
The more in line our HEART is with God’s Love and Truth—as it’s articulated in the Bible—the more our spirit, or EMOTIONS, will be of the very best sort(s) of emotions: Fruitful and Life-Giving in every way. And the opposite, of course, must be true as well: The more out of line our heart is with God’s Love and Truth, the more our emotional life will be made up of negative, corrosive, damning, and Deadly Emotions.
Say it again with me, “The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart!” This is not some sort of sappy Hallmark Card greeting, but rather the centerpiece of how God’s Plan of Redemption is PLANNED and PERSONALIZED. Do you truly understand the things that give your heart dis-ease… as opposed to giving you your hearts delight? And exactly why?
Purposeful, intentional, and missional [being on mission as Christ’s light and salt] fellowship with God and His disciples is the FOUNDATION—as well as the PLATFORM upon which we live, breath, and act each and every moment we live.
2) It’s Compelling: A Perfect Platform
When you get out of bed and “step into life” each day, do you have the sense [Godly judgment, intelligence, wisdom in your heart], and sensibilities [Godly sensitivity to morality and feelings in your emotions] that you’re standing on the firm foundations of God’s Bible-based Love and Truth? And do those convictions then provide you a platform for carrying out the rest of your day?
If so, you are supported [foundationally…], and empowered [“platformally”], to help change the world for God’s glory and others’ blessing—for time, and in eternity.
If not, you are supported [foundationally…], and empowered [“platformally”], to help maintain the grip this world has on yourself and others by this world’s ways [life devoid of God], the “flesh” [mankind’s sinful nature], and the devil [Satan’s deceptions of various kinds].
It’s that black and white…
Foundations make all the difference—as a platform for life.
Fellowship with God and one another is the most compelling platform—it has a powerful and irresistible effect on us—for making more of life than we can ever imagine or hope for!
God’s and believers fellowship in the free-falls of life: foundations stop the free-fall so that Christ is our platform.
There’s no question that this important caveat concerning a FOUNDATION vs. a PLATFORM was never made more obvious and poignant for me than when I experienced a miracle on Christmas night 2002—when my father killed himself and I fell to my knees next to him before he died.
In the midst of the most tragic and horrific freefall of my life thus far, the first stage of God’s message to me [and all whom I could reach] was essentially, “All of life’s trials, tribulations, and freefalls of suffering could be answered, mitigated, assuaged by God because He has most graciously established an UNSHAKABLE FOUNDATION of His and our own faith in His Creation, Christ, and Covenant. Period.
And secondly, that once the foundation had by laid by God and internalized by me or anyone of faith, it would act as a PLATFORM for the narrative of the rest of my life—spanning even parts of how we experience eternity!
By resting on God’s three-pillared foundations of Creation, Christ, and Covenant, I have had the unspeakable blessing to influence many lives by using the platform of helping others be comforted in their pain.
My fellowship with God, His disciples, and His enemies on many occasions, has been a fabulous feast of the heart. And it will continue to be more and more tasty, beautiful, and refining until Jesus comes again to welcome me to His banquet table. Amen.
In Closing, Enjoy “Christian Community” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Prayers Devoted to the Fellowship: “A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another, or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble he causes me. His face, that hitherto may have been strange and intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner.” (Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community)
Accountability of Fellowship: “Nothing can be more cruel than the leniency which abandons others to their sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe reprimand which calls another Christian in one’s community back from the path of sin.” (Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community)
Gratitude in Fellowship: “If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.” (Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community)
Growing Deeper in Fellowship: “The early morning belongs to the Church of the risen Christ. At the break of light it remembers the morning on which death and sin lay prostrate in defeat and new life and salvation were given to mankind.” (Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community)
Brother/Sister in Fellowship: “Christ became our Brother in order to help us. Through him our brother has become Christ for us in the power and authority of the commission Christ has given him. Our brother stands before us the sign of the truth and the grace of God. He has been given to us to help us. He hears the confession of our sins in Christ’s stead and he forgives our sins in Christ’s name. He keeps the secret of our confession as God keeps it. When I go to my brother to confess, I am going to God.” (Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Christian Community)
Can’t wait to see you at The Training Table next week when we’ll be chowing-down on a most nourishing and yummy feast of Jonathan Edwards’ treatment of the faith—the high place of humility.
Lots of love and blessings to you and yours,