tidy-tinyGood day, marathoners in and for Christ. (1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1; 2 Timothy 4:7) Exhausted, depleted from running the Godly, good, and a-blessing-to-others race? Welcome. Sit. Relax.

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, pure doctrine 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

As we begin, I have a prayer that might help us open our hearts: “Father, Son, Holy Spirit, we’re so grateful for Your manifold mercies and that you imagined us as sons and daughters by predestined-calling, repentance, and faith—loving and serving you by running the good race of the Christian life before time ever came into being!

As we gather around this sacred table as a community of faith, rest, and encouragement to feast upon Your Love and Truth, we think of those who have come before us. Those, who, like Olympic track runner Eric Liddell, was crowned with the laurels of Olympic Gold, but gave YOU, YOU, only YOU all the glory… Akin the You, Jesus, he sacrificed it all to bless others—for the crown, the laurels of glory, which You would set upon his head: whether it be on the Olympic podium or the “Heavenly podium” where he and we will receive rewards commensurate to stewarding our faith (1 Corinthians 3:11-15; 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20).

As Liddell said, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast! And when I run I feel his pleasure … We are all missionaries. Wherever we go we either bring people nearer to Christ or we repel them from Christ … You will know as much of God, and only as much of God, as you are willing to put into practice.” (Eric Liddell, The Disciplines of the Christian Life) Liddell lived life his life in Christ large!

Liddell’s last words were, “It’s complete surrender”, in reference to how he had given his life to God. Oh, Trinity, enable our epitaphs to be so glorious as a surrendered life can be…

Please, glorious Trinity, above all things, help us live so far beyond “The Tidy & Tiny Life” that it’s laughable… it’s radical… it’s a reflection of Yourself:

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. (Isaiah 40:28)

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand? (Job 26:14)

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?  (Psalm 8:3-4)

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. (Psalm 107:28-30)

Holy Trinity, there isn’t the slightest possibility that You are anything remotely akin to a “Tidy & Tiny God.” No, You are more ubiquitous and grand than words offered for eternity can describe. Help us as fallen Image Bearers, rescued and redeemed, to break the idols and break through boundaries of the “Tidy ‘n Tiny Life.” For we pray this in Your Son’s all-powerful and most precious Name, Jesus Christ. Amen.”

First things first: Living the Tidy… Controlled, Orderly, Well-Kept, Ship-Shape, and Composed… Life?

How Did Things Get So Tidy? “The Compartmentalization Corruption.” That’s how.

When God created the progenitors of humankind in Adam and then Eve (Genesis 1:26-27; 2:7), He knelt in the clay-dirt, gathered a handful, formed a resemblance of man, breathed into it, and [my harmless yet vital conjecture:] Adam’s heart leapt into being, given life, and animated—first.

The heart is a magnificent “natural and supernatural organ”—the biological life-giving centerpiece of God’s consummate creation AND [don’t miss this] the repository of not only God’s “communicable attributes” [His moral attributes such as love, goodness, wisdom, goodness, justice, rationality, hate, kindness, and more], but a holistic ecosystem of abundance and abounding, teeming, bursting-with-life that might even be comparable to Eden itself!

The heart’s interior spaces were completely open, unfettered, unspeakably beautiful, new, fresh, and glorious in every imaginable and unimaginable way. Akin to stepping into the most gorgeous place on earth [except on mega-steroids], the ecosystem of Adam’s originally sumptuous, holistic, and grandiose heart was awe-inspiring in every way.

At the heart of humanity, this was how things were, “In the beginning…” (Genesis 1,2).

The Fall and Getting Tiny: How God-Likeness and Utter Openness Begins to Shut Down

By definition, and like all human loves, God’s love is designed to be a reciprocal arrangement, relationship. When God offered a test—and Satan served-up a temptation—of this heavenly love relationship, Eve and Adam’s free-fill choice to love God totally in return was tested and tempted. And, as we’re all well-aware, Eve then Adam chose poorly.

And one of the explanations, motivations, and familiar word phrases which best expresses the nub of our forbearer’s Original-Inherited Sin problem is “Adam and Eve had control issues”: They chose to be gods of their own life by asserting control over their life—rather than give complete control to Him… Only Him… their creator, sustaining, loving, and truthful Father God.

Can You See It? Have I done a good enough job thus far for you to anticipate what happens to the hearts of Adam and Eve—and every human being since? To begin with, let me put it this way: have you ever been to a jaw-droppingly beautiful place that’s been crapped-out by neglect, littering, sewage, selfishness, poor planning, a quick buck, and the stench of all sorts of decay that might bring tears to your eyes?

When Adam and Eve sinned, their hearts—as our hearts are born this way—began to harden, congeal, ossify, decay, shut down, petrify… Piering appeared. Buttresses went up. Walls went sky high. Rooms with locks on the door replaced wide-open spaces. Labyrinths, mazes, and barbed-wire fences crowded out the previously beautiful panoramas so that the only view was an ugly interruption in the view.

Every realm of the heart was closed off from other parts of the heart. And the lack of “the Spirit’s circulation” of freshness, of life, of the blessed, unmitigated and uninterrupted breezes of His original creative plan… were stifled and shut off… And it didn’t take long for the stench of decay to dominate mankind’s heart.

In a word: “The Compartmentalization Corruption” began in the heart; and Adam and Eve began to live “The Tidy Life”!

The once-unspeakably-beautiful heart, now a ruined, trashed ecosystem, made God weep. Me too at the history and sight of my own heart… How about you?

God Made the Heart: like a gregarious of larks; a Kingdom tumult of unfettered joy; a riotousness of righteousness; the Spirit uncaged, fit and free as an eagle on the wind; wholly-devoted, wholly-liberated, wholly a sub-set of God Himself… Who thought as the Father, spoke as the Son, and fluttered as the Spirit… and the known and unknown universe came into existence FROM NOTHING!

How grand do you consider God’s design and purpose of the heart to be?

Sin Spoiled the Heart: the “Tidy Heart”, as I’ve alluded to above, is the compartmentalized heart that serves the far, far [repeat that 10,000 x’s] lesser god of CONTROL. And the only way we can [supposedly] control God—in favor of being in control ourselves—is to try and contain God via the containment of the heart He created, desires—purely out of love and not neediness—to control, and most mercifully sustains.

There are tens-to-hundreds of little rooms, varying in size and use, within our heart that are manifestations of our inherited Sin and habitual sinning desire to hide from God; to lock-in shame and lock-out God in various parts of our stories and lives; to crack the door and dole out little peace-offerings and sadly insufficient sacrifices of ourselves to God… All, all, all in place in order to live The Tidy Life. And it’s so sad it’s impossible to describe.

Please consider, and speak to yourself right now, “What is it like for me to live The Tidy Life? What is it like for me to try and put every jot and tittle of life under my control so that you can take the place of God? Does it make me sad or fearful enough to consider what’s missing from my life—while living The Tidy Life—so that I might reach out to God and one of His disciples to admit that being God is just too dammed much [hellishly so…] for me to handle? At, literally, the end of the day, do I want my epitaph on my gravestone to read, “Here lies John: The Tidy & Tiny Life”?

The thought of that breaks my heart… which is a very good start.

An Important Caveat

If a fallen Image Bearer of God [all human beings since Adam] has not repented and been born again in Christ (E.g., getting a new heart, Ezekiel 11:19; John 3:3; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 John 5:1) then all of the above will fall on deaf, denial, angry, and guilty ears. And any “unleashed desire to bust out of living The Tidy Life” will be manifest by adding lots of works, lists, to-do’s, amendments, resolutions, and man-based solutions that will not… cannot… last or bring joy, devotion, and witness. We must start the rehab of the heart by being born again.

The sort of “DE-compartmentalization” we’re here to feast on is how [even] born-again hearts STILL have the bent for living The Tidy [hence the Tiny] Life!

We’ll see how to stir things up, break down the walls, in the born-again, yet compartmentalized, heart below.

Second Things First: Remember Tidy Leads to Tiny!

“Tidy & Tiny”, “Tiny & Tidy” are nearly indistinguishable and interchangeable, right? Which comes first? Or does it even matter? Well, turns out, it does: As stated above, all of the heart corruption began with The Fall (Genesis 3) when The Tidy [God-jettisoned / man-controlled] Life began. THEN, once we’re committed to keeping things tidy, under control, compartmentalized, and acting god-like, living The TINY Life is really, actually, axiomatically… all that’s left to live.

TIDY… Begets, Spawns, Engenders… TINY.

Not that it’s a perfect apple-to-apple comparison, but I wonder if the massively heart-wrenching decision to drop an atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was compromised by dropping a handful of BB’s over the cities instead… what difference would it have made? Even by means of conservative estimates, millions of lives were spared by having various theaters of war in WWII ended by the heart-shattering decision President Truman was forced to make.

By analogy, when any Spirit-regenerated, indwelt, empowered, refined, and led HEART is compromised, compartmentalized by choosing TIDY over a UNIVERSE-SIZED OPEN and GRAND HEART… It’s akin to subverting, containing the DYNAMITE of the SPIRIT (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; 2 Corinthians 12:9). Ergo, shooting BB’s in the midst of spiritual warfare that makes WWII look like a skirmish between two-year-old’s… where dynamite is offered, required, and worthy of The Trinity Who put the plan in place!

Beloved of God, when we choose Tidy, and get The Tiny Life in Christ in return, we are making a choice to live a life of containing, controlling, and missing all the LIFE God desires for us IN CHRIST. As a Christian, living as controlled and comfy as possible, The Tiny Life puts barriers, boundaries, controls on the power of the Holy Spirit living within us. And this is not just a tragedy for each and every “Tidy-Tidy Heart”, it’s a heartbreak for this fast decaying and darkened world that is not benefiting from the release of the power that each and every disciple of Christ is called to be God’s light [to bring God’s True Truth] and salt [to heal and stem the decay].

Let’s Knock Down Some Tidy Walls of the Heart… and Get Gigantic!

Here are seven things we can turn our FULL, UNFETTERED, and UNTIDY ATTENTION TO in order to take w wrecking ball to all the tidiness and sinful control we’ve created within our hearts… which is killing us spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically:

  1. Bow before and learn how to read, study, mediate on, and apply the Bible.
  2. Dive into the theology and practice of powerful and effective prayer.
  3. Blast open new spaces and ways to reimagine, renew, and revitalize worship.
  4. Reconstrue what other human beings are as Image Bearers of God to better serve.
  5. Level any, all barriers of selfishness, fear, and a scarcity mentality to be the best stewards.
  6. Radically reconsider why and how God desires we treat suffering of any kind.
  7. Bust out all barriers about what it means to be a vital part of Christian community.

Please do an assessment on these characteristics of the growing, knowing, and sowing Christian.

God bless you and yours this Thanksgiving—that THANKSGIVING might be the nature of your heart 24/7/365!


first-things-firstGood day, marathoners in and for Christ. (1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1; 2 Timothy 4:7) Pull up a seat at The Training Table and get ready to nourish your heart!

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, pure doctrine 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

Let’s pray for our hearts; and feast—so no spiritual famine starves the faith!

“Got Good Counsel?” Whether milk or meat… Listen closely.

I’m certain you’ve had “one of those days” or even weeks or months, when a theme, a consistent message, or reoccurring—sometimes quiet, sometimes blaring—voice provides a reminder from the Spirit and through people about something relevant to your life, right? The Spirit’s good counsel can come from within and/or from without… but in Christ it will come! The question is, a) do we believe this is true? b) will we consistently put ourselves in a state of heart, a time and a place where we’re more prone to listen, to hear, to discern? c) and when we do, do we have a course of faith-in-action to follow the Spirit’s lead—in word and in deed?

So, here’s a recently [for the umpteenth time] reoccurring message for me, proffered respectfully: “No Pain, No Gain!”

The journey of discipleship, sanctification, holiness, Christ-likeness, separation from this world, while serving in the world, is damned hard… but joy-full… and well-worth any and all sacrifice, pain, and effort to achieve!

Oh, and let’s deal with the intentional expletive right off: it’s “damned hard” for a very legitimate reason: separating, tearing, teasing hell and entropy from one’s heart is not for babies or the faint-of-heart… albeit the trust and faith of a child is tantamount to victory!

Ever since The Fall (Genesis 3) all things “have been damned”—tainted by Satan and his hellish, worldy, and fleshly ways. But Christ has reversed the curse! Has the Spirit changed course and reversed it in your own heart?

As a heads-up, the meat of this Training Table feast is in the form of a message from Charles Spurgeon [below]. Please… oh please… chew your food well.

It takes into account “putting first things first”, “the gain at the end of the pain”, our fallen and very heart-harmful tendency to mix up ends and means, and the main reason why: E.g., an idol-motivated will to grab the gain devoid of the pain; to idolize the ends and hate the means of getting there; to win the gold while skimping on the grit, sweat, and toil of training; to envy the top-floor, corner office while being disgruntled about starting in the basement; to emulate Christ sans the sacrifice; to lust after great sex too impatient to wait for the covenant and context of marriage; to grasping after all sorts of the world’s fruits while neglecting The Law of the Farm—the clearing and care of the soil, the seeding, the fertilizing, the weeding, the pruning, the rotation… the season after season CARE that must take place before the CROP of sweet fruit comes in due time.

The wisdom and patience of “first things first”, “embracing the pain in favor of the gain”, is born, redeemed of God and cannot be short-circuited. And yet we’ll be damned if we don’t ignore this Given of God in 10,000 different ways… every day.

Such Rich Fare!

The topic of “first things first” and “no pain, no gain” in the spiritual life is so wide and deep that it’s pert-near impossible to not offer a multi-course meal. But, suffice it to say two things compete for ascendancy in my heart: 1) all “marathoning” is helpful, but not equal, and 2) The Church of Christ, it’s leadership in particular, should stop agonizing and apologizing for the law of first things first and the required patience in and through the pain in order to get to the gain.

And I’ll keep these short…

1) Like so many fallen Image Bearers [E.g., all Adam’s progeny], I have worked myself practically to death trying to achieve hard things in life. Ultra-this and ultra-that in athletics, learning, consulting, neediness, and idol-vanities of innumerable varieties… I’ve also “run some tough marathons” through trials of various and heart-shattering kinds as well. And I’ve been massively blessed by the “training and enduring.” It’s all of God, in Christ, and through the Spirit.

But—get this!—a) NONE of the obsessive spending of myself, for any of these passing fancies or commendable strivings, is comparable to the Spirit-led sacrifice of putting first things first or “the proper pain for Godly gain.” EXCEPT, b) the suffering and sacrifice involved in building endurance in any realm of life does to add much value in the endurance and perseverance of the Saints [the Sprit’s + our own—Matthew 16:16-23; Luke 22:31–34; James 1:12; Romans 5:3-5] in the spiritual life.

All “marathoning” is not equal: I know well how to hurt while running, skiing, snowshoeing 80+ miles a week, but “running the good spiritual and servant race” (1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1; 2 Timothy 4:7) is very different: in marathon-speak, “hitting the wall of pride, pretense, egotism, and self-centeredness” is a challenge like no other.

But if I, if we, haven’t hurt or sacrificed in other realms of life, no character-building or endurance is likely in the spiritual realms.

Why? Our natural and sinful bent is to avoid suffering—in preference to comfort. And idolizing, seeking comfort only [E.g,. only] begets the avoidance of pain, and the elusiveness of any gain. “Christians living in a culture of comfort” is a subject I’ve written much about… and feel very deeply about. In our day, in the Western church, Christians have become worldly in many ways, but one of the biggies is an aversion to suffering of most any kind. I needn’t go into why that’s a significant problem, right? (Romans 5:3-5; 1 Peter 2:21; 4:12)

I my case, when I’m deeply challenged in the spiritual-emotional realm, without even thinking about it, my remembrance, my mind, heart, and spirit goes to specific times and places where I have hurt… bad… and yet endured in atheltics and in other realms of life. “I can do this…,” I remark to myself. “I’ve been blessed to endure before.” (James 1:2-4)

2) When comfort, convenience, accommodation, sloth… is victorious, all else takes a distant last place. And this is one of those repetitive sirens of Satan I hear in still-small and lusty-loud ways these days: far too many in the church—beginning with leadership—apologizing and agonizing [in a host of ways] for how arduous, painstaking, strenuous pretty much anything is in the faith. Whether the tendency in the church for “the painless path to gain”, “the semi-comfortable, small-sacrifice journey of discipleship”, or the “lest we err towards legalism” [so don’t insist on anything] proclivity… The Church needs to set things, get things, straight!

Akin to much of life pertaining to leadership, the complex motivation tied to mitigating the discomfort(s) of the led in doing the right thing… is complicated. But leadership of all stripes needs to dig deep into the propensity to “avoid the messy.”

Emotional ambivalence, the warring of competing and opposite ideas and feelings, is actually a window into our heart that God uses to cleanse, sanctify, and conform the heart more and more into the likeness of Jesus’ heart. We dare not avoid, or enable others to do so, at any cost!

  1. “First things first” is how God ordained the order of the universe WAY before He made man: please get used to it. The five days of creation prior to God creating the first human being wasn’t as much as “God warming up” as it was God doing first things first—and then the accumulation and acclamation of God’s Image Bearers came to pass… and not before.
  2. The inherited Sin (Genesis 3) and habitual sinning (James 4:17) of mankind requires there be PAIN to realize any GAIN! If pain be your bane you will not realize any gain along the journey of faith. The pain involved in the gain is made up of the separation of Adam’s Sin and our habitual sinning from our heart. It’s about fighting tooth and nail against entropy. It’s about transforming stone into flesh (Ezekiel 11:19)—and this is a partnership between the supernatural person and power of the Spirit AND our willinginess, obedience to humbly and gratefully comply.

And this cannot [E.g., will not] happen without some PAIN! But, but, but there’s temporal and eternal JOY and BEAUTYDELIGHT and CHRIST-LIKENESSTEARS OF REDEEMING GRACE… and as the reward (Colossians 3:23-24), the prize (Ephesians 1:17), the comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-7), the fruit (Galatians 5:22-23), the glory (1 Corinthians 10:31), beloved of God (1 John 4:7-8).

As Martin Luther so accurately, marvelously, and anecdotally [by experience] said, “Oratio, meditatio, tentatio!” It is “prayer, meditation, and trial,” that is the prerequisite for learning and living the True Truth and Love of God. The third necessity should give us [major] pause:  Luther called “tentatio”, the trials and  suffering of life, “the touchstone for learning”: treating the pain, the trials of our life, with the redemptive care and course of the Trinity is seminal, essential to Christian gain, growth, and effectiveness (Matthew 5: 13-16; 1 Corinthians 13; Galatians 5:22-23). “In fiery trials, one is humbled and broken. It is then that a leader, disciple is made most teachable. In difficult times, the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit often shines brightest. Broken hearts make for receptive minds.” (Steven Lawson, The Legacy of Luther)

A hardened heart, bent on avoiding pain… and left unchecked… will result in enmity, animosity of the gain. And this is very bad.

So, lastly before the firstly of Spurgeon’s feast below, if and when The Church is sinfully faint-hearted, emotionally immature, “subservient to seeker-friendliness”, too worldly, or just plain ignorant or cowardly about speaking the truth in love pertaining to the necessity of pain on the journey towards the gain… please, oh please, be discerning. Be freed by the truth. Provide loving, constructive feedback. Offer your witness to the paradox of the pain: it is the doorway to the greatest gain and the full measure of the manifold pleasures of who we are in Christ.

The Heavenly Rule, C.H. Spurgeon*

“Laban said, ‘It is not so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn.’” (Genesis 29:26)

“We do not excuse Laban for his dishonesty, but we are wrong not to learn from the custom that he quoted as his excuse. There are some things that must be taken in order, and if we would win the second we must secure the first. The second may be the more lovely in our eyes, but the rule of the heavenly country must stand, and the elder must be married first. For instance, many men desire the beautiful and well-favored Rachel of joy and peace in believing, but they must first be married to the tender-eyed Leah of repentance.

Everyone falls in love with happiness, and many would cheerfully work for fourteen years to enjoy it; but according to the rule of the Lord’s kingdom, the Leah of real holiness must be loved in our soul before the Rachel of true happiness can be attained. Heaven stands not first but second, and only by persevering to the end can we win a portion in it. The cross must be carried before the crown can be worn. We must follow our Lord in His humiliation or we will never rest with Him in glory.

My soul, what do you say—are you so vain as to hope to be an exception to the heavenly rule? Do you hope for reward without work, or honor without endeavor? Dismiss the idle expectation, and be content with the despised things for the sake of the sweet love of Jesus, which will more than repay you. In such a spirit, working, and suffering, you will find afflictions grow sweet and hard things easy. Like Jacob, your years of service will seem like only a few days on account of the love you have for Jesus; and when the dear hour of the wedding feast shall come, all your toils will be as though they never happened—an hour with Jesus will make up for years of pain and toil.

Jesus, to win Thyself so fair,
Thy cross I will with gladness bear:
Since so the rules of heaven ordain,
The first I’ll wed the next to gain.”

Stay put for a while. Digest for as long as it takes. Journal what and how the Spirit is leading you. Share your hopes, dreams, and fears with another. And pray… “My Father Whom art in heaven… please hear my prayers for ______ …”

See you soon back at the Training Table,

More Resources:

A Hole in Our Holiness, by Kevin DeYoung

The Discipline of Grace, by Jerry Bridges

Discipleship in 3-D, by Alistair Begg

A Plan for Growth

The Ordinary Christian Life, Tabletalk, Magazine, Ligonier Ministries

*Devotional material is taken from “Morning and Evening,” written by C.H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. Copyright (c) 2003, Good News Publishers and used by Truth For Life with written permission. Today’s Bible Reading material is taken from McCheyne Bible reading plan and used by Truth For Life with permission. Scripture quotations are taken from Holy Bible: English Standard Version, copyright (c) 2001, Good News Publishers

heart-home-hood-jpg-5Good day, marathoners in and for Christ. (1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1; 2 Timothy 4:7) Pull up a seat at The Training Table and get ready to feast!

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, pure doctrine 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

Let’s Feast!

“For Christians, spiritual growth depends on a healthy diet that includes both the milk and meat of God’s Word. But before we can savor large portions of sound doctrine, we need to be able to digest the basics of biblical truth.” (Sinclair Ferguson) How has your diet of the basics of the faith been?

“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…” (1 Corinthians 14:33).

Don’t Blame God. It’s Not Confusing! Repeat After Me, “Heart, Home, Hood. Heart, Home, Hood.”

Sure, there’s some mystery and confusion [strictly on our part] related to God being God… and NOT you or me being God. I mean that would make sense, right? Is anyone confused about whether they are God? And God’s person and plan is so far beyond our creaturely capability to “know it all” that it’s not even worthwhile to make a comparison… it would just be too paltry.

But hear this: God’s Plan of Redemption—what the Trinity has sovereignly put together to redeem the entire universe from The Fall (Genesis 1:3; Romans 1:18-32) and Adam’s poor choice on our behalf—is plain enough for any human being, a fallen Image Bearer of God, to understand, repent of falling short, believe in faith, and be saved to serve until death do he or she parts!

The basics of Biblical faith [note how Keller sermons are organized: Discovery. Growth. Mission. E.g., Heart. Home. Hood.] have been irrevocably put together by God [wait for it] who loves His Image Bearers to the ends of the universe: How could it be that this very same God would make His plan so inscrutable, mysterious, and elusive that we couldn’t “unscrute,” demystify, reason it out, and execute it?!

Clearly, if any manifestation of God—and there’s only One, True God (Deuteronomy 4:35, 39)—was to decide to redeem your life… and make the plan so unreasonable, unknowable, and anecdotally unreal… Well, that sort of god would hardly be worth holding in high regard, right? Avarice, covetousness, disorientation, a cosmic shell game, or sadistic dithering are NOT attributes of the God of the Bible.

So, let’s dive into a feast of putting God’s Plan of Redemption very simply: Heart. Home. Hood.

1. Heart: Kingdom Proclamation—the Gospel of Grace Proclaimed to One’s Heart

The heart of the matter is a matter of the Trinity bringing a predestined (Romans 8:28-30) yet dead, stony, rebellious heart to life. By grace alone, new life, new identity, new meaning, new purpose begins within the heart—and NOT until then. It’s at the level of the heart that new life begins. When the Gospel is proclaimed to a predestined, touched by the Spirit, regenerated heart, it responds by God-, self-awareness, repentance, faith, and taking the first step of the journey of discipleship. Christ’s obedience to the Father, His manifold mercies, and propitiation for our sins on the cross is FIRST revealed within the heart: that’s where our most cherished truths and falsehoods reside; so, that’s where the new birth, the Gospel reclamation, and new life MUST begin.

As far as the priority of the heart being #1 is concerned, here’s how it went down… and will continue to go down until Christ returns: a) God the Father wrote all the names of those who would be saved in the Book of Life before time began—and gave the book to His Son as a gift; b) at just the right time, the Son Jesus Christ was born, lived, dead, resurrected, and ascended—for every “propitiated, forgiven name” written in the Book of Life; c) at just another right time, the Holy Spirit does His thing: “flutters”, as he did in the beginning (Genesis 1,2), and touches, enters, regenerates the heart of one predestined, dead in Adam, and whose name is and written in the Book of Life; then, d) a born-again, new-born spiritual baby Christian must be raised-up (Proverbs 22:6; 2 Timothy 3:16-17) as a disciple… saved to serve; e) and ALL of this will accrue to exactly what the disciple of Jesus Christ’s ETERNAL LIFE IN HEAVEN will be made up of! From eternity past to eternity future, God’s Plan of Redemption is all about God’s love… for, of, in, and through our hearts.

God thought; Christ spoke; The Spirit fluttered… all things out of nothing (Genesis 1:1; Psalms 33:6; Psalms 148:5; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 11:3). The Trinity co-authored the HEART (Genesis 1:26) and works in unison to RANSOM and REDEEM YOUR HEART (Jeremiah 17:9; Ezekiel 11:17-21; John 3:16)!

The Book of Life Chosen by The Father: “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).

Election, Effectual Calling: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:3-6).

Regeneration, Predestined Hearts Brought to Life: “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit…” (Titus 3:5).

“And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 11:19).

“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God’” (John 3:3).

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

The Victory at the Heart of Faith: “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4).

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

At the Heart of Temporal and Eternal Rewards—Guard Your Heart: I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve” (Jeremiah 17:10).

“Does not God who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?” (Proverbs 24:12)

“But they will have to give an account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5).

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of [TEMPORAL and ETERNAL] life” (Proverbs 4:23, emphasis, parenthesis added)


When—and not until then—the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our HEART (Ezekiel 26:36; 2 Corinthians 5:17), and He makes our heart His HOME (1 Corinthians 3:16; John 14:26), then any only then, can we procreate the Kingdom beginning with, and from within, our own HOME… and beyond (Matthew 28:19-20).

2. Home: Kingdom Procreation—The Fruitful Family of God Produces “Little Christs” (Martin Luther)

Get This Gospel Reality Down: It is by the Trinity’s design that when any fallen Image Bearer, human being, experiences the radical change of HEART—recognizing God’s holiness and our sin (Ephesians 2:1-10); repenting by faith (Luke 5:31-32); being born again (John 3:1-21); moving from spiritual death to life in Christ (John 5:24); moving from the old man to the new man (Colossians 3:9-11); from bondage to sin to a saved-servant of Christ (Romans 6:18); from an orphan to an adopted son or daughter of God (1 John 3:1-2); from a life of condemnation to a life free of condemnation (Romans 8:1 following); from a life devoted to self to that of being devoted to the other (Luke 9:24)—two main things occur when we are made into new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17):

We are brought into a whole new family.

And there is no more shame.

Please Pause: How robustly, deeply, widely, radically, joyfully, tearfully, and rationally does your HEART get this Truth and Love of God? It encapsulates the entirely of what God had to UNDO in The Fall, and DO, by His Son, for you and me… to provide us a new beginning, a fresh start, a do-over of cosmic proportions! This reality should rock our world, soften our hearts, and radically transform our home—and why God put home in place “In the beginning…”.

Our Heavenly Home—God’s perfect plan to procreate, populate, and expand His Kingdom was put in place “In the beginning…”: “And God blessed them [Adam, Eve]. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).

But ever since The Fall (Genesis 3) that heavenly plan and home… and every single heart-home since then… has been a way-fallen version of what God originally described as a very good [E.g., the best ever] home.

There is no doubt whatsoever that within Adam and Eve’s home they would have procreated hearts entirely devoted to God… had The Fall not occurred: That’s what God originally put the Proto-Man and Woman in place to do; until our forbearers sinned and secured Original Sin (Romans 5:12) in the heart of EveryMan: Hearts hardened, homes divided, “the land” [culture] fragmented into a chaos of individuality, egotism, envy, and dysfunction.

But God’s vision and mission for the heart, family, and home has not changed!

Our Home is an Extension of God’s Covenant—Promised by God, Come to Fruition in the Heart and Home: All four “Covenant types and prototypes” in the Bible [Adamic, Noahic, Mosiac, New Covenant between Christ and the church] are part and parcel of God’s Covenant for marriage… and the HOME. “A covenant is intended by God to be a lifelong fruitful relationship between a man and a woman. Marriage is a vow to God, to each other, our families and our community to remain steadfast in unconditional love, reconciliation and sexual purity, while purposefully growing in our covenant marriage relationship.” (Bible Commentary)

The HOME brings one male and one female HEART(s) together: new creations in Christ together to “leave, cleave, and become one flesh”—for Christ-centered spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical procreation.

In God’s ideal, the HOME consists of two born-again HEARTS, equally yoked, united under and in the covenant of marriage, as God intended it in Genesis 2: “The union of intimate allies working for a common cause: namely the extension, expansion, [“procreation”] of God’s Kingdom” (Dr. Michael Haykin, parenthesis added)—on earth as it is in heaven.

Our Home is God’s Shelter: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust’” (Psalm 91:1-2).

Choose This Day Whom, in Our Home, Will Serve: “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Our Heavenly Dwelling Supersedes Our Earthly Home: “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:1-10)

When Faith in Christ is in the Home, Hearts are Hopeful: “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-2).

The God-Centered Home is a Co-Sanctifying Place: “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).

A Home of Peace: Made by Division, Loyalties: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:34-39).

A Home for Wives and Husbands: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:22-27).

A Home for Parents and Children: “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4)

NET-NET / BOTTOM-LINE for HOME? As seen above, the primary foundations for a Godly family, marriage, home is based upon, and deeply rooted in, Creation, Christ, and Covenant. But the secondary components, the fruits of the first, are:

“1. Companionship. The affection, love, and true companionship which grow out of a oneness of spirit as each partner models Christ’s unconditional love (Amos 3:3).

2. Enjoyment. The physical relationship is a reflection of the loyalty and affection shared among marriage partners who have become “one flesh” (Hebrews 13:4).

3. Fruitfulness. The blessing of children in a marriage relationship allows that relationship to reproduce itself physically. It is an example of the “oneness” that results in a marriage (Genesis 1:28; 1 Peter 3:7).

4. Protection. The husband protects the wife by laying down his life for her (Ephesians 5:25). The wife is to protect the home (Titus 2:4-5) and the parents together protect their children to raise up a godly seed (Malachi 2:15; Psalm 112:1-2).” (Family Life)

FROM HERE… ONLY FROM HERE… we can move out to bless the HOOD—OUR church, OUR neighborhood, OUR community, OUR school, OUR workplace, OUR city, and OUR beyond.

In closing for the HOME section, notice just above the emphasis on OUR: In the purview of God’s Plan of Redemption “the Kingdom Comes” by means of Christ in you, and in me, moving from OUR heart, home, and “hood” NOT [get this] as a last order of things IF we’ve got some time, talent, and treasure leftovers for God’s Kingdom work; BUT RATHER as our first and foremost priority each day—24/7/365—that God gives us life.

If we would carry out this truth about Christ in us, and our #1 meaning and purpose in life, the world would be a radically different place: On Earth as It Is in Heaven. Each heart, home, and hood is redeemed by each Christ indwelling, by the Spirit, each of us… you and me: Heart. Home. Hood.

3. Hood: Kingdom Proliferation—Christly Conformation, Making Disciples, Stemming Decay, and Revealing Truth

Christly Conformation and Jesus’ Compassion Spread Abroad: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:20-23).

Roll up God’s Plan of Redemption and we can plainly see: Christ-likeness, Union with Christ is both the means and the ends! And this is an unspeakable mercy of God that we must speak much about.

Make Disciples: Changed Hearts, Change Home, Now “Go into the Hood”: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit…” (Matthew 28:19).

“… depending on whom you ask, you might find a wide variety of interpretations regarding what it actually means to “make disciples.” Most churches today understand it as a command to evangelize the world—to lead people to faith and repentance in every corner of the world and spread the gospel as far as possible.

And while there is certainly an evangelistic aspect to Christ’s command, His instructions go beyond just spreading the gospel. The verb translated as “make disciples”—mathēteuō—is beautifully complex, carrying more meaning than simply accumulating converts. It communicates the idea of a learning believer—someone who is growing in his faith and his love for the Lord.

Jesus’ words emphasize not the moment of salvation but the lifetime of sanctification that follows. He made the same point in John 8:31 when He said, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” It’s the difference between a one-time profession of faith and a lifetime of spiritual growth and increasing godliness—between counterfeit and genuine conversion.” (John MacArthur, What Does it Mean to Make Disciples?)

God’s Salt…: “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet” (Matthew 5:13)

Believers in Christ are preservatives to the world, preserving it from the evil inherent in the society of ungodly men whose unredeemed natures are corrupted by sin (Psalm 14:3; Romans 8:8).

“… salt was used then, as now, as a flavor enhancer. In the same way that salt enhances the flavor of the food it seasons, the followers of Christ stand out as those who “enhance” the flavor of life in this world. Christians, living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and in obedience to Christ, will inevitably influence the world for good, as salt has a positive influence on the flavor of the food it seasons. Where there is strife, we are to be peacemakers; where there is sorrow, we are to be the ministers of Christ, binding up wounds, and where there is hatred, we are to exemplify the love of God in Christ, returning good for evil (Luke 6:35).” (ESV Study Bible Reference)

…And Light: You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

The presence of light in darkness is something which is unmistakable. The presence of Christians in the world must be like a light in the darkness, not only in the sense that the truth of God’s Word brings light to the darkened hearts of sinful man (John 1:1-10), but also in the sense that our good deeds must be evident for all to see.

And indeed, our deeds will be evident if they are performed in accordance with the other principles which Jesus mentions in this passage, such as the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-11. Notice especially that the concern is not that Christians would stand out for their own sake, but that those who looked on might “glorify your Father who is in heaven” (v. 16, KJV).” (ESV Study Bible Reference)

S-L-O-W Down… In Near-Closing, Let’s Look at Suppressing the Truth About All of the Above… In Brief:

1. [Short of God’s Common Grace] A HEART devoid of being born again, ERGO: unregenerate, hardened, and willfully committed to suppressing the truth of God (Romans 1:18-32), is incapable of being and doing anything in life except for embracing pride, egotism, pretense, and self-centeredness: These are simply yet dreadfully the earmarks of The Fall, Adam and Eve’s poor choices, humanity’s inherited Sin, and habitual sinFULLness. The fruit of the above sinful characteristics consist of what the author of Ecclesiastes calls living a life of existential meaninglessness: This lack of relationship with God [only devoted to the things of this passing world] results in a life of hedonism, existentialism, and stoicism.

Please consider this: Can you conceptually, or perhaps even anecdotally, see what it might be like to bring a HEART of this kind into a HOME?

2. A HOME devoid of newly-created HEARTS cannot help but be devoted only to the things of this world: This is a hard message, so allow me to offer it by someone far wiser, more well trained and seasoned, and closer to God than me, C. H. Spurgeon sermonized: “…because you reject the only thing that can heal you. As George Herbert says, “Whom oils and balsams kill, what salve can cure?” If Christ himself has become a savor of death unto death unto you, because you reject him, how can you be saved? There is but one door, and if you close it by your unbelief, how can you enter heaven? There is one healing medicine, and, if you refuse to take it, what remains but death? There is one water of life, but you refuse to drink it; then must you thirst for ever. You put from you, voluntarily, the one only Redeemer; how then shall you be ransomed? Shall Christ die again, and in another state be offered to you once more? O sirs, you would reject him then as you reject him now? But there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin. On the cross, God’s mercy to the sons of men was fully revealed, and will you reject God’s ultimatum of grace; his last appeal to you. If so, it is at your own peril: Christ being raised from the dead, dieth no more; he shall come again, but without a sin offering unto the salvation of his people … There is no sin that shall damn the man who believes, and nothing can save the man who will not believe.” (The Unbelievers Unhappy Condition)

Unbelief accrues to a host of maladies in an unbelieving heart and home.

3. A HOOD—the local and global culture—devoid of newly-created HEARTS and HOMES has little hope [except by Common Grace] of beginning and sustaining any good which glorifies God and blesses the people. In the void of the hood, culture where God does not reign, a) rampant secularism [no shame], b) rampant pluralization [no truth], and c) rampant privitization [what occurs in our private life has not bearing on our public life]… fills the void and REIGNS! We could chew on lots more here, but suffice it to say:

The HOOD, culture will die.

How does God’s Plan of Redemption work—in a simple yet complicated and doable form?

1. Heart: Kingdom Proclamation—the Gospel of Grace Proclaimed to One’s Heart

  • Have you been born again?
  • Under what circumstances did your conversion occur?
  • What’s “your secular [before Christ] and your sacred [after Christ]” story?
  • Do you believe that—at the end of the day, your life—God will weigh your good deeds against your bad deeds and then decide as to whether He’ll allow you into His Heavenly Kingdom?
  • Do you have a 30-second testimony—for use while standing in line at the grocery store?
  • Do you have a 1-hour testimony—for use while hanging out with family, friends, or strangers?
  • In what ways could you, do you, witness to others about God’s amazing grace—“I once was lost, but now I’m found; was blind, but now I see?”
  • How does your story dovetail with this Bible truism: “And 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, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. But as for those whose heart goes after their detestable things and their abominations, I will bring their deeds upon their own heads, declares the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 11:19-21).
  • Do you believe you’re being uniquely used of God… “saved to serve?”
  • What would A.C.T.S look like in regards to how you would pray for your HEART:
  • Adoration…
  • Confession…
  • Thanksgiving…
  • Supplication [making requests known]…

2. Home: Kingdom Procreation—The Fruitful Family of God Produces “Little Christs” (Martin Luther)

  • What sort of home did you grow up in?
  • Did your family, home a) “procreate Christ’s love and truth” or b) “procreate UN-love, dysfunction, wounds, insanity, and shame?”
  • And how about your home today? Another generation of “a)”… or “b)”?
  • Has God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit broken the bondage of generational brokenness in YOUR [heart then…] home? Partially broken? Begun to rescue, heal, and redeem—for the purposes of Kingdom-building in the HOOD?
  • In what ways does your HOME-life reflect the hearts of its residents? Is it obvious that The Spirit is resident within the HEARTS of those who reside in your HOME?
  • What would A.C.T.S look like in regards to how you would pray for your HOME:
  • Adoration…
  • Confession…
  • Thanksgiving…
  • Supplication [making requests known]…

3. Hood: Kingdom Proliferation—Christly Conformation, Making Disciples, Stemming Decay, and Revealing Truth

  • Beginning in the smallest concentric circles of influence and concern outside your HOME, how does your neighbor-HOOD reflect your HEART and HOME for Jesus Christ—via Christ-likeness, evangelism, stemming decay, and revealing the truth of God?
  • Your church?
  • Your community?
  • Your school(s)?
  • Your workplace?
  • Your city?
  • Your “beyond”: anywhere in the world God brings you?
  • What would A.C.T.S look like in regards to how you would pray for your HOOD:
  • Adoration…
  • Confession…
  • Thanksgiving…
  • Supplication [making requests known]…

Yes indeed, this feast of the born-again heart has been a meaty plateful! Please, I beseech you Marathoners for Christ, chew your food well. It is well-suited for running the good race.

Remember: Not in part, not out of order, but go after it full bore: Heart. Home. Hood.

God’s manifold and richest blessings,

judahwatchmanGood day, marathoners in and for Christ. (1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1; 2 Timothy 4:7) Pull up a seat at The Training Table and get ready to feast!

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, pure doctrine 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

Statism and a Silenced Church

A reminder: A definition of “Statism” is the principle or policy of concentrating extensive economic, political, moral, and related controls in the state, federal level at the cost of individual liberty.

Just the other night, my time of grabbing some nightly news was book-ended by such a wide and deep reality of “what’s upside-down in America”, my tattered mind was somehow jolted into remembering some resources I included in the Appendix of my book on suffering. Specifically, the questions in my heart were, “What is the relevance of The Church in our day? How is the Trinity’s light and salt actually effecting the increase of darkness and decay in America? No doubt whatsoever God’s securely seated on the throne, with Jesus Christ at his right hand, and the Holy Spirit released and empowered in the world to be “God’s intervention” before Jesus’ return, but in what ways are his disciples keeping watch… and interceding in the chaos?”

The piece from my book then came to mind. Enjoy. Employ. Oh, and in answer to the title of this Training Table, “Who’s Watching, Winnowing, Warning… I Wonder?”… Let it be me, Lord. Let it be you.

An Excerpt from “The Weeping, the Window, the Way,” Appendix A:

An Important Consideration for the Way Forward: Ezekiel and the Role of “The Watchmen on the Wall”

The prophet Ezekiel points to the prophetic role God calls all Christians to play in a culture that strays from God in all sorts of awful ways, a culture very much like the one in which Ezekiel and the other prophets ministered. Regularly applying God’s protocol, the weeping, the window and the way helps transform our hearts in such a way that we become “watchmen on the wall,” just as Ezekiel was.

Perhaps this is obvious, but let me remind you that the watchman’s audience is primarily the church, not the world. Some of God’s people there have, to be sure, devoted themselves to faithfully following God’s will. But others have gone astray, drifting from the God’s True Truth and Love. And some, sad to say, have become as worldly and corrupt as the culture of comfort all around us. But all tend toward forgetfulness. All need constant reminding.

  • Watchmen are called by God. This calling does not ordinarily come with dramatic fireworks or a striking vision but rather as we are born again, as we become new creations in Christ. With the new birth comes a new direction.
  • Watchmen love Christ and his followers in a way that provides a covering of God’s person and provision, especially in times of wandering away from God, which happens in every generation! Therefore, Watchmen continually remind God’s people of who he is in every way possible, while also encouraging fellow believers of the many and multifaceted provisions God has mercifully promised to his own.
  • Watchmen remain well-aware of the ways in which God has radically transformed their own hearts, emotions, and lives. They are also aware of their ongoing need for further transformation. This awareness creates deep humility, and a broken-heartedness that makes it possible to serve in joy, entrusting the results of their service to God.
  • Watchmen live in the world, but are not of it (cf., John 17:15-17). They stand on the wall, as it were, serving as a lookout for approaching spiritual dangers. This provides a unique and much-needed perspective unattainable by those who do not regularly separate themselves from the distractions and deceptions of the world.
  • Watchmen take full advantage of the heart transformations God offers. Through this cyclic process, they become more They also grow increasingly passionate in their role as watchmen, offering God’s perspective and counsel to his people in: a) remembering who they are, b) warning them of the dangers they face, c) encouraging them in God’s pardon and unconditional love, d) exhorting them toward increasing holiness, Christ-likeness, and e) sharing the hope that flows from Jesus’ open tomb and impending return to rescue his bride.
  • Watchmen love the Church Universal as the bride of Christ, the body of true believers scattered throughout the world, God’s people of every tribe, language, and nation. Watchmen also love the church on earth as the institution Jesus has set in place to steward the mysteries of God (cf., 1 Corinthians 4:1-2). While imperfect and flawed, the church on earth is vitally important to our Lord’s mission here on earth. Watchmen stand on the wall, committed to love the church in truth, and to speak truthfully about the church in love.
  • Watchmen do not shrink from their God-given responsibilities because of any push-back from the world, the flesh, or the devil, knowing all of these are pitted against God’s plan of redemption.
  • Watchmen regularly and intentionally spend time with the Triune God of the Bible, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Watchmen rise early in the day to be with God and in his Watchmen also surround themselves by a community of spiritual friendship and direction, because they know their own hearts and refuse to allow isolation to damage either their faith or their effectiveness in ministry.

Having read this description, in what ways do you believe God has called you to be a watchman for his people? Why? How does your personal story relate to a universal need for Watchmen? In God’s Sovereignty, there is a connection between the two: please discover it ASAP!

Can’t wait to see you at The Training Table next week, Beloved Marathoners in, of, for Christ,



christians-in-pakistan-prayersGood day, marathoners in and for Christ. (1 Corinthians 9:24; Hebrews 12:1; 2 Timothy 4:7) Pull up a seat at The Training Table and get ready to feast!

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, pure doctrine 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

The Principle and Practice of Prayer is a seminal subject in the life of God and His consummate creation: You, me, fallen (Genesis 3) Image Bearers of God (Genesis 1:26) rescued (Psalm 37:39) from Sin (John 3:16), alive in Christ (1 John 5:20), and saved to serve (James 1:22).

But, at least speaking for myself, do we really grasp the basis, the heights, and the depths from whence Prayer and prayers flow? Really? Truly? Or, rather, do we treat the unspeakable mercies and manifold blessings involved in our approaching the throne-room of God with little or no understanding of what Prayer and prayers mean to God… and should, therefore, mean to us?

Pastor, author Tim Keller said, “A rich, vibrant, consoling, hard-won prayer life is the one good that makes it possible to receive all other kinds of goods rightly and beneficially. [Paul] does not see prayer as merely a way to get things from God but as a way to get more of God himself.” (Prayer: Experiencing the Awe and Intimacy of God)

Do you want more of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—Himself? Why? Or why not? Or do you, perhaps, want the things you perceive God can do for you… without much concern for the Person(s) of God Himself?

Please sit down in a quite place, partake and meditate on just one iteration of what Prayer and our prayers involves—give thanks and consider re-arranging some heart [your core truths and falsehoods], spirit [your emotional-fruit life], and life [your faith lived-out] priorities around Prayer and praying.

A Summary Theology of Prayer, Pastor John Piper, Bethlehem Baptist Church, June 2002

Below are five statements from John Piper as a summary theology of prayer.

NOTE: An assumption behind these statements is that to know more of God’s purpose will deepen our commitment to pray and help us glorify God for why he does what he does. This vitally important point can easily pass us by with little notice. Why? Because, due to our prayer rote-ness, without having a keener idea of what our prayer habits actually consist of, and because we are spring-loaded to pride, idolatry, self, and egotism (Romans 1:18-21), the LEADING indicator of our prayer life is most often motivated by our NEEDS; and the LAGGING indicator by BRINGING GLORY TO GOD: Exactly the reverse of what God intends: “To Your Name Give Glory! Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.” (Psalm 115:1 – ESV)

Oh, that each and every one of my own prayers were sincerely and adoringly prefaced with the Psalmist’s state of heart, mind, soul, and strength!

Please Note: How Piper takes on this “summary theology of prayer” below: He takes on the topic “from the deepest roots… up.” The fruitful Christian life in any and all realms begins with root causes as taken from abiding in God’s Word, His True Truth, and His Love. Healthy roots = God-glorifying and delish! fruit. And when the fruits are worm-infested, pithy, dried-up, tasteless, and sadly dispensable… It’s best to get after digging around the roots and get the rot out, right? (Luke 13:6-9)

  1. God created the universe and all that is in it to display the riches of the glory of his grace.

Isaiah 43:6-7: Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, 7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14: to the praise of his glorious grace…to the praise of his glory…to the praise of his glory.

Romans 9:23: …in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory

  1. Therefore all persons should act in a way that calls attention to the glory of God’s grace.

Matthew 5:16: In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

1 Corinthians 10:31: So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

  1. The obedience and service of God’s people will glorify him most when they consciously and manifestly depend on him for the grace and power to do what they do.

1 Peter 4:11: Whoever speaks [must do so] as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies-in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12: To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

  1. Prayer for God’s help is one way that God preserves and manifests the dependence of his people on his grace and power. The necessity of prayer is a constant reminder and display of our dependence on God for everything, so that he gets the glory when we get the help.

Psalm 50:15: Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.

John 14:13: Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

  1. When the Spirit inspires and directs the groanings in our hearts, the ultimate purpose of the universe happens: God gets the glory because God the Spirit creates the groanings in us; God gets the glory because God the Father is the one who hears and performs what the Spirit asks; God gets glory because God the Son purchased for sinners every blessing they ever receive; and God gets glory because our hearts are made the theater for this divine activity, so that we know and experience God’s gracious intercession for us and consciously give him thanks and praise.

Beloved of God, if there’s one thing above all things I need to be reminded of every second of the day it’s this: “Knee-time” is a far, far better way to glorify God, bless myself and others… than “me-time.” Give Father, Son, and Holy Spirit all glory and praise…. then pray. Amen.

Prepare, Then Pray… And Not Until Then: A.C.T.S.

Adoration—When we catch a glimpse of how magnificent and awesome God is, our hearts naturally turn to adoration. The Westminster Catechism states“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever”.  As we worship something happens on the inside – the worries and cares of the day seem less important as we realize how amazing God is and how special is His love for us. Jesus affirms the importance of adoration in His teaching on prayer. His first line was Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name“.

Confession—As we adore the living God, we become aware of our own frailty and sin. We realise that we have not lived as could have done. We have let others down, ourselves down, and mostly importantly, we have let God down. In confession we tell God about these things, and ask for His forgiveness and restoration.

Thanksgiving—There are many incidents recorded in the scriptures where people gave thanks to God: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever”. (Psalm 118:1 and at the end – v.29). And again in psalm 136, this time the psalmist recalls the many reasons why it is good to thank the living God:-(v.1) Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. (v.4-7) to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever. who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever. who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever. who made the great lights—His love endures forever.


Supplication—The Apostle Paul encourages believers to offer prayers of supplication to God: “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”. (Phil 4:6). Supplication is requesting God to do something, either for yourself or on behalf of somebody else.

Like “The Law of the Farm” the Trinity put in place BEFORE humankind, “preparing the soil of your heart for prayer” makes for a very fruitful Spirit and life!

Blessings! And see all y’all at The Training Table next week,


More Resources:

10 Questions on Prayer with Tim Keller

Ligonier Ministries Prayer Resources

Puritan Prayers

The Basis of Prayer: “Our Father”, by Tim Keller


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, pure doctrine 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

“In the blockbuster Annie, the orphan girl of red hair curlers has an unwavering optimism, “The sun will rise tomorrow.” Despite living in poverty and neglect Annie refuses to see her orphan status as permanent. She has not learned to be a victim, helpless and vulnerable, and her character represents just the opposite: hope. ” (Dr. Don Colbert, Deadly Emotions: Understand the Mind-Body-Spirit Connection That Can Heal or Destroy You)

Even though the backstory for “Annie” could be known in greater detail, the little orphan Annie had a real past, real parents, real siblings, and real experiences that somehow shaped her character:

“Mary Alice Smith was born near Liberty, Union County Indiana 25 September 1850. She lived on a small farm with her parents until (as one story goes) both parents died when she was about nine years old some stories say that Mary’s mother died with she was very young and her father, Peter Smith, died when she was ten. Other evidence points to her father being incarcerated at the time. What ever the cause she was considered an orphan. Mary’s uncle, a John Rittenhouse, came to Union County and took the young orphan to his home in Greenfield where he “dressed her in black” and “bound her out to earn her board and keep”. Mary Alice was taken in by Captain Reuben Riley as a “bound” servant to help his wife Elizabeth Riley with the housework and her four children; John, James, Elva May and Alex. As was customary at that time, she worked alongside the family to earn her board. In the evening hours, she often told stories to the younger children, including Riley. The family called her a “Guest” not a servant and treated her like she was part of their family.” (Wikipedia)

By hook, crook, and God’s sovereignty, the portrayal of Annie’s screenplay character as eternally optimistic and hopeful could certainly be counterintuitive, right? The real-life Annie might well have slipped down that well known slippery slope of victimhood, bitterness, cynicism, and eventually despair. There’s a very good likelihood that Annie’s adoptive parents and family had a positive, character-building impact on her. The household was marked by “encouraging children to obey their parents and teachers, help their loved ones, and care for the poor and disadvantaged.”

Maybe that’s where Annie’s betterment, not embitterment, came from. Maybe that’s what gave Annie an almost annoyingly glad, sing-song-sunny, and hope-filled disposition. Maybe, just maybe, Annie’s early life was rescued by God’s Common and even Special Grace. Maybe, somewhere along the line, Annie’s character and regular habits that inculcated hope was to “Look Up, Then Around”: As Dr. Colbert states above, “Despite living in poverty and neglect Annie refuses to see her orphan status as permanent.” This truth and character trait is a hinge-point between healthy and deadly emotions—and all of the resultant flow of life. Annie, in some way, shape or form, got into the habit of “looking up, before she looked around.”

You see, it doesn’t take all that long in life to discern whether or not someone in our midst—even those who have apparently lovely backgrounds and outwardly healthy situations—feel like an orphan. It’s a matter of the heart—hidden from most in our surface-satisfied society.

Orphaned or Adopted? Any Hope of Indefatigable Hope Lies in Our Answer

Of the handful of “Planks of the Reformed Faith”, the theology, gospel, grace, and granular details of Adoption is well beyond what we can serve up at The Training Table as you drop by and continue to run the good race… But, it’s a feast; so let me offer how I attempted to capture a wee bit of it in the Appendix my book, “The Weeping, the Window, the Way”:

Adoption—“But as many as received him, to them gave he the authority to become children of God, to those who believe in his name” (John 1:12). We become children of God because he bestows that right upon us. He gives this right to all who believe on Jesus’ name. God adopts believers in Christ, and we become his own children. This adoption is the embrace of God made possible by justification. In this joyous movement of God, he receives those he has justified as his own children, puts his name upon them, gives his Spirit to them, and binds them to himself forever for his care and protection.” (See: Matthew 6:9; Romans 8:15-16; 1 Corinthians 2: 9-10, and Galatians 4:6)

You might want to read that again… Does it resonate as real in your real, deep down, spiritual and emotional life? If so, rejoice and pass along your joy. If not, pray to God that it would—and please talk to someone about it.

Until any human being, anywhere on the planet, at any time in history past, present, or future, is born again by regeneration (Ezekiel 36:36),  realization (Romans 6:23), repentance (1 John 1:9), and faith (Ephesians 2:8), we are practical and existential orphans with no hope except a thin and fragile hope manufactured on an assembly line of avoidance—designed to cover-over and suppress our orphan-shame, unworthiness, abandonment, self-doubts, and destructive emotional ambivalence’s [E.g., Deadly Emotions].

Got Orthodoxy? Get Orthopraxy! Things Will Begin Looking Up.

If, under the definition and details of biblical orthodoxy, we have been born again, then we will have the blessing and orthopraxy, or habit, of “looking up, before looking around”: Every day, and in every way you can, FIRST look up, go to the Triune God who loves you so much that he gave his one and only Son and Spirit to have you in his family and be indwelt by his Son—via the Spirit’s regeneration and residence in your heart; THEN… not before then, look around, at any given happy and/or crappy circumstance of life lived in a redeemed yet still radically broken world… and have hope:

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

“Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:2-5)

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will never, ever leave you or forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18… and following)

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36)

Be Warned: Looking Down Before, or Never, Looking Up

Net, net: God’s way, Word, and working-it-out [in real life] is replete with warnings about placing our hope in the wrong place by only relying on this world, and only life circumstances, for our worldview and hope: Ecclesiastes 1; 1 John 2:15-17; Romans 12:2; Colossians 2:3; James 4:4; John 15: 19, 2 Timothy 2:22… and a whole lot more. Why exactly is this so? We are Image Bearers of a Creator God Who is spirit and “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin)

Amen. And Amen.

Application Questions:

Reformation: Which of the above passages from bible-doctrine of hope most resonate and speak to your Spirit? Why?

Revival: If you were to commit to one or two changes of heart and habit, in word and in deed, in response to your passage(s) of choice, what would those sorts of changes take into account? Would you be willing to share them with a trusted Christian friend and/or community—for prayer, affirmation, unity, and accountability?

Constructive Revolution: How could each, all of the above help encourage you to be as compassionate, urgent, and “targeted” [who exactly has the Spirit placed on your heart] to share these movements of the Spirit, and increased likeness of Christ in you, with others? In what ways could you be more self-sacrificial in spreading the good news of Adoption, Hope: First Looking Up. Then Around?

Hope to see you faithful marathoners for Christ next week at The Training Table. And keep on running the good and Godly race (Hebrews 12:1)!


Presentation1“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,

Presentation1“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—Part 3.

Welcome back to the fellowship of marathoning and persevering 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:

  • It’s Important: A Top Priority
  • It’s Satisfying: A Radical Pleasure
  • It’s Compelling: A Perfect Platform

If you have any interest or affection for reviewing where we’ve been thus far in this series on Fellowship: A Feast of the Heart, please take some time to feast on Part 1 and Part 2.

Christian Fellowship: It’s Satisfying; A Radical Pleasure

For me, at first pass, the volume and intensity of pleasurable spiritual, emotional, psychological-mental, and physical experiences of fellowship with The Triune God and my fellow Christians was too much to even begin to tell about. I didn’t know where to begin. The breadth and depth of stories, people, and places are so great that silence seemed to respect all the anecdotes that vied for the telling.

But now, as I sit a small coffee shop in an even smaller town in the middle of Cornfield, USA, the temptation to try and begin first at the highest level—the radical pleasure of fellowship with God—has been subsumed by a much more mundane yet radically pleasurable experience of fellowshipping with some tender-warrior men over many years.

1) “Fellowship: Feast of the Heart”—basking in beauty and digging deep in the desert

Not long after December of 1987, when our family had moved from Aspen Colorado to St. Louis, I called a Christian Brother, Carl Yarbrough, and asked him if he knew some men who might like to meet in Moab Utah for four days of mountain-biking and spending time fellowshipping in the late afternoon, and around the campfire in the evening.

To be clear, in my mind this specific and intentional form of fellowshipping with Christian men was inspired by the Holy Spirit within me to DigDeep and would encompass one thing, in two forms: 1) Digging Deep via, a) a Challenge—by means of mountain biking in some of the most beautiful yet demanding terrain on the planet and, b) fellowshipping at a high and deep level of Biblical truth, love, and transformation.

The fellowship of the Spirit within me encouraged me stretch my new-found [of four years] faith big time—and do so by being stretched physically, emotionally and spiritually by fellowshipping with men of the faith… in the desert wilderness: A sacred place that mirrored where Christ retreated to for hours each morning to commune with His Father (Mark 1:35).

A Feast of the Heart Beyond Compare

Well, suffice it to say that our first gathering of 15 Godly and gutsy guys grew and grew each year until the group of men pedaling in one of the most amazing desert wilderness areas on the planet and fellowshipping in the heart-shaped ring around a now VERY big campfire…

Our biggest of 25 years was 80 Bro’s on mountain bikes and around the blaze of the bonfire.

For me, being in this place with these guys is a foretaste of heaven—big time!

By immersing ourselves in the beauty and pain of mountain biking with some of the most fit and capable cyclists… By marinating in the Word of God, and solely by word of mouth, for 25 years Fellowship: Feast of the Heart was [and is on a smaller scale] the most amazing experience of the pleasure AND the pain of the most intimate Christian brotherhood I’ve ever experienced.

My role was one of organizing all the elements of the adventure: The theme [example: “Surrender: The Only Way into the Battle”], logistics, invites, schedule, food, lodging, wearables, and facilitator.

I loved this fellowship of great fortitude, faith, and friendship like it was the love of God flowing directly through my own heart. The breathtakingly beautiful, extreme and often dangerous and long—hot, cold, wet, dry—riding conditions was the perfect set-up for creating a spirit of humility among the men… even the best, world-class cyclists. Being in God’s creation while red-lining the heart rate is a level-setter:

All the men came to dinner and the campfire afterwards stripped bare of much of their physical and spiritual pretensions—ready to stare into the flames of the campfire as well as look more deeply into previously uncharted realms of their own heart.

Gathered around the fire pit following a feast of dinner and a pint of ale, the Spirit was always present and moving in unspeakably grace-full ways—some revealed on the spot, some not until years later.

God’s Metrics: The Ripples of Truth and Love Never End

Purely by how The Spirit of God works to expand His Kingdom influence until Jesus returns to bring Heaven back to earth-renewed, if the group of guys gathered in the desert was added-up to around 300 [including repeats] over the 25 years, many, many times that many have been joined in fellowship and God’s influence over the years.

How so?

Friendships and Christ-secured fellowship that began in that place with many men who never knew one another—and are, today, bound together in life-long friendships of heavenly and earth-changing realms!

To this day, by means of husbands and wives, fathers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and friendships… God continues to reveal relationships of many, many kinds that were formed as Fellowship was organized and let free as a Feast of the Heart—and “Not for ourselves…” (Romans 15:1), but extending far beyond to many other hearts!

Even though there are many realms of the faith that we could explore by means of this annual gathering named “Fellowship: Feast of the Heart”, one realm comes mind that goes way deep and high with me:

If we will be “organically and habitually” [as a natural outflow of our faith and resistance to gratifying our stubborn selfishness] obedient to God’s calling to grow in the faith—if we let the Spirit by the Spirit and we be we—the Trinity will reward us with the flow of Fellowship [with a capital “F”—fellowship with the Spirit] that will move immediately, or very soon, move into the realm of fellowship [with a small “f”—fellowship with another born-again, Spirit-filled person].

As “Spirit speaks to Spirit” (Matthew 10:20; Romans 8:16), man-to-man, there exists “a bonfire of the Pentecost” within the heart… a spiritual feast of the born-again heart that is a foretaste of the Banquet Table awaiting us in heaven.

While we are obedient to the call and nurturing such relationships, we are rewarded by going HIGHER and DEEPER into Biblical faith than we could ever dare imagine or hope for!

And that’s the good news… The more challenging news is that, for me, it’s very hard to replicate this “perfect storm” of, a) God’s desert beauty and solitude, b) the extreme physical demands, and c) the fellowship of the heart gathered ‘round a bonfire at night. But try to replicate, I must… We must.

A Redemptive Rippling Anecdote…

Just last May four of the original “desert feasters” and myself met to pedal, pal, and enjoy the radical pleasures of fellowship in Sedona AZ. Our first dinner out for some great Mexican food included a gift from Mike: “Doz, I don’t want to forget to tell you a story. Just the other day our son and I were cycling outside Durango. We stopped along the way and out of the blue he said, “Dad, this is so beautiful… God be praised! This sort of thing reminds me of one of the highlights of my life when we were together in Moab many years ago. That was life-changing… Thanks, Dad.”

Obviously [at least to some of you], upon hearing this I couldn’t hold back my tears of deep joy and the honor of contributing to the work God was, is, doing. And I could offer many, many more stories of “God’s redemptive ripple effect!”

There are few more rare and radical blessings for me than the many years of “Fellowship: Feast of the Heart.”

2) The Radical Pleasure of Fellowship with God: “On Christian Hedonism”

“Over the years the name that I have given to my understanding of the massive role joy plays not only in the Christian life, but in all of creation and God’s purposes in it—is Christian Hedonism. And the shortest description of Christian Hedonism is God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” (John Piper, What is Christian Hedonism?)

And I would add: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him…”—and in those who are in his Family as well.

The Westminster Catechism’s first question: What is man’s chief end? Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Isn’t the chief end of man to glorify God by enjoying him forever?

By taking great pleasure in God for time and eternity?

By doing things that glorify and please Him—and then by means of pleasing other Image Bearers of Him?

Consider, if you will, other words which mirror what taking pleasure in fellowship with God and His disciples is akin to: Bliss, comfort, contentment, enjoyment, gratification, joy, solace, satisfaction, thrill, felicity, gladness, relish, zeal, fulfillment, common purpose, identity, acceptance, delight, regalement, realization, and temporal and eternal reward.

That’s Christian Hedonism… and many other synonymous, unvarnished truths, and unashamed emotions that could [and will] go on forever.

“This truth—God is most glorified in us, or Christ is most magnified in us, when we are most satisfied [full of pleasure] in him—is not peripheral. … This is right at the heart of what it means to be a believer, what it means to belong to Jesus Christ, what it means to treasure and trust Jesus Christ. This is not icing on the cake of Christianity. This is at the heart of Christianity.” (John Piper, parentheses added]

A Pleasure in the Treasure of Fellowship with God and His Family

Psalm 37:4—Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

John 15:11—Jesus said, These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and so that your joy may be full.

Psalm 16:11—You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Matthew 13:44—The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

1 Timothy 6:6—Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment

2 Corinthians 1:24—Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.

The Wellspring of Life

The manifold pleasures of fellowship with God is a wellspring of living water; it always results in an overflow of pleasure in the enjoyment of fellowship with our neighbor—beginning with The Family of God—and flowing, rippling out from there!

Any attempts to dam such a wellspring of life axiomatically, automatically, and organically results in LESS of the Blessed and Good Life God has in store for us, Beloved! And let’s be sure not to stop there: We’re not just “damming-up the flow of the Blessed and Good Life here on earth”—the details of our lives in eternity in heaven will reflect how we steward our fellowship with God and others on earth, and in time (Matthew 6:20; 2 Corinthians 5:10; James 1:12).

Net, net? Steward your love and fellowship with God and others well (Matthew 22:37-40, The Great Commandments).

The Satisfaction of a Radical Pleasure in the Pain: Counter-Intuitive but Non-Negotiable

In suffering, and for the born-again Christian [the only kind…], God gives us the chance to exchange our pain for His pleasure everyday: In some way, shape, or form we suffer from living in a horribly broken world everyday. But in each and every form of tiny and/or tumultuous suffering God’s plan of redemption offers us a chance to exchange the pain for more pleasure in Him and His Saints!

Please read and mediate closely on the many ways God offers us “Hedonistic Christians” pleasure, joy, peace, contentment, etc, etc in redemptive suffering:

Romans 5:3-5—More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

1 Peter 5:10—And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

James 1:2-4—Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Romans 8:18—For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

1 Peter 4:12-19—Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet, if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

As Jonathan Edwards famously said of “Fellowship Shining Back and Forth”:

“It appears that all that is ever spoken of in the Scripture as an ultimate end of God’s works is included in that one phrase, the glory of God. In the creatures’ knowing, esteeming, loving, rejoicing in and praising God, the glory of God is both exhibited and acknowledged; his fullness is received and returned. Here is both the emanation and remanation. The refulgence shines upon and into the creature, and is reflected back to the luminary. The beams of glory come from God, and are something of God and are refunded back again to their original. So that the whole is of God and in God, and to God, and God is the beginning, middle and end in this affair.” (Works, I. pp. 119, 120.)

Amen. And Amen.

Can’t wait to meet you at The Training Table next week as we close this series on Fellowship: A Feast of the Heart with, Fellowship: It’s Compelling: A Perfect Platform


Presentation1“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—Part 2.

Welcome back to the fellowship of the Saints at the training table, Brothers and Sisters! I dearly hope and pray that the race you’ve been running—the marathon in, for, by and through Christ—has been a glory to God and a blessing to you and to others since we last chowed down together.

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:

  • It’s Important: A Top Priority
  • It’s Satisfying: A Radical Pleasure
  • It’s Compelling: A Perfect Platform

Before we feast on this course of our five-course sustenance of the heart, please let me remind you of a core distinction we made last week, and where our focus will be from here on in: There are “two types of fellowship.”

“Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!” “Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt.” “Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin; how shall my tongue describe it, where shall its praise begin?”

God’s grace abounds… in all sorts and in two particular forms!

1) Common Grace Fellowship: “Every good and perfect gift comes down from above… from the father of lights” (James 1:17). It’s only possible for unbelieving people who enjoy the range of shallow-to-deeper fellowship to have friendships at all because God is “withholding His judgment and the uttermost effects of The Fall” (Genesis 3)—called “Common Grace”. God’s Common Grace—“a non-saving grace that is at work in the broader reaches of human cultural interaction. This gift of God’s grace to humanity in general demonstrates a desire on God’s part to bestow certain blessings on all human beings, believer and non-believer alike.” (What Is Common Grace?, by Tim Keller) “

“James 1:17 means that no matter who performs it, every act of goodness, wisdom, justice, and beauty is empowered by God. God gives out good gifts of wisdom, talent, beauty, and skill “graciously”—that is, in a completely unmerited way. He casts them across all humanity, regardless of religious conviction, race, gender, or any other attribute to enrich, brighten, and preserve the world.” (Keller, The Reason for God, page 53)

Under Common Grace unbelieving people (Romans 1:18-32) aren’t judged, condemned by God and deservedly taken out right now because God is mercifully withholding hell on earth and final judgment while offering His saving, Special Grace* before Jesus returns and its too late.

*But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:4-10)

Immediately upon waking each and every day, the person of faith thanks God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for a heartbeat and the breath of life. These are Good Things that could only come from the manifold mercies of God. The person who has no such faith doesn’t relate to God’s Common Grace in this fashion. God’s Common Grace is simply presumed upon… But it’s so good that it can act as a “barrier to needing to believe in God”: “Why throw myself on the mercies of God’s provision in Jesus Christ? Life’s pretty good.” But when life turns really bad—which it will—God is patient, but not forever.

Unbeliever, turn to God in Christ “Today…” (Psalm 95:7-8).

2) Special Grace Fellowship: Special grace is the work of the Holy Spirit in, a) effectual calling, b) regenerating, c) justifying, d) sanctifying, e) persevering, and finally consummating [when Jesus returns to make all things new] individual sinners. Special grace is restricted to those who actually repent and come to saving faith in Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit—who is following God the Father’s lead (Ephesians 1:4-5) and Jesus’ atoning sacrifice (John 3:16) by “executing on the names” in God’s Book of Life (Revelation 20:11-15) written before time began.

In Knowing God, J.I. Packer writes, “The grace of God is love freely shown towards guilty sinners, contrary to their merit and indeed in defiance of their demerit. It is God showing goodness to persons who deserve only severity, and had no reason to expect anything but severity.” (page 120)

Special, Saving, Sanctifying Grace… “Legal righteousness—a standing before God that says we have kept His covenant—is granted to us when we repent, believe the gospel, and when we trust in Jesus alone for salvation (Rom. 3:21–5:21). With this positional change before the Lord’s heavenly court also comes an existential change: We receive a new heart that can obey God truly, if imperfectly. Having first justified us, the Lord sanctifies us, burying us with Christ so that sin no longer has rightful dominion over us and raising us with Jesus so that we are bound to live out the holiness our Creator has granted us in the Savior (6:1–13). Sin has no legal rule over those who truly believe in Jesus, and we give in to transgression only because we have forgotten that we are under grace in Christ, not law in Adam (v. 14).” (Burk Parsons, Ligonier Ministries)

Once any human being has crossed the line between Common an Special Grace, two things occur:

1) A New Family. He or she is welcomed into a New Family called the Supernatural Church—The Body of all Believers throughout time. Fellowship in the new family is universal! Strangers are transformed into Brothers and Sisters in The Faith. Anyone on earth who has been spiritually born-again into this New Family of Faith shares a bond of faith and friendship that transcends time and eternity. All things in life and death have changed for these family members of the faith—and there is a fellowship that is stronger than blood-family because it shares the experience of having been cleansed by The Atoning Sacrifice and Blood of Christ. Under Special Grace the peace of God’s security and everlasting promise is secured—but there may not be peace between blood family or all others who have not repented and been born-again (Matthew 10:34-36).

2) No More Shame. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. … (Romans 8)

As we have already seen, all of humanity shares the stain of shame stemming from Adam and Eve’s Original Sin: They hid from God [like that can be done…] and covered their nakedness with fig leaves. And we all have carefully placed, known and unknown, little and big, and closely guarded fig leaves of shame covering our Sin and sinning—which represents the fountainhead of all of our debilitating dis-eases in life.

But when we’re forgiven by God in Christ and through the Spirit all shame is objectively gone, but not de-fanged in our subjective experience and choices to continue to allow shame, criticism, the ways of the world, the flesh, and the devil to drag us back to the wardrobe of fig leaves… the covering that estranges us from all people!

Fellowship under the covering of Christ’s sacrifice for all our shame and sin is like no other: The fig leaves of any sort of fallibility don’t have to act as barriers of hiding, conflict, obfuscation, evading, disunity, or idolatry any more. Believers [The Body of Christ] at any time and any place on the planet are united to Christ and His body!

What does it mean that we are not under law but under grace? Lots of things, but in regards to the topic at hand—fellowship—at the very least three things:

To Those Under Special Grace Fellowship with God and One Another… It’s a Feast of the Heart.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:8)

It’s Important: A Top Priority

1) So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them (Genesis 1:27). Whether we care to embrace this truth or not, our origins dictate our identity… And what exactly, then, is our first priority:

Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law? And he said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:36-40).

All of our priorities of life find their roots and fruits in our identity or origins. All of humanity has their being Image Bearers as their origins and identity. But if digging deeply into our identity has not risen to the top of the list of our priorities, we will never find true purpose, contentment, and a reason for living. It’s vitally—life-givingly—important. Period.

If you have any doubts about this first and foundational truism, inquire of the fish how it feels living out of the water; ask of the bird who cannot fly whether its contented; ponder the Redwood with the roots of an Aspen tree [the shallowest] if life is just fine; consider the Eagle with the wings of a moth about the highs and lows of life; or query the child living in anonymity in a narcissistic hellhole… if he or she is happy.

All bets are off when one’s identity is let loose from his or her origins in the Trinity.

2) Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). As we saw last week and above, we are all fallen, dead, sin-filled image bearers of God. So, as a first priority, we must be born again, confess our sins (Romans 10:9), made new creations (2 Corinthians 5:12), indwelt by the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39), baptized (Romans 6:3), made imperishable (1 Peter 1:23), alive (Romans 6:23), adopted (Galatians 3:26), fruitful (Galatians 5:22-23), and committed to do good works in the name of Jesus (Proverbs 16:3).

3) Agreeing with and in the Lord… (Philippians 4:2-3). When our fellowship with God is the summum bonom—the highest good, especially as the ultimate good and goal according to which all other values and priorities are established—our life for time and eternity will be good, very good (Genesis 1:31)! Not perfect, easy, devoid of serious trials and radical joy, but as close to “very good” this side of Eden restored in the home in heaven God has prepared for those whom have faith.

WHEN fellowship with the God of the Bible—in Christ—is formed, fed, flourished, and let loose in the world, THEN fellowship with others is then formed, fed, flourished, and let loose in the world. This is “the ecosystem of ‘Agreeing with and in the Lord’”: WITH God doing life with others IN the Lord.

Romans 12:16 says, [Be] of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Fellowship with God forms a humble spirit of other-centeredness and mutual co-sanctification.

4) Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses (1 Timothy 6:12). Far too many people of God find themselves on the battlefield of the faith with only their boxers on—there’s no armor to be seen… any where. (Ephesians 6:10-18)

It’s an every day, top priority to fight to maintain fellowship with God—and NOT the world, the flesh [our old sinful ways], or the devil [who is alive, mortally wounded and on Christ’s leash, but well and wreaking havoc].

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, … (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Fellowship with Those in the Faith is Important: A Top Priority

Can’t wait to see all y’all at The Training Table next week!




Rules for Walking in Fellowship, John Owen

Fellowship, Forgiveness, and You, John MacArthur

Fellowship: In One Spirit

Loving One Another

The Perils of Wandering

Union with Christians

Membership is Fellowship, John MacArthur

Presentation1“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—Part 1.

I hope you have an appetite for feasting on one of the most fundamental, seminal aspects of what being a human being is all about: Fellowship with other human beings.

Due to the fact that all humanity was originally created from a three-in-one Trinity, we “naturally” [based upon our origins and identity] crave being in community with other Image Bearers of the One True God of the universe Who created us (Genesis 1,2). Trinity ⇒ identity ⇒ community / fellowship.

[And if we weren’t created by God, but rather evolved from primordial goop, live meaningless lives, and will return to earth  merely as food for worms… Don’t worry about this or any subject because it doesn’t really matter… if we, our origins and our destiny don’t matter. After all, if we come from nothing, and we will end in nothing, then we should at least be willing to admit that our life “between two nothings” can’t amount to much of anything, right?]

So let’s get after it.

Let’s Begin by: Level-Setting and Looking at Three Realms of Fellowship

Level-Setting: Since there are so very few important realms of Life and living that we tend to go into any significant depth about, we need times of regular and honest “level setting”: We all have the same, God-ordained, and Bible-based understanding of the vital and important things of life.

Living in close fellowship with other human beings is how all humans were made by God to thrive from the Beginning (Genesis 1-2). But on the occasion of The Fall (Genesis 3) when first Eve then Adam, the forebears of all humankind, disobeyed God, Original Sin and habitual sinning entered the first hearts of all humanity, the universe, as well as all future human beings fell out of fellowship with God, one another, and all else in existence—made very good by God but turned very messy by mankind. This historical chain of events ruined what God has made very good.

Ever since this disastrous occasion and choice, fellowship with our fellow man has been mostly like fighting… antagonism, disagreement, discord, estrangement, hostility, incompatibility, unfamiliarity, and hues of pride, pretense, and selfish unfriendliness as numerous as the colors in a rainbow!

And even though it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the unbelieving, Pagan world can’t understand why there’s so much chaos, decay, and darkness in the world, God’s Church, born-again disciples of Christ, should get it at the most universal (Genesis 6:5-7) and personal (Romans 1:18-32) level. There’s one cause for brokenness and one cure as well. Period. (Romans 6:23; Hebrews 9:15; 1 Peter 1:18-19)

The effects of Sin and sinning is universally holistic [every realm of the universe was impacted, infected, infused with Sin] and personally heart-hardening [as enmity towards God, chaos, decay, and darkness reside in all of us as well].

This historical occurrence presented God’s biggest problem to His Trinitarian Self: How could God the Father maintain His perfect nature and the perfect balance of Love and Justice with Sin and sinning having entered the universe? Even in the abounding Love of God for humanity, He couldn’t betray His own nature by ignoring such a personal and intergalactic Injustice and disobedience against Himself.

God had to “come up with” [in His Sovereignty] a reasoned, radically condescending and mercy-filled, and workable solution—or betray His own perfect nature, which God cannot do. So… Please read this carefully to see The One, the Only, and the Ultimate Solution to Sin and sinning… humankind being out of fellowshipthat was accomplished by God:

For while we were still weak, at just the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since, therefore, we [those who repent and have faith] have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Death in Adam, Life in Christ

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.”  (Romans 5:6-17 ESV, parenthesis added)

So, in a “big picture” or “level-setting fashion”, a) fellowship with God and our fellow man was very good in the beginning Genesis 1:31); then b) fellowship, first between God and man and then between man and man, was ruined by humankind’s willful Original Sin and habitual sinning ways (Genesis 3), then, c) in the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, fellowship was restored between God and those whom would repent and have faith in Christ first as Savior [from Sin, sinning, and hell], and then as Lord [as a disciple—saved to serve] (John 3:16), and fellowship between all of the other Believers in the supernatural Body of Christ—The Church—worldwide (Acts 2:42-47).

Looking at the Three Realms of Fellowship we can now see how God defines all peoples of the earth:

  1. The Fellowship of Special Grace: We are born-again, adopted into a new family with no more shame, and we are delighted in BY God, while delighting IN God.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

  1. The Fellowship of Common Grace: Unbelievers are acting as unwitting parasites—living and breathing by means of the sheer mercies of God SO THAT those who do not believe might have time before Jesus returns and it’s too late to repent and have faith in Him.

The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. (Psalm 145:9)

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

  1. The Fellowship of The Fall: We are deluded BY the devil, in bondage to the things of this passing world, while delighting IN darkness.

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. (1 John 1:6)

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. (John 3:18-19)

The Word of Life

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Walking in the Light

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1, ESV)

After “Level-Setting and Looking at Three Realms of Fellowship”… we can move on to next week’s feast the Training Table—on Fellowship: A Feast of the Heart, Part 2: “The Three P’s of Fellowship.”

It’s Important: A Top Priority

It’s Satisfying: A Radical Pleasure

It’s Compelling: A Perfect Platform

Can’t wait to chow down with you again soon,