05 November 2008


More reminders that with the human heart, when one bitterness or fear or anxiety leaves, another one (or two or seven) will simply come and fill in the vacuum. One idol for another, unless it experiences what 19th-century Scottish theologian Thomas Chalmers called "The Expulsive Power of a New Affection"--something else greater and more true and more beautiful for a changed heart to seize upon and be captivated by. Some excerpts from Chalmers' text:

There is not one of these transformations in which the heart is left without an object. Its desire for one particular object may be conquered; but as to its desire for having some one object or other, this is unconquerable. Its adhesion to that on which it has fastened the preference of its regards cannot willingly be overcome by the rending away of a simple separation. It can be done only by the application of something else, to which it may feel the adhesion of a still stronger and more powerful preference. Such is the grasping tendency of the human heart, that it must have a something to lay hold of--and which, if wrested away without the substitution of another something in its place, would leave a void and a vacancy as painful to the mind as hunger is to the natural system. It may be dispossessed of one object, or of any, but it cannot be desolated of all. The heart must have something to cling to--and never, by its own voluntary consent, will it so denude itself of its attachments that there shall not be one remaining object that can draw or solicit it.

In a word, if the way to disengage the heart from the positive love of one great and ascendant object is to fasten it in positive love to another, then it is not by exposing the worthlessness of the former, but by addressing to the mental eye the worth and excellence of the latter, that all old things are to be done away and all things are to become new.

The love of God and the love of the world, are two affections, not merely in a state of rivalship, but in a state of enmity--and that so irreconcilable that they cannot dwell together in the same bosom. We have already affirmed how impossible it were for the heart, by any innate elasticity of its own, to cast the world away from it and thus reduce itself to a wilderness. The heart is not so constituted; and the only way to dispossess it of an old affection is by the expulsive power of a new one.

Also, my friend Beth reminds me where my center is and where power and love truly reside.

03 November 2008

Stumbling & Fumbling

"As long as your cry for relief is louder than your cry for a changed heart, you'll never mature as a man." (Dr. Dan Allender)

That was one of the "Reflection and Preparation" quotes on the first page of the church bulletin yesterday. How true. I've cried for relief far more often this year than I've prayed for a changed heart. The bad news of my life speaks more loudly, eloquently, and persistently to me than the Good News does beautifully or consistently. It would be nice to have a more than just a couple days in a row of simply resting in the joy of Christ before the next round of whatever it may be.

I need the discipline of looking to Jesus at every moment and reminding myself of God's true character, of perpetual repentance and dying to self over and over again, stripping off my self-right and my porcupine hard-heartedness, my idolatry of false saviors.

Towards the end of his sermon yesterday, our pastor reminded us that a phoenix rises from the ashes--not from a burned out stump or a partial loss, but from total ashes. We don't just need something to cover up the blackened spots or to build up from the hollowed out shell. We need a brand new thing.

It's getting dark even earlier now after daylight savings time ended this past weekend, and there'll be shorter and shorter days for another month and a half before things start slowly going the other direction. Heading into winter now, as much as I might want immediate changes in my external circumstances--something that I've thought about for a couple months now in terms of moving to a new city, something which may happen in a year or never--what I need right now regardless is a changed heart. From a heavy heart to one that believes in the abiding reality of joy. That promise of being in Christ and being a new creation. I am tired of me, and I am crying for a changed heart.