Friday, June 23, 2006

One Pure and Simple Passion

"But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ (2 Cor. 11:3 ESV)."

A Starbucks moment with my friend Josh Jordan has led me to this post. Along with solving the world problems we discussed practically how to keep our devotion to Christ "pure" and "simple."

Simplicity has not characterized my walk with Christ historically. More often than not, I’ve tended to overcomplicate my devotional life. In my devotion times I’ve either tried to do too many things (memorize for an allotted time, pray for certain things each day, read a certain number of chapters, journal etc.) or tried to accomplish too much with my mind to the neglect of my heart.

What this looks like is that I get consumed with "right thinking" to the neglect of "right burning" for the truths I’m thinking on. Since the Bible calls me to both (John 4:23; Luke 24:32; Matt. 22:37), I’m striving to learn from those who passionately (and ever-imperfectly) pursue the "radical middle." The Puritans called this logic on fire.

We all tend to lean one way or another on any given day (or hour!)—but this question is for those who (like me) are often tempted to love God with the mind to the neglect of the heart. How do you stoke your affections for Christ?

In the simplest of terms—what do you do when you find yourself thinking on Christ in the cerebral places of you mind, but you find your heart unmoved?

Be very practical—do you grab a Crowder cd? Do you go for walks? What do you do to maintain "simplicity and purity" in your devotion to Christ—such that the heat of your affections match the light of God’s grace?


Aaron said...
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Aaron said...

I usually, (historically), ignore the voice that convicts. Then I delve into more books to make up for the lack of passion, because if reading more books can't fix it, what can? It usually lasts for some time until I realize that the voice is no longer simply talking, but shouting (and the books aren't helping, but possibly hardening my heart). And then I realize that the whole time that I lamented about the absence of God's presence in my life, he has been there, calling to me. Around this time God's presence overwhelms me to the point of tears-- which lead to praise. I think that may be where I am now.
Kinda like the movie "Luther", I just get to a point where I fall down crying, "Jesus, I am yours, save me!"

Chris said...

I have struggled with the same issue. Neglecting my heart while always increasing my knowledge. I am convinced that this pattern is the source of my sinful pride. What works for me is returning to the wonder of creation. My heart leaps to praise at the sight of the stars in the heavens. When I stop to look at the things that God has created: the trees, the grass, my children, I am humbled by my smallness.

Rob Tombrella said...

Thanks Aaron---"i get to the point where I fall down crying" is the place I think God wants us. The place where passion is stirred is the place of abandoned humility.

Chris---thanks for mentioning creation--something I don't do near enough. I need more walks--more times just to stare at the stars or the clouds or a flower until my heart says, "the heavens are declaring Your glory Lord."

Me---music plays a central role in stirring up my affections for Christ. It seems to be the place that my mind finds release. Also, I know that something is wrong in my heart if at any given moment I don't want to sing to Christ. So, going for a walk or getting somewhere and just singing a song of praise is extremely helpful in stirring up my heart for Christ. When my heart feels dead this involves what Aaron said--just beating against my chest saying, "God help me!" Then I take a song that I know well--and begin to sing--feelings or not. More often than not--God is pleased to stir up my heart for Him.

Michelle said...

At my husband's request, and in the spirit of true submission, I will reply....
I guess for me, when me heart's not in it, I try to get alone (which can be tricky for me during the day) and pray...OUTLOUD. I make a list of people and ways to pray for them, then personal requests. I my interceeding for others, God somehow stirs my love for others and then in turn, stirs my love and true desire for Christ and for him to be gorified in the answers. I wish I could say I was faithful to do this daily, but to my shame, I am not. Prayer is the key for me, to true communion with the Savior!

justin said...

This is a great question.

Usually, the spiritual disciplines are the means God uses to stir my affections for Christ. The spiritual disciplines are the way we place ourselves in the way of allurement.
"Usually" means that the disciplines don't always light my fire. When they don't, I know there is sin in my heart.

There needs to be more repenting at our lack of desire for God.

Rob Tombrella said...

Yeah! Michelle--you are NOW a blogger--aren't you so proud? Aren't you glad for another title? Another hat to wear?

So far I've heard several things that I should do more...

1. Cry out
2. Use nature
3. Pray for people
4. Pray OUT LOUD
5. Practice spiritual disciplines

However, Justin--

you have not been specific enough--what do you do? It's 6am and your alarm went off--what do you do to cultivate passion? People are wanting to know.

justin said...

I open my Bible, pray for God to open my eyes, and feast.

I always listen to a good preacher on the way to work.

And, I'm never far from a God-centered book I'm working through.