Sunday, April 2, 2017

Preachings that Cut to the Heart to Change Life - Learning from Tim Keller

The purpose of any preaching is to change the behavior and the life of the listeners with the Biblical truths through touching their hearts. Tim Keller gave us six ways to engaging the hearts. Ancient Chinese wisdom also tells us to touch the heart first to get reasonings to be accepted and thereby causes a change in behavior.
This post is my learning from the sermon of Tim Keller in Preaching to the Heart « TGC | The Gospel Coalition. Here is the mindmap ...

Preaching to the Heart by Tim Keller Mind Mapped by Lim Liat 

  • Contents

    • the truth, not just your opinion - expository preaching.
    • the good news, not just good advice- Christ-centered
    • to make the truth real to the heart, not just clear to the mind.- application

  • Purpose

    • Biblical Truth touching the heart to cause changes in behavior & life.
      • the truth - Gospel 
      • to cause the listeners to apply the truth and be changed 
      • preaching changes people not from your information but from the feeling they get when listening to you.

  • Mind & heart/feelings

    • Greeks - heart-emotion, passion/body is evil. Mind to manage the heart to be good
    • Modern - Heart is good so do the things that the heart one. follow the passion
    • Bible heart - the things we trusted most
      • pro 3:5-6 trust in the God with all your heart
      • Matthew 6 where your treasure is your heart
    • the heart is not primarily the emotions but rather the seat of our fundamental commitments and trusts, and therefore it is the control center of the whole life.
    • So to preach to the heart means to go right for the commanding commitments of people's lives that drive their desires, thinking, feeling, and action.

  • Methods

    • The universal principle is found in Acts 2:37—preaching must “cut to the heart.” The means and methods we take to get to that end depend on the listeners' culture.
    • 1 Culturally
      • culture is a collective heart. It is a set of commanding commitments held and shared by a community of people. e.g. Keller's cosmopolitan culture of Manhattan. This ethos is pulling on the hearts of all its residents. It is the source of so many of their deep aspirations, unspoken fears, and inner conflicts. The Culture has a set of values that may contradict the Bible
      • Our hearts are set by the cultures we are in.
      • The “cultural references,” then, are simply Keller's way of entering the world of his hearers, helping them understand at a deep level what is shaping their daily work, their romantic and family relationships, their attitudes toward sex, money, and power.
      • Need to make plain the foundations of the city's culture in order to help people understand themselves more fully and imagine what it means to live as a Christian here.
        • e.g. Teenagers, "I don't see anything wrong with two people having sex when they love each other."
          • cultural narratives
            • love -> sex
            • identity- be yourself -right or wrong is up to you
            • I have no right to impose my values on others
          • Must Show Christianity has a better offer and the held belief is incorrect
        • Liat:preach to
          • connect to the hearers' culture
          • to bring out the wrongs e.g. UGB Ungodly Beliefs, the past hurts and bad experiences.
          • corrected by the truth of the Bible
          • how to live a Christian testimony within
    • 2 affectionately 
      • emotional transparency
        • not plain reading through a text
        • not excitable & emotionally charged - working too hard to be passionate
          •  cannot fake true authenticity. Such is manipulative.
        • § preach from the heart to preach to the heart
          • need in-depth knowledge of the topic
          • prepared with prayers and the gospels
    • 3 imaginatively
      • use illustrations and stories
      • make it feel more real
      • get across vividly - like something you experience
      • e.g. J Edwards: all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell than a spider's web would have to stop a falling rock.
      • Gen 4:7 God warned Cain - sin crouching at your door. it desires to have you
    • 4 practically - application
      • ask questions that relate to a real life issue.
      • e.g. what's keeping you from sharing the gospel with your neighbor? Is it pride? 
    • 5 wondrously
      • fairies tales - Deep Desires of People
        • escape time
        • escape death
        • hold conversations with non-human 
        • perfect love that never parts
        • good triumphs over evil
      • Jesus' gospel is exactly that! It fulfills all the deep desires of people and it is a fact!
    • 6 Christocentricly 
      • preach Christ from every text
Ancient Chinese Wisdom on Touching the Hearts

See The Chinese Ways of Influencing People and for a more detailed guide 

A related topic to preaching is sharing the Gospel, see Pre-Evangelism or Conversational Evangelism. It is all about touching the hearts and earning the right to speak and be listened to. 

The purpose of preaching is not just about sharing the truth. Preaching the truth, sharing of information, at the very most, only engage the mind and gets mental assent. It does not cause any change in the behavior of the listeners. The real purpose of preaching is about changing behavior and life, and that is possible only through understanding the hearts and touching the hearts of the listeners with the grace and truth of the Bible. Please follow the six ways recommended by Tim Keller and also the details steps of the Ancient Chinese Wisdom to be an effective preacher.

Lim Liat (c) 3 April 2017

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Ten Commandments - Deuteronomy 5

Deuteronomy 5 is a recollection of the giving of the Ten Commandments to the people that were brought out of slavery in Egypt. Moses emphasized in 5:3 that the covenant is a new one, not with their forefathers, but with them that were alive! It was to be their branding showing how they were different from the others. I have written a few posts related to the Ten Commandments. For a more in-depth study, see the following:
  1. The Branding of Believers - The Ten Commandments
  2. Principles & Insights from the Ten Commandments
  3. A Relook at the Ten Commandments
  4. "Honoring Your Parents" - The Bible Honors Your Cultures
The most important thing for believers is that the Ten-Commandments are not outdated but are still applicable. They are minimum standards for us to follow as testimony to others but not as the criteria for the salvation. Christ saved us that we may be empowered to live a life that supersedes the requirements of the commandments to bring glory to God, our Father.

So we can say that the Ten Commandments are the litmus test for a true believer.  The best state for a believer is that he/she is so filled with God awareness that he/she walk rightly before God. The challenging state is a believer still struggling with bad habits or addictions. The struggle is an indication of knowing and wanting to do right. He needs to be enlightened and empowered with grace and the Holy Spirit for victory. He that doesn't even bother and continue in sin may not be a true believer.

◄ 1 John 3:9 ► No one who is born of God will continue to sin because God's seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning because they have been born of God.

Lim Liat (c) 10 March 2017

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

God and His People - Past, Present & Future

Deuteronomy 4 is a quick summary of how God deals with men with the Israelites as an example. God reached out to them and gave them the laws to help them build a nation with blessings, good relationships, happy families and long lives. God warned and predicted their disobedience and also His mercy in bringing them back again. The testimonies of the Israelites and God are good testimonies for us. We have no excuse for not knowing this loving God.
The Giving of the Laws & What to do with them
The details of the Laws are in the later chapters. They are to do the following seven things about the Laws (Deu 4:1-9):
  1. Listen and know the Laws 
  2. Do them that they may live. 
  3. Go in and Build the New Nation with the Laws as their constitutions. 
  4. Must Not add to it.
    • God's Laws are meant for life and not a burden nor a slavery. Adding to it is a typical practice of cults to enslave people. See how natural it is for a man to add extra in Gen 3:3, Eve added "must not touch it" where God only said must not eat it. 
  5. Must not take away from it.
    • It is so easy to remove any restriction in the name of freedom. The Laws, which are principles for success, have been distorted as chains to restrict your freedom. Gen 3:4 shows the devil removing the punishment death for the violation and instead added a benefit of becoming wise. It caused Eve to doubt the goodness of God.
    • Adding or removing the Laws are the means where the devil and evil people distort the Laws. The either make them too burdensome to follow or remove them to lead people into slavery by their lusts and sins. 
  6. Internalize the Laws - let them be the guards to our hearts and lights to our mind. 
  7. Pass it on to the next generations.
The Warning - Evidence Based Faith
God used the destruction of Baal worshippers as a warning to them. God did not expect the Israelites to believe in Him without evidence. It is not blind faith but strong faith based on evidence. Moses reminded them in v20-24 how God had brought them out of Egypt, take care of them in the wilderness and then the giving of the promised land where they were at the edge to go in.
See also Reflection 3 Christian Faith is Not Blind, and Evidence Based Faith - Not Blind Faith

The Benefits of the Laws
The Laws is the wisdom and their understanding. It is to ensure their well-being for all generations and to have long lives too. 

God Spoke & Wrote to Them
Verses 10 to 13 show how God spoke and wrote to them! They had no excuse that they don't know God. 

The Greatest Danger and Violation - Having Idols
God warned them again of such a danger that they had done before - a golden cow idol. Verse 16-19 show the different types of idols, either of animals or even of stars in the sky or host of heaven. Never worship any created things or beings. Idols are things, tangible like money, or intangible like reputation, that draw us away from God. They are the things that we pursue and trust other than God. We put our faith in them thinking that if we have them we shall be happy and fulfilled. But they are just lies that enslave us. Only God can truly satisfy us and gives us the freedom. It is so because we are created in the image of God and only God can we have full fellowship. Our worship of God put us in the right relationship with God that will truly satisfy our soul.

The Prediction of Future Disobedience and the Promise of Forgiveness
Verses 25 to 28 show that they will one day abandon their God and God will punish them by scattering them. But God is ever ready to receive them back whenever and wherever in v29.  God further assured them again in v31 For the LORD your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them. Deu 4:31

Evidence Based Faith Again
Verses 32 to 40 is another reminder and summary of how God had been dealing wonderfully with the Israelites.

Forgiveness in Action - The Allocation of Safe Havens
Three cities are set up for the people who accidentally killed others to run too (v41-43).

The Summary in the Base Camp
Here is the summary of what Moses did and the Israelites preparation to enter the promised land after conquering the Amorites as their base camp (44-49)

Application to Our Life Now
The story and the history of the Israelites can be seen as the dealing of God with men. It shows how God cares for His people. It shows the mercy of a forgiving God who always stretches out His hands to receive whoever, whenever and where-ever, is ready to return to Him. God had given His son Jesus Christ to open up the way for us to go back to Him. As the time is urgent, let on one miss it.

Lim Liat (c) 8 March 2017

Friday, February 17, 2017

How God works? Naturally and Miraculously - Deuteronomy 3

How God works? He works logically and miraculously. God usually works logically and through men. Miraculous work is less often and is done with special purpose. So it is very easy for us to fall into two kinds of mistakes. Mistake 1 is to think God did not work because everything is done naturally without any supernatural effects. Mistake 2 is to think God does no miracle. We can see the working of God with the Israelites in Deu 3.
God's Plan for Conquering the Promised Land - Working through Men 
God works in ways that He can teach men and men can learn wisdom from God. In conquering the promised land, God gave the Israelites easy victories and used the conquered land as a base camp. He gave them the land of the King Sihon in the previous chapter and of King Og (Deu 3:1-11). This is the preparatory wars for future conquest. It taught them that the Lord's promises were true and they experience them first hand. Their faith was being built up.

The lands were allotted to Reubenites, half tribe of Manasseh and Gadites (Deu 3:12-17). This was to be a base camp. Their wives and children and livestock were kept here safely while the men were to go on to war. (Deu 318-20).

God works through men.
The defeats of the 2 kings of giants (Og and Sihon) show how God did mighty work through weaker Israelites men.  The men knew it was a miracle because they were relatively smaller in size and strength (Deu 3:21-24).

Succession Planning
God asked Moses to hand over the leadership to Joshua. Moses blamed his men for God not allowing him to enter the promised land. Actually, it was Moses himself not being able to control his temper that caused him to be rejected. Moses disobeyed a direct command from God. God had commanded Moses to speak to the rock. Instead, Moses struck the rock with his staff (Numbers 20:12). Even so, God brought Moses up to Mt Pisgah to have a view of the land (Deu 3:27). It was a comforting touch from God.

Moses was to help develop Joshua to take over his leadership and lead people into the promised land. Deu 3:29.

Lessons Learned:
God works naturally and supernaturally. He works through men to accomplish mighty work. We cannot and should not judge whether God is working or not by natural or supernatural means. God is always with us to accomplish His work and enable us to share and enjoyed the fruit of His work. All that we need is obedient and also with wisdom. We see the wisdom of God here in the following ways:

  1. Building up of faith and experience in the battles over the 2 kings.
  2. Setting up of a base camp to support the long-term and bigger mission in conquering the promised land.
  3. Succession Planning and handling over of leadership.
We can see God want us to live victoriously by natural means, to use our mind and body to live well on earth.  Genesis 1:28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”  

Even so, God is the living power behind our living and if need be, God will intervene supernaturally as we shall continue to see in this journey into promised land. God and men work together.

Lim Liat (c) 18 Feb 2017

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The New Generation and New Direction - Deuteronomy 2

You may have wondered enough in the wilderness. It may be the time to change and move in a new direction. That was the command God gave to Moses to lead the next generation north to prepare to enter the promised land. The only thing the next generation needed was to be obedient to the commandment of God and they would have great success. That is the major lesson for us. Only do what God commands and do NOT what God prohibits.
New Direction and a Bright Future - Time to Go into the Promised Land

The Chapter begins with a new plan and new direction - ‘You have been traveling around this mountain country long enough. Turn northward Deu 2:3'. 

They have wandered enough in the wilderness. It was 38 years terminated in the event that the first generation, except for Joshua and Caleb, had died (2:14-16).

God's Commands were Specific
There were territories that they were not to attack and there were others they were to destroyed. 

God's Allotted Each Race their specific territory.
The sons of Esau, the Edomites and the sons of Lot, the Moabites and Ammonites were to be left alone. (Deu 2:5-22). 

God always Provide for His People to do His Work 
God had blessed their work so that they had wealth to trade with Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites. (2:7-8). Even for the forty years in the wilderness, God miraculously fed them.

God also Give Assurance and Promises
Before they attack the Amorites, God assured them in v24 Rise up, set out on your journey and go over the Valley of the Arnon. Behold, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land. Begin to take possession, and contend with him in battle.' 

The Obedient Next Generation

The key for success, victory, or a good life is very simple. Do as the obedient next generation did. He hears the commands of God and they faithfully executed them. Deu 2:34-37. 

They acknowledged that it was God who gave them the victory. It is very easy to attribute such success to our own strengths.

They positively followed God's commands and they also did not violate God's prohibitions.

From Aroer, which is on the edge of the Valley of the Arnon, and from the city that is in the valley, as far as Gilead, there was not a city too high for us. The LORD our God gave all into our hands.  Deu 2:36

Only to the land of the sons of Ammon you did not draw near, that is, to all the banks of the river Jabbok and the cities of the hill country, whatever the LORD our God had forbidden us.  Deu 2:37  

Lim Liat (c) 13 Feb 2017

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Lessons from Deuteronomy 1 - Trust God & Not Our Reasoning

When our perception and subsequent reasoning is against the will of God, trust in God and follow His will and not our understanding (Proverb 3:5). If we fail to, be ready to listen and obey again. This is the lesson from Deu 1.
Deuteronomy was Jesus' favorite book. He quoted from it most often. His answers to Satan's temptations all come from this book (6:13, 16, 8:3). So, it is important that we study this book well.

The promise and command of God are given 1:6-8, especially verse 8

Deu 1:8  See, I have set the land before you. Go in and take possession of the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their offspring after them.’

God said, "Go and possess it."
Moses gave them additional assurances in 9-22. They had grown in numbers, were better organized, reiterated God's command and told them not to fear.

They decided to spy out the land first. There is nothing wrong with that. Go and see for yourself is a good thing. The facts were there, the land and the produce were what God said. Productive land and giant fruits also have giant people there. The problem was with the interpretation of the evidence.

Focus on God first and the Problem will be smaller
When we only look at the circumstances without God, we will conclude as they did, i.e. we could not do it. However, if we look at the circumstance from the promised of God, when we focus our eyes more on God, the problems would be smaller, as Caleb and Joshua did.

Their reasoning without God made them disobedient to God and even accused of God hating them despite their miraculous experience exodus from Egypt! It is so easy to be overwhelmed by our circumstances that we forgot about the past experience with God.

God's Will is for Specific Time & Event
When rebuked, the people decided to obey God's initial order to go. But the right time has passed and God then told them not to go because He would not be with them.

God gave them a 2nd Chance to obey Him. But, they Disobeyed Again!
Shockingly, they disobeyed again after God told them not to go. They want to justify themselves and take things into their own hands again. Of course, the consequence was obvious, they were badly defeated.

The Lessons:
1. Be sensitive to hear and know the Will of God.
2. Be quick to follow His will. When our reasonings disagree with God, check it out with God and follow God's rather than our own.
3. Know that God's will is time, place and people specific.
4. Be ready to admit our error and listen and obey God's new instruction.
5. When in doubts, check back with God.

Lim Liat (c) 6 Feb 2017