Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mind, Heart, Will

One of the kind gifts I received at the time of my ordination as a Presbyter was a book from the parish: Preach The Word. It's a collection of essays on expository preaching, and I hadn't got round to reading it after my ordination. I picked it up earlier and have started to read the first essay, and already I'm struck and convicted. David Jackman writes the following:

Everything depends upon our detailed, careful, and disciplined reading of the text... The text needs to be seen not as an object to be analyzed, dissected, or even "mastered" so that we can then begin to "do something with the Bible." Rather, we need to hear it as the urgent, present-tense message of the present-tense God (I AM) through our minds to our hearts to energize our wills in faith and obedience. Then the Bible is doing something with, in, and to us. If the preacher's life is being changed through his encounter with God in the "living and enduring Word" (1 Peter 1:23), he realy does have a message to proclaim, not simply from the written page but from the heart.

The Bible is not just a textbook to learn off by heart, or as a ready supply of quiz answers, or random facts. It's not for head knowledge only. Rather, it needs to move from the head to the heart, and from there to our wills, moving us to action. If this is true of the preacher, how much more of his preaching?

If my last few sermons were to be analyzed, what part of the person was I targetting? The head or the heart? Jackman is certainly not saying that we only aim for the heart to the neglect of the head - we must definitely think about the Bible and learn it more thoroughly, but is that where our preaching sometimes stops? Do we merely inform without enthusing? Engaging the mind but not the affections?

Perhaps better focused content, and greater application is the answer, but there's a lot of learning still to be done!

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