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What changes the heart?

Tim VB put me onto this 9 week course about Gospel Centred Living which is freely available here.  It looks great.  They draw on material from World Harvest Mission - their Gospel Tranformation and Sonship courses.  To give you a flavour of these, here is the blurb about the Sonship course:

Sonship: Live the theology you believe!

Many of us understand the faith intellectually, but our hearts have not quite kept up with our heads. Sonship is designed to help you take some of the glorious theological truths of the gospel - truths that you may know in your head - and apply them to the nitty gritty reality of daily life.

You'll find that as the gospel re-makes you, there is greater joy and desire to share the wonderful news of God's lovingkindness with others.

I have to say I've been very impressed by what I've seen so far. 

One thing that struck me was this testimony found here in the Sonship course.  It illustrates brilliantly a truth I'll remark on at the end: 

One day when I was very young, I saw my older sister hanging up my father's white business shirts on the clothesline to dry. I was suddenly filled with the urge to hang up one of my daddy's white shirts. He was my daddy too, and I was his daughter; I loved him in my childlike way and wanted to express it. I couldn't reach the clothesline-it was too high, but I saw a wheel barrow in the yard and its handles were just the right height for me. I didn't notice how rusty it was and I rather joyfully clothes pinned the wet shirt to the handles.

When my dad got home and saw the shirt on the wheelbarrow, he became very angry with me and punished me severely for ruining his shirt. I had not realized the impact that event and others like it had made on me. However, as I was repeatedly convicted during the Sonship conference for not believing God concerning his delight in me and in the gracious nature of my relationship with him, this memory returned to me. Now, you cannot hardly get through 24 hours of a Sonship conference without realizing that your own heart is as murderous as anyone else's-so I wasn't primarily focusing on only being the innocent victim of my father's cruel anger.

As I remembered these scenes from the past, I saw that through the years I had not been believing that my Father in heaven was any different than my earthly father. I had not been listening when he described himself. In short, I hadn't been believing the gospel, that by faith in Christ and his perfect atoning sacrifice, he now loves me, and is forever for me and delighted in me. In Christ, he has made me beautiful and pleasing to him forever.

So the next morning I told our counselor that I thought I was beginning to understand. I told him the memory and said that I guess if the Father saw me standing next to the wheelbarrow with the ruined shirt on it, he would forget the shirt and hug me. "You still don't understand fully," Jeff said. "God would not overlook the shirt, but take it, put it on, and wear it to work. And when someone commented on the rust marks, he would say, ‘Let me tell you about my little girl and how much she loves me.'" I was overwhelmed with that realization.

What a brilliant picture of the gospel!  Not just overlooking the shirt - wearing the shirt and celebrating his daughter!

Often we think of the gospel as God overlooking our sin, tolerating our presence and simply relenting from judgement.  We are left in the law court, the not-guilty verdict is passed and we're just relieved to have avoided hell.  But can such a gospel change our hearts?  Somewhat, I'm sure.

But the good news is not that God allows us to live in the suburbs of His presence.  We are adopted, indwelt, sung over, glorified, rejoiced in.  Letting the Father love us in Christ is the kind of 'overwhelming' that truly changes.


0 thoughts on “What changes the heart?

  1. Patric Knaak

    Hey Glen,
    Thanks for the kind words re: our material and ministry. I really appreciated them.

    Glad you also found Bob and Will's stuff on the Gospel Centered Life; I'm a big fan of theirs. In fact we are with them to pull their work in as a new WHM product and see if we can't give it some greater exposure.

    I'm not sure if you know this, but we have several of our teams located in London. In particular I think you might find Johnny Long's work of interest... Johnny is one of our most gifted teachers who is committed to working with local church ministers in England to help them really grasp the gospel in deep transformative ways. If you have a chance, check out his website: If you ever run into him, or would like to contact him, be let him know I pointed you his direction... I love it when he owes me one.

    Blessing on you and your wife's ministry.

  2. Pingback: Curate’s Chronicles » Blog Archive » A few good things

  3. glenscriv

    Hi Patrick,

    Sorry, for some reason you've been languishing in spam for the last 24 hours. A very inhospitable welcome to the blog! Glad to have freed you now.

    I think God's trying to tell me something. About 2 hours ago Marcus (comment number 3) emailed to tell me I should contact Jonny. Think that might be a plan!

    Keep up the good work, God's using it!


  4. mo

    I really like this picture of the lamb. Could you please tell me where to find it? thank you!

  5. Glen

    Hi Mo,

    Yes, I love the painting myself. It's called "Agnus Dei" or "The Bound Lamb" and it's by Fransisco de Zurbaran.

    You'll be able to find many examples of it if you search Google images with these terms.

    God bless,

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