Encounter

 

Encounter

Director London School of Economics

“Jobs in the past were about muscles, jobs in the present are about brains, jobs in the future will be about the heart.”

Currently in our school system the subjects are ranked  – there is a hierarchy – the sciences at the top, the humanities in the middle and the arts at the bottom. 

There is no measure for people skills, nothing that measures your ability to collaborate, create rapport and be a successful team member. 

However large companies are beginning to understand it and the buzz phrase in HR now is hire for attitude and train for skill. 

They’ve figured out that you can train most people to do most things but you cant do anything about people with a bad attitude! 

Attitude is a reflection of the state of one’s heart. 

The heart has become synonymous with feeling, with love, with emotion and with empathy.

“Have a heart,” means be kind, care, think of others, be compassionate.

When we lose a loved one or are emotionally wounded in any way we report that our heart is sore.

 

The bible says:

“Guard your heart above all else for from it flows the wellspring of life” 

Proverbs 4:23

“The pure in heart are blessed, for they will see God.”

Matt 5:8

“Where your treasure is there will your heart be also”

Matt 6:21

“These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.”

Matt 15:8

Jesus’ mission statement for coming to the earth by his own declaration is found in Isaiah 61:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners

 

It’s all about the heart. 

If we want to encounter God in the midst of our pain and frustration or encounter God in the dust of our busyness and driven-ness we need to check the state of our heart.

When did you last laugh – I mean really laugh, like Fanta coming out of your nose, snorting, belly aching laughter? 

Young people laugh like that all the time! My girls can make themselves do it just by trying and then one of them toots and the hilarity becomes even more real!

I spent about an hour with them tickling and laughing on the trampoline when I got back from camp on Friday – I had just been away for 2 back to back 4-day camps out of town so was desperate to spend some time with them. 

Kenzie our 4-year-old had been sleeping with a photograph of me while I was away and apparently woke up crying in the night saying I’ve lost dad and could only be consoled again once La had found the photograph under the sheet!

So we played and tickled and laughed and I realized how long it has been since I had laughed and how seriously I’ve started taking everything – how boring is that!

They recently ran a survey with a base full of airmen in the US airforce – a hall full of warriors, fighter pilots, commanders, rescue crews some of the most advanced soldiers in the world using some of the most technologically advanced equipment in a well paid and highly motivational workplace. 

The survey results showed that 80% of the soldiers were exhausted – they complained openly to the researcher about the “ops tempo” or the rate of operations that they were involved in – you can imagine the US Air Force is pretty busy fighting wars and carrying out operations from Syria to the Middle East to Afghanistan, Japan and South America – the report seemed like a fair indication of their busyness but the researcher knew that loneliness sometimes manifests as exhaustion and so asked the question to this room full of battle hardened warriors how many of them were lonely – hands went up all over the room! 

They were highly successful intellectually, financially, technologically and the US hasn’t lost many wars in the last few years either so pretty successful in every way one might say.

 

However, across all branches of the US military more personnel now die every year from suicide than are killed in combat.

Somehow their heart is not in it and so they check out.

It’s all about the heart.

Jesus came to ransom the heart.

Before I went on camp our oldest Dani, 6, tripped Kenzie. When she got in trouble for it she started crying and said that she was just miserable because she had been replaced by the new baby and it was so hard to be the oldest and that whole emotional manipulation thing going on so I’m trying to be sensitive and patient and deal with the real issue you know and tread thru this minefield of manipulation you know so Kenzie says “Dad, come ere” so I go over to her and bend down and she whispers in my ear “give her a smack!” 

Which made me think about God – who is ultimately our best model for parenting so what type of Father is God – absolutely He is righteous and holy and cannot tolerate sin or be in the presence of evil so would He have just busted out the paddle – spare the rod and spoil the child and all that?

Then I thought about God in human form disciplining his children – I remembered the story of Jesus braiding some cords into a whip and turning over tables in the market place to drive out the money-changers that had turned the temple into a market place.

And obviously there is absolutely a place for that

Those guys encountered the wrath of God but that is only one story there are far more encounters with God that reveal a very different side of His character. 

There is the woman caught in adultery that Mark spoke about as we began this series. 

 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman.10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

(John 8:1-11)

Who do you think is in heaven now? The money-changers or the adulterer?

The one who is forgiven much – loves much!

Jesus came and modeled grace and mercy because love cannot be legislated and respect cannot be demanded – it can only be earned. Love and respect are earned thru sacrifice and service, mercy and grace.

Many of you know the saga that went down this term at St John’s College with a deputy Head that was forced to resign after admitting to the students that he was gay. The anger and the response of the self-proclaimed Christians in our community was swift and ugly.

I have now met with this former deputy head twice since his resignation. I told him the story of the woman caught in adultery. He had never heard it before – and had never seen any evidence of this Loving Savior in the Christians that he knew. 

I told him that he is well loved and that his literary skills will be sorely missed by our school. I told him that I serve the God of love who says in Matthew 7 judge not lest you yourself be judged.

My personal mission statement is a blatant rip off of Jesus’s mission statement and it reads:

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me because He has anointed me and sent me to preach good news to the poor of Spirit. He has sent me to be part of His work to transform the hearts in Africa to transform the face of Africa. I am a steward of grace. A messenger of hope. A child of the King.”

I just got back from running the Hellenic L6 camp on Friday as I have said and I was talking to these young people on the camp about what they want in life, what their scoreboard is – I said that your bank balance is not a compelling scoreboard, even if you end up with the big car, big house and big wife you can still be miserable!

So where are you at today – how is your heart?

If you want to encounter God today it begins with surrendering your heart to Him!

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