A pastor/ministry leader I respect recently told with me he has not “written any books” because of his need to keep up the perception that he is “highly intelligent and theologically astute.” His fear, he said, is that if he puts something in writing, it will give others the chance to critique his work and expose that he might not be as smart or theologically bullet proof as he would like them to think.
My first response was how grateful I was for his honesty. I don’t hear that kind of truthful confession very often – especially from ministry leaders who keep their jobs by creating the perception that they are better, and better off, than they are.
My second response was FEAR – because he had just asked me for a copy of the newly released Voice of the Heart Bible Study I co-wrote with my good friend Phil Herndon as a companion to the release of the 2nd Edition of Chip Dodd’s Voice of the Heart. As I handed him a copy of the Bible Study, I admitted to him that I was sweating . . . because I was.
Then I remembered Chip Dodd’s admonition to Phil and me as we were working on the Voice of the Heart Bible Study: “Don’t write this as an apologetic on feelings for your seminary professors – write it for people who are hungry and thirsty of heart.”
As I handed the study to this pastor, my fear imagined him pouring over each line of the study, marking it up with a red pen, and sending it back to me with all the mistakes we had made and all the hermeneutical guidelines we had broken.
That’s why Chip’s comments were important for me to remember. If this pastor reads the study to find out what he disagrees with or doesn’t like about it, then he is not who we wrote the Bible Study for. I wrote this Bible Study with Phil Herndon for people like me.
Ten years ago I was surrounded by LIFE but not living fully in it. I heard someone call this disconnect between a person’s head and heart the longest 18 inches on Earth. God used Chip Dodd to come find me and bring me back to God, myself, my family - and ultimately to the gifts God gave me and the work I’ve been called to do (Eph.2:10). Now, through the ministry of the Sage Hill Institute (the non-profit expression of Sage Hill), I have the great privilege of helping men and women around the world make this same journey - to God, to how God made them, to their families, and then to their calling.
Co-writing the Voice of the Heart Bible Study with Phil Hendon was a work of deep gratitude that I pray will yield much fruit in the lives of those who are longing for more and know, by their own experience, that there is more.
I do care about what my seminary professors think about what we did because I want to be faithful to the Scriptures and responsible to those who will trust us to have created a tool that will help them engage a very taboo and misunderstood topic in the church: FEELINGS. But I want so much more than that . . . for me and for those who get hold of the study and go through it on their own, with another person, or in a small group or class.
The Voice of the Heart and the Voice of the Heart Bible Study are about how God made us – feeling, needing, desiring, longing, and hoping. The door to the recognition of our need is feeling – the human response to facing life on life’s terms (post Genesis 3). Sadly, we have confused what happens when we don’t tell the truth about our feelings with the feelings themselves. When we lose touch with our feelings, we lose touch with the depth and recognition of the very need that opens the door to all intimate relationships.
In every group we tested it with (men, women, pastors, couples), even long standing relationships reached new depths of intimacy. I’ve worked on many projects in 34 years of knowing Christ, none I am more passionate about than this.
We heard from a godly 70 year old woman today. She said, "This study is hard . . . it's not hard to do, it's hard having to face my feelings!"
We did not write the study for the masses because we knew it would be "too hard." We created it for the hungry and thirsty of heart - whomever they might be whatever age they might be.