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How do you fill your heart?

It is a challenge to safeguard space where we can be exposed and unhindered to Bible engagement and prayer. But input determines output and it will shape our thoughts and then our speech.

Photo: [link]Tatum Bergen[/link], Unsplash CC0.

Have you ever thought about what you might say if you had dementia? What would people hear coming from your mouth?

Maybe you never have, but I have, and yes, I pray that it never happens. But if it does, it is likely that I won’t even know what I’m saying. But does that mean that I shouldn’t care? 

The Bible says: “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of”. Or in other words: “What comes out of a person’s mouth shows what he is made of in his innermost being”. This makes it pretty clear what I will be talking about in such an extreme case because this is what I talk about now.

Those things that I allow to dwell in my heart, which I speak about now in unguarded moments; the things that excite me, and also what make me pause and reflect, what I lament and at best pray about. All of these things come from my heart. 

What I wish

I want a lot of good, beautiful and positive things to come out of my mouth. But perhaps what is most important is understanding what do people hear now when I talk? And what do they hear from you? Positive and pleasant things? Superficialities? Gossip? Ranting?

Do people recognize what we claim to be, that we want to be people of hope and peace, people of the Book?

How does what is supposed to come out get in?

These days I am reading the book by Jürgen Werth “Lieber Dietrich ... Dein Jürgen - Über Leben am Abgrund - ein Briefwechsel mit Bonhoeffer” (Dear Dietrich ... Yours, Jürgen - About life on the edge - an exchange of letters with Bonhoeffer). Jürgen Werth, a former European Evangelical Alliance board member, answers the letters which Bonhoeffer wrote while imprisoned.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes from Tegel prison on Easter Sunday 1943, how he was still repeating the Bible verses he had learned by heart during the day before going to sleep and reading hymns and Psalms at 6 o'clock in the morning.

He was perceived by his guards and fellow prisoners as an extraordinary person. Obviously, the input influenced the output.

Bible engagement

There was a time when Bible reading time for an average person was in a very different ratio to the input of news and other sorts of communication. The other day I talked with a Dutch man in his early fifties. He said that when he was a child the Bible was read at every mealtime in his family. When I asked how it was handled in his own family now, he answered: “after one meal a day, and actually we have just switched to a Bible reading plan”.

The topic of the EEA for the first six months of 2021 is Bible Engagement. Bible engagement needs time and space. However, we live in a time where all kinds of media are competing for our attention. It is a challenge to safeguard space where we can be exposed and unhindered to Bible engagement and prayer. Many (negative) messages on different channels constantly want to blind us. But input determines output and it will shape our thoughts and then our speech.

There is no magic formula but there is spiritual discernment. Will you allow to be swept along by any news? Or will you ask the Holy Spirit to help you discern what comes out of your mouth and based on this determine what this means concerning the input you must expose yourself to?

How would it be, therefore, to do it like Bonhoeffer: Bible engagement when getting up, in between and at the end of the day? Filling up what is supposed to come out? This will be truly Good News.

Thomas Bucher, Secretary General of the European Evangelical Alliance.




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