A WORD PICTURE CAN SLIP PAST
THE NATURAL DEFENSES AND CHANGE THE HEART
WHEN DAVID’S HEART COULD NOT SEE,
COULD NOT CHANGE
NATHAN USED A WORD PICTURE
He told David a story of a rich man who took a poor man’s little ewe lamb. David was incensed at the selfishness, the lack of compassion. And then Nathan told him, “Thou art the man.” And David repented. Word pictures have power.
THE LANGUAGE OF LOVE IS A BOOK THAT HELPED ME
BECOME A MORE EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATOR
THE AUTHORS GAVE MANY CONVINCING CASE STUDIES OF HOW
PEOPLE HAD FAILED TO CONVINCE A LOVED ONE TO CHANGE HIS WAYS
BUT THEN, USED A WORD PICTURE —
AND THEIR HEARTS WERE CHANGED
The authors open with a true story of a man who was being unfaithful to his family, who had decided to leave them to be with another woman. No pleading, no arguments, and no tears could stop him. He had made up his mind.
But one day his daughter told him about a dream she had had. She, her mother, and her siblings had been hit broadside by a careless driver, and their injuries were catastrophic. She was lying on the road, bleeding, when she saw the man who hit them. She said, “It was you, Dad.”
Her word picture penetrated his heart. He repented, came home. He changed.
I have been using word pictures ever since I read that book. I used one with my husband Steve when we were flying home from Thailand after adopting Beth, our fifth child. I was already anxious if I could handle this. Steve wasn’t anxious at all. At one point he leaned over to me and said, “Some of the little boys in the orphanage were so cute.”
I thought, He doesn’t understand. I cannot adopt any more children. Immediately I thought. I need a word picture.
I felt the Lord gave me one. I said, “Honey, look out at that airplane wing and imagine I am out there. I’m trying to keep up with you in your Christian walk, but I think I might slip and plummet to my death.”
He looked astonished. He really hadn’t heard me before — but now he did.
The power of a word picture.
PICTURES HAVE POWER. IT’S WHY JESUS USED THEM ALL THE TIME.
This week you’ll listen to a free Keller sermon on this passage (How to Change 1). Next week we’ll listen to one that costs 2.50, but worth every penny. (How to Change 2.) During these two weeks, memorize the passage Keller is on:
To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires
and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds
and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
What does “the spirit of your mind” mean? Keller says it is our imagination. This is where we come up with word pictures. He give an example of a man being faced with the temptation of eating steak, though his doctor has told him he must not, for his heart is at risk. He could begin to imagine how good the steak would smell, how wonderful it would taste…
Or, he could imagine himself having a heart attack after eating that steak:
This week I want you to find some word pictures to help you face temptation, grief, unforgiveness, and despair in a constructive rather than a destructive way. I want you to be renewed in the spirit of your mind. Where will you find them? Here are three possible sources:
1) In great Christian music — for example, last week we looked at “O Love that Wilt Not Let Me Go” — one of you commented on the line “I dare not close my heart to Thee.” There is a picture here that can change you and cause you to move toward Jesus instead of away. Print off the lyrics to this song or another that moves your heart and tape it up in your shower and start singing.
2) In the psalms – they are filled with word pictures to help us use our imagination — seeking God as the deer seeks water; the Lord riding the wind to come to our help… These help you visualize your relationship to the Lord. In your prayer time, pray the psalms, and linger over the pictures.
3) In pictures I’ve used in the past on this blog to help you visualize danger, or His presence, or His love. If one really spoke to you, print it off and put it on your refrigerator this week to remind you. Here is a possible one — how you break His heart when you run to an idol instead of Him:
Sunday/Monday: Icebreaker and Download the Free Sermon:
(It will look like you have to buy it, but when you click on the format, you will see it is free. You can also get it on the free sermon page, but I think it is easier to download this way.)
1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
2. Read the word picture that Nathan gave to David in 2 Samuel 12:1-6. Why do you think it got to David’s heart?
3. Do one of the three exercises (song, psalm, picture) above for word pictures and tell us here what you did.
Bible Study: Monday-Wednesday
Begin memorizing Ephesians 4:22 and say it every day.
As an overview (we will spend more than one week on this) read Ephesians 4:17-32
4. Read Ephesians 4:17-19
A. Note the command in verse 17. What relationship do you see between the mind and the walk?
B. How does verse 18 begin, and what does that do to their relationship with God?
C. Imagine another temptation such as gossip, unforgiveness, or over-eating
1) If you were to engage in one of the above, what lie would you first have to believe — how would you need to be “darkened in your understanding?”
2) Come up with a word picture that would show your alienation from God should you choose to do one of these things
D. What happens to our hearts, according to verse 19, when we walk in our former way of life?
5. Read Ephesians 4:20-24
A. Keller makes a big point about the phrase “the truth is in Jesus.” Make note of this verse.
B. Verse 22 is your memory verse this week. Meditate on it and come up with at least five observations on this verse.
C. Be alert to put verse 23 into practice today. Write down at the end of the day what you did, how you used your imagination to resist temptation.
D. Use your imagination to help you with the “old self” and the “new self,” or the old garment and the new garment.
What is the worst garment you’ve had on — imagine wanting to be rid of it!
And the best?
Cyndi said, “I lift up my arms to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to dress me.”
There are those in Reformed circles that are opposed to using any pictures of Jesus, feeling it breaks the 1st commandment. J. I. Packer’s fourth chapter in Knowing God is an example of this thinking. I do think there are many terrible pictures of Jesus and realize the goal of capturing Him to be unreachable. And yet — I know how much I needed pictures to train my children, and how I am so moved, for example, by Martin French’s drawings (like the one above of The Broken-Hearted Bridegroom). This subject deserves a blog post of its own, and I’ll do it sometime, but I think that if you are worshipping a picture, you are sinning, but if the picture leads you to worship God, it is an icon rather than an idol — and that is a good thing. But feel free to pipe in here with your prayerful and loving thoughts.
6. How do you feel about pictures of Jesus and why?
7. Listen to the Sermon you downloaded above. (Thursday – Friday) and share your notes with us or what stood out to you.
8. What’s your take-a-way and why?