Heart to Heart with Jesus

(Spectrumbot) #1

I have much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink; instead I hope to see you soon, and we will talk together face to face (3 John 13-14).

There are men and women of my acquaintance who have burnished their careers and professional reputations by writing handwritten notes of gratitude and encouragement. One friend, a healthcare professional, has built his practice into one of the top ten in the nation in no small part due to a habit of writing five "thank you" notes every day to patients and colleagues.

Receiving a handwritten note says that the writer cares enough to take the time and effort to let you know. It conveys a thoughtful consideration not achievable through the technological mediums of email or smart phone texts.

Sending a written communication can provide clarity, but it can also come off as harsh, indifferent, or cowardly. Every lover jilted by a "break-up" note, employee dismissed with a "pink slip" without explanation, unwitting spouse served with a summons to divorce court, and struggling soul censured by a cold written edict from a church official, knows this.

Written spiritual counsel and encouragement is important. That's what the New Testament is about. But taking the time to meet, explain, listen, understand and pray together has no substitute. An email or letter cannot convey tone of voice, demeanor or facial expression.

I have a client who needs to receive counsel in person. Putting advice in writing seems to convey a negative, authoritarian spirit to him and makes him anxious and anguished. If he can see my face when he hears my voice, he is able to receive the information with calm acceptance even when it is the same thing I've written.

John knows that sometimes putting it in writing, is not enough. His Third Letter is a private communication "to the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth" (v 1). He writes as a spiritual mentor seeking to cement their relationship of friendship and hospitality.

John is grateful for Gaius' faithfulness. He writes the line often used by Christian parents, "There is no greater joy than this, to hear that my children are walking in the truth" (v 4).

John encourages Gaius to show hospitality and support for traveling missionaries so they do not have to accept support from non-believers thus compromising their mission (vs 5-8). He contrasts such caring help with the abusive actions of Diotrophes who refuses to acknowledge the restraint of spiritual authority, makes false accusations, arbitrarily refuses to welcome the same traveling missionaries, and even disfellowships other believers who want to welcome the visitors (vs 9-10).

Offering a simple test for discernment between those serving God's will and those pursuing their own selfish agendas, John admonishes Gaius, "Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but imitate what is good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God" (v 11).

John gives a recommendation for the trustworthiness of Demetrius who carries the letter to Gaius. Then he tells Gaius, "I have a lot more things to tell you, but I would rather not use pen and ink. I hope to be there in person and have a heart to heart talk (vs 13-14, Msg).

I find this last thought endearing. In the love of Jesus Christ, John had been transformed from a volatile zealot seeking to fire-bomb a Samaritan village for rejecting Jesus to a tender-hearted shepherd (Luke 9:51-56; 1 John 1:1-4). He never tired of telling his flock about the Jesus "we have seen with our own eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life" (1 John 1:1).

When John saw Jesus touch a leper, hold children on his lap and bless them, tenderly apply spit and clay to heal a blind man, affirm the worth of broken and fallen women, and wash the dirty, callused feet of his friends and his betrayer alike, it profoundly affected him. On the night before Jesus was crucified, tradition says that John reclined at the supper table with his head against Jesus chest and he felt Jesus' heartbeat (See John 13:23).

Whether that last is true or not, John referred to himself ever after as "the disciple whom Jesus loved" (John 13:23-25; 19:26-27; John 21:20-23, 24). He was the one disciple who found the courage to follow Jesus through his trial to the foot of the cross as he died (John 19:26).

Slick Power-Point lectures on the cosmic prophecies of the Book of Revelation have never conveyed the passion of John for Jesus to me. Preachers in suits and silk ties standing behind pulpit ramparts while thundering "And you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free," never seem to me to know for themselves the love of Jesus that liberated John's heart. At the end of his gospel, John said there is a lot more to know about Jesus than was ever written down (John 20:30).

A wise, old theologian told me once, "Don't forget, Kent, that John saw Jesus and wants us to see him too. The Book of Revelation is 'the revelation of Jesus Christ,' not the revelation of John. Never take your eyes off Jesus."

John wrote to Gaius with no thought that his letter would show up in the canon of Scripture. He simply knew that kind hospitality and a personal conversation with a friend was the best way to share Jesus. It still is.

"O taste and see that the Lord is good. Happy are those who take refuge in him" (Ps 34:8).

Kent Hansen is a business and healthcare attorney from Corona, California. This essay first appeared in his weekly email devotional, "A Word of Grace for Your Monday." Kent's devotionals can be read on the C.S. Lewis Foundation blog at www.cslewis.org.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6590

(Thomas J Zwemer) #2

what a blessing we have in the writings of John, at once he denounced gnostic intrusion and more over he wrote with such compelling love. His insistence that Christ came in the flesh, Christ is the true federal man, we are privileged to be His adopted children. John is the one who makes our Father near and dear. David and John got me through WWII. Paul and the writer to the Hebrews in Rome matured my understanding of the Gospel of Grace. What a treasure Jesus left us as He returned to His Father… Why so many distortions boggles the mind. Tom Z

(Chris Blake24) #3

Superb thoughts, Kent. Thank you for directing–and redirecting–us.

Love is the only motive that matters and the only legacy that lasts.

(Frankmer7) #4

Thanks you so much, Kent, for such grace filled thoughts. It’s all about God is often said. But, Jesus by his words and actions also said, it’s all about people. John lovingly seconds this!



(Tom Loop) #5

Amen!!! In the 21st century we have lost the personal touch. We live in the world of emails, texting, blogging, yada, yada. We can communicate faster than ever and network with many people like we do here on Spectrum. Tom you are an elderly man who has lived nearly a century. We have technology today that I wouldn’t have dreamed could exist only a couple decades ago.

But we have lost the personal; touch. A get well card with a personal note is so much more meaningful than an email. But a card costs about $3.00 and then 49 cents to mail. So we email. I member 50 years ago when a stamp was a nickel and a 3 minute long distance phone call cost over a dollar. Now it’s four bits to mail a letter and a long distance phone call costs almost nothing. I wish there was a way we could have a Spectrum phone directory so those who want to connect beyond posting could do so.

You mentioned awhile back that you had been in the hospital. I pray that you are doing well. Hang in there for at least another 20 years or so. we need you here.

There is man who is your age who was once a building contractor. He had a hand in building the SDA school, it’s expansion, every SDA church
built in our area, and multitudes of remodels, etc. He is now in a convalescent home, and I go see him a couple times a month. He has such a beautiful faith in God, uncluttered with a lot of excess baggage found in so much of Adventism. Before he was a contractor he was a lumberjack in the woods. So was I once before I had to look for something less physically demanding several years ago. He loves to sit and talk about lumberjacking and so do I. We swap old stories. sometimes I stay there a couple hours. We both enjoy it better than fishing stories about the one that got away.

Jesus always connected with people on a very personal level. People knew when He departed that they had been touched by someone in a special way. As his followers he wants us to do the same.

(k_Lutz) #6

WebEd, etc. what is the possibility?

Trust the Process.
PS: Tom (or anybody else who dares) email me (kennlutz@yahoo.com) and I will give you my number. I, too, find direct verbal communication much more sincere.

(I see no way except manual effort by Spectrum to facilitate such a thing. The software doesn’t support it, as you might expect. I don’t see us likely to put up $ to do the extra work for the few who might be interested. - website editor)

(Thomas J Zwemer) #7

Tom thank you for your kind note. It is 3:30 AM and I can’t sleep so your message was a real healer. I am doing quite well. but I in’t 24 for sure. I still teach once a month a SS at Brandon Wilde. the coming week, I’ll be talking about the Road to Emmaus. . The Centrality of Christainity remains the Cross and the Resurrection. Tom Z

(Allen Shepherd) #8


I don’t think this would be a good idea, though is sounds good. Too much chance of the directory being used by those that want to cause trouble or sell you something. I think you would regret your name being there when all was said and done. But a nice sentiment.

(Allen Shepherd) #9

This piece is a bit confusing. The author commends those who send hand writing notes, and they can be very powerful. But then he says they are not enough. Well, yes, but why not do both, and the written ones, in my experience have been really wonderful. So, well, whats’ the beef?

(George Tichy) #10

What is necessary for this conversation system to allow the direct messaging to work? That would be a great tool.

(I do not know that Discourse supports such a feature. I had not heard that it did. If you know otherwise I can try to see if the webmaster knows about it - but that position has changed hands and he might not know. - website editor)

(George Tichy) #11

I agree, just imagine how many free consults would be directed at Elmer @elmer_cupino

(Tom Loop) #12


We have a mutual issue here. I sometimes can’t sleep either, so I get up and blog. I guess I turned in my chain saw for. a key board. Blogging is much less physically demanding than logging. LOL. Although Sometime I log on so much that I think I could fill an entire truck with a load of logs. LOL
I’ll make this short because i have to sweep all the saw dust out of my den from logging on and blogging. I reckon we have to laugh a little or else we’ll cry.

Paul said he wanted to know nothing more than Christ and Him crucified.
Why is it that religion seems to pile so much baggage on Golgotha’s Hill that too often folks can’t even get to the foot of the cross, much less even see it??? My church is still SDA, It’s in my DNA. I ask myself, where would I go if I left?? So I suppose I’ll hang in there, logging on, blogging, and slogging , hoping I can make a dent at least, and brighten the corner where I am.

I am scheduled to preach this Sabbath. The title of my sermon is “The Security of Salvation.” I think you would like it. I dare stand in an SDA pulpit and say “I am saved.”

Tom continue to contribute here. I know that you no longer affiliate with the SDA church. I suppose some folks find it necessary to go outside the ranks, and I’ll not judge them for that. Jesus tells a powerful story in John 10 that we’d all do well to ponder and absorb. He says He has sheep in many folds, but that there is one shepherd (Him), one gate (Him) and at the end there will be only one sheepfold. He is clearly talking about true followers gathered together as the remnant, not a particular denomination. I can come to no other conclusion, because there were no denominations back in His day. Isn’t that LITERALLY so, wouldn’t you say?

(Tom Loop) #13

You are probably right, but it is nice to think about it being a possibility. I was thinking more in terms of getting to know someone on a personal level and where they are coming from in their spiritual and life experience. In no way would I see it as opportunity to go offline to carry on a debate. There is enough of swords loud flashing here in these comments. For me at least I would see it as a chance to get to know someone a little better so those swords could hopefully be beaten into plowshears. Didn’t Jesus tell us to “come let us reason together” not “come let us put on the boxing gloves and spar awhile.”

Yesterday someone left their email address here. I replied to this person and we are going to talk on the phone tonight. In no way am I trying to detract from the conversations on these Spectrum blogs. I would just like the opportunity to talk first hand with a few folks here, if they are so inclined, in an effort to make conversation here more productive and meaningful on these blogs. One of the problems I see is there is altogether too much of us talking PAST each other rather than TO each other here.

(Thomas J Zwemer) #14

Tom Thank you, The issue for me was simple. When the 28 took priority over Paul, I looked for a pastor who was Pauline to the core. I believe there are many Christians within Adventism, yes even scholars. I could not sit on a back row and be silent. To me the a Gospel was too vital. To me Dr. Heppenstsll came the closest to the core of Christsinity. subsequently I found John R. W. Stott to hold to the evangel and articulate it the best. I believe the conversation Christ had with the two disappointed disciples on the road to Emmaus was the core to the letters of Paul, the letter to the Hebrews and the Gospel of John.

Can you hear Jesus explain the smitten Rock, or the serpent on a cross, or Abraham and the Ram caught in the thicket? God didn’t a ram, only His Son.

cheers Tom Z

(k_Lutz) #15

Can I, without ruffling any feathers, amend that ‘TO’ to ‘WITH’, not that I have any particular aversion in talking TO someone, but as we are called into One-ness WITH God and Christ I endeavor to make that unity, when acknowledged, paramount. Bless you.

Trust the Process.

(Thomas J Zwemer) #16

if anyone wants to read a scary book, I suggest: Godless Anerica by Todd Starnes with forwards by Sean Hannity and Mike Huckabee. It makes Ben Carson look like a wimp . Tom Z

(Tom Loop) #17


No feathers ruffled. Talking WITH someone, as you suggest, is much better.
Thanks for the added feather smoother.

(Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13) #18

WebEd, when we click on anyone’s avatar or go to their profile, there’s an option to Private Message—it just doesn’t work, even when we’ve moved up to the max “trust” category.

[After consulting with our tech support crew, it looks as though this is an issue particular to the Discourse software over which we have no immediate, direct control in this case. As a crude workaround, might I suggest exchanging email addresses with your favorite Spectrumite in the meanwhile, with apologies for the inconvenience. -Jared Wright, on behalf of tech crew and web editors.]

(Tom Loop) #19

I had enough scarey stories with the last several chapters of GC. Godless America, huh? If Huckabee ever got elected Prez he would be one godless leader all the while proclaiming he was representing God. Where is a conservative guy like Barry Goldwater when you need him. will no one rise among the ranks to take on guys like this Todd Starnes and Huckabee. Goldwater did when he caustically said “Jerry Fallwell needed a good kick in the ass”, and warned the GOP not to let Anita Bryant and Fallwell infiltrate the party with their snake oil religion. Conversion by the sword is their call to arms.

(George Tichy) #20

And who can be more trustful than we are, right? :slight_smile: