The Simmer Portion of My Brain

Here's another post for seminary. I figure I just keep tossing these things up here and those that like to read a lot can try to keep up with these as fast as I need to turn them out for school. I have been very blessed by the idea of a simmer portion of my brain...

While I am not specifically addressing any one issue brought up by this class I am addressing how learning can occur in general. I guess this is brought on by the Jesus, the Jewish Theologian book that I am reading for this class due to being here in Seminary. While reading this book some information presented seems obvious or information that I had already learned. I agree with it and so there is not too much to work through. However, there is some information related that really changes the way I viewed aspects of Jesus' ministry. It is not that I am challenging the book or saying that the book is wrong. Quite frankly, it is probably right. However, I think as Christians we can severely rob ourselves in growth if we feel like we have to come to a conclusion about things right away.

I remember hearing Bill Hybels speak at a Willow Creek Small Group Leaders Summit in 2001 and he spoke on Self-leadership. In his message, he shared how he had been presented information on self-leadership that was so revolutionary to his thinking that he could not initially accept it (note: this message is found in his book Courageous Leadership which I could not more highly recommend). However, he did not reject the information simply because it was not what he was used to. Rather, he let it sit in the simmer portion of his brain - as he called it - and let the Lord show him in other ways over the following months and years how that information was right. [1] When I heard Bill share this, I learned something that really revolutionized the way that I learn. There is a need to not feel it necessary to have an opinion about everything that comes my direction. The Lord was showing me today that the need to either accept or reject everything is really based in pride and would severely stunt my spiritual growth if I were to allow it simply because someone ministered, prayed, presented information, etc. in a way that I would not. This pride says that I already know everything that is right and wrong and consequently, will only allow information to be taught to me that I agree with. I would venture to say a large amount of the things that I really value that the Lord has taught me have come from letting things simmer. The reason for this should be obvious: the information that I immediatly think is right probably will not make as profound of an impact because it will probably be in some way similar to what I know. However, the things that are simply outside of my box or grid that I do not feel like I have to have an opinion about are some of the things that I really appreciate today because they have impacted me more because of how different they are. Those are the things that seem to make the biggest difference in my life because they probably stretch me or grow me in ways that I need to grow. This is not to say that everything in my simmer box gets accepted. Much does not. But I am extremely thankful for the idea of a simmer portion of my brain as well as a number of people of wisdom that I respect from a variety of backgrounds that I can go to and ask questions of to help come to the conclusions that the Lord would have for me (note: not necessarilly the same as the conclusions I want to arrive at). This process is of tremendous value because many times there are multiple perspectives to different issues and it is of tremendous value to understand all sides (or as much as I can) of what is occurring in order to not accept one thing that one person says and then get talked out of it a week later by someone with a different view. When I can truly understand a variety of reasonings, it really helps me come to a much more solid reason for why I believe something. For example, the Jesus, the Jewish Theologian book says this in regards to the feeding of the five thousand: "Before eating Jesus surely would have said a blessing. Jewish readers would have understood that the blessing was praise to God for the food. Then the bread was broken and given to the disciples. At an early period Christians somehow developed the idea of blessing the food instead of God. As was pointed out to me by David Flusser, in one important Greek manuscript of Luke 9:16, there is a distinct reference to a reading which may describe how Jesus blessed God for the food." [2] Clearly, the idea of blessing God instead of blessing the food is outside my box. I do not doubt that this is right, but for now it will probably go into the simmer portion of my brain until I can either research it more fully or until I can hear more information about it so that my explanation for it is not simply that I read it once. I think that this goes along with Acts 17:11 and the Berean church who were able to receive, but then could research the Bible and come to conclusions of whether Paul's message was of God.

1 Bill Hybels. Message to Small Group Leaders at Willow Creek Community Church. South Barrington, IL. 2001
2 Brad H. Young. Jesus The Jewish Theologian. (Peabody, MASS: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995), 123