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“I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit: apart from me you can do nothing” John 15:5

What is your heart’s default mode? By definition default is: a course of action that a program or operating system will take, when the user or programmer specifies no overriding value or action.

Tim Keller’s book “The Prodigal God” challenged me this week and helps me understand the key to seeing permanent transformation in my life and the lives of the men we minister to. I highly recommend you read it.

Reclaim is a gospel focused ministry that exists to reclaim the hearts of men. We serve the poor, the fatherless, the brokenhearted, the harassed and helpless in our communities by introducing them to the truth: Jesus Christ. A question that I’ve been wrestling with recently is: How do we keep Reclaim gospel focused, leading men to Jesus, while also making mature disciples that demonstrate TRUE change in their lives? The Lord gave me the answer while reading Keller’s book: we focus on the Gospel!

Keller starts by quoting Martin Luther: “Even after you are converted by the gospel your heart will go back to operating on other principles unless you deliberately, repeatedly, set it to gospel mode.” Luther believed that religion is the default mode of the human heart.

Keller states “religion operates on the principle of: I obey – therefore I am accepted by God. The basic operating principle of the gospel is: I am accepted by God through the work of Jesus Christ, therefore I obey. All TRUE change comes from deepening your understanding of the salvation of Christ and living out of the changes that understanding creates in your heart – our problems arise largely because we don’t continually return to the gospel to work it in and live it out.”

So the challenge for me is: At every stage of my life and in the lives of those we minister to, from conviction, to conversion, to maturity in Christ, the key is the Gospel! When I think I’ve “arrived” I need to be challenged again by the gospel. What do I do if there’s an area in my life where I continually return to my heart’s “default” mode, despite how hard I try or how much willpower I muster? I stop striving, return to the Gospel, feed on it, abide in it and ask Jesus to change me by it.